This morning Steve Blank announced an “Experiential Entrepreneurial Education” program (called Startup Weekend Next) to help entrepreneurs launch 10,000 startups. The four week program will provide practical, hands-on training and is designed to “inspire, educate, and empower hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs” around the globe. In essence, Startup Weekend Next is a pre-accelerator.
Blank’s partners include Startup Weekend, Startup America, TechStars, and Udacity (a digital university that makes education for everyone around the world available for free). The four-week program has a nominal fee that covers expenses.
If people can acquire a university-level education for free online, why would they want to spend time attending a four-week bootcamp? It gets down to practical application. Being able to read and test well on “paper” does not necessarily translate to the ability to execute what one has learned. In addition, people learn by modeling the behaviors of those around them. Research indicates that professionals attain higher levels of success when they’ve had a mentor. Finally, participants will gain the power a network and relationships that provide an ongoing support structure—a community of sorts because they’ve shared a powerful, transformative experience that others have not.
Among other things, Startup Weekend Next teaches the customer model Blank introduced in The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win and further clarified in The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company. The framework helps entrepreneurs launch successful businesses by helping them discover a business model that will work.
Adopting a customer-centric business philosophy is critical because we have a desperate need to rev up the startup engine. As noted recently, the Gallup Organization has quantified a domestic startup deficit. The United States needs an annual launch rate of 2 million businesses to sustain a healthy economy and we’re currently running at 20% of the needed startup rate.
Factor in the expected success rate of the Startup Weekend Next program, though, and that ratio will change because more founders will succeed long-term. (The SBA claims that 50% of all new businesses fail within 5 years.) Fueling the startup engine and vastly improving the success rate is essential because startups have accounted for all new domestic job growth during the past 30 years.
By offering the Startup Weekend Next program globally, we effectively give the world’s economy a jolt. I like the fact that Blank and his parters look beyond our own boundaries. We function within a global economy. An ecosystem needs strength throughout in order to function well.
The first programs begin November 28th and locations have yet to be announced. You can preregister here to get on the mailing list.