Leading Aspiring Entrepreneurs from Idea Towards MVP

Now Accepting Applications for the Winter 2022 Session


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?

idea factory icon

Stop thinking and start testing at the Idea Factory, a fast-paced, 6-week virtual program where you’ll learn how to test, improve, and validate your business idea.


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 Virginia 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.

When is it offered?

The Idea Factory program is offered twice a year in the fall and winter months. Applications are due February 1, 2022, for the next winter session which runs from February 28th - April 4th (with one in-person session March 21st).

What is the commitment?

  • 10 hours per week for 6 weeks
  • Attend a virtual orientation
  • Attend 4 virtual workshops on Monday nights
  • Attend ONE (1) IN-PERSON workshop at Startup Virginia (March 21)
  • Attend a weekly office hour with a mentor or facilitator
  • 2-5 hours of homework weekly
  • Talking about your idea with others, including interviewing strangers

What is the investment?

There's no cost to you! The $500 program fee has been waived thanks to a grant awarded by GO Virginia and scholarships granted by the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and Chesterfield County. 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 additional support and free resources to help them keep going.

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!


philip deng headshot

"If your business idea is a seed, Idea Factory is a little pot of topsoil, a watering can, and a whole lot of sunshine. What sprouts up may be different from what you imagined, but this program is powerful for unlocking potential, and getting started is what it's all about."

Philip Deng

Fall 2020 participant
aga key headshot

"Idea Factory is a program that is great for individuals who have an idea and need that push to start. The startup journey is challenging and you need that support to help you navigate the journey."

Aga Key

Spring 2021 participant
adam white headshot

"If you have a burning idea and you want a program that will help you test your theory and stay accountable in a very structured manner, Idea Factory is the place to be."

Adam White

Spring 2021 participant
alex stein headshot

"Idea Factory offers an excellent opportunity to begin researching your target market. The whole team brings a wealth of knowledge to the table that makes the idea of launching a business seem a little less intimidating. It's a great place to get things started."

Alex Stein

Winter 2021 participant
rojay chase headshot

"Going through this process is a must. The Idea Factory will allow you to understand your potential customers more and also your product or service."

Rojay Chase

Fall 2020 participant

How It Works

6-Week Virtual Program

The Idea Factory program begins with an onboarding meeting, followed by a 5-week product discovery process with one in-person session during Week 4 (March 21), and ends with a plan and free resources to move forward. The Idea Factory is offered twice a year in the fall and winter. Each session will accept 6-8 participants with a technology-driven or manufacturing-based business idea.


Applications Open – January 3, 2022
Applications Close – February 1, 2022
Program Orientation – Week of February 28, 2022
Weekly Program Sessions – March 7 - April 4, 2022 (with one in-person session March 21)

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 evening, you will learn practical and tangible lessons on how to build core interviewing skills and work on your idea.

  • 6-week process to validate your idea in a group of 6-8 participants
  • 1 virtual orientation to prepare you for the program
  • 4 virtual workshops and 1 in-person workshop on Monday evenings to build core skills and work on your idea
  • 1 office hour each week to collaborate a mentor or facilitator
  • 2-5 hours of homework each week to test and refine your idea, like interviewing target customers (which we'll teach you how to do)
    • Target customer list with insight on how to find your target customer
    • 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
    • Customer experiment strategy* to move your idea forward or an 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 continued support at Startup Virginia.

Have questions about the Idea Factory?



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