This Kolkata Business Model Validation Lab is a 5-day accelerator for early/idea-stage, Bengal-based entrepreneurs that are tackling social and environmental problems. It is designed to help these entrepreneurs rapidly identify and validate the foundational assumptions of their business.
Kolkata has long been considered a renaissance city – it is the birthplace of modern literary, cultural, and scholastic thought. Its tradition of welcoming new talent has made it a “city of furious creative energy”, thus making it ideal for an east coast start up hub. It is a major metropolitan of over 14 million residents that is hungry and ready to be entrepreneurial and unreasonable. While known for its literary, artistic, and revolutionary heritage, we tend to forget that it is also home to many industrial units in several sectors like steel, heavy engineering, mining, minerals, cement, pharmaceuticals, food processing, agriculture, electronics, textiles, and jute. Being a major port and easy access to east India and South East Asian countries has its own advantages as well. From mentors, to funders, to corporations, to government, to universities, Kolkata is the perfect home for ventures based in and impacting East India and help them tap into this rich ecosystem of support.
Get Involved: Apply to be an entrepreneur, become a mentor, be a sponsor, or help our Lab team find entrepreneurs. Read on to get involved!
The early stages of a startup are marked with questions. Who is my customer? What problems do they have? Do I have a solution to their problems? What are they willing to pay? Will I be able to break even? An entrepreneur’s ability to quickly convert these questions into answers is one of the few characteristics that separates successful startups from failed ones. The problem is that few entrepreneurs know the rapid and systematic approach required to answer these questions. They go too slow, they focus on the wrong things in the wrong order, and they move forward without truly validating a business model.
The Lab & Curriculum
The Business Model Validation Lab is designed to do one thing: provide entrepreneurs with a step-by-step methodology to rapidly and systematically validate their venture’s business model. Entrepreneurs will:
Identify the foundational assumptions that underpin your venture.
Design and run experiments to validate / invalidate the foundational assumptions (through customer discovery and rapid prototyping)
Meet with mentors to get feedback and develop next steps.
The curriculum of the Lab oscillates between in-classroom workshop time and in-market customer interaction time.
Starts with orientation and workshop on assumption mapping in the morning. The afternoon is spent interacting with target customers.
Starts with a workshop in the morning on how to rapidly prototype. In the afternoon entrepreneurs will physically build a prototype.
Starts with a workshop on how to build powerful, long-term relationships with mentors, funders, and partners. Entrepreneurs prepare for Mentor Day in the afternoon.
Mentor Day! 10-15 mentors will attend the Lab to work directly with entrepreneurs.
Begins with a workshop on how to validate the cost assumptions in the business. Afternoon is spent on strategic planning.
By the end of Lab entrepreneurs will have something to show for their work. They will have:
- Learned a repeatable methodology for how to do customer discovery
- Built 2-3 prototypes of a key element of their venture
- Tested prototypes with real customers
- Learned how to build and maintain mentor relationships
- Met and received feedback from 10-12 world-class mentors
- Conducted a break-even analysis of their business and identified the key cost and financial assumptions of their business
- Built out a basic budget and financial model
- Created a 6-month operating plan
This Lab will actively involve a diverse set of mentors. These mentors will be custom-selected after selecting the Lab ventures to assure mentors meet their needs. Interested in mentoring? Email Gaurav Kapoor.
Co-founder and CEO of UE LifeSciences
Mihir co-founded UE LifeSciences in Jan 2009. The company has invented a low-cost, handheld, non-invasive, radiation free breast screening device. Earlier this month, Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw invested $1.6 million in the company and it received an order from the Maharashtra government to screen 2.5 lakh women as a part of its awareness campaign against Breast Cancer.
Dr. Mou Sen
GENERAL MANAGER, DIC, DEPT. OF MSME
(Govt. of West Bengal)
Mou has an experience spanning 18 years in the fields of Industry, Research & Development and Government. Her interests include Project Development, Cluster Development, Entrepreneurship, and Water Treatment. Leadership, Team Management, Business Development and Strategic Planning are some of her top skills.
Suman has worked extensively on business planning, fund raising, and developing grass root enterprises involving innovative business models that use traditional goods and skills as assets.
Co-founder & CEO, WOW Momo Foods Pvt. Ltd.
Sagar has mentored start-up’s in the F&B space and some are in operationally profitable mode. He has given business & motivational talks at various Business Schools & Entrepreneurship Cell’s across the country.
Consultant – Kolkata, Unitus Seed Fund
Director – Kolkata Chapter, Founder Institute
Vikram works with startups as an Investor, Mentor, Advisor; helps entrepreneurs achieve ambitious growth plans and optimizes break-even and profitability timelines. He is looking forward to engaging with social entrepreneurs with a meaningful program and an impactful trajectory.
