Leading Aspiring Entrepreneurs
from Idea Towards MVP

Applications for Fall '23 Cohort open August 1 - September 7, 2023

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, 7-week hybrid 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 accessible resources and education for those considering entrepreneurship.


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 can apply. Idea Factory provides the training, resources, and support to test your idea and help you decide whether you are ready to take the next steps toward becoming an entrepreneur.

When is it offered?

The Idea Factory program is offered twice a year in the fall and spring months. Applications for Fall Cohort (Oct - Nov) open August 1. This hybrid program has two sessions at the 1717 Innovation Center in downtown Richmond and four sessions on Zoom. 

What is the commitment?

  • 10 hours per week for seven (7) weeks
  • Attend two (2) IN-PERSON workshops at 1717 E Cary St on weeks 1 and 4 (6 - 9 PM)
  • Attend four (4) virtual workshops (6 - 9 PM) on weeks 2, 3, 5, and 6
  • Check in weekly with a mentor or facilitator
  • 2-5 hours of homework weekly
  • Talking about your idea with others, including interviewing strangers

What is the investment?

It's FREE! The program is offered thanks to a grant awarded by GO Virginia and scholarships granted by the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and Chesterfield County. Participants who complete the program, validate their idea, and plan to commit a substantial amount of time to pursue a new business will be considered for additional support and free resources to help them keep going.

Am I ready?

If you have an idea and a willingness to explore starting something new, then apply! You don't need business experience, specific training,  educational background, or need to quit your day job. 


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

7-Week Virtual Program

The Fall 2023 Idea Factory program is a 7-week product discovery process with two in-person sessions at Startup Virginia on October 2 and 23. Participants finish the program with a plan and free resources to move forward. The Idea Factory is offered twice a year in the fall and spring. Each cohort accepts 6-8 participants with a technology-driven or manufacturing-based business idea.


Applications Open – August 1, 2023
Applications Close – September 7, 2023
Kick-off Session Monday, October 2, 2023, from 6 - 9 PM at Startup Virginia
Weekly Program Sessions – Monday evenings from 6 - 9 PM, October 9 - November 13, 2023.

What to Expect

The program consists of live workshops and discussions led by experts in their field, individual meetings, and weekly assignments. Each Monday evening, you'll learn practical and tangible lessons on how to build core interviewing skills and work on your idea.

  • 7-week process to validate your idea in a group of 6-8 participants
  • In-person Kick-off to prepare you for the program
  • Four (4) virtual workshops and two (2) in-person workshops on Monday evenings to build core skills and work on your idea
  • One open week to work on customer surveys
  • Weekly check-ins to collaborate with 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 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.

Applications for Fall '23 Cohort open August 1 - September 7, 2023

Have questions about the Idea Factory?


Startup Virginia logo
BDLR logo


Go Virginia Logo
Activation Capital Logo
henrico county EDA logo