Accelerator Syllabus Overview

From Go-to-Market to Seed Investment and Scalability

Spring Semester 2018: February 20 – April 27, 2018

Business Owner Schedule

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 6:00 –9:00 PM at City CoHo

2401 Walnut St, Philadelphia PA 19103, Suite 102

Faculty Contact Information

Kevin Provost: CEO, Greenhouse Ventures

Course Description
Course is intended for seed-stage ventures in the process of  defining key business strategies associated with validating product demand, scaling to new markets, and raising investment capital. Companies will learn how scalable startups achieve critical key performance metrics to satisfy investor expectations given the company’s growth timelines and associated resource requirements. In-class work will include individual research, group workshops, industry-specific guest speakers, pre-recorded video tutorials, and interactive panel discussions. Out-of-class work includes market testing and surveying, public pitching at networking events, direct sales trials, and self-directed learning exercises which are assigned in order to reinforce strategies discussed in class.
Business Outcomes
After completing the accelerator, business owners should be able to:
  • Understand the path towards capitalization relevant to the business development timeline and available resources of the team.
  • Document and execute an actionable go-to-market or growth strategy with a pricing model that has been validated by early adopting customers or beta testers.
  • Explain Unique Value Proposition (UVP) through four different mediums: an elevator pitch, a slide deck, an executive summary, and a demo day presentation.   
  • Determine appropriate sources of capital for the business venture and a reasonable capital formation timeline for the 24 months following Demo Day.
  • Improve Key Performance Indicators associated with growth of the business:
    • Email addresses, email open rates, email reply rates, email click rates
    • Doors knocked, decision makers qualified, callbacks, proposals sent  
    • Downloads, installs, registrations, sign-ups, opt-ins
    • Time on site, clicks per page, session length, returning customer ratios
    • Sales revenue, cost per lead, traffic-to-lead ratio, lead-to-customer ratio
    • Letters of intent, endorsements, testimonials, customer referrals
  • Identify the proper legal and financial due diligence steps that need to be taken in order to pursue a crowdfunding campaign or traditional investment round.
  • Identify the infrastructure required to secure strategic industry partners within research universities, cultivation facilities, testing laboratories, and/or dispensaries.
  • Understand how to qualify the venture for sales and licensing deals through Greenhouse Ventures network of affiliate marketers, brand ambassadors, and “influencers” from the sports, business, and entertainment industries.
  • Understand how to recruit, qualify, and retain early-stage advisors and investors based on a win-win relationship framework and in alignment with the culture and core business objectives of the venture.
  • Deliver an effective Demo Day presentation that reflects historical growth in critical KPIs, a KPI growth timeline, and a justifiable investment narrative.
Course Modules
The course is divided into four modules. The first module, lasting one week, introduces business owners to Greenhouse Ventures operations and expectations, teaching and learning methods, class resources, course modules, assessment devices, and the Program Management System (PMS). This module is intended to help participants become aware of the KPI’s that need to be achieved in order to produce the desired Demo Day outcomes.
The second module, lasting three weeks, immerses participants in product development, financial modeling, and sales and marketing processes associated with high performing companies that have scaled through successful seed and series A rounds of financing. The second module also focuses on validating a pricing model and defining key performance indicators (KPIs) that are used to project future growth rates of the business.  By the end of the second module, business owners will be sufficiently prepared to engage with early-adopting consumers, investors, and advisors in an effort to validate and invalidate the remaining assumptions about their go-to-market and capitalization strategies.  
In module three, which lasts four weeks, participants focus on gaining real-time feedback through product testing and user acquisition campaigns. In module three, founders also begin to learn leadership fundamentals that are critical for early-stage startups when establishing a corporate culture and recruiting the company’s first team members, advisors, and investors.  During this module, participants are also exposed to industry mentors who can assist company founders in identifying strategic partners or team members.  Towards the end of module three, founders begin to finalize their fundraising and go-to-market (or growth) timelines based on market feedback and relative to their 24 month plan following Demo Day.
The fourth module, lasting two weeks, is focused on fine tuning the executive summary, pitch deck, Demo Day pitch, and any associated crowdfunding or “Test the Waters” capital campaign.  In the fourth module, founders arrive at an expected funding strategy, engage with targeted media outlets, and secure Letters of Intent from strategic partners in an effort to increase their groundswell of momentum headed into Demo Day.
Course Instructional Strategy
More than just a primer on capital formation, this action-oriented, “accelerated” course looks at case studies of successful fundraising campaigns and go-to-market strategies across many industries. Participants will have the opportunity to interface with capital formation and user-acquisition experts in order to capture the knowledge, abilities and skills required to launch a successful fundraising and go-to-market campaign. Case studies, panel discussions, video tutorials, live demonstrating, and visual storytelling will be the primary forms of instruction used during the ten-week program, as guest speakers provide insights from their own entrepreneurial and fundraising experiences for the benefit of participating companies.
By the end of the accelerator, participating founders will know the dynamics involved with becoming a seed-stage success and the challenges that companies experience in their pursuit of early capital. In-class narratives will tie together the written academic concepts, homework assignments, and faculty-guided tactics, so founders can discern their own compelling vision and determine which strategies to use in order to best position their individual ventures to solve a specific need in the market.
Business Evaluation Elements
While business owners don’t get “graded” per se, we do evaluate the success of our portfolio companies by surveying graduated founders every 6 months after Demo Day to measure the following criteria:
  • Total # of pitch meetings booked with prospective investors
  • Funding received and funding rounds successfully closed
  • Employees and interns hired
  • Market captured: # of active users or acquisition conversion rate
  • Revenue: ideally based on cost to acquire customers/users
  • UX/Usage: Time on site, retention, or key conversion metric
  • Product development milestones (qualitative survey measure)
Tracking Businesses
The course instructors will assign and maintain a database of deliverables and assignments per each individual company through the Program Management System (PMS). Individual company progress reports will be shared with company founders by Greenhouse Ventures staff on a bi-weekly basis. Progress reports will include KPI growth metrics, mentor feedback, and suggested next steps.  After Demo Day, companies are expected to keep Greenhouse Ventures staff updated on critical changes to the  company’s financial model, business operations, and/or capitalization table.
Teaching and Learning Approach
This course uses a mix of teaching approaches to benefit the wide range of learning styles expected in each cohort. Participants are responsible to attend the course sessions and to become part of the learning community in order to receive the full benefit of the program. Assignments include experiential learning exercises, summaries of key readings, and FAQs with guest speakers. Most classes will be video-taped, edited (or not), and posted to our website which will be accessible to registered accelerator participants only. Video footage is owned 100% by Greenhouse Ventures; however, participants may request select footage for their own use (permission determined on a case by case basis by Greenhouse Ventures staff).