Dr. Rituparna Basu Chackerbutty
Asst Professor & Member-Board of Governors at IMI-Kolkata
Ritupurna has experience in various fields and she has co-authored a range of books and publications. Her key skills include team management, business strategy and business management. She cares deeply about the causes of children, economic empowerment and education.
Individual Consultant, Sattva Consultancy
He has been working with organizations as a Guide / Coach / Consultant for more than 16 years. In this period he has been exposed to various Industries – with special understanding in industries like Retail (Organized and otherwise), Sales & Distribution, Design, BPO and small manufacturing units.
Prof. Dilip Shah
Dean, Students Affairs
The Bhawanipur Education Society College
During his career, Dilip has gathered experience in both business and profession. He was Founder Convenor of the Youth wing of the prestigious Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad and has organised innumerable events for the Parishad. He co – founded a youth group called DISHA which does social work. Presently he is on the IGRP of the National Stock Exchange, MCX Sx, and the clearing corporation.
Communications Head, ONergy
She has Masters Degree in marketing & advertising. She has prior experience with leading creative agencies like JWT, Dentsu. Her expertise lie in communication, consumer insight, branding & strategy. She enjoys taking challenging roles. Her areas of expertise are Account Management, Marketing Insights, Brand Management, Data Mining, Strategic Planning, Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Integrated Marketing.
Chandradeep (CD) Mitra
CEO, PipalMajik & Anvetion Consulting
Founder Director, Neoleap Business Ventures
Advisor, Centre for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, IIM Calcutta
Visiting Faculty of Marketing & Innovation, IIM Calcutta & SP Jain
Chandradeep is a Strategy Coach & Mentor for Start Ups & Entrepreneurs, Professor of Marketing, Corporate Master Trainer, Branding & Innovation Consultant, and Social Enterprise Evangelist. He is the Advisor to the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at IIM Calcutta. He is working closely with the Government of WB in fostering grass-root level entrepreneurship. He is a Charter Member and Honorary Secretary of the Kolkata Chapter of TiE, the leading global organization for fostering entrepreneurship.
FAQ’s & More About This Program
Application and Selection
- Committed to social and environmental impact with their venture
- Idea-to-early-stage in their venture’s development
- Based in eastern India
- For-profit or non-profit
- 18 years of age or older
- Exceptions will be made on case-by-case
Here’s a bit more on location:
- If I am an entrepreneur outside of eastern India, can I apply for this Lab? If you are outside eastern India you can still apply. But please know that we will prioritize entrepreneurs from eastern India. But if you can make a compelling case, we might consider your application.
- My venture’s headquarters are here in eastern India, but my operations are elsewhere? Can I apply? It depends. The Business Model Validation Lab is designed for ventures to interact directly with their target market during the Lab. For example, during the Lab entrepreneurs will go and do “customer discovery” by interviewing people (in-person) in their target market. If you are unable to do this because your venture’s operations are elsewhere, then the Lab will be less valuable to you. In any case, please feel free to reach out us if you have specific questions about this.
- Who their target customer is
- What, exactly, is the problem their target customer has
- What their product/service offering looks like (they haven’t built a prototype yet or have just begun building prototypes) and if it meets the needs of the target customer
Entrepreneurs are too late if:
- They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) who their customer is
- They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) what problem their customer has
- They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) that their solution solves their customer’s problem
- They have a product/service that is in mainstream production
They have substantial sales
The Lab will feature both time in the classroom (learning principles of how to validate your business model) and time in market with your customers where you will be interviewing them and having them interact with your prototypes. There will also be one entire day dedicated to working with mentors. Throughout the course of the Lab, you will have plenty of time to work and rest. Taking time to digest the material is an important piece of acceleration!
Day 1: Day 1 starts with a brief orientation and workshop in the morning, followed by an afternoon interacting with target customers.
Day 2: Day 2 starts with a workshop in the morning on how to rapidly prototype. In the afternoon, entrepreneurs will physically build a prototype and then go out again to meet with target customers.
Day 3: Day 3 starts with more time interacting with target customers before having an afternoon workshop on how to build powerful relationships with mentors, funders, and partners.
Day 4: Day 4 is a mentor day when 10-15 mentors will attend the Lab to work directly with entrepreneurs.
Day 5: Day 5 begins with a workshop in the morning on how to validate the cost assumptions in each venture before spending the afternoon working on strategic planning. Then the Lab concludes.
Be a Supporter
We are looking for folks with experience in any aspect of entrepreneurship.
Click here to email Gaurav Kapoor to discuss becoming a mentor.
Pipeline Partners are organizations that help us find the entrepreneurs. Like us, they support entrepreneurs doing good in the world. If you want to become a Pipeline Partner for this Lab, please Email Gaurav Kapoor.
Here’s who made this possible.
Email Gaurav Kapoor to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
Here is the INNOKUL team that made this happen.