Jumbo Cafe – Deep Dive Series, Spring 2021

You are building a new venture and have made great progress. You have a good grasp of basic entrepreneurship concepts, but find it a little difficult to translate what you’ve learned to your own venture. Who can help you apply these concepts in context?

If this sounds like you, the Jumbo Cafe Deep Dive series can help. This series of one-hour virtual workshops are specifically designed to help you reduce theory to practice. We will start each workshop with a quick overview of the skillset du jour, then jump into exercises where you will apply these skills to your own ventures.  Topics include market sizing and analysis, competitive analysis, go to market strategy, entrepreneurial sales, pitching, founder’s issues, legal pitfalls and more.

After each workshop, a TEC faculty member or volunteer entrepreneurial coach will stay for an additional 30 minutes for an optional Ask Me Anything (AMA) session where you can get 1×1 support on the topic of the day. Current Tufts students are also welcome to sign up for pop-up coaching with a TEC entrepreneurial coach.

Sign up for as many workshops as you can, meet fellow entrepreneurs, and learn practical skills that will help you with the $100k New Venture Competition and beyond.

Please note that instructors are subject to change.

February 3, 2021: Market sizing and analysis

Instructor: Elaine Chen, Cummings Family Professor of the Practice in Entrepreneurship & Director, Derby Entrepreneurship Center

Understanding the market and customer is key in defining the scope of a new venture. There are two parts to this process: First, we need to 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 to make sure the chosen segment is big and impactful. Second, we need to build a deep understanding of the target customer through primary market research, utilizing a range of qualitative and quantitative research techniques. This starts with defining an end user profile who is the proto-persona of your primary end user in your chosen beachhead market.

This workshop focuses on the first part of the puzzle. We will review basic principles of behavioral market segmentation and explore selection criteria for choosing a beachhead market to proceed with. You will have an opportunity to apply what you have learned in interactive exercises. You will emerge from the workshop with the start of a segmentation matrix, beachhead market selection and end user profile, together with a set of templates that will help you continue to work on these foundational exercises on your own time.

February 10, 2021: Competitive analysis and differentiation

Instructor: Josh Wiesman, Professor of the Practice, Entrepreneurship and Business Planning; Hub, Strategic Platform | Co-Developer, CarryOn CBD, Ocean Spray

Developing a solution that solves a real customer problem is only part of the puzzle. The real challenge is to develop a solution that brings true benefits to the customer, and that offers a unique value proposition. In other words, the solution needs to be both different and better than everything available to date – including doing nothing different. This is very different from classical competitive analyses where you compare your product against other similar products in the same product category – because in many cases, you are creating a new product category. You need to frame it in the context of what the customer sees, needs and wants – not just what your competition offers from a product and services standpoint.

In this workshop, we will cover exactly this topic. We will provide you with templates for developing your benefit statement, your unique value proposition (UVP), explain how to construct a 2×2 competitive matrix, and the Moore’s positioning statement. You will have an opportunity to fill out some of these templates during the workshop, and share your insights with other entrepreneurs.  You will be provided with curated content you can use to help you continue to evolve your UVP and positioning statement as you collect more data from your primary customer research.

February 17, 2021: Go to market strategy

Instructor: Gavin Finn, Ph.D., Professor of the Practice & President and CEO, Kaon Interactive

Once you have a deep understanding of your market and customer, as well as a differentiated solution that solves your customer’s problem better than everything available to them on the market, it is time to think about how you can bring this solution to their attention and monetize your offering. In this workshop, we will explore how to define buyer personas or stakeholders (a.k.a. Decision Making Unit in the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework) for B2C (business to customer), B2B (business to business), B2G (business to government) and other types of businesses (B2B2C… B2G2C… etc). We will understand their customer journey map (a.k.a. Decision Making Process in teh Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework), which is the process with which they become aware they have a problem, search for and evaluate a solution, then make a decision to buy or adopt that solution. We will explore fundamentals of the sales funnel and touch on key concepts such as conversion metrics and the like. We will explore go-to-market strategies and sales processes that are designed to adapt to the economic buyer and end user’s thought process and mental models, so that we maximize the odds of turning them into paying customers.

