In order to set each of you up for the most success and return on your accelerator experience we are providing you with advance work so we can roar right into your first weekend bootcamp in February.

February Assignments:  

Unless otherwise noted, items are due on February 2nd at 9 AM.  
This is listed in a detailed step-by-step fashion.
Make sure (at the minimum) you have your PRESENTATIONS AND INTERVIEWS ready to go February 2nd. 
Be sure to read everything and budget your time accordingly. 
Things listed as "tips" are just that, optional resources you can take advantage of if you wish.


  1. Watch What a Weekend Looks Like.

  2. Sign up for a free account for Udacity How To Build a Startup Course. We strongly recommend (but do not require) that you watch Udacity Lessons 1, 1.5A, 1.5B and read Steve Blank’s post on scalability

  3. LinkedIn - if you do not have one already please create a professional LinkedIn profile and join the VVM LinkedIn Group.  

  4. Meet your peers - Make a short post to the cohort slack channel of this format:
    “Hi, I’m [name] from [company]. 
    About My Company: [tweet-length description of your company].
    About us: [1 sentence of something fun about you / your team that can lead to conversation].” 

  5. Register for the Startup Accelerator Pizza Party!

  6. Be sure you filled out the Individual Entrance Survey and Company Survey (surveys are required per the contract.)

  7. Tech Tips:

    1. If you want to watch videos at high (or low) speed, check out these instructions.

    2. We often link you to templates that are Google Docs, Sheets, and Presentations.  You can’t edit the template (that would be bad for everyone else :)).  To get your own copy just go to FILE > MAKE A COPY and you’ll have your very own!

    3. We often give you specific Google Drive folders to upload documents to.  Bookmark these folders (listed below) so you can consistently find & upload to them.


One of the most important tools we use is the Business Model Canvas.  Let’s get you introduced to it so we can start off running in February!

Business Model Canvas

  1. Watch intro video Business Model Canvas Explained, a 10 minute overview of many of the key principles you need to understand to express and show your businesses value and worth.  This is the central tool we’ll be using for most of the accelerator.  If you like that video but want to know more, you can view this detailed video on Business Models (45 min).

  2. Create a blank copy of the Business Model Canvas Template.  
    If you are comfortable using Google Docs, go to FILE > MAKE A COPY.
    If you prefer using desktop Excel/Numbers, go to FILE > DOWNLOAD AS > and pick a format that works for you.

  3. Fill in the canvas.  It needs to fit on a page.  Some tips...  

    • Use bullet points, not prose-filled, grammatically correct paragraphs.

    • The Business Model Canvas Template has embedded comments that let you get additional tips and advice for just about every box!  So consider having it open in a different window while you work.


Our curriculum centers on “getting out of the building” and learning what the world needs by actually interacting with it.  Every month you will interview dozens of potential customers and/or partners. Many of our startups follow-up month-to-month with people they have already interviewed, so let your customers know you'll be calling again. In total, you should expect to complete 100 interviews by the end of the program. Let’s get you ready…

  1. Watch Customer Development vs Product Development (3 min)

  2. Watch Hypothesis Testing (2 min)

  3. Watch Quick intro on how to do customer development interviews (6 min)

  4. Call List (suggested structure for organizing your customer interviews and more)

    1. Build a Call List - (could be a simple Google Sheet like this one, or something more advanced like this) to hold your list of possible & completed interviewees. 

    2. Put potential interviewees into the Call List. Some tips…

      • Given the number of interviews you need to complete this month, you’ll need to have at least two times (2x) that many potential interviewees. Why? Because not everyone you want to talk to will be available to talk to you by your interviewing deadline. Some won’t be interested in being interviewed.

      • Remember that it takes a lot of time to actually schedule a meeting, often 1-2 weeks! Budget your time accordingly. A tip for getting meetings scheduled quicker is to frame your scheduling request like this “By any chance do you have any time, perhaps during your commute, to chat in the next day or two?” Also, MixMax and many other time saving tools out there are great tools for making it super-easy for prospects to schedule a meeting with you.

      • If you are new to interviewing then at the top of your list should be at least 10 friends, family members, or business contacts that you have a solid personal relationship with and who will give you “Lovingly Critical” feedback.

      • Need help generating prospects to call? Consider using Google/LinkedIn to find companies, organizations, clubs, etc that might have potential customers in them. Use that info, plus some keyword searches on LinkedIn, to find 1st and 2nd degree connections that might be great interviewees. Ask everyone you interview for referrals.

    3. Create Your Interview Script. Your interview must be designed to help you validate or invalidate the hypotheses you put on your Value Proposition Canvas and in turn into your Peer Percolate presentation (see below). Feel free to use one of our templates to get you started:

    4. Interview at least 30 people and log your results in your Call List.  What you learn from these interviews will be the basis of your main presentation. This is the most important part of your pre-work. Teams that do more interviews get more value out of the program. That’s not our opinion, that’s what our alumni tell us!


  1. Prepare an elevator pitch.  It is a 45-second verbal elevator pitch conforming to this template.  You’ll use it at the start of the bootcamp to introduce yourself to your peers; in breakouts; and on stage at our Friday night party, so the VVM community can match your idea to your face(s) :).

  2. Prepare your Peer Percolate Presentation.  This is a presentation, with slides, on your company's Value Proposition & Customer Segments.  You will deliver this presentation, live, to a subset of your peers on day two of the bootcamp weekend.  1/3 of you (selected at random on the first day of the bootcamp) will also deliver this same presentation to a panel of judges during our practice judging session on day three. 

    1. Requirements:

      1. No more than eight minutes long.

      2. The presentation must be in Google Presentation format.  It’s free, simple, works on any browser, and removes IT headaches at bootcamps so we can focus on value added activities.  If you are new to Google Presentations you can watch this quick video to learn how to use Google Presentations.

      3. The file name must be named {MyCompanyName}_February. 

      4. The presentation must cover all of the items listed in the February Peer Percolate Presentation Template.  It is strongly recommended (but not required) that you present them in the same order and with roughly the same time allotments as the template as well.  Feel free to alter the formatting, look, and feel of the presentation any way you like.

      5. You must deliver your final version of your presentation into the February Peer Percolate Presentation folder by Saturday, February 4th @ 8:30 AM.  Watch this video if you're confused on how to upload!

    2. Presentation Tips:

      1. Unless you are a master of presentations we strongly recommend you watch Best Practices for Presentations and read I Want To See A Dead Seagull on Every Slide!

      2. Review February Scoresheet that will be used to give you feedback and make sure your presentation is addressing these questions. 

      3. Practice this pitch - you will present it live to your peers at the bootcamp weekend.  1/3 of you (selected at random on the first day of the bootcamp) will also deliver this same presentation to a panel of judges during our practice judging session on Sunday.  Come as prepared as you can be.

  3. Prepare for MasterMind.  Prepare an informal presentation (no slides) for your Sunday MasterMind group that:

    1. Shares the most important goal you wish to complete by the next bootcamp.

    2. The steps you are planning to take to address it.

    3. The help you need. How the group can help you be accountable to reach this goal.


Optional conference call on January xx at 5:30pm US Eastern Time for any questions you have.  Please show up on time to get maximum value.  Call in number is (712) 770-4700, code=726420

Use the Slack channel (#homework) for any other questions.