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Think entrepreneurship might play a role in your future?

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

Don’t know where to start?

PreLaunch is for you!

About the PreLaunch Program

The Wond’ry offers the PreLaunch program for aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs as a way to check whether your business will fly before you turn on the engines. Is your idea practical?  Is there enough demand for your idea?  Where do you even start?  PreLaunch is here to help answer those questions.  Centered around the Business Model Canvas and focused on customer discovery, PreLaunch will help determine if your idea is ready to go or maybe needs a bit more time at the drawing board.

And if you’re feeling good after PreLaunch, you can also apply for our PostLaunch program, moving your idea from the planning stage to the implementation stage and actually starting your business!

The PreLaunch program is a free, non-credit course for Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff.  Meetings will take place once per week in the evenings during the academic semester.

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 8 sessions. The first session will take place on February 12, 2020. The course will meet each Wednesday until April 1, 2020 (no meeting during Spring Break). Each participant will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to a group of investors, entrepreneurs, faculty members, and Wond’ry staff 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 8 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 Spring 2020 Cohort is now accepting applications!

Application Deadline: February 7, 2020

Apply Here


Course Outline

Wond’ry PreLaunch Guide

Session 1 (2/12/2020): 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. The new Vanderbilt Data Science Institute will highlight how to leverage partnerships with their graduate students and team members to develop prototypes and/or consult on technology. You will introduce yourself and your idea. The teaching team will provide an overview of the Business Model Canvas and preliminary information about microgrant funding opportunities.

Session 2 (2/19/2020): Value Proposition Design
In this session, we take a deep dive into value propositions and learn what resources are available from the over 800 databases that Vanderbilt subscribes to. You will have a chance to meet the Wond’ry’s mentors and can stay after the session to hear Dr. Ming Wang talk about his entrepreneurial journey from arriving in the U.S. with $50 to building a network of laser eye centers.

Session 3 (2/26/2020): Customer Segments and Customer Interviews
In this session, we walk through how to identify potential customer segments and the best practices to prepare for, engage in, and learn from customer interviews. During the 8 week program, participants are expected to conduct 15-20 interviews with potential customers/clients.

Session 4 (3/11/2020): Market Sizing and Using Data
In this session, we look at several different methods to size up your potential market and how to use data to make informed estimates.

Session 5 (3/18/2020): Prototyping
In this session, we will explore various tools and methods to generate a prototype, as well as explore the difference between a prototype and an MVP.

Session 6 (3/25/2020): Perfecting Your Pitch – How to Present Your Idea
In this session, we discuss how to tell the story of your idea and both structure and present a convincing pitch.

Session 7 (4/1/2020): Next Steps – Resources On and Off Campus
In this session, we discuss resources are available both on and off campus for pushing your idea forward after your PreLaunch journey concludes. You will have the opportunity to practice your pitch and get feedback.

Session 8 (4/8/2020): 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 microgrant funding of up to $2900. STEM-related ideas have the opportunity to pursue additional funding through the National I-Corps program (up to $50K).