In the Heart of the Valley: Learning How to Make More Successful Startups

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Timothy Benoit

Early in November 2015, I had the opportunity to attend the Lean LaunchPad® (LLP) Educators Seminar in Santa Cruz, California with 79 other both international and domestic educators, tech transfer managers, licensing personnel, higher education staff, and incubator/accelerator CEOs. Not only was the location absolutely beautiful, but more importantly I learned much that can be applied in many areas at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and in my position with UNH.

The LLP Educators Seminar is a 2.5-day program designed for entrepreneurship educators who want to learn the basics of integrating Lean Startup principles into their teaching. You learn key techniques for building a curriculum that you can adapt to your institutional environment and needs and put to immediate use. Lean LaunchPad® Seminars are led by Jerry Engel, Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, founding Executive Director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, and Faculty Director of the NSF I-Corps™ Program.

The seminar is taught in two modules, a Foundation Workshop and the Intermediate Workshop. The half-day Foundation Workshop is where LLP concepts are introduced. The two-day Intermediate Workshop is taught assuming familiarity with the foundational concepts of the Lean Startup approach: the business model canvas, the customer development process and agile engineering.

What is so great about the LLP methodology?

Simply put, a great deal… It emphasizes experiential learning, a flipped classroom, and immediate feedback as a way to engage students with real world entrepreneurship. Students learn by proposing and immediately testing hypotheses. They get out of the classroom and talk to customers, partners and competitors and encounter the chaos and uncertainty of commercializing innovations and creating new ventures. It requires doing rather than PLANNING to do. Unlike many approaches to entrepreneurship education, LLP does not rely on static case studies or fixed models; it challenges students to create their own business models based on information derived from personal engagement rather than secondhand market research.

My interest in the LLP methodology came about through assisting Marc Sedam, UNHInnovation Managing Director, in his class that employs LLP. I also have found LLP extremely beneficial with formulating strategic commercialization plans with UNH’s faculty, staff, and students. LLP comes in handy when we initially begin considering what customers of a particular innovation may want. The key element in LLP is getting out of the building to talk with customers and see what they want. If you can quickly determine that your potential customer does not care about x, y, and z, then you shouldn’t spend years of time and loads of money investing in something that will never have a return on investment. I apply this theory by talking to potential customers that we have identified for a specific innovation, to find out what benefits and problems are solved with the innovation. Using LLP can save entrepreneurs and innovators a significant amount of time, money, and frustration in the long run.

For more information about the Lean LaunchPad® Methodology check out this book (which I have many copies of) –

For more information on attending a Lean LaunchPad® Educators Seminar –

If you have any questions for me, please contact me at