The new StartUP FIU Proof of Concept Studio is helping entrepreneurs save time and money by test driving their ideas before they develop products or launch their businesses.
“At the Proof of Concept Studio, we are validating ideas and helping entrepreneurs draw conclusions about the attractiveness of their opportunities in the market,” said StartUP FIU Director Bob Hacker. “This is a process where the entrepreneur can test and validate different ideas quickly before putting capital at risk.”
The Proof of Concept Studio is a six-week program developed for individuals who are in the idea phase, are working on a prototype, or have identified problems they want to solve. By the end of the program, the participants will typically have a prototype or be weeks away from one. The first session began in May with 12 teams participating. Now in its second session, participants are preparing to present their pitch and prototype during Demo Day on Thursday, Sept. 13.
“The studio helped me validate and invalidate a few assumptions that really guided the direction of my startup,” said Mario Russo, a participant of the first studio whose company, English Flow, will help students improve their writing and reading through games and artificial intelligence. “I got to test my ideas with my peers and members of the studio that provided insightful feedback. Now, I am busy working on the second version of the prototype that will include the recommendations I received during the program.”
Other innovative startups that participated in the first studio include Soleil, an easy-to-use at-home STD testing kit that provides immediate and accurate results. Another participant, EcoShare, is a mobile app that connects urban farmers to consumers looking for locally grown produce.
The Proof of Concept Studio also helps startups identify their customer or user, size market opportunities and explore whether the prototype design is eliciting the anticipated customer reactions.
The studio joins two other entrepreneurship accelerator programs and incubators at StartUP FIU that are all designed to foster and develop innovation and entrepreneurship in the South Florida community. The programs include:
- The Empower Accelerator, a comprehensive 14-week program filled with intense hands-on learning that includes presentations, workshops and critical mentorship. After the program, companies pitch their innovations to a panel of venture capitalists and angel investors.
- StartUP FIU FOOD, a program that helps food entrepreneurs within the community to grow their businesses by leveraging the scarce resource of a large commercial kitchen and also provides programming, workshops for skill development, food science training, mentorships and access to financing. Candidates must commit to scaling their business and creating jobs within their community.
For more information about StartUP FIU’s programs and incubators, please click here.