The Founding Workshop

The Founding Workshop

July 9-10, 2019

From idea to business model

From idea to business model.

A deep-dive two-day workshop packed with business fundamentals and proven tactics that takes founders from nascent idea to a full-fledged business model ready for funding.

Space is limited to qualified applicants. 

Founding workshop

This workshop is for:

  • Early-stage founders who’ve identified a problem and possible solution
  • Pre-funding startups hoping to join an accelerator
  • Researchers and entrepreneurs seeking a sustainable, repeatable business model.

What we’ll cover:

How to move from problem/solution to business model hypothesis

Owning the product management process

How to test and de-risk your business

Building your founding team

“Investors don’t invest in ideas—they invest in business models. If you want funding, you need a business model.”

Founding Workshop Agenda

Tuesday July 9th

8:00 AM – 9:00 AMBreakfast
9:00 AM – 9:10 AMOpening remarksMC Sage Franch
9:10 AM – 10:40 AMFrom idea to business model
Learn more

Every startup starts with a potential solution to a problem. Either it’s a new kind of solution made possible by technology, or a newly discovered problem. But most of those startups die in infancy because of one fatal error: they mistake a solution for a business model.
If you’re a hair salon, then cutting hair is your solution; but filling chairs is your business model. Founders who confuse the two are doomed at the outset. What’s more, a business model is seldom just a technical solution—it’s a go-to-market strategy. It’s a way to create attention you can turn into profitable demand faster than your competitors.
Join best-selling author, entrepreneur, and Startupfest content chair Alistair Croll for a fast-paced discussion on finding your business model, packed with real-world examples and cautionary tales, in this brand new talk that launches the 2-day Founding Workshop.
Alistair Croll
10:40 AM – 12:25 PMHow to find your business model
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Avoid the most common reason why startups collapse. “We didn’t find a business model” is often cited as the reason why early-stage founders fail to achieve liftoff. This workshop is for beginners and experts and gives participants a framework for thinking through business model discovery, design and evolution. You’ll learn how to create a Business Model Growth Map, a tool for framing your future options in your business, and a mental model for where to direct your story when speaking to customers, future employees and different types of investors. Flex your business model thinking to shape the future of your company.
Jen van der Meer
12:25 PM – 1:25 PMLunch
1:25 PM – 2:40 PMBuilding products people love
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Great products aren’t built by accident or strokes of good luck. They’re born of research, data, design, failure and lagniappe. Rosie will share her experiences building great and not-so-great products.
Rosie Atkins
2:40 PM – 3:55 PMGo-to-market strategies for startups. A framework + insights from VC’s and their portfolio companies
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A compelling vision for a startup is a great start, but without a thoughtful go-to-market (GTM) strategy in place, you won’t get anywhere. In this Go-To-Market workshop session taught by 5&Vine founder and marketing strategist Rahul Raj, you’ll learn to develop a plan that clarifies the problem your customers are hiring your product/company to solve (your value proposition), who you are selling to (target customer), where you plan to reach those prospects (channel strategy) and how (sales, messaging and promotion).
Rahul Raj
3:55 PM – 4:10 PMBreak
4:10 PM – 5:00 PMWhat accelerators are after
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Moderator : David Crow

Startup founders have several options for growth. They can expand organically, funnelling revenues back into expansion. They can take traditional debt, avoiding dilution but eating into margins. They can close equity financing, sharing their risk but also reducing their upside. But in recent years, the accelerator option has become an increasingly popular option.

Accelerator programs are not only a source of funding, but also access to experts, a forcing-factor for polishing your business plan, and a sanity check from smart investors who can see the proverbial forest for the trees that often blind a startup. If you want to get into the best accelerators, you need a strong team, a clear value proposition, and a viable business model.

After spending time on product-market fit, business models, analytics, and Lean approaches, it’s time to hear more about what gets startups accepted—or refused. In this interactive panel, executives from leading startup accelerators share what they look for, how their programs work best, and the warning signs that turn them away from a potential applicant.
Ravi Belani (Alchemist)
Hussam Ayyad (DMZ)
Nina Stepanov (Acceleprise)
Gillian McCrae (CDL Atlantic)
5:00 PM – 6:30 PMDinner
6:30 PM – 8:00 PMIgnite
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Interested in throwing your hat in the ring? Click here to submit your talk proposal.
We’re thrilled to host our first EVER Ignite talks, hosted by Brady Forrest, Ignite co-founder. These talks will each be 5 minutes long with 20 slides and only 15 seconds a slide (they auto-advance). We want to hear your cool ideas, hacks, lessons, and startup “war stories”. What do you want to talk about?
If you haven’t seen an Ignite talk watch some videos at

Wednesday July 10th

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM – 9:10 AMOpening remarksAlistair Croll
Jérôme Nycz
9:10 AM – 9:55 AMHow to build and maintain a diverse & inclusive culture from the start
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Creating an inclusive workplace culture can pay dividends in revenue and a company’s bottom line to innovate for the future. The easiest way for companies to build a D&I culture is to build it into day one. Start-ups who don’t make it a priority may ultimately have debt that becomes harder and harder to address.

