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 classroom sessions conducted via WebEx 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.
Summer session applications due May 16!
Have questions before you apply? Sign up for a mentor chat!
This eight- or nine-week course includes 5 live classroom sessions and weekly mentor check-ins.
Summer 2021 dates: June 1 – July 27 (9 weeks)
Live sessions 9-11 a.m. on Tuesdays: Jun. 1, Jun. 8, Jun. 29, Jul. 13, Jul. 27. Programming takes place fully online. Connection details will be shared in advance for accepted teams.
Summer applications due: Sunday, May 16, 2021
Fall 2021 dates: October 6 – December 1 (9 weeks)
Course includes 5 live classroom sessions (Oct 6, 13, 27, Nov 10, Dec 1) and weekly mentor check-ins. Fall 2021 instruction format (in person, virtual or hybrid) is not yet determined. Check back for updates.
Fall applications due: Monday, September 20, 2021, at 9am
Spring 2022 dates: March 2 – April 20 (8 weeks)
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 9am
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
“They pushed me to challenge my assumptions, expand my scope, and learn as much as possible about every potential customer segment before moving further. I ended up expanding my scope greatly and seeing wider possibility for my idea.”Fall 2019 I2M participant
“I was expecting a quick path to success with a lightbulb 'aha' moment; instead I learned the detailed, meticulous way to craft a business idea from the ground up and I was inspired to challenge my passion for my idea. I had to put aside by own bias with it being MY idea and take an objective stance to see how this fits in a market and how potential users and investors would see my product. This was a great foray into creating my startup and I appreciate the support, resources, and experience.”Fall 2019 I2M participant
“Absolutely loved the set-up of the program. It is a very welcoming environment and I really felt as if the mentors had our best interest in mind and genuinely enjoyed helping us.”Fall 2019 I2M participant
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.