Phase I Beat-the-Odds Boot Camp

The NSF “Beat-the-Odds Boot Camp” provides SBIR/STTR Phase I Grantees with innovation and entrepreneurial training. While the training draws on methods also used in the NSF I-Corps program, the Boot Camp is specifically designed for early-stage companies and new business opportunities. The Boot Camp builds on your company’s prior work regardless of whether you participated in I-Corps, other commercialization training, or built another successful business. The program curriculum uses Steve Blank’s customer discovery process to assess customer needs, segment the market, and build a business model around the market opportunity.

Taught by certified I-Corps instructors, the Boot Camp provides an immersive experience that pushes companies to develop stronger business models, market strategies, and successful products. The main goal is to provide early-stage companies with an introduction, or refresher, in customer discovery and business model validation. At the end of the program, companies will understand how to verify product market fit and other business model elements, thus increasing their odds for commercial success.


Spring 2018 Beat-the-Odds Boot Camp Schedule

Grantees will participate in the Boot Camp as a team representing your company. The team should include the Principal Investigator (PI) representing the technology and the President/CEO (preferably) of the company (or other member of executive team). Each team should register for Steve Blank’s free “How to Build a Start Up” course online and watch all lectures to gain the most benefit from this program. Click “Start Free Course” on the right side of this page to get started. All team members are highly encouraged to attend the following three webinars (click the links below to open the WebEx URL).

Boot Camp Preparation

Each team should complete the initial draft of your Business Model Canvas (click to download template).  Additional recommended activities include:

  • View customer discovery interviews (, specifically those found under these sections: Before Leaving the BuildingOutside the BuildingUnderstanding What the Customer is Telling YouBack in the Building
  • Identify a minimum of thirty (30) prospective customers to interview

Boot Camp Office Hours

Each team will be paired with an Instructor and will meet three times in 20-min Office Hour sessions. Schedules will be coordinated between the teams and Instructors based on mutually agreeable times. Information on these sessions will be provided during the opening webinars, and schedules are typically determined right after Webinar #2.


Each team will present their “Lessons Learned” at the Beat-the-Odds Boot Camp event on Monday, March 19th, 2018. NSF I-Corps instructors will critique your work and provide feedback about your business model (presentation instructions to be provided in final webinar). Immediately following the Boot Camp event, a mandatory “SBIR/STTR Phase I Workshop” will take place on March 20th-21st, 2018 at the host hotel. Details of this event will be made available to teams in January 2018. 

All Phase I awardees should take advantage of the Boot Camp program. Please speak to your NSF Program Director if would like to try to opt out. However, such permission is uncommon. If you receive permission to opt out, please forward the email from your Program Director to and do not select the Boot Camp option during online registration. Otherwise, NSF expects all grantees to complete the Bootcamp program.


Links will be added as they become available.

  • Boot Camp Webinar #1 Recording
  • Boot Camp Webinar #1 Slides
  • Boot Camp Webinar #2 Recording
  • Boot Camp Webinar #2 Slides
  • Boot Camp Webinar #3 Recording
  • Boot Camp Webinar #3 Slides