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Think entrepreneurship might play a role in your future?

Have an idea for a great, new startup or non-profit?

About the PreFlight Program

For aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs, the Wond’ry in partnership with Vanderbilt’s Center for Commercialization and Technology Transfer and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center will offer a Pre-Flight program that provides the foundational knowledge needed to successfully identify, assess, and ultimately launch a quality for profit or nonprofit venture.

This program is offered free of charge to Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff and is limited to a maximum of 40 participants. There will be one session each week over the course of the 11 week program. If you are interested in participating, click here to apply online.

Spring 2017 Program:
The first session will take place on February 1, 2017. The course will meet each Wednesday until April 19, 2017 (no meeting during Spring Break).

Time and Location:
Each session will take place from 5-6:15 pm at the Wond’ry on the 3rd floor.

Course Outline

Based on feedback from our inaugural PreFlight cohort in Fall of 2016, for the spring course we are changing the format from 7 to 11 weeks in duration with shorter class sessions. This course covers a wealth of content and participants also get access to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s online training portal. By extending the course to 11 weeks (instead of 7), participants will have the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the content and online tools available to them during the course.

Session 1: Orientation
In this session, we will provide an overview of the Wond’ry and the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC) and the resources available to Vanderbilt inventors and entrepreneurs. CTTC will discuss the policies that govern inventions and products created at Vanderbilt and the process to engage with their office. Participants introduce themselves and their ideas. The PreFlight course instructor from the Nashville EC will provide an overview of the course and online portal.

Session 2: Panel and Identifying Customer Problems
In this session we moderate a panel comprised of different members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem (entrepreneurs, investors, and advisors) as they discuss their experiences and recommendations for early-stage entrepreneurs. We also discuss identifying, targeting, and expressing customer problems that startups address. We define a customer’s “problem” as a previously unmet need or desire, and walk through a case study analyzing the initial launch of a successful business.

Session 3:Solving Customer Problems
In this session we discuss building solutions that best fit the problems we have identified. We discuss the different opportunities for solutions to add value to a customer’s experience in the least costly way. We discuss how to identify the features most necessary for an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and finding product-market fit.

Session 4: Understanding Early Adopters
In this session we discuss how entrepreneurs can more efficiently and effectively find product-market fit. We discuss the common ways entrepreneurs waste scarce resources and how entrepreneurs can use customer validation to make the best use of their scarce resources. We walk through several different methods to profile and understand our early adopters so that we can reach them efficiently and effectively, and how we can utilize market sizing and trend analysis to understand the size and nature of our business opportunities.

Session 5: Turning Assumptions Into Facts and Understanding Trends & Finding Your White Space
In this session we walk through best practices to prepare for, engage in, and learn from customer interviews. We also analyze how to understand and evaluate trends that will affect our startups, and how to position our startups optimally in a changing environment.

Session 6: Finding Your White Space
In this session we walk through methods to map out our competitive landscape and identify the best position for our businesses in the market. We look at perceptual mapping, VRIO analysis, and other tools.

Session 7: Communicating Value
In this session we walk through an exercise to build and optimize a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and how to analyze the sustainability of that USP in the marketplace, in addition to how to build, evaluate, and optimize a marketing and sales machine for a new business.

Session 8: Business Modeling
In this session we analyze how to build, analyze, and optimize a business model. We will walk through a case study of an existing organization in its early startup days and apply those lessons learned to our own businesses.

Session 9: Evaluating and Pitching Your Business
In this session we dive deeper into business modeling, analyzing how startups create, deliver, and capture value. We also examine effective methodologies to present those business models to advisors and investors.

Session 10: Capturing Value
In this session we discuss the critical components of creating, evaluating, and optimizing pricing and transaction and understanding your financial future.

Session 11: Special Topics Delivered by Vanderbilt CTTC