Join this session to learn:
– How to scope and source a diverse culture of talent from the start
– Ways to rethink onboarding and retention strategies for early employees
– Culture ‘musts’ to prioritize to maintain a great place to work
Sarah Nahm
9:55 AM – 11:25 AMUnderstanding customer decision-making
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It’s been a decade since Eric Ries said “the biggest cause of startup failure is building a product no one wants” – but it’s still happening to startups every day. Why? We can observe potential customers, ask good questions, and experiment in good faith, and still not understand what tips customers into deciding to buy and use.

In this workshop, we’ll talk about the misunderstandings that occur:
– I’m really excited about this solution! (but the problem isn’t that important to me)
– I’m a big-name customer, I’ll be a great reference if you just build these few things (which no one else wants, and actually I don’t really need either)
– I like to think of myself as the person who’d buy/use that! (but my past behavior patterns say something different)

You’ll practice your responses and questions through a series of exercises with your other workshop attendees. By the end of this workshop, you’ll recognize biased thinking in yourself and your potential customers, and you’ll have a list of effective questions for cutting through the noise.
Cindy Alvarez
11:25 AM – 12:10 PMThe startup roller coaster
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From the point of view of an entrepreneur, a startup accelerator founder and an investor, Ian has seen and been through a lot, and if there’s one thing he’s learned along the way, it’s that mental health trumps everything. Now in his 40’s with a wife and two kids, Ian is focused on his recently launched InsurTech startup. In this talk, he’ll be exploring how to manage the wild startup ride and how, above all, it’s crucial to focus on the health and wellness or yourself and your team.
Ian Jeffrey
12:10 PM – 1:30 PMLunch
1:30 PM – 5:00 PMAccelerator Office Hours
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Following two packed days of content targeted at early-stage founders, you now know what you need to take your idea to a fundable business model. And while you aren’t ready to pitch—after all, you’ve got lots to tweak and plenty to do first—it’s time for some networking.
The Accelerator Office Hours are a chance to learn all about how accelerators work, what they’re looking for, mistakes applicants often make, and what to do to get the most out of time with some of the world’s top accelerators and incubators.
These accelerators have also committed to giving you real feedback when you do apply—no more ghosting! It’s a unique chance to learn how to move your startup forward in a casual, office-hours setting.

Accelerators that are participating:
500 Startups
Techstars TO
Verstra Ventures
Next AI
Propel ICT
Next 36
Highline Beta
Boomtown Accelerator
Défi Montréal

2019 Speakers :

Rahul Raj

Rahul Raj

Founder & CMO | 5&Vine

Rosie Atkins

Rosie Atkins

VP of Product | Homebase

David Crow

David Crow

Managing Director | Danger Capital

Sarah Nahm

Sarah Nahm

CEO & Founder | Lever

Jen van der Meer

Jen van der Meer

Founder | Reason Street

Ravi Belani

Ravi Belani

Director | Alchemist Accelerator

Cindy Alvarez

Cindy Alvarez

Principal Product Manager | Microsoft

Alistair Croll

Alistair Croll

Author | Lean Analytics

Hussam Ayyad

Hussam Ayyad

Sr. Director, Programs & Partnerships | DMZ

Nina Stepanov

Principal | Acceleprise

Jérôme Nycz

Executive Vice President | BDC Capital

Gillian McCrae

Venture Manager | Creative Destruction Lab – Atlantic

Ian Jeffrey

Co-Founder & CEO | Breathe Life

Accelerators Holding Office Hours


How to attend

  1. Space is limited to qualified applicants. Submit your application.
  2. You will receive an answer by early summer.
  3. If you are selected to attend, you will be send a code to register for your ticket. This ticket will include access to The Founding Workshop and Startupfest.
  4. If you already had a ticket, and you are selected, you will be transferred to the combo ticket type.


  • Have not raised institutional funding
  • Have not been in an accelerator
  • Pre-product/market fit
  • Can clearly articulate their product, target audience, and basic assumptions.
  • Startup (a new business idea) rather than just entrepreneur (executing on an existing idea.)