Maryland Innovation Extension Hosts First I-Corps NEXT Cohort, August 2022

The Maryland Innovation Extension hosted its first I-Corps NEXT cohort this summer, culminating in an event with final presentations from attendees on Wednesday, August 3 at the TEDCO headquarters in Columbia, Md.

I-Corps NEXT was offered exclusively to I-Corps teams that previously completed a regional I-Corps short course. Through I-Corps NEXT, participants dove deeper into building and refining their business models and engaged in further customer discovery. I-Corps mentors guided teams through the four-week, five-class course.

“There were 17 teams in this course, each striving to complete 50 potential customer interviews,” said Dan Kunitz, Director of the I-Corps Mid-Atlantic Hub. “At least 500 connections between entrepreneurs and their customers occurred that did not happen a month ago. The fact that these teams had those conversations is a huge success in our book. For starters, it addresses the number one reason startups fail: you are building something that nobody wants. By talking with customers, these teams will better serve them, as well as increase their own impact and chances of succeeding.”

Participating teams presented their company ideas, as well as what they learned through the course, especially in talking with potential customers. They also spent time validating segments of their business models, including revenue streams, channels, customer relationships, and key partnerships.

“The business model canvas helped me identify and hone in on customer segments,” said Jay Polaki, Founder and CEO of HR Geckos, a company developing software to transform human resources for organizations with automation and artificial intelligence. “I discovered new channels to reach customers and how to define customer relationships by personas. I am very thankful for this program.”

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