Innovate 218 Fall Cohort 2022 Powered by ILT Academy

This 10-Week Lean Startup Program is designed to be FREE to all entrepreneurs and soon-to-be-entrepreneurs of the NE Minnesota Region (Aitkin, Carlton, Duluth, Grand Portage, Grand Rapids, Milaca, Mora, Princeton, Two harbors, and all areas in between). This program coaches, supports, and boosts entrepreneurs and soon-to-be-entrepreneurs on their lean startup journeys.

August 29, 2022 to November 07, 2022

Duration: Every monday Evening
Time: 6pm – 10pm

*Program cost is FREE
**Limited spots available

Important Dates

Applications Open


Applications Due


Program Starts


Founder Showcase


“Innovate 218 is excited to partner with ILT Academy to support more entrepreneurs in North East MN.”

Tamara Lowney
President, Itasca Economic Development Corporation

Program Details

This 10-Week Lean Startup Program coaches, supports, and boosts entrepreneurs and soon-to-be-entrepreneurs on their lean startup journeys. While working on their business ideas, participants will learn and practice the skills needed to refine, explore, innovate, and develop a plan for their business ideas. Participants will connect with fellow entrepreneurs, coaches, and mentors to be a part of the Minnesota community of startup entrepreneurs.

Session Dates //
Every Tuesday from 8/29/2022 to 11/07/2022

Session Times //
6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Session Location //
Online (virtual meetings)

How much does this program cost?
The program is *FREE* to all participants. The program is subsidized through the generous sponsors above.

Who should apply?
Participants do not need any startup experience nor a fully formed idea for a startup — just ambition, motivation and grit. The 10-Week Lean Startup Program will build startup skills as participants work on their business ideas.

Am I eligible to apply to the program?
Any one from MN can apply for our virtual program. Priority will be given to founders and startups based in North East MN area. There are a limited number of seats available; the acceptance rate will be very competitive. However, if there are additional spaces, the program will consider participants outside the priority areas. We encourage you to apply regardless of your current location.

Who Should Apply

The 10-Week Lean Startup Program is ideal for teams and individuals who are just starting to shape their ideas, or have an existing product or business that they want to develop and grow like a startup. High Tech, Low Tech, No Tech business ideas, as well as non-profits are welcome. The program combines remote learning, remote collaboration, and remote coaching to help participants test and refine their business ideas. Over the 10-week period, participants will learn and practice how to:

  • Explore and refine ideas
  • Assess the market potential
  • Reduce risk
  • Validate products, customers, and markets
  • Prepare for future development
  • Prepare for investment

The course will conclude with a virtual founder showcase where teams will have the opportunity to present to regional startup community, business leaders and potential investors.

Program Series Outline

Startup Innovation – 4 Sessions

Participants will learn and practice the ILT Innovation Framework, in order to focus on actual problems, explore market opportunities, and articulate possible marketable solutions.

  • Identify new startup opportunities
  • Deconstruct ideas, refine ideas, and explore new ideas
  • Develop a clear and concise 30-second pitch for each opportunity

// Benefit to Participants
Participants will learn and practice the processes and techniques to define and refine an idea’s core problem, solution, customer, and the potential opportunity surrounding that idea.

Customer Driven Innovation – 4 Sessions

Participants will learn and practice advanced customer interviewing methods to gather, analyze, and discover insights to ensure the right problem is being solved with the right solution for the right customer in the right context.

  • Start a lean business model canvas
  • Define target market, target customers, and customer segments
  • Interview target customers
  • Develop a strong 5-min customer thesis presentation

// Benefit to Participants
Participants will learn and practice advanced customer interview methods to ensure they are solving the right problem, with the right solution, for the right customer, in the right context. Participants will develop a strong customer thesis presentation, ensuring a fuller understanding of their lean canvas.

Founder Showcase

Participants will craft a 5 minute video presentation and share their lean startup concept and business idea with an actionable plan to move their business forward.

  • Iterate and finalize a lean canvas (business plan)
  • Develop a lean startup action plan
  • Develop and executive summary of your busines idea
  • Develop a business abstract for furture investment and grant opportunities
  • Develop clear and concise presentation for their lean startup concept

// Benefit to Participants
Participants will learn and practice lean startup action planning, develop their founder story and present a clear and concise pitch in front of local and regional community and business leaders.

Recent Graduates

Founder Stories

“Attending ILT’s customer discovery class was a game-changer for Otrafy. The skills that ILT shared with us helped us create our discovery funnel, which allowed us to find product-market fit and build a pipeline of priorities for our development.”

Lucas Cunha
Co-Founder and COO, Otrafy

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Co-Founders // Nhat Nguyen (CEO) & Lucas Cunha (COO)

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Co-Founders // Allison Borum (CEO) & Abby Henstein (COO)

“Having ILT Academy’s support in our business has been a great experience for Virtuwoof. We have gained so much useful knowledge we’re able to directly apply to our business strategy. The activities we completed built up our confidence and were critical to our success in launching our first startup!”

Allison Borum
Co-Founder and CEO, Virtuwoof

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