West Central Virtual Cohort 2021

This 20-Week Lean Startup Program is designed to be FREE to entrepreneurs and soon-to-be-entrepreneurs of West Central Minnesota (from St. Cloud to Brainerd to Moorhead to everywhere in between). During the 20 weeks, participants will work on their startup ideas with coaching, training, and mentoring to support and accelerate their business. The program culminates in a pitch night where each startup will pitch to local investors.

This West Central Cohort is sponsored by the generous support of LaunchMN and local sponsors across West Central MN. THANK YOU!!

January 5, 2021 to May 20, 2021

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

*Program cost is FREE
**Limited spots available

Important Dates

Applications Open


Applications Due


Program Duration

1/5/21 – 5/18/21

Pitch Night


“We are excited to partner with ILT Academy to support more entrepreneurs in West Central Minnesota.”

Patti Gartland
President of Greater St. Cloud Development Corp.

West Central Virtual 2021 - sponsors

Program Details

This 20-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 01/05/2021 to 05/18/2021

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 motivation and grit. The 20-Week Lean Startup Program will build startup skills as participants work on their business ideas.

Am I eligible to apply to the program?
Priority will be given to founders and startups based in West Central MN. 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.

Program Overview

The 20-Week Lean Startup Program is ideal for teams and individuals who are just starting to shape their ideas, or have an existing product that they want to develop and grow like a startup. The program combines remote learning, remote collaboration, and remote coaching to help participants test and refine their business ideas. Over the 20-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 pitch night where teams will have the opportunity to present to regional startup investors and get feedback from those investors.

Program Series Outline

100 Series // 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.

200 Series // Customer Driven Innovation – 5 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.

300 Series // Developing Your Lean Startup – 9 Sessions

Participants will find and identify early adopters to create raving fans of their business ideas. Participants will develop better value propositions, build prototypes, and gather better feedback to fully understand the processes of a lean startup.

  • Iterate and finalize a lean canvas (business plan)
  • Test hypotheses and assumptions
  • Build and test quick prototypes
  • Develop a lean startup plan
  • Develop clear and concise pitches for seed funding

// Benefit to Participants
Participants will learn and practice lean startup methods to reduce disk and increase opportunities for success. Participants will present clear and concise pitches for seed funding in front of regional startup investors.

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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