Blakes Law Firm, Founder Fuel, Real Ventures and the International Startup Festival in Montreal are sponsoring the launch of NEXT (http://www.swnext.co/events/montreal-next) from March 17 to April 14, a five-week pre-accelerator program designed to take promising startups through the more difficult early stages of the entrepreneurial journey and prepare them for a tangible milestone, such as an accelerator, investment, or sustainable product launch
Developed by Steve Blank, Startup Weekend, TechStars, Global Accelerator Network, F6S and Google for Entrepreneurs, NEXT is centered around a hands-on, mentor driven program approach to the customer development framework but also covers other important topics for early stage startup.
Accepted startups will take part in 3-hour weekly sessions for five weeks to help them validate their customer’s core problem and shift to building the right solution. Through hands-on mentoring and weekly training on the early startup phases, teams will secure an understanding of their customer development strategy, market size, competitors, MVP, fundability, and pitching.
“We are very excited to bring this initiative from Silicon Valley to Montreal for the first time. NEXT is the logical evolution after the success of Startup Weekend editions in Montreal, where we have trained hundreds of entrepreneurs. Early stage startup teams often become caught up with building out an idea, product or service, and raising capital, instead of customer development, achieving product-market fit and gaining traction. NEXT Montreal is a program dedicated to making this happen.”
– Sergio A. Escobar, NEXT Program Co-Director and Startup Weekend Global Facilitator
The NEXT curriculum is unique in that it relies on peer accountability; the most effective and direct way to expose potential risk areas for ventures and challenge any pre-existing assumptions that participants may have. Mentors include Ian Jeffrey, GM at Founder Fuel; David Nault of iNovia Capital; Tricia Kuhl, Partner at Blakes Law Firm; marketing expert Beth Thouin, COO at Brendan & Brendan; LP Maurice, Founder and CEO of Busbud; Raff Paquin, Head of Technology at Frank & Oak; Phil Telio, CEO at International Startup Festival, Mike Lee, Founder and CEO of Fundica, and many others.
“There was a gap in the Montreal ecosystem for companies just getting started. A world-class program like NEXT (particularly Steve Blank’s teachings) will help entrepreneurs find a more meaningful trajectory. We also see great synergies between this program and FounderFuel, the alignment should benefit the whole community”. “Most early-stage startups we come across are too focused on developing a product that they think is valuable, instead of seeking insights from talking to customers.”
– Gabriel Sundaram, NEXT Program co-Director in Montreal and Analyst at Real Ventures
NEXT Montreal will take place from March 17 – April 14 at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP offices. Applications will be accepted until March 12. Teams who finish the NEXT program successfully will be eligible for NEXT First Look Forum Event, which is a post-program global showcase event aimed at generating exposure for the strongest NEXT graduates to accelerators, early stage investors, and media. NEXT has already held 60 programs globally since starting in November 2012 with plans to run in 40 cities globally during the spring of 2014.
This event is supported by: