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Flemming CEED Center announces Customer Discovery Lab

by Penn State Berks

Jan 18, 2021
Penn State Berks

Budding entrepreneurs are invited to apply for the Penn State Berks Flemming Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED) Center’s Customer Discovery Lab, a six-week series of workshops that will provide commercialization training and mentorship, as well as the opportunity to apply for micro-grants, for up to 30 startup teams per year. The deadline for applications is January 29, and applications can be found at sites.psu.edu/ceed. This opportunity is open to Penn State faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, recent alumni and community members interested in exploring the commercial viability of their idea or innovation.

The Penn State Berks Flemming CEED Center’s Customer Discovery Lab and spring 2021 weekly workshops will begin on February 17. These “boot camp” style trainings will help entrepreneurs to begin customer discovery, learn about the commercialization process, network with experienced entrepreneurs, and determine if a market exists for their innovation.

Participants will learn how to develop a business model, validate their business model through a scientific process, get feedback from faculty experts and other entrepreneurs, and work one-on-one with experienced entrepreneurs who serve as mentors. 

Participants will also be eligible to apply for a micro-grant of up to $3,000, which can be used to attend industry trade shows, visit potential customers, develop prototypes, and cover customer discovery expenses, and they can apply for an I-Corps National Teams $50,000 grant award after completing the program.

The Iab’s lead faculty includes Sadan Kulturel-Konak, professor of management information systems, and Abdullah Konak, professor of information sciences and technology. Kulturel-Konak is also the director of the Flemming CEED Center and the coordinator for the entrepreneurship and innovation (ENTI) minor. 

Kulturel-Konak summarized, “You can’t test your business idea inside the building. You can’t build your business in a laboratory. Together we can easily see whether a business model can succeed, or what it needs to do so. I feel really good about how much we have been able to help our teams in our Customer Discovery Lab sessions.”

Eligible projects must be in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM), and teams should be composed of three individuals: an academic lead who will serve as principal investigator, typically a Penn State faculty or staff member; an entrepreneurial lead, typically a student, faculty/staff member, recent alumnus or community member; and a business mentor who will provide experienced perspectives to the team. Business mentors may be assigned if necessary. Teams must commit to attending the required workshops and cohort meetings and must perform a minimum of 30 customer interviews by the end of the program.

For more information and to apply, please visit sites.psu.edu/ceed.

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