Gaining admission into Innovators of Progress is an achievement worth celebrating. Once admitted, students are off to the races to begin the hard work of transforming their bright ideas into real products and services of value. Below are the key components of our program, which are designed to lead each student, no matter their idea, to success.

Customer Development: The Science of Entrepreneurship

We leverage the first three processes of Steve Blank’s articulation of Customer Development: Customer Discovery, Customer Validation, and Customer Creation. Our program is akin to a series of “lab courses” where students continuously design measurable, bite-sized experiments to validate their assumptions with real data from stakeholders. After each experiment, students shape their idea and work their way toward a solution.

Research Methodologies

Experiments must be effective for deriving actionable insights that lead to informed decision making. Students are supported with a variety of research methodologies to collect data the right way, from the right people, and at the right time.

Freedom to Learn

Our program is a sandbox for learning, which allows students to fail early, fail often, and fail without the normal risks of operating on their own. The motto is not “fail fast,” but “learn quickly” as we want students to make the best of their limited time in the program.

Cohort Empowerment

Students are admitted into cohorts at the beginning of each program cycle. Cohorts provide students an immediate multi-disciplinary network of like-minded students that can serve as resources to support and hold each other accountable.

Real Experience

We strongly encourage our students to intern at local start-ups and small businesses each summer to experience firsthand how entrepreneurship operates in the real world.

Our Team

Markus Proctor
Markus ProctorExecutive Director
Founder of Innovators of Progress and evangelist for student entrepreneurship. Markus works with each scholar to further their entrepreneurial mindset and curate resources focused on their success.
Randy Fisher
Randy FisherDirector, Customer Development & Market Validation
20+ years of business experience working with innovative leaders, startups, and entrepreneurs. Randy coaches students one-on-one in their Customer Discovery journey.

Program Limitations

It is important to clarify that Innovators of Progress does not:

  • support company building such as raising capital, incorporation, hiring team members, etc. Students at this stage of their entrepreneurial journey are generally not a good fit for our program.
  • provide traditional, academic style learning of entrepreneurship or business management. For example, we do not teach students how to produce business plans or curate financial statements. Students are encouraged to enroll in entrepreneurship courses at their institution. If such courses are not available, we encourage students to apply their received scholarship funding to apply for online courses.
  • teach students how to code. Similarly, students are encouraged to use their scholarship funding for additional learning.
  • provide legal or financial advice.
  • provide students with accountability-free spending of their program funding. Funds are expected to be used responsibly, and limitations are negotiated with each student.