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NEXT Program

10/3/2013 5:00 PM - 10/31/2013 8:00 PM

What is NEXT?

NEXT is a five-week “pre-accelerator” program built around in-person interactions with potential customers, driven by mentors, and supported by unique video content.

The NEXT curriculum has been developed by Google for Entrepreneurs, Steve Blank, Techstars and Startup Weekend with the goal of helping early stage startup founders validate the market, build an MVP, acquire customers and become "fundable".

Even though individuals can attend NEXT, the program has been developed and is strongly recommended for startup teams and co-founders.

NEXT YYC is brought to you by Startup Calgary and Innovate Calgary. The program will start on Thursday, October 3rd and run every Thursday for 5 weeks.


Alex Raczenko

Alex Raczenko

Entrepreneur in Residents - Innovate Calgary

Christian MacLean

Founder and CEO, BeauCoo

Evan HU

Evan Hu

Founder - Ideaca and Board Member - The A100

Mark Williams

Mark Williams

Entrepreneur in Residence - Innovate Calgary

Ray DePaul

Ray DePaul

Director - Mount Royal University Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Scott Valentine

Founder, ereverent


Alice Reimer

Co-Founder, Evoco

Program Structure

Week 1

The Art of Customer Discovery

We start by providing an overview of the theory and tactics for Customer Development - particularly the first phase (Customer Discovery). We use content provided by Steve Blank as a framework for weekly in-person customer interviews, which are part of attendee homework.

Week 2

Big Ideas & Big Markets

In the second week, we help founders think about where their product/service fits as an investment profile. We want to help founders understand if this idea is worth spending 5 years of their life on.

Team Presentaions

Teams will present their customer discovery insights and validated/invalidated assumptions.

Week 3


In week three, we cover topics such as: Does your startup meet the criteria of being fundable? How do VC’s and investors look at ideas? How do deals really get funded? Additionally, we will discuss alternative funding sources for those not seeking venture capital.

Team Presentations

Teams will present their customer discovery insights and validated/invalidated assumptions.

Week 4

Communicating Ideas

In week four, we discuss how to position a product or company competitively. We will talk about the key components of communicating your idea to others besides a partner or co-founder. Additionally, we will touch on successfully pitching investors.

Team Presentations

Teams will present their customer discovery insights and validated/invalidated assumptions.

Week 5

Go to Market

In the final week, we want to help teams think about going to market tactics. We will discuss topics such as: How are you going to sell your product and get customers? What channels will you use to reach customers. How are you going to get your 1st, 10th, 100th, 1,000th, 1,000,000th customer?

NEXT Final Presentations

Each team will present a comprehensive overview of their insights gained and major assumptions validated or invalidated.

What You Will Learn

How to generate assumptions to validate about your assumed customer's wants/needs, motivations and behaviors.

How to find and reach out to people for interviews that match your assumed customer segments.

How to define experiments that validate or invalidate assumptions you have about your business model.

How to develop your own customer discovery interview plan.

How to conduct effective customer discovery interviews.

How to turn customer feedback into real insight.

Program Tenets

Value Proposition & Customer Segments

We use Alexander Osterwalder’s business model canvas and push teams to gain customer insight as it relates to their assumed specific customer segments and value proposition. Teams are encouraged to learn about the other boxes within the business model canvas, but these topics are outside the scope of the program.

“Getting Out of the Building”

Each week attendees are expected to talk with at least 10 -15 potential customers and share their insight gained and the impact these conversations have had on their current business model. These

Weekly Presentations

Each week attendees will need to present what they learned from their customers during the previous week. This creates an environment of social accountability.

Proprietary Educational Video Content

Video content around “founder basics” will be provided to keep attendees engaged beyond the Customer Development curriculum during the life cycle of the program.

Importance of Mentors

The single greatest perceived value from previous attendees were the mentors. NEXT is designed to be a more intimate experience between a team and a Mentor.

Depth on the Customer Discovery Tactics

NEXT will focus on teaching customer discovery tactics and instructing teams on the basics of finding customers, designing experiments, and how to actually talk to customers using interview best practices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should NOT attend NEXT?

NEXT is a unique program and not everyone is in a position to maximize the value and have a great experience. If you meet any of the following criteria, you should NOT attend a local NEXT program.

Companies who are too biased or attached to their own idea or solution to an assumed problem.

Teams or individuals who can not commit at least 25 hours of work a week

What stage company is best suited for this program?

NEXT is designed for companies in the first phase of conducting customer discovery - which is testing a problem and assessing its importance. Companies who are ready to listen to customer needs and recognize common patterns.

Should I participate if I work full time?

Each weekly session lasts three hours AND there is 25 hours of work to be completed outside of the classroom. Only the most motivated entrepreneurs with the ability to commit 25 hours of work each week are encouraged to apply. If you can’t attend each session or complete the out of class work you WILL NOT maximize the value from the program.

Should I participate if I am seeking investment?

No, if you are seeking investment, that implies you have found product/market fit and are looking to grow.

Will I get feedback on my product?

The program is about customer discovery, NOT product development. You should be designing experiments that maximize your learning from customers and validate or invalidate different assumptions about your business.

Will I need to build an MVP?

This program is about validating different assumptions about your business and maximizing learning from customers. That said, you can still learn an incredible amount from customers without actually building an MVP.

I am worried about my intellectual property. Can I ask other attendees to sign an NDA?

No! All information shared in class is public knowledge. Please do not share any unprotected or sensitive proprietary information.

Can I participate in NEXT even if my other co-founders can’t attend?

Yes, but we strongly encourage each co-founder to be present and participate in the process of customer discovery. The insight gained from customers can influence the vision and direction of the company and each co-founder should be involved.

Refund Policy:

No refunds will be granted within 7 days of the event if food and drink have already been ordered. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

If a refund is required, please send a request to specifying:

Your name

Contact information

Event Details

Email you registered with

Terms of Participation

It is our job to provide you with an incredible networking and learning opportunity. Our intention is that you meet some amazing people that you might actually start a company with, build relationships with coaches, and learn from your peers. The event is intended to be a collaborative forum for sharing, learning, building, and having fun. As such, by registering as a participant, you acknowledge that any ideas shared by you or anyone else over the course of the event are contributions to the overall experience and community. If you as a participant are worried about someone stealing your ideas, please reconsider your participation in the event itself or simply refrain from sharing specifics about your idea.

As a member of your startup community, you agree to to be inclusive of any and all people and their ideas. You agree to act professionally, treat everyone with respect, and treat the event facilities with proper care. You agree that you are responsible for any accidents or damages that you cause. You also agree to not hold Startup Weekend, your local volunteer team, or any of the event supporters liable for any loss, damage, injury, or any other unforeseeable incident.

Learn More: NEXT Program

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