Venture Center 

Venture Center Startup Forum

The bi-weekly Startup Forum brings together founders and mentors who provide feedback on team business model development efforts while building the startup community.

Each Forum includes team progress updates and a presentation on a startup topic such as Intellectual Property or successful founder stories.

There are two program tracks:  one for founders in the Customer Discovery stage who are validating their problem and trying to identify the target customer.  The other track is for teams working on their Business Model, which includes the revenue model, cost structure, financial projections and customer acquisition strategy.





Customer Discovery

  • Problem Interviews (for new teams)
  • Market & Competitive Analysis
  • Target Customer & Value Proposition
  • Grant Funding

    Business Model

    • Accounting & Finance Overview
    • Hiring & Team Formation
    • Customer Acquisition
    • Equity & Capital Raise Fundamentals

    I-Corps Program

    The Colorado School of Mines is a proud affiliate of the Western Innovation Corps Hub, one of only ten National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) National Hubs, in a partnership between UCLA, USC, and CU Boulder. Our collaboration extends to Caltech, UC Riverside, University of Utah, and University of New Mexico. The I-Corps program uses experiential education to help researchers gain valuable insight into entrepreneurship, starting a business or industry requirements and challenges.

    Customer Discovery Programs



    Starting Blocks

    The program is a three-day workshop with customer interviews designed to help scientists and engineers of all types find a market for their innovations. The core concept encourages inventors to get out of the lab and talk to industry decision-makers to find out what problem the industry needs their product to solve.


    In ZAP, you will gain real-world insights, interacting with potential consumer bases for an end product – the purpose is to obtain actionable data and refine your value proposition: how can your tech provide a solution to a real-world challenge? 

    Your team will be coached by expert instructors in various fields of business and tech, learning about Lean Startup Methodology and the business model canvas, and you will have to complete 10 interviews with industry-relevant businesses.

    Business Model Development


    Research to Market (R2M)

    A three-week program that teaches scientific and engineering inventors and teams the process of customer discovery and how to find a market for their technology by getting out of the lab. Derived from the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program, R2M leverages the nationally-recognized Lean LaunchPad and Business Model Canvas methodologies specifically designed for university researchers commercializing their inventions.


    BOOM is invitation-only after ZAP completion, and teams are chosen based on both performance and the relevance of your technology to the National I-Corps program.

    Through additional coaching and another round of 10 industry interviews, you will dive deeper into customer discovery and business ecosystem, gaining insights into the process of transforming a deep tech innovation into a growing startup.