Resource Night Recap: Startup Company Planning

Resource Night Class Startup Company Planning

Each week you can read a recap of the previous class session from the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s Amy Sallin. If you have questions about the startup lecture series, Buerk Center competitions like the UW Business Plan Competition, the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge or the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, email Amy at [email protected].

The January 26 Resource Nights class was the first of four sessions focusing on the planning of a startup company. This session looked at how to assess the risks and opportunities you’ll face as you’re developing your product and plan. A livestream is available to watch from your computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.” Sun Tzu

Instructor John Zagula might not be an ancient Chinese military strategist, but he’s certainly the embodiment of a modern entrepreneurial strategist! Using this wisdom, Zagula defined and discussed the importance of the “three Cs” foundational to your business: Customers, Competitors, and Competencies. Starting with the importance of customer development and following up with in-depth research on your competitors will position you to define your own competencies. For many entrepreneurs, knowing yourself and honestly identifying your own (or your company’s) weakness can be difficult. But doing the work of customer discovery and competitive analysis will give you the knowledge to understand yourself and hopefully help you become a stronger and more successful entrepreneur.

Guest speaker Warren Gouk, COO at Limeade, continued the discussion of the importance of understanding your opportunities and risks. In the discussion about maximizing your opportunity, he asked the question, “Are you building a company vs. product vs. feature?” An idea that has the potential to become a company solves a real problem in the marketplace with enough customers willing to pay for the solution. A product or feature are “nice to have” items, but they don’t solve a problem. Check out the class video and PPT to dive deeper into Gouk’s overview of assessing risks, a framework to help identify and evaluate risks, and more wisdom from this experienced entrepreneur and investor.


Resource Nights: Your play—picking your bet and market entry strategy to win (Startup Company Planning Part 2)

Thursday, February 2, 6:00 pm in Paccar Hall, Shansby Auditorium (room 192)

Next week’s speakers are from two very diverse companies—Sightlife is dedicated to eliminating corneal blindness around the world, Luxoft provides innovative IT solutions to multinational corporations.  Monty Montoya, CEO of Sightlife, and Lincoln Popp and Anders Brown, Managing Directors at Luxoft, will talk about how they are establishing unique identities in the market and building their brands.

Pitch Workshop with John Zagula

Thursday, February 2, 4:30–5:40 pm, Dempsey Hall room 211 (Innovation Lab)

John will lead an informal pitch workshop to help students preparing to enter the HIC, EIC, or BPC (and there’s plenty of pitching involved in the competitions!). As an investor John has heard hundreds (probably thousands) of pitches and knows how to get the message across to wow judges and investors. We’ll supply pizza, so please email Amy to RSVP.

“…doing the work of customer discovery and competitive analysis will give you the knowledge to understand yourself (or your startup idea) better and hopefully help you become a stronger and more successful entrepreneur.”


Last week was the 11th Annual Science & Technology Showcase (STS), sponsored by SEBA and the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. Eleven teams presented their ideas in this very competitive poster competition, followed by a 60-second pitch to the 13 judges. View the results of this exciting event! Special thanks to sponsors Washington Technology Industry Association; Nanostring Technologies; Davis Wright Tremaine; and WRF Capital. Following the STS was the well-attended Networking Night. Hopefully, many team connections were formed to enter the HIC, EIC, and BPC!


Working on your prototype and plan for the Environmental Innovation Challenge or Health Innovation Challenge? Early team registration is now open for the HIC, and will open Monday the 30th for the EIC! Visit the websites for details and registration link.


Need guidance you prepare your entry for the HIC, EIC or BPC? Check out our Office Hours and programs. Please note: Office Hours and MentorConnect are only open to students!


An opportunity to meet 1-on-1 for 30 minutes with expert  mentors in various fields, including legal, clean-tech and intellectual property. Open to all teams entering the HIC, EIC and/or BPC. Registration for appointments will open soon via the MentorConnect website, and additional experts will be added for each date. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 9, 3:00-­5:00, Dempsey Hall 211, Herbold Innovation Lab.

Mentors for this session include John Plaza and Mike Moyer. John has broad clean tech interests and experience and is a UW Clean Energy Institute supported entrepreneur in residence at CoMotion. He can help you think about product strategy and convincing prototypes. Mike is a partner at Cairncross & Hempelmann and has a broad legal background including intellectual property, cleantech and more.

Thursday, February 16, 3:00-­5:00, Dempsey Hall 211, Herbold Innovation Lab.

Mentors for this session will include John Plaza (see above), as well as Josh Binder, director of Advanced Manufacturing Development at Boeing. Josh has excellent experience in cleantech, engineering, manufacturing, and R&D.


Our MentorConnect site is a great way to connect with a professional via email for advice, questions, and feedback. The site requires a UW login, so if you’re a student from another college or university contact me for a guest login.


Do you have an idea for a scientific technology that could benefit society? Apply for a National Science Foundation I-Corps grant! The I-Corp program focuses on agile innovation tied to customer discovery while providing networking opportunities, resources, and financial support to help move projects forward. Each I-Corps grant will provide $2,500 to eligible teams as they gain first-hand feedback from potential customers and clients by attending conferences, or traveling to talk to customers first-hand. If  you’re preparing to enter the Health Innovation Challenge, Environmental Innovation Challenge, and the Business Plan Competition I strongly encourage you to apply. Deadline to apply is February 16. Questions? Email [email protected]

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