“The Lean LaunchPad course was a terrific way for me to force myself to figure out whether what our team was considering could be an actual business that could make money. It was great to learn from potential customers before even investing a lot of time and money.” David Bond of Search Site Partners, Springfield, MA

Lean LaunchPad is an 8-week course, offered on consecutive Fridays, that takes teams down the pathway of building an idea into a venture by creating an entrepreneurial experience with all of the pressures and demands of an actual early-stage startup.

This model teaches budding entrepreneurs how to assess whether their idea or product concept has a realistic opportunity for profitability and can serve as the basis of a business. This course can also be adapted for social entrepreneurship as well. The best part? Before you invest significant funds, you can find out what the customers really want and “pivot” if necessary — which is essential for startup success.

How does it work?

You will not write a business plan or do library research. You and your team will talk to actual customers and partners for their idea, experiencing the chaos and uncertainty of how a startup actually works. You’ll learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a company and customer discovery to get out of the classroom, talking to real prospects to see if anyone other than you would want/use your product. Each week will be a new adventure as you test another part of your business model and share this knowledge with the rest of the class.

You must attend all classes in the sequence and dedicate a significant amount of time outside of class. Conceptual business ideas can be across any commercial spectrum.

Why Take This Course?

You will learn the business skills it takes to bring your idea from conception to market.

These include:

  • Actively listening and engaging your customers to find out what exactly they want in your product and how you should deliver it to them.
  • Gathering, evaluating, and using customer feedback to make your product, marketing, and business model stronger.
  • Engaging your customers through the three phases of the customer relationship management lifecycle: get, keep, and grow.
  • Identifying key resources, partners, activities, and distribution channels required to deliver your product to your customer.
  • Calculating your direct and indirect costs for delivering your product.

Lean LaunchPad: The Week-by-Week Course Outline

  • Introduction to all the parts of a business model
  • Define your value proposition — what problem do you solve?
  • Determine who the customer is for your product
  • Develop a theory of what channels you would sell through
  • Find what activities will keep and grow the customer base
  • Create a revenue model
  • Learn about resources needed and develop an expense model
  • The teams present their business plans to the class

How to Apply

The course is open to Elms College students and alumni, members of the general public, and the business community. Elms College is the only academic institution offering the Lean LaunchPad course in the Pioneer Valley.

To apply, please contact the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at cel@elms.edu.

8-week course fee: $550 per person/$2000 for a team of 3-5.

Lean LaunchPad Course Outcome

The outcome of the class is an investment-ready business model and commercialization plan for the idea or technology that the team has been exploring. Equally important is the experiential and evidence-based learning that will inform and shape the students’ ongoing research.