Contestant’s Guide Sheet

Session 1 Customer Discovery

The goal is to find first customers, but not necessarily a broad customer group. The reason for this is that, by nature, the first customers of a startup tend to be a limited number. We call them “Earlyvangelists” from early adopters and evangelists that will sing the praise of the startup’s solution.

  1. Create a concise value proposition that delivers and expresses the customer pain or gain that you are solving. This could also be something that is emotional to your target market.

  2. Develop a hypothesis to test the value proposition toward your target markets. Test the hypothesis, evaluate feedback and determine next steps

  3. Verify, analyze the results of the test and repeat or change. This should result in a validated value proposition.

A good target customer fits the following criteria:

  1. They have a business problem.

  2. They are aware that they have this problem.

  3. They have searched for a solution.

  4. They have put together a “DIY” solution.

  5. They have access to the budget required to purchase a solution.


Session 2 Product Market Fit

The path to product market fit is often described as a three-step process

  1. Problem/Solution fit – Is this a problem worth solving?

  2. Early traction with customers – Requires an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), which is the smallest solution that provides and captures value. Have you built something that customers want?

  3. Product Market Fit – After early traction, how do I scale? Use the Value Proposition Design Canvas and the product market fit canvas.  Match your Customer's needs and jobs-to-be-done and helps them solve their problems.

Session 3 - FINALS Final Completed Business Model Canvas and Seven Minute Pitch
  1. How complete and validated is the BMC. More credit for the right side validation than the operation (left side) unless there is a key element for success (most often that is strategic partnerships, if any)

  2. Clarity of pitch and use of slide deck

  3. Most growth (personal growth of team members? growth as in progress made during ONGS rounds?. Need to define/clarify)

  4. Most effective use of time (to learn, fail, grow)

  5. Has made most progress in validating assumptions (with customers, market) about their product/idea

  6. Has made significant progress in reducing uncertainty their startup venture (technology, market validation, etc.)

Extra Bonus Points for a Three Minute Video

  1. During the first few weeks, teams should be making recordings of their work. The creative aspects of the video is left to the team. Judging is based upon the following criteria:

    1. Number of YouTube views

    2. Would make a great crowdsourcing video (All members of the team need to be in the video)

    3. Just a great video (for example: team conflicts, the pivots and the most interesting part of the journey)


The overall criteria for winning is the team with the best opportunity to succeed has reduced uncertainty with the best opportunity and a potential large market. The ability to execute on the startup also play a significant role in the judges criteria.