Brave Launch is a business accelerator modeled off of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps accelerator program and Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad. The foundation of the program is evidence-based entrepreneurship and agile development, which pushes teams out into the real world to gain insight and develop their business model through customer discovery. A seven week intensive program, the accelerator intends to spur economic development and to accelerate the development of innovative companies. The program culminates in a pitch-day , where the participants will have the opportunity to pitch to investors and those interested from the community.
For additional insights into the program, view this video from our 2016 Brave Launch graduates.
Who is involved with organizing Brave Launch?
The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) staff at Bradley University provides the management and instruction for Brave Launch. The SBDC is part of the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship in the Foster College of Business. Guidance and support is also provided by local entities and individuals involved in the overall Greater Peoria startup community.
Is this like Startup Weekend?
There are similarities in that both programs use the principles of lean startup, teamwork, and pitches to refine business ideas and innovation. However, Brave Launch’s format over seven weeks allows for much greater development and refinement of a product or business idea. The longer timeframe also provides for significantly more customer discovery, which is key to the success of a new business idea.
What value do I get out of participating in Brave Launch?
The most important value you will receive from participating in Brave Launch is the opportunity to develop your business idea using the latest in innovation and business development techniques. It also means access to mentors and advisors, and the potential during pitch-day to present your ideas to more than five organized investor organizations.
Has this program been offered before?
Yes. We have offered Brave Launch since 2016 to central Illinois. To our knowledge, this is the first business accelerator training and mentoring program in this region.
What is the cost and what is included?
The cost is $699 per team, which includes all meals for up to four team members, study materials including a copy of Steve Blank’s The Startup Owner’s Manual and the book Business Model Generation written by Alexander Osterwalder. It also includes access to all our mentors and advisers at no cost.
Does Brave Launch take any equity?
No. Brave Launch is strictly a business accelerator and training program supported by Bradley University, sponsors and team registration fees. On pitch-day, you will have the opportunity to seek investment from equity investors. There will also be $5,000 in prize monies awarded.
Participants & Registration
Who can apply to participate in Brave Launch?
Brave Launch is designed for anyone with an idea that they would like to develop into a business opportunity. The program does not focus on a specific industry, so ideas across all types of businesses are welcome. We anticipate applications from startup companies with a new business idea to existing businesses seeking to expand their business.
How many people can be on a team?
Teams will consist of a maximum of 4 members. We recommend that a team have 3 - 4 members, but we will consider teams of only 2 members.
What is the application and due date?
Submit an initial application which will include contact name and contact information along with their team member's name and contact information, a brief business idea and a bio of all team members. Once your application is received, you will then be emailed a template to complete a Business Model Canvas. Application deadline is 5pm on Monday, August 26, 2019. Click here to go to the Application Process Page
Is there a cost to apply?
There is no cost to apply. However, finalist will be required to go through an interview as part of the selection process for the final ten teams. The interviews are scheduled for August 28 - 30 and qualifying applicants will be contacted to schedule an interview. The cost to selected teams will be $699 to participate in the program.
Is this only for “Tech” Companies?
No, any company or business idea can be part of Brave Launch. The innovation system that we are teaching will help any type of business to develop an appropriate business model. The teams that are part of this accelerator are looking to develop products or services that want to create scalable and repeatable business models.
How many teams will be accepted for the program?
This year we will accept up to 10 teams.
Why is there an application process and how are teams selected?
We anticipate a strong interest in this program; therefore are limiting participation to ten teams. We require the application process to ensure the teams with the highest level of commitment to participation are part of the program. Selection of the final ten teams will be based on the overall quality of the business model canvas, demonstrated commitment of the team members, and performance at the team interview.
How can I participate if not part of a team?
If you have expertise to offer, we welcome you to contact us about becoming a mentor or an advisor. The general public will also be invited to attend the pitch-day contest. Regular sessions within Brave Launch are open only to team members, mentors, and advisors.
May student teams apply?
Students are welcome to apply as long as they can attend all of the Brave Launch sessions.
Format & Structure of the Program
What is the overall structure of the program?
Brave Launch is a seven week intensive program that culminates in a pitch-day , where the participants will have the opportunity to pitch to investors and those interested from the community. Brave Launch begins with a three-day bootcamp introducing the business model canvas and teams make initial pitches. This is followed by seven shorter sessions. Please visit the website for an overview of dates.
Will this be endless lectures?
No, most of the classes will be “flipped classroom” learning. Meaning that the team members will watch videos , conduct interviews and work on their presentations outside of class time. During class we will have team presentations, answer questions, and provide overviews of upcoming topics.
Do I have to be at every class?
No, but your team will still need to present at every class. Every team member will not need to be present.
Can I apply with more than one idea?
Yes, but each idea requires a separate team application.
Instructors, Mentors & Advisers
Who is the instructor?
Ross Miller, Director of Technology Commercialization at Illinois Small Business Development Center in the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, at Bradley University, will be an instructor. Ross has completed the Lean LaunchPad Educators Program, has mentored a team in the National I-Corps Program, and is a Certified Small Business Development Adviser.
Kevin Evans, Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center in the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, at Bradley University, will be an instructor. Kevin has completed the Lean LaunchPad Educators Program and is a Certified Small Business Development Adviser.
Who are the mentors and what is their role?
A mentor is involved on a regular basis with teams throughout the course. Teams will benefit through weekly interaction and comments via Sakai, the online learning management software. The types of interactions would include issues such as: "Have you considered x?" "Why don't you look at company z and see what their business model is and compare it to yours", or "Here are some names of domain experts in the field, you should talk to them." Mentors guide teams but generally avoid specifically telling students what to do.
Who are the advisers and what is their role?
Advisers are a resource to the program and any of its teams for a particular domain of expertise. They are experts in specific areas of business startup and expansion. They do not need to be physically present during the Brave Launch sessions. Rather, they are available on >a as-needed basis, via email, telephone, or Skype. Advisers may be local experts, or outside of Central Illinois and will include alumni of Bradley University.
Want to be a mentor or adviser?
Simply sign up through our networking platform and you will receive a reply from us. Email us at email@example.com to discuss the options.
If you have further questions, contact us at (309) 677-4321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.