Pathways to Entrepreneurship: The M43 Lean Startup Course

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One of the great things about serving our country in uniform is defending the freedom to live out the American dream. For many, this means taking the risk to start your own business. The Mission43 team believes veterans and military spouses are well equipped with the experience and skills to accomplish this, and we have heard from an increasing number of members who are interested in pathways to doing this after the military. Our challenge then became finding a program to make this possible.

We put our heads together and came up with a vision for a flexible, fast-paced, and impactful way to support Mission43 entrepreneurs. The program had to be after business hours because most of our audience is employed and supporting a family. We wanted a “boot-camp” style course that would challenge our experienced members. Finally, if we could combine the attributes people developed through military experience with innovative entrepreneurial concepts we could help launch businesses into the Idaho economy.

The answer for our members came in the form of the Boise State University Venture College Entrepreneurs Sprint using the Lean Startup Methodology.

THE BSU VENTURE COLLEGE ENTREPRENEURS SPRINT

The first Mission43 Entrepreneurs Sprint consisted of six classes over three weeks, meeting every Tuesday and Thursday night from 6:00-8:00pm. The course is based on the Lean Startup Methodology; think the opposite of a traditional rigid business plan. Lean Startup businesses know how to steer, when to pivot, and how to quickly get a product, known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to the customer. A lean startup doesn’t ask “Can we build this product?” Instead, in this fast-paced course you will go out and meet with customers to determine “Should I build this product?” and “Can I build a sustainable business around the product and/or service?”

The first Mission43 cohort consisted of 14 members with varying backgrounds including military spouses, current military, former military, officer and enlisted. They showed up with businesses at different stages. Some were just ideas and some have already generated sales. However, the common denominator was this was a room full of leaders and risk takers that quickly formed into a team very willing to help and challenge each other along the way.

TAKE IT FROM THE MEMBERS WHO ATTENDED

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"Most military members, spouses, and veterans are fairly adept at planning--between missions and moves, we have substantive experience planning and executing. However, for first-time entrepreneurs starting a business or a non-profit venture, we often find that we have never conducted planning with a customer in mind. The Entrepreneur Sprint Course fills this gap by introducing lean startup methodology and particularly focusing on how we can identify potential customers, creatively solve real problems for them, and test our assertions before committing large amounts of resources." - Matty Bishop
“The Entrepreneurs Sprint was a great experience for me. I sincerely appreciated Mission43 making such a great program available for such an affordable price for veterans and spouses. In addition to being exposed to alternative and cutting-edge methods of entrepreneurship, I was able to network with some very talented people. The program was very action-based, and I went home each night with new insight and practical knowledge I could use to make my business ideas a reality. I highly recommend this experience to anyone interested in lifelong learning or to those needing a jumpstart to action regarding their ideas for starting a business.” - Noah Siple

WHAT'S NEXT

We can’t wait to highlight the businesses (and non-profits) that grow from this opportunity. Here are just a few that were in the room in this first cohort:

  • Cafe Mule (former USMC infantry): Cold-brew coffee
  • Table Rock Physical Therapy (military spouse): Telehealth physical therapy
  • A business that creates custom table settings for special events (currently serving Air Force officer)
  • Chadillac Customz (former Army): Customized vehicle wrapping

The next cohort is launching soon so keep an eye out for that announcement. We will also be unveiling our follow-on scholarship for the full credentialed Venture College program exclusively designed for the Mission43 community!