Skip To The Main Content

Does Your Tech Idea Have Commercial Appeal?

By Kyle Smith | Aug 15, 2017 |

UMKC SBTDC I-Corps Program
So you have a great tech idea and everyone you know is suitable impressed with your invention or app or industry game changer. But you know, deep down, that the weight of friends and family only goes so far when you have an idea you need to sell.

Thanks to a new course (heads up: it’s free, but has limited space) from the UMKC Small Business and Technology Development Center, you can vet that idea and test its commercial viability.

For the first time in Kansas City and starting on August 23, UMKC SBTDC is offering the new National Science Foundation’s (NSF) I-Corps Site Program to faculty, university students and community inventors from the Kansas City metro area with a technology-based idea—and yes, it’s offered at no cost to participants.

(In fact, participants are awarded a $3,000 micro grant from NSF to help with prototyping, travel to meet with industry experts and potential customers, attendance at industry conferences or other needs related to refining the venture’s value proposition and business model. So there’s that sweet carrot.)

You can hop over right now to apply at the UMKC SBTDC website. (Because, again, it’s free and spots are limited.)

The program, modeled after the NSF’s successful National I-Corps program created by Steve Blank, is already proven to increase innovation, entrepreneurship and industry collaboration.

But nitty grits, here’s what participating teams will do:

  • Use the Lean Business Model Canvas to develop a compelling value proposition and business model.

  • Interview potential customers, experts, and investors to determine if the technology idea can be turned into a commercially viable business.

  • Receive $3,000 micro grants from NSF for prototyping, travel to meet with industry experts and potential customers, attend industry conferences or other needs related to refining the venture’s value proposition and business model.

  • Learn from executive mentors and program instructors with strong industry, scientific and startup expertise in technology commercialization

What’s the commitment?

The course starts on August 23 and extends over a five-week period with one 3-hour I-Corps meeting per week.

Be ready to:

  • Commit about 10-12 hours per week to the I-Corps program beyond your regular work or academic responsibilities.

  • Conduct 28 customer/industry expert interviews across 4 weeks to refine your idea.

  • Complete weekly video assignments to learn the Lean Business Model Canvas method.

  • Attend weekly, 3-hour I-Corps meetings across the 5 week course, where teams provide updates and:

    • Discuss how their business model changed due to the past week’s interviews and learning.

    • Resolve any questions from the video assignments.

    • Give and receive feedback to/from other teams in a dynamic group learning experience.

  • Meet with I-Corps mentors and certified instructors as needed.

You said something about teams?

Two to four members are on a team:

  • Scientific Lead – A person who either has the idea, or has technology capability concerning the idea.

  • Entrepreneurial Lead – A person who is interested in the business side of the idea and can lead the business development.

  • Optionally, one or more additional members may participate who can add value to the team’s ability to assess the idea from a technical or business standpoint.

Who can apply?

Participants are not required to have previous experience in business or entrepreneurship. But do note the cohort size is limited and applications are required. For more information or to apply, visit the UMKC SBTDC website.

This is close to what I need, but not quite. What else do you have for tech entrepreneurs?

Glad you asked. As the go-to for KC entrepreneurship, we can plug you into the right course, mentor, investor, capital opportunity for your tech startup.

Just give us a call at 816-235-6500 or fill out your request over here at www.kcsourcelink.com/myplan. We’ll develop a personalized action plan to help connect with resources and opportunities, so you can that next milestone.
Daria Nepriakhina




Choose your entrepreneur type.

Choose your entrepreneur type.

Browse All
  • iconStartup

    You're a member of the start-up group. Brand new to the entrepreneurial world, your ideas and energy will take you far. Welcome to the family.


  • iconMicroenterprise

    You're a member of the microenterprise group. Your small business is not only your dream job, but also gives you the flexibility to do things on your time.


  • iconMain Street

    You're a member of the main street group. Your entrepreneurial spirit brings people together, providing your customers with a more personalized service.


  • iconInnovation-Led

    You're a member of the innovation-led group. You make the revolutionary ideas that will break through the ceiling. Let our resources get you there.


  • iconSecond Stage

    You're a member of the second stage group. Faster than a speeding bullet, your business is taking off. We have the resources to help your growth and expansion.


  • iconEntrepreneurial Community

    You're a member of the eco-devs group. You're the support system of the economic, small business and community rooted in getting things started. Let's connect.