If you want to stay up to date on entrepreneurial case studies, cool stuff and breaking developments in the marketplace, we have a UT FEED Facebook page that you should LIKE!

In addition to the resources you’ll find below, visit my office’s website at UT’s Office of Student Entrepreneurship.

Before our first visit:

  1. Step 1: ensure your computer’s clock is set to Eastern time zone.

  2. Step 2: Outlook also has its own Time Zone setting, so click here to fix that and learn how to set a proper calendar appointment.

Remember, everything below is just a guide and is designed for teams. So, divvy up the work load, folks--nobody gets there alone. I look forward to seeing you in my office shortly.

So, just dive in--you’re all set!

Freshmen Experience Entrepreneurial Discipline


Timeline Legend

est. hours needed

drop deadline

milestone value


step  / stage



3-4 hrs

week 1


REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: So, is your big idea an Innovation (a tweak to an existing product), or Invention (something brand new)? Also is this a "product" or a "company" you’re hoping to create? If it’s a product or service you’d like to have and you’ve never seen one like it before, that’s a good start. I have my own 3 subject checklist that you may find handy for this stage. It will also help you in Stage 3. Check it out here. Other great advice is always in the Sidebar to your right, except in this step, which is too packed with goodies to fit!

Getting Lucky. (1) "Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness." (2) "90% of success is just showing up." So, are you feeling luck yet? You should, because you've shown up and opportunity is all around us--and following the next few steps will certainly prepare you. Time to get lucky.

For starters, the leading entrepreneur in our field at the moment is Steve Blank. Here's Steve's free course to the world of Entrepreneurship or Tony Wright's "Guide to Evaluating Startup Ideas".



2-3 hrs

week 2



SUMMARIZE YOUR IDEA: Always start with "WHY": What problem are you solving? Be specific.

If you’re really detail oriented, here’s a more detailed look on how to create yours. If you’re still stumbling, try here and here.

ESTABLISH RELEVANCE: When seeking advice from anyone, much less from investors, it’s important to know that your idea is relevant to them. Will they buy it for themselves, or for someone else? So...explain in one or two sentences what the problem is for your ideal customer. For example, "17,000 people file slip & fall lawsuits annually. We want to make building lobbies safer so fewer people slip". Here's more on this from FEED.]


How are you certain that this market segment will appear or will grow?

TRENDING: A new market can be expensive and time-consuming to establish, but it is easier to attract investment when technology or market behavior can be observed heading in your direction. If trends aren't clearly moving in your direction, check out these resources to help you determine if you're on the right track: Is your idea worth pursuing?


Business Plans are unnecessarily complex at this stage. A Business "Model" however is what early stage investors demand. You'll paste a link to your completed canvas in this field. See the Genius Guide for how it all works.

BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS. This is pre-formatted Business Model Canvas with all the questions you'll need to fill yours out. This is the free interactive canvas tool your whole team will use.




1-3 hrs

week 3




1 hr

week 4




3-6 hrs

week 5




2-3 hrs





1-2 hrs



Why is your solution better than existing solutions?

PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION is the process of distinguishing a product or service from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market. This means contrasting yours from competitors' products, often in one (or more) of three ways: (1) Price - Are you cheaper or more luxurious than your competition? (2) Added Value - Have you designed a better version of an existing product?; (3) Convenience - Is your product just as good, but easier to use?

13 min

  1. Why should investors care? (i.e., how big a problem is this, and how many people might pay to have it solved?)

ESTIMATE MARKET SIZE: This helps determine whether the payoff from your idea will be worth the time and resources you're about to put into it. Is your problem shared by 100 people or by 10,000,000? Estimate gross revenue figures if possible, so your investors see how big the pie is. If you can't find credible data on market size, one of the best sources for this data is the Carlson Library or downtown--they have pricey subscriptions for such data and are paid to help you! Here is a FEED page that can help you get this data.


FEED and Angel Pitch Competition designed and administered by UT LaunchPad Incubation client Phabriq Development -

contact Phabriq             

FEED meets and works out of COspace at the University of Toledo College of Engineering’s Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex 1510 N. Westwood, Toledo, Ohio 43607








...to all our Freshmen Engineers who’ve put themselves to an ultimate challenge their first year at college. From Orientation to EXPO, and on to Angel Pitch 4.0, impressed as always.

Come talk about your idea, find a project to join, or ask about internships. Just give me a ring at 419.530.6068 or email me here. As email is often unreliable, if you do not receive a reply within two days, call me and leave your mobile number, and I’ll reply.

Onward and upward,

Scott McIntyre

Director - Student Entrepreneurship & Engagement

You've identified a problem you think needs solving, but is it already out there?

COMPETITION RESEARCH: "3 is the magic number" (e.g., Ford, Chrysler, GM). So long as you are not infringing on an existing patent, it can simply be a matter of improving (innovation) and/or differentiating (features/marketing) what already exists...and plenty of innovators (and most engineers) make a living doing just that. Find companies/products that are similar or same to your idea using simple google queries. Formulate a few different queries using a thesaurus to identify other keywords. Check out this Google search on how to conduct competitive market research using Google.

Another highly useful resource on patent search is here.


Click here to register.

Pretty easy so far, eh?


CUSTOMER DISCOVERY: Use this resource to help you prepare for talking with your eventual customers before you spend money on a product they don’t want. Then use Typeform to easily create a killer survey so you can document customer needs for free! And if you want to go deep, here is the granddaddy tip sheet from the masters of LEAN Development themselves.


How will you reach customers and compete? License your invention to a big company? Direct sales via a website? Wholesale to distributors?

CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT: At this point you should know if your idea is an innovation or an invention, so you now need to illustrate how you will reach customers. Check out these tips and templates for customer development.


So, you find yourself in an elevator when a potential investor says, "You've got 30 seconds to tell me why I'd give you my money." So, what's the story?

THE ELEVATOR PITCH: "You only get one chance to make a first impression." Everything you've experienced in FEED so far has prepared you for this last exercise. Here is a brilliant guide to make sure you're ready for 30 seconds of fame. Here's another great video on Elevator Pitching.


THE PITCH DECK: so you’ve got your pitch down to 30 seconds? That’s great. You’ll use that 30 seconds to introduce your project to a panel of judges at the Angel Pitch. And then you’ll have another 7 min 30 sec to finish the rest of your presentation. Lucky for you, I created Angel Pitch Deck Template.pptx that covers exactly what the judges at Angel Pitch use. Can’t be much easier--It’s like getting the test before the exam!

THE PITCH: Just to make sure you are answering the questions that the judges will be asking themselves while you're on stage, here are the exact questions they'll use to grade your presentation. You're welcome! Oh, need some more help? Well, what if you had actual Pitch Decks from successful startups you'd recognize? Well, now you do--just click here to study how the pros did it...including AirBnB and many others.

You did it! You're now ready for an 8 minute pitch and 5 minutes Q/A about your idea on the big stage at Angel Pitch 4.0. I can't wait to see you there.

Thanks for another year helping me help you learn to earn.

PITCH YOUR PLAN: Angel Pitch 4.0 happens April 14th  5pm at the Brady Center


1-3 hrs





1 hr




30 seconds

1-2 hrs




1-2 hrs









Need a break? Sometimes the only difference is a catchy name. Here’s a fun way to brainstorm names for your product or company--mind-mapping by using this visual thesaurus