Research and Sponsored Programs - 2018

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I-Corps

 
CSUN Innovation Corps Customer Discovery Program
 

Do you have an idea or technology that you think may solve an unmet need in the market (for profit, or not-for-profit)?

Are you interested in using a proven method to de-risk your venture, identify customers and support functions at the lowest possible cost?

Are you ready to build your own venture or acquire practical skills to differentiate you from others? 

Background

In 2017, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that California State University, Northridge (CSUN) would be one of the newest I-Corps Sites designated to educate faculty, students and the community on entrepreneurial principles. Our goal is to equip faculty and students with the tools and methodology to identify the most critical questions and develop creative answers to enable them to develop a sustainable, scalable venture to address unmet market needs.

What is the NSF I-Corps Program?

The CSUN I-Corps Sites program will support teams through critical market and commercialization evaluations associated with a specific CSUN developed idea or technology. CSUN runs a variety of different types of programs around Innovation Corps such as the flagship 10-week training program.  Both the CSUN Innovation Incubator (Cii) and Summer Accelerator employ the same I-Corps methodology. For each program, teams are formed and ideally comprised of a multi-disciplinary group of people with different skill sets or interests in technology, business, and design. Students may also apply independently to join teams for the 10-week program or the CSUN Innovation Incubator or Summer Accelerator programs. Faculty from all colleges and department are encouraged to apply for the 10-week program. 

Program Benefits

Teams that attend a minimum of 5 online working sessions, complete the online video coursework (~3.5 hours total commitment), and conduct at least 25 customer interviews are eligible for up to $3,000 in NSF funding.

Funds can be used for:

  • Prototyping at ToolBox LA
  • Travel to visit potential customers and end users
  • Professional conferences (in-person or virtual)
  • Training or education in entrepreneurship
  • Logo design, website development, and messaging for digital outreach
  • Mentoring

*Expenses must conform to I-Corps acceptable use policies

Teams are then ready for the next phase.

This may include:

  • Entering the CSUN Innovation Incubator (Cii), or the Summer Accelerator
  • Applying for the I-Corps National Program and up to $50,000 in funds
  • Applying for additional grant funding, such as NSF SBIR grants

How to Get Started

The Fall cohort will begin on Friday, September 25, 2020. All 10 sessions will be conducted virtually via Zoom.

1. Register your team by Thursday, September 24, 2020 by sending an email to icorps@csun.edu. Include the following information:

  • Project or Company name
  • Team Name
  • List of all team member names and include their CSUN email address and campus affiliation (college and/or department) for each. If the team member is not a CSUN student please include their personal email.
  • A brief description of your innovation, and/or the problem you are solving or trying to solve, and who your customer is.
  • Cell phone number for team leader
2. View 2-minute video on Business Model Canvas.
3. Plan to attend the 10 interactive sessions via Zoom.
4. Take the recommended steps under Before Session 1. 
Teams will be enrolled in the POP Canvas course. 

Teams do NOT need previous commercialization experience, a developed venture concept, or any protected intellectual property in hand. The short course is designed specifically for curious researchers and nascent academic entrepreneurs.

Direct any questions to icorps@csun.edu.

Topics Covered

Topics covered in the 10-week program include:

  • HOW TO TALK TO PEOPLE & QUANTITATIVELY TEST A SOLID HYPOTHESIS
    • What does a testable hypothesis look like in each box of the Business Model Canvas?
    • Who do you think might be able to have relevant feedback? How do you contact them?
    • How will you collect/analyze the data?
  • VALUE PROPOSITION
    • What core value do you deliver to the customer? 
    • How are they obtaining it today, and why would they switch?
    • Which customer needs are you satisfying? Who will pay for it?
  • CUSTOMER SEGMENT
    • Which classes are you creating values for?
    • Who is your most important customer?
  • CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP
    • What relationships do the target customers expect you to establish?
    • How can you integrate that into your business in terms of cost and format?
  • DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL
    • Through which channels do your customers want to be reached?
    • Which channels work best? How much do they cost?
    • How can they be integrated into your and your customers' routines?
  • KEY PARTNERS
    • Who are your key partners/suppliers?
    • What are the motivations for the partnerships?
  • KEY ACTIVITIES
    • What key activities does your value proposition require?
    • What key activities are the most important in distribution channels, customer relationships, and revenue streams?
  • KEY RESOURCES
    • What key resources does your value proposition require?
    • What resources are the most important in distribution channels, customer relationships, and revenue streams?
  • COST STRUCTURE
    • What are the largest costs in your business?
    • Which key resources/activities are the most expensive?
  • REVENUE STREAM
    • For what value are your customers willing to pay?
    • What and how do they recently pay? How would they prefer to pay?
    • How much does every revenue stream contribute to the overall revenues?  

Before Session 1

Before Session 1

Watch the following short videos from "How to Build a Startup" on Udacity.

  • Lesson 1: Before You Get Started
  • Lesson 2: What We Now Know
  • Lesson 3: Business Models (Section 1-6)
  • Lesson 4: Customer Development

Request access to the shared folder for I-Corps on Dropbox

Teams will prepare short presentations prior to each Session using templates provided via Dropbox and Canvas.

