Accelerator: 2021 Bootcamp – Session Descriptions

Day 1: June 1, 2021 - Kickoff!


9:30-10:45am Kickoff and icebreakers – All

The Tufts Venture Accelerator Team extends a warm welcome to the 2021 cohort! We will be meeting in our event space in and will start the day off with a round of icebreaker activities.  We will also be going over what to expect in the next 11 weeks.

11:00am-12:15pm Improv! – Matt McMahan

One of the most important elements of an entrepreneurial mindset is to be creative, to stay in the moment and be 100% present, to embrace not being perfect, and to optimize speed over perfection and quantity over quality in many situations. An improv workshop is an excellent way to warm up our creative juices. Our improv workshop will be led by Matt McMahan, Assistant Director of Comedic Arts at Emerson College. Matt a performance scholar, dramaturg and comedian.  He is also a Jumbo with a Ph.D. in drama.


1:00pm-2:15pm Running a high performance founding team – Tina Weber

Did you know that team problems are the #3 reasons why startups fail (right behind “No market need” and “Ran out of cash”)? In fact it might be #2 because team trouble is one big reason you might run out of cash (because you are not operating effectively). In this session, we will cover key concepts of how to build a diverse and well rounded team, how to work together effectively, how to deal with task and team conflict and more. We will also discuss the weekly accountability framework we will be using this summer to help you stay accountable to each other and stay on track.

2:30pm-4:00pm Framing & Business Model Canvas review – Tina Weber

In the last session of our first day, we will review key frameworks and concepts that we will be using to coach and guide your progress throughout the summer, including Lean Startup, Customer Development, Disciplined Entrepreneurship and importantly, Business Model Canvas (BMC). We will be using the BMC throughout the summer to check your progress and identify issues to address. The BMC will be a weekly deliverable for the Full Time cohort as part of our weekly accountability framework. At the end of the summer you will look back and be amazed at how far you have come in just 11 weeks!

Day 2: June 2, 2021 - Market & Customer; Solution & Differentiation


9:30am-11:00am Market Segmentation and Selection – Elaine Chen

The first thing in new venture creation is to build a deep understanding of the market and customers. We will review how we might define the market, come up with a segmentation framework, pick a beachhead market segment to start with, and conduct a quick market sizing and analysis exercise via secondary market research techniques to make sure the chosen segment is big and impactful. You will come away with the tools to review your market selection criteria and pivot as needed.


11:15am-12:45pm Solution & Differentiation – Tina Weber

This workshop explores how we might come up with a solution that meets the needs/wants of the target end user. We will explore ways to conduct a competitive analysis and best practices for mapping your solution against the competition so that it is clearly different and better than the competition. We will discuss how to gauge the defensibility of your solution against fast followers – and what to do if you don’t have strong protection against copycats. We will also discuss how to formulate hypotheses and test your ideas in the market via hypothesis testing and lean experimentation.


2:00pm-3:30pm Go to market & Pricing strategy – Gavin Finn

In this workshop, we will explore how to define buyer personas for your stakeholders (including your end users, your economic buyers and more) for B2C (business to consumer), B2B (business to business), B2G (business to government) and other types of businesses (B2B2C… B2G2C… etc). We will map the buying process, starting with how your economic buyer or end user becomes aware they have a problem, search for and evaluate a solution, then make a decision to buy or adopt that solution. We will discuss awareness generation and explore pricing strategies as the type of business you are building and your pricing strategy both play an important role in driving your go to market strategy.

Day 3: June 3, 2021 - Go to market strategy & pricing, making money & legal


9:30am-11am Biz Model and Hypothesis Testing – Elaine Chen

In this workshop, we will talk about how to extract value out of the solution you provide to your customers – i.e. how you make money off the solution that you have provided. We will cover different types of business models and how to use lean experimentation techniques to test hypotheses about customers’ willingness to pay and price elasticity.


11:15am-12:45pm Unit and overall economics – Frank Apeseche

In this workshop, we will cover unit and overall economics – two sets of concepts that are necessary for you to learn to build a financially sustainable venture. We will look into key concepts around cost of goods sold (COGS), life time value (LTV), and customer acquisition cost (CAC). We will show you how to think about forecasting revenue when everything is unknown about your business. We will demonstrate how to build a pro-forma profit-and-loss statement (P&L) and why this is a valuable exercise to examine your assumptions and ask the hard questions even though all the numbers are bound to be wrong at this early stage.




4:00pm-5:30pm Entrepreneurial Law – Joe Volman

In this workshop, we will cover the fundamentals of startup law, including but not limited to the following key concepts:

  • Legal structure: The difference between C-Corp, S-Corp and LLC; why most startups incorporate in Delaware; etc
  • Intellectual property protection: Patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets
  • Securities law for fundraising: Grants, equity and debt; convertible notes, SAFEs and “lettered” or “priced” rounds
  • Founder’s shares, employee stock option grants and more
  • What you need to know before engaging a startup attorney

June 8, 2021

10:00 am – 11:30 am Primary Market Research (PMR) – Elaine Chen

In this workshop on primary market research (PMR), we will provide a brief overview of the full range of qualitative and quantitative research techniques for entrepreneurs and innovators to build knowledge about their target customer. We will do a skills clinic on two techniques: detailed interviews and card sorting.  We will also briefly cover cold emailing and networking to get research subjects.

July 13, 2021 @6:30pm EST

Goal Setting for Startups –  Professor Tina Weber

Join Tufts Professor Tina Weber in our goal setting workshop for startups where you will learn how to set aggressive yet achievable goals, and use rituals inspired by the Agile software development process and other best practices to help you manage progress.

July 21, 2021 @12pm EST

Digital Marketing workshop –  Patrick Lord, Founder & Principal, Wherewithall

In this workshop we will work on digital marketing tactics including inbound marketing as well as paid advertising including Facebook and Google Ads and other pay per click mechanisms. We will also cover email campaigns, re-targeting, content marketing and more.

Date and time TBD

Storytelling workshop –  TBD

In this workshop we will work on storytelling skills. Reciting facts about your venture will not excite or inspire your audience; telling compelling stories will. Learn how to use TED talk worthy storytelling techniques like defining and staying close to a throughline, varying the emotional content over time, staying in the moment and more to tell the story of your customer and your ventures and truly connect with your audience.

Date and time TBD

Salary negotiation workshop –  TBD

In this workshop we will talk about different ways to think about startup compensation, ways to approach various negotiation scenarios including salary discussions on both sides of the table and more.

Date and time TBD

Fund raising workshop – TBD

In this workshop we will discuss different ways to raise money from non traditional, equity free mechanisms such as grants and loans to convertible notes and SAFEs in seed rounds, all the way to “lettered rounds” from VCs. Of course the best way to raise money remains revenue and the best investors remain your paying customers.

Noah Elion – Founder & CEO, Chums

Hosted by Iggy Moliver, Global Chair, Tufts Entrepreneurial Network (TEN)

How did a mobile app company that just graduated from Y Combinator and just launched its product manage to not only raise an old-school Series A round of capital, but was so oversubscribed that they ended up raising $1M more than expected? Hear the story from cofounder & CEO of ChumsNoah Elion about how it happened all in a COVID year.

More coming soon!

Date and time TBD