innovation igniter innovation institute tips for early customer development


The Innovation Igniter program is an introductory primer to the process of advancing an innovative idea towards commercialization.

Designed for Pitt faculty, staff and students who are not ready to make a longer time commitment of other Innovation Institute educational programming, Innovation Igniter is an experiential exercise in discovering the value that the participant’s discoveries or ideas may offer to potential customers.

Workshop Description

The Pitt Ventures’ Innovation Igniter engages university faculty, staff, and students in experiential learning to advance innovations and innovative concepts along the commercialization path while providing a real world introduction to entrepreneurship. The two-hour workshop provides you with an introduction to the Business Model Canvas (BMC), designed to help you determine who your customers are and the value your innovation may offer to those customers.

Participants are encouraged to participate whether they have an idea, invention, or are simply curious about the commercialization process. The Innovation Igniter is a prerequisite to the Innovation Institute’s Pitt Ventures First Gear commercialization program for Pitt.



Workshop Structure

During the workshop you will be introduced to a few core concepts of the commercialization process:

  • Establishing a value proposition
  • Defining customer segments; and
  • Understanding the process of customer discovery.

After the workshop you will gather input from potential customers/stakeholders and begin outlining your value proposition.  This introduction to the basics of the Customer Development Process is derived from the work of Steve Blank which provides insight into the key steps needed to build a successful startup. You will use the text, Talking to Humans, to guide your post-workshop customer discovery.