Complete the template for Week 1 and upload the presentation to Dropbox by 5pm on Thursday, September 24th. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 1: Friday, September 25, 2020

Session 1
Friday, September 25, 2020 | 11:45 am - 2:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Introduction to the Program
    • Background and History of NSF I-Corps
    • Business Model Canvas Basics
    • Developing & Testing Hypotheses
    • Q&A
  • Assignments for Next Session:
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly (mandatory)
    • Watch Lesson 6: Customer Segments
    • Complete the Value Proposition and Customer segments of the Business Model Canvas
    • Complete the Customer Interview form based on 5 interviews with potential customers and end users
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 2 and upload these forms to the Google Drive by 5pm Thursday, October 1st. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 2: Friday, October 2, 2020

Session 2
Friday, October 2, 2020 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Value Propositions
    • How to align a Value Proposition to a specific Customer Segment
    • Customer Interviewing
    • Q&A
  • Assignments for Next Session:
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly (mandatory)
    • Watch Lesson 5: Value Proposition
    • Complete the Customer Interview Form based on 5 new interviews (10 total) with potential customers or end users regarding value propositions, AND HOW those needs are being met today (competition)
    • Complete the Market Research Form based on a simple search
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 3 and upload these forms to the Google Drive folder by 5pm Thursday, October 8th. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 3: Friday, October 9, 2020

Session 3
Friday, October 9, 2020 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Customer Segment
    • Which classes are you creating values for?
    • Who is your most important customer?
    • How to identify customers based on demographics, behaviors, attitudes, and needs
    • How different segments will respond to different value propositions
    • Q&A
  • Assignments for Next Session
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly (mandatory)
    • Complete the Customer Interview Form based on 5 new interviews (15 total) with potential customers or end users to define how they may form segments
    • Complete the Competitive Products Form based on review of potential competitors
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 4 and upload these forms to the Google Drive folder by 5pm Thursday, October 15th. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 4: Friday, October 16, 2020

Session 4
Friday, October 16, 2020 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Customer Relationship
    • What is the relationship that the target customer expects you to establish?
    • How can you integrate that into your business in terms of cost and format?
  • Assignments for Next Session
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly
    • Watch Lesson 8: Customer Relationships
    • Complete the Customer Interview Form based on 5 new interviews (20 total) with potential customers or end users regarding their opinions on Customer Relationships
    • Complete the Distribution Tab of I-Corps Worksheet
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 5 and upload these forms to the Google Drive folder by 5pm Thursday, October 29th. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 5: Friday, October 30, 2020

Session 5
Friday, October 30, 2020 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Distribution Channel
    • Through which channels do your customers want to be reached?
    • Which channels work best? How much do they cost?
    • How can they be integrated into your and your customer's routines?
    • Team Presentations / Q&A
  • Assignments for Next Session
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly
    • Complete the Customer Interview Form based on 5 new interviews (25 total) with potential customers or end users regarding their opinions on Distribution Channel
    • Complete Distribution, CACLTV and Channel Economics Tabs of I-Corps Worksheet
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 6 and upload these forms to the Google Drive folder by 5pm Thursday, November 12th. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 6: Friday, November 13, 2020

Session 6
Friday, November 13, 2020 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Key Partners
    • Who are your key partners/suppliers?
    • What are the motivations for the partnerships?
    • Team Presentations / Q&A
  • Assignments for Next Session
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly
    • Complete the Customer Interview Form based on 5 new interviews (30 total) with potential customers or end users
    • Complete Key Partners Tab of I-Corps Worksheet
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 7 and upload these forms to the Google Drive folder by 5pm Thursday, November 19th. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 7: Friday, November 20, 2020

Session 7
Friday, November 20, 2020 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Key Activities
    • What key activities does your value proposition require?
    • What activities are the most important in distribution channels, customer relationships, and revenue streams?
    • Team Presentations / Q&A
  • Assignments for Next Session
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly
    • Complete the Customer Interview Form based on 5 new interviews (35 total) with potential customers or end users
    • Complete the Key Activities and Resources Tab of I-Corps Worksheet
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 8 and upload these forms to the Google Drive folder by 5pm Thursday, December 10th. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 8: Friday, December 11, 2020

Session 8
Friday, December 11, 2020 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Key Resources
    • What key resources does your value proposition require?
    • What resources are the most important in distribution channels, customer relationships, and revenue streams?
    • Team Presentations / Q&A
  • Assignments for Next Session
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly
    • Complete the Customer Interview Form based on 5 new interviews (40 total) with potential customers or end users
    • Complete the Key Activities and Resources Tab of I-Corps Worksheet
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 9 and upload these forms to the Google Drive folder by 5pm Thursday, January 14th. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 9: Friday, January 15, 2021

Session 9
Friday, January 15, 2021 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Cost Structure
    • What are the largest costs in your business?
    • Which key resources/activities are the most expensive?
    • Team Presentations / Q&A
  • Assignments for Next Session
    • Schedule coaching session with Tim or Farzin via Calendly
    • Complete the Customer Interview Form based on 5 new interviews (45 total) with potential customers or end users
    • Complete the Cost Stack Tab of I-Corps Worksheet
    • Prepare your team Presentation using the template for Week 10 and upload these forms to the Google Drive folder by 5pm Thursday, January 21st. Use your team name in the file name.

Session 10: Friday, January 22, 2021

Session 10
Friday, January 22, 2021 | 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Zoom links will be provided to registered team members. The session will be recorded and accessible shortly after the live webinar. Topics to be covered include:

  • Revenue
    • For what value are your customers willing to pay?
    • What and how do they recently pay? How would they prefer to pay?
    • How much does every revenue stream contribute to the overall revenues?
    • Complete the Revenue Tab of I-Corps Worksheet
    • Final Team Presentations / Q&A
  • Wrap-up / Next Steps
    • Where do we go from here?

NSF Resources