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Behind the scenes at Boot Camp

Since the accelerator kicked off three weeks ago, the five cohort teams have been refining their business models and user profiles in collaboration with mentors such as Shah Selbe, founder of Conservify, and Josh Greenberg, Program Director, Digital Information Technology at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. These educational sessions prepared the teams for a two-day intensive Boot Camp, hosted by Autodesk Foundation at the Autodesk Technology Center this week in San Francisco.

Day One: Business modeling, user research, and product design

Schmidt Futures Chief Innovation Officer Tom Kalil set the stage for Boot Camp with a discussion on the potential for invention to address unmet needs, the role of funders and entrepreneurs in community building, and the importance of low-cost tools for scientific discovery

Schmidt Futures Chief Innovation Officer Tom Kalil speaks with the cohort.

The teams then pressure-tested their business models with Luminary Labs President Janna Gilbert and explored best practices for user research with Mule Design co-founder Erika Hall

Following a tour of the Autodesk Workshop, teams collaborated with a range of product experts as they demonstrated their tools and honed their pitches. The cohort worked one-on-one with Autodesk’s Chas Sullivan, Heather Kerrick, and Mei-yen Shipek; 10th Floor Studio’s Jerome Tavé; Launch Forth’s Megan Brewster; Sensel’s Stephanie Oberg; Wonder Workshop’s Victoria Davila; and Luminary Labs’ May Shek to identify potential areas for improvement and ideas for future development. 

The Feles team discusses their tool, the Feles One Biolab, with Autodesk Robotics Lab Senior Research Engineer Heather Kerrick.

Entrepreneurs, inventors, advisors, and funders came together that evening for a networking reception at Autodesk Gallery to meet the cohort teams. The Autodesk Foundation’s Kate McElligott and the Moore Foundation’s Janet Coffey gave brief welcome remarks before the teams introduced themselves and their tools. 

Day Two: Entrepreneurship, brand strategy, and peer collaboration

Brand and product expert David Glickman opened the second day of Boot Camp with a marketing and brand strategy module; teams presented their customer journey maps and walked through the community needs they aim to address with their tools.

The MakeItSo and Access Sensor Technologies teams complete the customer needs exercise.

In the afternoon, OpenROV’s David Lang, Daughters of Rosie’s Danielle Applestone, Zephyrus Biosciences’ Kelly Gardner, and Instructables’ Eric Wilhem joined the cohort for a founders panel. They provided hard-won advice on the struggles and successes of starting their businesses.

In the closing remarks at Boot Camp, Arduino Founder Massimo Banzi discussed developing sustainable business models and engaging communities.

Arduino Founder Massimo Banzi with the Tool Foundry cohort.

In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be sharing more from Boot Camp and spotlighting cohort teams in the Tool Foundry Journal. Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more and to follow the accelerator.

Published: 08/23/2019