The Innovation-to-Market course is intended as an entry point for innovators, seekers of a creative solutions, designers of novel approaches to social problems or makers of impactful products at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
You’ll begin by forming a hypothesis about your business concept. You will then test that hypothesis by interviewing potential users and customers of your product or service. The purpose of this is to identify a “product-market fit.” Simply put, is your proposed product/service addressing a real need or demand? Is the pain point sufficiently large that customers will pay money for your solution? If so, how much? Is it a big enough market for you to bother pursuing? If the answer to any of these questions is “no” you are better off finding out earlier and pivoting to a new value proposition, perhaps changing which customers you will go after or what product features you will incorporate.
Innovation-to-Market is designed to get you thinking along these lines and get you started actually doing some of this customer discovery by getting out there and interviewing potential customers. It is not just a theory-based lecture course. While there is some delivery of content and knowledge sharing, the most important aspect is to gain some experiential learning-by-doing.
The I2M program consists of live online classroom sessions* and weekly mentor meetings. All D2P programs are FREE and open to UW–Madison faculty, staff, and students, and employees of UW–Madison affiliate organizations.
*Please Note: Fall 2021 instruction will be online. Individual team mentoring will be optionally remote or in-person as individually coordinated. If you have questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to discuss your concerns and/or circumstances.
Spring session applications due February 21!
Have questions before you apply? Sign up for a mentor chat!
This eight- or nine-week course includes 5 live online classroom sessions and weekly mentor check-ins.
Spring 2022 dates: March 2 – April 20
(Wednesdays, 9 – 11 am)
Eight-week course includes 5 live classroom sessions (March 2, 9, 23, April 6, 20) and weekly mentor check-ins.
Spring applications due: Monday, February 21, 2022, at 9 am
What participants are saying
“I found I2M really useful and thought the methodology was great. The teaching team illustrated the concepts with relevant examples that helped us apply the lessons to our own project.”Terry Barry, Chief Scientist, Exciton Clean
"As a first-time business owner, I was surprised to learn that starting a business is very methodical. It isn’t just about having a great idea. Because you can have a great idea and a lot of money, but still fail. There’s a science behind entrepreneurship; how you go from an idea to a successful product."Kattia Jimenez, Owner, Mount Horeb Hemp
"Through our interviews and training, we learned who appreciates the technology, the value of the technology, and the gaps in the industry. We also learned the vocabulary for discussing products, which is different from discussing research."Dr. Melissa Skala, Leader, Optical Microscopy in Medicine Lab - Morgridge Institute for Research
"I think the most valuable aspect has been the process of learning to look at tech development from a customer perspective and focusing on trying to develop something that is truly going to solve a problem."Dr. Guelay Bilen-Rosas, Co-Founder, Ayrflo
I2M Program Information
During the Innovation-to-Market program, teams will:
- Be exposed to various business and social impact model examples that have scaled and sustained.
- Be introduced to the Business Model Canvas to move your innovation forward.
- Become familiar with the concept of customer segments, value propositions, and product-market fit
- Build customer discovery skills
- Develop and refine the value proposition for their innovation
- Formulate and test hypotheses on their product/offering and value proposition through in-depth customer interviews
- Learn in an experiential setting with other campus innovators
After taking part in I2M, 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 their 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, 2 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.