Start Me Up Bootcamp

Join a select group of entrepreneurs for a two-week virtual program designed to build your successful startup!

This accelerated course utilizes the Lean Launchpad methodology,  where you ‘get out of the building’ and talk to potential customers to discover how your technology could effectively ‘solve’ customers’ unmet needs. The curriculum emphasizes the right-hand side of the business model canvas, focusing on customer development. 

Spring 2020 Start Me Up Bootcamp: 

Dates: Virtual meetings on April 23 – May 8

Apply here:

Deadline: Monday, April 6, 2020 11:59 PM EDT (recently extended)

Phone interviews are required along with the application and will be conducted on a rolling basis. Email us to schedule a phone interview after submitting your application:


Each team consists of at least three members:

The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) can be a postdoctoral scholar, graduate, undergraduate or other student with relevant knowledge of the proposed technology and a deep commitment to investigating the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. The Entrepreneurial Lead should also be both willing and able to support the transition of the technology, should the I-Corps project demonstrate the potential for commercial viability.

The Technical Lead (TL) will typically be a faculty member, senior research scientist or postdoctoral scholar with deep and direct technical expertise in the actual core technology about which the I-Corps team is exploring commercial potential.

The Industry Mentor (IM) will typically be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur who operates in proximity to the institution and is experienced in transitioning technology out of academic labs. The Industry Mentor may be recommended by the proposing institution or may be a member of the NSF-supported I-Corps Mentors network. The Industry Mentor will be responsible for guiding the team forward and reporting on its progress through regular communication with the cognizant NSF I-Corps Program Director.

The technology should be within a STEM-related industry that has potential commercialization ability and is scalable.

The technology can be funded by any government agency but must be disclosed to the Columbia Technology Transfer Office.

Students must complete 5 customer discovery interviews with potential  customers before the event kickoff and must complete 15 additional customer discovery interviews by the final presentation day.

> Looking for resources on how to conduct successful customer discovery interviews? Check out the book Talking to Humans by Giff Constable



  • Identify the best product-market fit for their technology
  • Concentrated time to focus on commercialization activities
  • Build relationships with experienced entrepreneurs and investors who can help you bring your product to market
  • Identify commercial potential for your technology to increase probability of grant success and/or raising venture capital
  • Develop entrepreneurship skills and learn about business model development
  • Engage in the customer discovery process by spending time outside the lab and talking to customers, partners and competitors


  • Have a tech idea or product in any STEM field and want to explore its commercialization potential
  • Are willing to find and talk to 20 potential customers in two weeks
  • Each team consists of at least three members: The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), The Technical Lead (TL), and The Industry Mentor (IM)*
  • The technology should be within a STEM-related industry that has potential commercialization ability and is scalable
    Teams that successfully complete this I-Corps short course can apply to receive travel funds to continue customer discovery and become eligible to apply for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps Teams program, which includes a $50,000 grant.

*If you are having trouble finding a mentor and/or cannot find a mentor, you are still welcome to apply. However, you must email us

Learn more about the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program here and here

Questions? Email us at

Missed the deadline? Consider applying to NYCRIN Virtual I-Corps Regional. Applications due May 4, 2020 and contact with any questions. 

I was very overwhelmed with endless random questions and assumptions regarding recruitment, operation, product/market fit, valuations, and of course network expansion. Through this bootcamp we were able to identify our target customers and understand their pain points. At the end, we were able to pivot our business model. This bootcamp will help your startup tap into the real market with your game-changing ideas.

Previous bootcamp teams

VasculoTox, Shaghayegh Harbi, John Kerbawy, NYCRIN
Development of assays for diagnostic and therapeutic applications – including both sophisticated high-throughput applications and point- of-care (POC) diagnostic assay development for practical applications.

Popfizz, Jane Lee, Junho Lee, Teachers College 
Popfizz CS is an online platform where students learn computer science by creating games, programs, and artwork and share it with the world.

Project Heartbeat, Lindsay Meyerson, Ana Zeneli, NYCRIN
Currently, service members have no ability to know what is going on in their own bodies. We propose to pair sensor technology with an application that will analyze data on physiological vitals and use that knowledge to prevent deterioration of health of deployed service members.

