LEAP 2014 Has Begun! Week 1 & 2 Recap

LEAP has begun! Every week we'll be giving recaps and pictures of all the activities, speakers, and field trips the students participate in. Below are the summaries of the first two weeks.

Day 1: The program began with a fun scavenger hunt to help students get acquainted with LaunchHouse and their fellow students. For lunch, students were treated to a taco bar from Abuelo’s. After lunch, students were told the “house rules”, assigned work spaces, and given a general agenda regarding the 6 week program. Finally, the LEAP staff consulted with each team to address any individual concerns.

 Day 2: On Day 2 students got down to business. They learned the most important idea for start ups: customer validation. Customer validation is the idea that business owners should first interview potential customers to see if their product is providing a solution to a pain point for customers. In order to learn interviewing skills, students participated in an interactive activity in which they designed potential question sets and had to test them out on each other. The final activity of the day consisted of the LEAP students practicing their interview questions on the LEAP staff and each other.

Day 3:  In the morning students were given a lot of time to work on their businesses. Students checked out conference rooms, researched their products and began to prep for their report outs on Friday. The LEAP staff also helped several teams find experienced mentors within the LaunchHouse, who told students several pitfalls to avoid when starting a business and referred students to useful vendors within the Cleveland area.

Day 4: Students went to Legacy Village to interview potential customers. Each team got between 10-20 interviews. Afterwards, they came back to LaunchHouse to do data analysis and to learn public speaking, through an interactive activity and presentation.

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Day 5: Friday was the first pitch day. After a lunch of Dave's Cosmic Subs, we also had our first guest speaker: Michael DeAloia. Michael is the former "tech czar" of Cleveland, and is a noted author, entrepreneur and investor in the Cleveland area. Michael spoke to the students and also listened to some of their pitches, giving them feedback and even asking to mentor some of them one-on-one in the following days. We ended the day with the students giving pitches, practicing their public speaking skills.--after a vote, Mahak Jain won as the Best Speaker.

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Week 2

Day 1: Day 1 started off with a fun activity to shake off the Monday blues.  Students were asked to brainstorm possible pitfalls of their own and others’ products/ideas. The teams were then handed a very intensive questionnaire that helped weed out further potential problems with their ideas. After students finished the questionnaire the entire LEAP group met as whole to discuses what they found by working through the questionnaire. To end the day the LEAP staff worked with the teams to begin designing marketing plans for their products.

Day 2: Students on Tuesday were asked to validate their ideas and solutions in the community once again. The LEAP staff ushered students to Eaton Square, Shaker Square, and Coventry in order to interview potential customers.

Day 3: On Wednesday students took a step back and re-evaluated each of their ideas. They were aided in doing so with a business model canvas. The business model canvas is a tool, invented by entrepreneurial guru Steve Blank,  that allows one to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot one’s business model. Students were given the majority of the day to work on their canvases. To finish off the day the LEAP staff gave a presentation on emailing. Through an interactive activity, students learned the importance and method of cold emailing.

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Day 4: Since many students were on break, day 4 was a very informal day. Students did mini report outs regarding their business model canvases to the LEAP staff. They were given advice about how to effectively find their target markets and make a low fidelity minimum viable product for the business model canvas. Students were then dismissed before lunch time so they could get an early start on their July 4th weekends!