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ICAP Lean Startup Introductory Course – Charlottesville

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - Wednesday, September 25, 2019






Based on the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program for Lean Startups, ICAP helps inventors and entrepreneurs take the right first steps in bringing new technologies and innovations to market.

ICAP includes FREE introductory training programs and counseling services offered through ICAP instructors and local SBDC counselors. ICAP helps startups identify potential customers and develop successful business models based on that knowledge. It is an ideal program for early-stage companies trying to prepare for eventual venture investment.


Important Dates:

Aug 23, 2019 – Applications are due by midnight; see the link below.

Aug 28, 2019 – Acceptance notifications and communication with next steps and instructions, including how to prepare for the first session.

Sept 4, 2019 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm – Introductory Conference Call

Sept 11, 2019 – 9:00am – 5:00pm – Initial Team Presentations
classroom at i.Lab@UVA, 621 Nash Dr, Charlottesville

Sept 18, 2019 – Each team participates in a pre-scheduled telephone review of the team’s Customer Discovery Progress over the first week

Sept 25, 2019 – 9:00am – 1:00pm – Final Team Presentations
classroom at i.Lab@UVA, 621 Nash Dr, Charlottesville

During this introductory 2-week program, there is extensive work done outside the classroom. In addition to the class meetings and webinar, participants should expect to spend another 10-15 hours per week on customer discovery and course assignments. At the conclusion of the program, you will remain connected with your ICAP trainers and SBDC Business Advisors to continue your progress on the Five Steps to Startup Success over the following 12 months.

The introductory program is designed to generate a maximum impact over a relatively short duration and should be considered a required first step for anyone interested in commercializing a technology or product, whether through a startup or licensing arrangement. Some graduates of this cohort may be eligible to apply to NSF’s full National Seven-week I-Corps Program, which includes non-dilutive grants for customer discovery and prototype development. Additionally, this program can help teams develop better submissions for SBIR and CRCF grants from Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technologies.


“…I was about to make the same mistake again…Throw in a large sum of money to staff up a development team, then spend my nights and weekends coding our idea. Fortunately, ICAP made me “get out of the building” and I realized that our product did not deliver considerable value. In fact, our customer segments were also wrong. Overall, ICAP saved our team a significant amount of money and time. Furthermore, it taught us the Lean Startup methodology, and helped expunge the bad habit of diving right into development of our idea without first researching the market.”     -Team, GMU November 2018

“This cohort taught me the importance of questioning everything. I now understand that it is important to validate your business model before investing time, money, and energy into your ‘brilliant product or service’.”     -Team, GMU November 2018

“We have a feature in our online platform that allows potential customers of our clients to email our clients to receive additional information. We were considering removing the email feature as we believed our clients perfected the use of text messaging. After using the ICAP interview process with over 100 people, we discovered something profound – people prefer using email and phone calls with clients they are not familiar, not a text message. So, instead of developing functionality for texting alone, we are now making a change to allow our clients to decide how they want to be communicated via phone call, text message or email.”     -Team, Leesburg November 2018

The course’s style helped us transition into an entrepreneurial way of thinking as fast as possible. Any stress or pressure associated with this change in learning style was good, and the outcome validated this.     – Team, JMU March 2019

Also:  Read about one company’s success story!

Your ICAP Instructor

Bob Smith is currently the Director of the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), a program funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia and administered by George Mason University and the Virginia Small Business Development Center Network (VSBDC). Here he helps researchers, inventors, and technology startups develop their technology commercialization and technology business startup efforts. He’s also an instructor with the NSF’s DC I-Corp Node.

Bob has 30+ years’ experience in innovation and entrepreneurship. He is the Chairman of, a leading college rankings website. He’s held senior management positions at Congressional Quarterly and America Online in sales, marketing, and new product development and was the founder and CEO of the first nation-wide online city guide, Digital City. As an executive, angel investor, and advisor he has helped companies in e-commerce, e-government, identity management, content publishing, geospatial analytics, data science, and local media go from launch through to favorable exits.

Bob received a BA from USC and his MBA from GWU. He is a veteran of the US Navy.

To review the ICAP FAQ page, Click here.

For more information email:   

                   Charlottesville ICAP Cohort Partners:









Date: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


i.Lab at UVA
621 Nash Drive
Charlottesville VA 22903

Call (434) 979-5610