Do you have a business idea you’re excited about, but need help figuring out if you’re ready to invest your time and money to bring it to life?
Stop thinking and start testing at the Idea Factory, a 5-week virtual program where you’ll learn how to test, improve, and validate your idea and get ready to create a product experiment, often called a “minimum viable product” (MVP).
The Idea Factory exists to:
Lead aspiring founders through the process of testing, refining, and validating their ideas
Provide new opportunities for those who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19
Enhance our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and economy by building a more diverse and equitable founder community
What You Need to Know
Who’s it for?
Anyone in the Central Virginia area with a technology-driven or manufacturing-based business idea is welcome to apply. The Idea Factory will provide the training, resources, and support to test your idea and help you decide whether you are ready to take the next steps towards becoming an entrepreneur.
What is the investment?
The program fee is $500, with need-based scholarships available (we don't want cost to be a barrier for any aspiring entrepreneur). Additionally, participants who successfully complete the program, validate their idea, and plan to commit a substantial amount of time to pursuing a new business will be considered for a small grant and/or free resources to help create an MVP and prove out their business model.
What is the time commitment?
- 10 hours per week for 5 weeks
- Participation at the 3-hour virtual workshops 1 evening per week
- Willingness to talk about your idea with others, including interviewing strangers
Am I ready?
All you need is an idea and a willingness to explore starting something new to apply to the Idea Factory. You don't need business experience, specific training or educational background, or to quit your day job. So yes, you're ready!
How It Works
5-Week Virtual Program
The Idea Factory program begins with an onboarding meeting, followed by a 5-week product discovery process, and ends with a customized plan moving forward and an opportunity to apply for grant funding to create an MVP. The Idea Factory will be offered several times a year. Each session will accept 8-10 participants with a technology-driven or manufacturing-based business idea. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
IMPORTANT DATES FOR THE FALL 2020 SESSION
- Application deadline: August 14th
- Notification of acceptance: Week of August 31st
- Orientation: Week of September 21st
- Fall session: September 28 – October 31st
WINTER 2021 DATES TBA!
The program will begin in January 2021.
What to Expect
Facilitated virtually, the program consists of live workshops and discussions led by experts in their field, individual meetings, and weekly assignments. Each Monday, from 6-9 p.m., you will learn practical and tangible lessons on how to build core interviewing skills and work on your idea.
- 5-week process to validate your idea in a group of 8-10 participants
- 1x 3-hr live workshop each week with our team to build core skills and work on your idea
- The rest of the week you will be tasked with actionable steps to test and refine your idea, including interviews of target customers (which we'll teach you how to do)
- Through the process, we will produce:
- Detailed testing plan so you'll know exactly what to do and why
- Interview script to collect valuable data from your target customer conversations
- Survey questions to turn qualitative data into quantitative data
- Market opportunity map to see if you should revise or further refine your idea
- Value proposition statement to clearly articulate why your product/service should exist
- Brand positioning overview to show what your potential business should represent to your customers
- MVP strategy* to move your idea forward or a clear understanding of why your idea does not support MVP development
* Participants who successfully complete the program, validate their idea, and plan to commit a substantial amount of time to pursue a new business will be considered for small grants and/or free resources to help create an MVP and prove out their business model.
Have questions about the Idea Factory?
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