Innovation to Market

Teams in the I2M program will learn how to avoid one of the main reasons startups fail: building something nobody wants. Minimizing this risk involves going out and interviewing real people in the field to refine what’s known as product-market fit. Speaking to potential customers is the first and most important step in developing a successful business model for any innovation.

I2M teams will be asked to conduct 20 interviews with real customers over the course of five weeks. These interviews will help teams develop and refine their innovation’s value proposition and identify customer segments.

All I2M programs consist of five sessions: three classroom sessions, and two individual team meetings with one of our mentors. Classroom sessions take place from 9am – noon, and mentor meetings are by appointment on course dates. All D2P programs are free and open to UW–Madison faculty, staff, and students.

2019/2020 Program Dates

Summer 2019: Wednesdays, June 5 – July 17 (no class June 19 or July 3)
Applications due: May 15, 2019

Fall 2019: Wednesdays, October 9 – November 20
Applications due: September 19, 2019

Spring 2020: Wednesdays, February 12 – April 28 (no class during spring recess)
Applications due: January 27, 2020

View detailed course schedules for I2M.

Apply for I2M


I2M Program Information


During the five-week program, teams will:

  • Be introduced to the Business Model Canvas
  • Build customer discovery skills
  • Develop the core elements of a value proposition
  • Formulate and test hypotheses on their product or service through in-depth customer interviews
  • Learn in an experiential setting with other campus innovators
  • Become familiar with the concept of customer segments

After participating, teams will:

  • Have conducted at least 20 in-depth customer interviews
  • Have substantially increased knowledge about product-market fit for their innovation
  • Be able to articulate next steps for developing their innovation based on evaluation of product-market fit
  • Have increased skills and confidence with respect to communicating their entrepreneurial concept
  • Established connections and relationships with fellow on-campus innovators and mentors.


  • You have a well-articulated product, technology, or business model concept.
  • You can state what problem your innovation solves or addresses.
  • You’ve done some preliminary research into your innovation, including customers, market size, and alternative solutions to the problem it solves.
  • You are committed to conducting at least 20 customer interviews within the course of five weeks. (Don’t worry; we’ll teach you how.)
  • You understand that I2M uses the flipped classroom” approach, meaning that you will need to make time time to review instructional content outside of the classroom. When the cohort is together in the classroom, some time is spent to review and discuss the week’s assigned instructional content, but the largest portion of the time is spent on team presentations, including feedback from instructors and other course participants on various assignments that are completed between sessions.
  • You are able to commit the necessary time outside of class (on average, 3-4 hours per week, which can be divided between team members) to conduct interviews and complete other assignments.
  • While a full team is not required to make an initial application to I2M, it could be helpful to your application to have identified a Business Lead at minimum.