For many DU graduates, starting a new business is the preferred path for combining classroom learning with specific industry expertise to create a new product or service that fills a customer need with a better solution. The rewards of entrepreneurship are well-publicized and frequently glamorized – but the reality of transforming an idea into a company can be more challenging and time-consuming than originally envisioned.
Based on lessons from successful startups, steps that can help aspiring DU entrepreneurs include:
- Make your idea specific – clearly define the product or service so that a potential customer or investor understands exactly what you’re proposing, (A “new app that will revolutionize retail” isn’t specific).
- Define the market – who’s the most likely buyer? (It can’t be everyone).
- What specific need are you filling or what problem are you solving? (Make sure you’re looking through the eyes of a customer rather than your own).
- What competition exists? (Even if you think your idea is completely new, there’s probably a company already offering a product to your target market, even if it’s not exactly like yours).
- What price do you expect a customer to pay – and based on what research? Can you define the value to the customer that supports your proposed price?
- What percentage of the market or how many customers are needed to succeed? (If you need 50% of the market, it’s not likely)
- What resources, team, technology and marketing will be needed to turn your idea into a company?
While the founders of Facebook and Apple arguably created demand for something that didn’t exist, most startups succeed by identifying a specific market need that isn’t being met, or being able to service an existing need at a lower price.
The building blocks of the DU curriculum prepare graduates for success in a number of fields, but putting all the ingredients together in a recipe that bakes a successful startup can require additional expertise – or access to people who have already been down the same road.
For some entrepreneurs, an “accelerator” provides the dynamic environment that lets them put the pieces together in an intensive short-term program that offers high levels of mentor support, a curriculum specifically tailored to the needs of a startup and access to industry experts who can validate a market need or suggest an effective pivot. Typically, the accelerator’s goal is to help the startup team develop a complete business plan for presentation to potential investors – and hopefully secure funding that will let them bring their product to market.
Traxion, a new business accelerator in Golden, is now soliciting applications from all types of non-manufacturing startups, with a preferred focus on Technology, Environment and Energy.
Participation will require 12 weeks of dedicated immersion in the program starting in late August. A funding stipend to cover short-term development expenses will be provided.
Entrepreneurs with a business idea, team and preliminary market analysis interested in working with Traxion, can learn more now.
About the Author: Bud Rockhill provides hands-on support to mid market companies as an advisor or Board member to improve sustainable profitability and scale through management processes, organizational design or infrastructure. He has been the CEO, President or owner of four companies in three industries over the last 25 years, and three of the companies he has led have been sold to outside investors.