Entrepreneurship Resource Nights: Product Thinking

Entrepreneurship Resource Nights: Vision and PurposeEach week you can read a recap of the previous Entrepreneurship Resource Nights (Business Plan Practicum) session. This week, instructor John Zagula (founder, Ignition Capital) lead a class featuring Ben Gilbert, founder of Pioneer Square Labs (PSL).


“You make the best products you can, and you grow as fast as you deserve to.” – David Ogilvy


This night was exciting and inspiring! We closed out the first section of the course with exploring how to take an idea to a concrete, desirable product as the basis of a business. We covered some of the very basic concepts in product thinking—from problem/solution to must have/nice to have to “minimum viable product.” In other words, making sure that whatever you’re building solves a real problem and addresses a real need or pain point for a real set of people (not just you). This need is high enough on the list that your target is motivated to act. And finally, that you find a way to validate this stuff before you spend too much time and money.

And then we had the privilege of hearing from founder, CEO, VC, all around product person, Ben Gilbert—who is now expert in doing exactly this kind of validation as a founder of Pioneer Square Labs (PSL). He shared his own personal experience as a student joining competitions and how that propelled his career. He then shared his key check points for viability and some cases of testing this viability in companies/ideas he and PSL started. And then finally, he shared his own inputs to those teams that presented ideas. Thanks so much Ben!

And thanks as well to the four folks who came forward and pitched their ideas. Good stuff, interesting ideas, good luck in recruiting your teams and in validating your ideas.

Finally, we all went upstairs to the very fun networking night. Hope you all used this as an opportunity to meet and join team, test ideas etc.

You can read a recap of the Science and Technology Showcase (STS) which preceded the networking night here.


Are you entre-curious but not sure how to begin? Have you always dreamed of creating a company? Do you already have a startup and want to take it to the next level? Students across campus are enrolled in the Business Plan Practicum (aka Resource Nights)—but you can also to drop-in and learn first-hand from local entrepreneurs the essentials of business planning and what it really takes to get a company off the ground! The ten sessions include topics such as: From idea to product; assessing risk; business models and financials; legal issues; crafting and giving a great pitch.

Resource Nights are each Thursday starting January 10 from 6 to 7:50 p.m. in PACCAR Hall 192 (Shansby Auditorium). Can’t make it in person? Lectures will be recorded and the links posted to our website weekly. View the Resource Night schedule for links and complete listing of topics and guest speakers.


Thursday, January 31 at 6:00 pm in PACCAR Hall, Shansby Auditorium (room 192)

This week, we will be moving on to step two of the whole planning process, starting with assessing the playing field into which your business will enter. Once again, we have some wonderful speakers who will bring their own perspectives and experiences to this key task, including Hope Cochran (Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group) and Jason Sokoloff (UW Foster School Librarian).

Reminder, you can drop-in or catch the recording of this weekly course.


Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge: Terri Butler
Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge: Lauren Brohawn
Dempsey Startup Competition (formerly UW Business Plan Competition): Sarah Studer

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