PreFlight is now PreLaunch!

Think entrepreneurship might play a role in your future?

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

About the PreLaunch Program

Formerly known as PreFlight, the Wond’ry offers a PreLaunch program for aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs. This course, centered around the Business Model Canvas and focused on customer discovery, offers participants an opportunity to determine whether an idea is truly novel and worth pursuing alongside a group of fellow inventors and creators. This program is offered free of charge to Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff and is limited to a maximum of 40 participants.

How to Determine if PreLaunch is Right for You:
PreLaunch is designed for members of the VU community that have an idea for a business or invention that is in the earliest stages of development. It may be an idea in your head or on a napkin, or you may be a little farther along and have put ideas to paper and recruited some friends, family members, or colleagues to assist. PreLaunch participants typically have not formed a business entity. Participants at this stage have not defined the customer segment they want to target and usually do not have a business plan, market analysis, etc. If you have any questions about whether you and your idea is best suited for PreLaunch vs. PostLaunch, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Wond’ry team at

The program is a total of 6 sessions in length plus a pitch night. The first session will take place on February 21, 2018. The course will meet each Wednesday until April 18, 2018 (no meeting during Spring Break or on April 4th). Each participant will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to a group of investors, entrepreneurs, faculty members, and Wond’ry staff on April 18th for potential micro-grant funding and additional mentorship.

Time and Location:
Each session will take place from 4-6 pm at the Wond’ry on the 3rd floor.

Participants are required to attend all sessions of PreLaunch and conduct 15-20 customer interviews over the course of the 6 week program. Typically this program is oversubscribed and those that do not get in during a given semester are added to the top of the list for the following semester.

The application for the Spring 2018 cohort will open on January 12th and remain open until February 16th. Applications are reviewed by an internal committee and those accepted will be notified by February 16th. Click here to apply online.

Course Outline

Session 1: Orientation
In this session, we will provide an overview of the Wond’ry 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 will introduce themselves and their ideas. The teaching team will provide an overview of the Business Model Canvas and preliminary information about micro-grant funding opportunities.

Session 2: Value Proposition and Business Thesis Development
In this session, we take a deep dive into value propositions, hypotheses, business theses, and the design of business ‘experiments’.

Session 3: Conducting Customer Interviews- Techniques and Best Practices
In this session, we walk through best practices to prepare for, engage in, and learn from customer interviews. During the 6 week program, participants are expected to conduct 15-20 interviews with potential customers.

Session 4: What is the Potential Market Size? Examining Customer Segments and Stakeholder Archetypes
In this session, we look at several different methods to profile and understand early adopters. Vanderbilt’s own Rahn Huber, a mentor at the Wond’ry, will discuss ways to engage with mentors and the type of invaluable expertise she can lend to support your new idea.

Session 5: Perfecting Your Pitch- How to Present Your Idea and What’s Next
In this session, we discuss how to tell the story of your idea and both structure and present a convincing pitch.

Session 6: Next Steps- On and Off Campus Resources to Propel Your Idea Forward
In this session, selected participants have the opportunity to give a short pitch to a panel of investors and entrepreneurs. Winning teams will receive micro-grant funding of up to $2900 and additional mentorship to propel their ideas forward. STEM-related ideas have the opportunity to pursue additional funding through the National I-Corps program (up to $50K).

Pitch Night:
Selected teams will be given the opportunity to present their ideas in a brief presentation to a panel of local investors and entrepreneurs. Winners of this Pitch Night will receive micro-grant funding of up to $2900.