The first class in the FASTForward Program was held September 6, 2016, at the IC² Institute’s Global Classroom with great participation from traditional local entrepreneurs, mentors volunteering from the Austin business community, and UT students participating in Dr. Greg Pogue’s Entrepreneurial Writing Course (RHE 328), taught this fall in the College of Liberal Arts. Weekly classes, along with monthly social networking events, will be held through December 2016.
The FASTForward Program offers entrepreneurs leading local businesses the tools, talent and time to strategically develop a plan to grow their market share, enter a new market or introduce a new product. One tool will be the Entrepreneurial Storyboard that communicates in both written and graphical form key business components. The Storyboard is built from direct market engagement, interviews and building value propositions through co-creation with their markets and partners.
The talent will be provided through the actions of mentors who will engage FASTForward teams during monthly mentorship meetings. These social networking events will allow teams to practice communicating their value propositions, as they are “in development” phase. Mentors are requested to ask questions, provide feedback and introduce the teams to other members of the Austin community that will be critical to answering key Storyboard questions. Further, mentors are asked to assist teams with next steps – by helping craft applications for funding and introductions to partners and customers. Teams will benefit from the engagement from senior-level students from The University of Texas at Austin. Students can assist teams conduct interviews, perform secondary research into markets and process data into easily communicated value propositions.
Finally, the FASTForward program provides business owners time to work ON their business, develop a strategy for next steps and develop a broader team who will help them execute their plan. FASTForward teams will work each Tuesday evening on practical methodologies and apply these during the week to conduct business experiments, process their data and communicate outcomes. Monthly meetings with mentors will expand their audience and improve the accuracy, clarity and effectiveness of their business value presentations. Teams will present their outcomes to community leaders providing loans, equity-based funds and partnership relationships. The goal of the program is that FASTForward teams will develop a market-driven strategy to grow their business and take the first steps toward realizing their new, expanded potential.
A second FASTForward series is being scheduled for 2017. Sign up for our mailing list to receive announcements of future opportunities.
– Story and photos by Coral Franke