Find a path to startup success with the Chicago Lean Startup Challenge, a 14 week startup competition that follows the Lean Startup and Customer Development processes. Teams generate a business model hypotheses, run experiments, validate assumptions, engage customers, and document their progress; all with the support of mentors, classes and tools. Along with invaluable learning, finalists will showcase their venture for the distribution of $75,000 in cash and prizes. Think of the Chicago Lean Startup Challenge as the opposite of a business plan competition. Instead of creating huge documents and proformas, you will create minimum viable products and validated learning. The Chicago Lean Startup Challenge is based on The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Customer Development by Steve Blank and the Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder.
When your startup is lost in the fog and confusion of a myriad of choices we will help your team with guidance through classes and resources, access to innovative startup software tools, and connection to some of the best mentors the Chicago community has to offer.
It starts with a one day intensive Lean Startup Bootcamp, in which you’ll learn about business model generation, the build-measure-learn cycle, and the how and why of customer interviews. After that, you’ll get learning materials, checklists, and access to classes on a weekly basis. We will help you connect to our panel of mentors to give your startup guidance, and keep your teams focus on track. After 10 weeks, our judges will select 4 finalists to receive extra mentoring, design and development help to accelerate their progress over a 4 week period. Theses teams will even receive multiple sessions of one-on-one pitch coaching from Troy Henikoff, CEO of Excelerate Labs. Each of the final 4 teams will have the opportunity to showcase what they learned from the Challenge in front of members of the tech community and compete for at least $75,000 in cash and prizes.
The 2012 Challenge
One hundred and five teams with two hundred and eighy people entered the Challenge. Together they interviewed over a thousand customers, they built websites, they pivoted, they drew customers to their sites, they collected data, they helped each other without wanting anything in return and they did an incredible amount of work during the Challenge. We are so proud of them.
“Unlike business plan competitions, the Lean Startup Challenge focuses on real, meaningful results for the participants. The final presentations provided insights into the area where so many startups fail – understanding their customer!”
- Nik Rokop, Managing Director at Knapp
Entrepreneurship Center, IIT
“I haven’t ever had the desire to join a contest because they typically seemed like ivory tower competitions for MBA’s with lots to say and not much to show for it. This was so much different. In a short time, the challenge pushed me to build relationships in the tech, agriculture, and foodie communities, and to build pieces of technology that I can actually measure and test. The people I met through you and the tips I received were night-and-day compared to the path I was going down just a few months ago. I would recommend to any starting entrepreneur that they participate in this challenge.”
- Traci Schaefer, Farm Fixe