Idea TestLab course to help entrepreneurs identify customer problems

February 01, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Penn State Harrisburg will hold an Idea TestLab, an intensive five-week startup course for University and community entrepreneurs at Startup Harrisburg, Feb. 21 through March 21. The course is sponsored by Invent Penn State and the Penn State Harrisburg School of Business Administration.

Classes will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Startup Harrisburg, 922 N. 3rd St., a co-working space in Midtown Harrisburg.

“The Idea TestLab is the first of many future community-facing Penn State Harrisburg offerings for local entrepreneurs,” said Penn State Harrisburg Chancellor John M. Mason Jr. “It is an opportunity for us to extend our Invent Penn State mission to the surrounding community.”

The non-credit program focuses on the customer discovery process, in which participants will validate the customer problems they hope to solve with their proposed business ideas. Class participants will engage in a rigorous process of interviewing 40 potential customers face-to-face to understand their customer needs and how they will create value in a differentiated way.

“Customer discovery is a rigorous, but vital process for entrepreneurs,” said Annie Hughes, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Most startups fail not because the products don’t work, but because there is lack of clarity of the customer problem or need. This course will show entrepreneurs how to anticipate and address these issues.”

The non-credit program focuses on the customer discovery process, in which participants will validate the customer problems they hope to solve with their proposed business ideas.

Idea TestLab is open to any individuals or small teams with an early-stage business idea. The program is designed for new or complex business models that are scalable. No affiliation with Penn State is required to participate. The class is free-of-charge but participation is by application only.

Applicants must apply at harrisburg.psu.edu/invent/events/idea-testlab/application by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, to be considered. For more information, visit harrisburg.psu.edu/invent/events/idea-testlab.

The course concludes with a pitch competition on March 21, in which participants present their business pitches and compete for up to $2500 in seed funding. The pitch competition will be held 6 to 8 pm at Startup Harrisburg and is open to the public.

Invent Penn State is a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship- focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university-community collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind.

Last Updated February 01, 2019