The CU New Venture Challenge – A Participant’s Perspective (by Corrina Gibson)
Cyclizor, LLC began when my colleague and I (both aerospace engineering grad students at CU) decided we were done with uncontrolled, swinging bicycle handlebars causing nuisances everyday when we parked our bicycles or lifted our bicycles onto car racks. Our solution design evolved during mountain bike escapades in CA and commuting in Boulder, eventually developing into a product that we knew would be a great solution to the problem of uncontrolled handlebars faced by bicyclists everyday.
However, we had no idea where to start and no business experience…
…Until we went to the CU New Venture Challenge.
From the day we gave our first ever 60 second elevator pitch, we had multiple contacts for business planning help, an experienced mentor, and structure for developing our business. Through the NVC we were introduced to successful entrepreneurs, got feedback about our business plan, and attended events with amazing speakers. The Track modules allowed us to submit and get feedback on Lean Startup documents, interviews, and presentations after attending informative lectures given by Lean Startup experts.
The Track modules were essential. There were guidelines and deadlines for key Lean Startup concepts, documents, and research. From the support and structure of CUNVC and its volunteers, we are orders of magnitude further along in our business development then we would have been doing it alone. Cyclizor is now a registered LLC with a bank account and website.
The Lean Canvas Module lead us through market research, problem and solution validation, financial projections, unfair advantage, and value proposition. The Interview Module required us to “get out of the building” and interview target customers to validate the problem and solution. The Investor Pitch Module divulged into financials and taught the team how to present to VCs and Angel Investors. And finally, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Module pushed us to complete our CAD design and print a 3D working prototype.
We have won money from CUNVC modules and scored the best mentor we could dream of. Together, CUNVC and our mentor, Ray Johnson, have given us the opportunity to establish and develop an exciting company. Our prize money from the Modules has helped pay for IP protection and prototyping – milestones we would have never accomplished by now without the support and guidance of CUNVC.
We recommend participating in CUNVC whether interested in joining a startup team, making a team based on an innovative idea, or developing a company further with the support and experience the NVC has to offer.
Corrina Gibson is an Aerospace Engineering graduate student at CU-Boulder who thinks handlebars should do what they’re told.