In Your Ecosystem, Nhi Dinh Tran, Arber Ruci, NYCRIN
A web-based customer discovery platform for innovation educations to remotely critique and track captured learning of entrepreneurship students.

X-battery, Xi Chen, Xiangbiao Liao, SEAS
Cost-effective flexible li-ion batteries with high-energy density and superior flexibility

Marko Motors LLC, Matthew D Marko, GSAS
Marko Motors is working to use thermodynamic theories developed by the founder, Dr. Matthew Marko, to build a revolutionary new solar engine. Rather than use photovoltaic cells, these solar engines use the intermolecular attractive Van der Waal forces present in all fluids to enhance the thermodynamic efficiencies of Stirling engines.

Small-Scale Med, Dimitrios Fafalis, Aykut Aksit, SEAS
We develop hollow micro-needles of 300 micro-meters length and 5 micro-meters tip diameter (i) to deliver therapeutics into the inner ear for treatment of hear-related diseases like Meniere’s disease, and (ii) to aspire perilymph from the inner ear for diagnostics.

New Money, Najin Kim, SIPA and GS
Private/permissioned blockchain ledgers to connect all stakeholders of impact investing.

Medi-SCAPE, Elizabeth Hillman, Wenxuan Liang, SEAS
Swept confocally-aligned planar excitation (SCAPE) microscopy technology is a novel single-objective lens light-sheet microscope for volumetric imaging of living biological tissue at ultra-high speed.

GetRight, Markus Kuhn, Suhyun Kim, SEAS 
GETRIGHT is an improved and modernized method of watching game and practice film for all current NFL and NCAA teams, as well as replacing the current outdated version of studying the playbook.

Sobrite, John Bosco, Mailman, Engineering
A Sober Community On and Offline

Newtrima, Nicoleta de Deugd, CUMC
Personalized health and wellness tool, available at your fingertips

FITS Commute, Junhui Lou, SEAS
Flexible Integrated Transportation System

HelpingHandBiopsy, Jason Kahn, ChemE, SEAS
We are developing a a one-use, disposable, and sterile first of kind soft material that can aid in lung biopsy needle stabilization and placement.

3D Capsule, Vladlena Powers, IEOR, SEAS
Creating 3D technology that will capture specimens in 3D regardless of shape, color, or size and reduce processing time for any object by ~100 times

Colonai, Jacob Nye, Drew Afromsky. SEAS
We improve the physician’s ability to spot the hard-to-see, early-stage polyps, which increases their adenoma detection rate (ADR) and allows them to remove the polyps at a stage where it prevents cancer.

AdvanceH2O, Halil Kurt, Young Lee, Kartik Chandran, SEAS
We are developing a next-generation, advanced monitoring/sensor and data informatics platform that will address critical customer priority concerns for drinking and wastewater treatment.

BURPA: a Bio-Unified Research Project Agency, Qianru Qi, Bhubaneswar Mishra, NYCRIN
Developing patient-centric healthcare using blockchain and securitization.

coLiberate, Salah Chafik, Mohamed Haroun, SEAS
coLiberate is a collaboration platform that decentralizes tools, resources, and knowledge to facilitate making/fabrication. Put differently, it is a digital commons for local fabrication, and global collaboration.

Developing a Shakespeare Augmented Reality Application, Kevin LaGrandeur, John Misak, NYCRIN
The Augmented Reality (AR) application we are developing for smartphones and tablets would be of commercial use for college classrooms, and could also be used in high school and middle school to help teach Shakespeare.

huMOrgan, Yanne Doucet, Kacey Ronaldson-Bouchard, Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, SEAS
The technology consists of an integrated platform where engineered human tissues can be matured and combined in a physiological manner so that they are cultured in their specific media, but connected to other tissues/organs via a vasculature system within the platform. These models provide opportunities to both test the safety and efficacy of drugs on individual tissue/organ systems or combinations of multiple organ systems to more closely mimic the human body as an integrated system in vitro.
TRANSFR, Bharanidharan Rajakumar, Dr. Erica Snow, Pranav Bhakta, NYCRIN
Using evidence centered design to develop virtual reality training modules for skill development for ultimately job placement or career advancement.