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UW I-Corps Mentor Experience

Program impact

You can make a difference! The UW I-Corps Site program trains on average 60-80 teams per year. Those teams then move on to compete in UW gap funding and business plan competitions, and the I-Corps National program.

Teams having participated in the UW I-Corps program are funded at a much higher rate (70%) in the UW gap funding than teams who did not participate in I-Corps (40%).

Team who attend the I-Corps national program receive follow on funding at a high rate compared with teams who do not attend the program (See NSF’s biennial report on the I-Corps program).

Forms of engagment

  • Follow a team through the whole program (10-12 hours)
  • Drop-in to the bootcamp sessions (1-2 hours per session)
  • Give feedback at pitch sessions (2-4 hour sessions)

Mentor role relative to team objectives

Team objectives

In six short weeks teams will have to: 

  • Create and update a Lean Canvas through customer interviewing
  • Conduct five interviews per week (25 total), capturing insights and linking them to their online canvas
  • Prepare a presentation of their learnings and prospective new venture

How mentors can help

  • Help the teams test their business model hypothesis
  • Help team discover/utilize their own social network
  • Teach how to get customer discovery meetings
  • Teach how to listen, not sell
  • Teach how to think past the technology to focus on the business model
  • Teach how to Iterate and Pivot (collect and use data)
  • Provide specific actionable (not vague) advice
  • Be challenging but not destructive

What past mentors have said about the program

“This program was a great learning experience for me too. It also made me realize how relevant my experience is to some of these teams. I was nervous at first about being able to provide adequate support or feedback, but so many of these teams are in infancy, and so, many of the problems they have I am very familiar with as a long-time business owner and consultant. Overall, I loved it. Thank you for providing this opportunity! It was fantastic!”

- Chandler Lewis, CoMotion Labs CEO

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