The SmartStart program is an excellent resource for anyone with a business idea. Our approach is designed to educate and guide entrepreneurs through process of validating and growing their idea. You’ll develop essential entrepreneurial skills while building a roadmap that details your business opportunity. After completing the program, you’ll have a solid understanding of what it takes to create a sustainable business.

Course Details

The program involves six separate class sessions, over the course of 6-7 weeks, along with homework outside the class. Each class session lasts for about 2 hours and is typically held after work hours (for example, 5-7pm). The work you complete throughout the course ultimately becomes the content for your pitch deck. To graduate from the SmartStart program, you will pitch your idea to a group of community members.

Session topics include:

So What? What’s your idea? What’s the problem? Where does your idea fit?
Who Cares? Who’s your customer? What’s your path to market? Where’s the money?
Why You? What’s your competitive edge? Can you execute? What’s your value proposition?

You’ll get access to experienced business experts (legal, intellectual property, marketing, research, financial) and the guidance of SmartStart Program Director Jason Mack. He provides entrepreneurial coaching to help you develop a business value proposition for your technology ideas. His experience in startup development provides the resources you need to launch your product into the marketplace. Outcomes include:

  • A full understanding of all components of your business – not just your idea
  • Understand how to captivate a market and identify target customers
  • Knowledge to build a team
  • Calculate funding needed and understand ways to access it
  • Protect the idea through trademarks, copyrights and patents
  • Present ideas to investors for feedback
  • When necessary, the ability to create a business plan


Anyone with an idea or existing business is welcome to apply. Our mentoring and coaching program welcomes community members, students, researchers, and local business people who are passionate about their ideas. Ideas/businesses do not have to be technology related.

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Cost for the program:

$100 per applicant


Our coaches are certified in the Wendy Kennedy pre-incubation program and provide step-by-step guidance to help you clearly articulate how your technology idea will fill an unmet marketplace need. Coaching materials include:

  • Wendy Kennedy’s, “So What? Who Cares? Why You?” manual
  • Business Model Generation
  • Start-Up Owners Manual
  • A Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company