As with previous workshops, we will provide you with templates for your go-to-market strategy. We will also provide a quick overview of startup resources for marketing and sales that are available to student startups and early stage ventures that are pre-revenue and that have not raised a significant round of funding to date.

February 24, 2021: Unit and overall economics

Instructor: Andy O’Brien, Lecturer, Entrepreneurial Finance & Managing Director, Resolute Advisory Services

In this workshop, we will cover two sets of concepts that are crucial in helping you build a financially sustainable venture: Unit and overall economics.

Unit economics refers to the money you make when you make a sale to your paying customer. We will cover key concepts including pricing architecture and pricing strategy, testing strategies for pricing, estimating cost of goods sold (COGS) or cost of sales (COS) which is the cost basis directly related to selling one unit of your product or service to the customer. We will discuss the life time value of your customer (i.e. the total amount you expect to make from each acquired customer) versus the customer acquisition cost (CAC) or cost of customer acquisition (COCA) – and how LTV/CAC needs to be 3:1 or more for a business to become viable.

We will then turn our attention to overall economics, which includes ways to forecast revenue for the first 1-3 years of your business, ways to estimate expenses, and the most important concepts and parameters that you will need to think structurally and strategically about what type of business you intend to build in the long run. While this looks like a theoretical exercise, the point is not in the actual numbers in the pro-forma profit-and-loss statement or income statement, but in how you think about things and what your assumptions are – because your thought process and assumptions are what institutional investors are looking for when they examine your overall economics.

March 3, 2021: Building a great pitch

Instructor: Margie Zohn, Principal, Zohn Coaching and co-lead of the Harvard University Public Speaking Program

While there is a lot of information that needs to go into a pitch, it is essential that we persuade our audiences to CARE about our idea right off the bat.  In this workshop we will focus on the crucial first minute of your pitch and help you find your most moving and compelling “hook”.  We will pay attention both to content and delivery, and there will be opportunities to practice with coaching from instructors and peers.  Join us to help your new venture reach both hearts and minds!


March 24, 2021: Finding cofounders and building a great team

Co-Instructor: Kit Hickey, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management; Entrepreneur in Residence, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship 

Co-Instructor: Erin Scott, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

Did you know that most startups that fail do so because of team problems? Building the right founding team can mean the difference between lasting success and early failure. There are several tried and true principles to building a successful founding team: Ensuring that co-founders’ values, work styles and objectives for going into business are aligned and compatible; building in diversity in multiple dimensions, including professional and educational backgrounds, interest in being a hacker / hustler / hipster, skillsets, and importantly, diverse personal experiences that each person brings to the table.

We will also address common issues such as the need for clarity in roles and responsibilities, the commitment and time availability each person brings, and discuss various frameworks for founder’s equity split – which is almost always a proxy for deeper conversations about each person’s expectations for control and financial returns.

March 31, 2021: Digital Experimentation with Google Ads

Instructor: Noah Cook-Dubin

Google Ads is a powerful digital marketing tool to capture prospective customers along the entire marketing funnel, efficiently finding the right audiences and delivering the right messages. But did you know that digital ads can also be used earlier in the go-to-market process, to help test products, features, pricing and brand messaging?

In this dynamic workshop, Noah Cook-Dubin, ex Google Creative Director, and co-founder of KANOA Strategic Marketing Consulting, will join us to share his approach to testing hypotheses using Google Ads. He’ll look at the data available, different approaches in testing, and some common errors to avoid as you learn to make use of this unique, real-world testing environment.

Joe Volman

June 3, 2021: Entrepreneurial Law Workshop

Instructor: Joe Volman, Lecturer, Entrepreneurial Business Law; Partner & Co-Chair, Business Law, Burns Levinson

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; and what you need to know in order to file your incorporation paperwork.
  • Intellectual property protection: The difference between patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets and when to apply which IP protection strategy
  • Securities law for fundraising: The difference between grants, equity and debt; the difference between 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