Module 1: Launching a Business

Small Business & Enterprise Accelerator

Do you have a product or service idea that you’ve wanted to turn into a business but don’t know where to start? Did you create a solution either on your own or through a hackathon that you want to turn into a business? Do you have an existing business that is struggling to gain traction in the market?

Program Overview

In our Launching a Business module, we guide you through a hands-on process of clarifying the business idea and market, testing the solution, creating a business out of the solution and laying the foundation for the business to thrive. This module is 12-weeks long and is well suited for very early stage entrepreneurs looking to create scalable businesses with positive community impact.

Enrollment Periods

Enrollment PeriodModule DatesApplications Due
Winter 2019February 2 – April 27January 18
SPRING / SUMMER 2019June 1 – August 17May 17
FALL 2019September 28 – December 21September 13


UnitTopics Covered
  • Gain an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Gain an understanding of how business is part of a complex set of interconnected systems
  • Learn how to think holistically about business development activities
Big Idea
  • Gain an understanding of how assumptions and blind spots can influence product/service development
  • Learn how to use design thinking methods to identify the user, their pain points, current alternatives and purchasing behavior
  • Develop a set of hypotheses regarding your product/service idea through a series of simple questions
Customer Discovery
  • Gain an understanding of how to use customer discovery processes for evaluating product/service market fit
  • Learn how to prepare for and conduct customer discovery interviews
  • Conduct customer discovery interviews
  • Gain an understanding of how personas are used in documenting a potential customer base and their product/service needs
  • Learn how to use information collected from customer discovery interviews and empathy mapping to create personas
  • Use the data you collected in customer discovery interviews to create persona empathy map(s) for the product/service idea
Market Opportunity
  • Gain an understanding of how to define market opportunity for a product/service
  • Learn how to quantify market size and assess market landscape by using primary and secondary data sources
  • Use data to quantify the market size and assess the market landscape for the product/service idea
Business Model
  • Gain an understanding of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value through its business model
  • Learn how to use a business model canvas to develop a business model
  • Use the business model canvas to develop a business model
Minimum Viable Product/Service
  • Gain an understanding of lean startup methodology
  • Learn how to apply lean methods in developing a minimum viable product/service
  • Use lean methodology to create a minimum viable product/service
User Testing
  • Gain an understanding of methods for testing a minimum viable product/service
  • Learn how to reach out to target users and engage them in testing
  • Develop a plan to test the minimum viable product/service
User Feedback
  • Present a demo of the minimum viable product/service
  • Receive feedback on the minimum viable product/service
  • Learn how to interpret feedback on the minimum viable product/service
Company Formation
  • Gain an understanding of the importance of setting up the right business entity to sell the product/service
  • Learn about business entity alternatives and their financial, tax and legacy implications
  • Evaluate business entity alternatives for the product/service idea
Creating Presence
  • Gain an understanding of the importance of creating an online presence for the business
  • Learn the basics of creating a website, social media profiles and email newsletters
  • Create a website, social media profiles and email newsletter to promote the minimum viable product/service
Final Presentations
  • Present the business’ market opportunity, minimum viable product/service and next steps
  • Receive constructive feedback from your peers and mentors to refine the business opportunity


Must have a new business idea or existing business that seeks to create positive community impact.

Program Format

Our Small Business & Enterprise Program modules combine the effectiveness of face-to-face learning with the convenience of distance learning. Each of our Small Business & Enterprise modules includes the following weekly activities:

Program FormatWeekly ActivityWeekly Commitment
Background Materials
  • Series of required background readings and videos on each unit to be completed prior to the weekly in-person workshop
  • Describes concepts and their applications in developing a business
  • All materials contained in our online learning environment
1-2 hours / week
  • Weekly in-person workshops led by experts in each topic
  • Lecture and discussion on background materials, group activities and reflection
  • All workshops held at Impact HUB Oakland
3 hours / week
Business Development Activities
  • Weekly activities focused on your business development
  • Apply concepts learned in background materials and workshops
  • All business development activities build to a final presentation at the end of the module
2-10 hours / week
Peer Mentoring
  • Weekly phone meetings with peer group of 3 other individuals in your class
  • Present weekly business development activity and receive constructive feedback from peers
1 hour / week
One-on-one Mentoring
  • Weekly one-on-one meetings with a mentor
  • Discuss business wins and review weekly business development activity
  • Work with mentor on connecting with resources to meet business needs
30 minutes / week


The cost of our Small Business & Enterprise Accelerator modules consists of a monthly cash fee. We determine your cash fee using a sliding scale based on the current annual revenue of your business:

< $100,000 
Annual Revenue$100,000 – $500,000 
Annual Revenue > $500,000 
Annual Revenue
$400 / month$500 / month$600 / month

We charge a $50 non-refundable deposit to reserve your space in the class. This deposit is credited against the first payment of your monthly fee.

Because we believe cost should not be a barrier, we provide payment plan options upon request.

Cooperative Membership

To become a cooperative member of the Small Business & Enterprise Accelerator, we require a one-time contribution of an equity stake in the business that you create. We determine your equity stake using a sliding scale based on the current annual revenue of your business:

< $100,000 
Annual Revenue$100,000 – $500,000 
Annual Revenue > $500,000 
Annual Revenue
5% equity stake
4% equity stake3% equity stake

Your one-time equity stake becomes part of a pool that all Small Business & Enterprise Accelerator members participate in. As we receive dividends and capital gains from the equity stakes in the pool, we return equity to our members. Through this shared equity, we foster a greater sense of community among our members.

Membership in the cooperative is voluntary and does not affect the level of service provided in our Small Business & Enterprise Accelerator modules.