None of us had thought the decision would be so challenging. HTR LaunchPad received 29 applications for the 10 team slots we had planned. The challenge was that virtually every application was a good fit with the program.
From the past weeks, we had met with many of the individuals and teams that applied, some met us at ROC Brewing on January 28th, and others met one-on-one or had telephone conversations with Selection Committee members. We wanted to be sure that everyone knew that the program was a serious commitment and involves on the order of 15-20 hours of weekly effort. Most of those that applied as individual entrepreneurs took our advice and found a partner to join them for the workshop. It seemed that all were up for the challenge. Choosing only 10 participants seemed to be an unsolvable problem.
Then, Todd Nielsen and Martin Edic made a bold offer—they would take on creation of the HTR LaunchPad Intensive. It would not include all of the elements of the HTR LaunchPad Program–but it will focus on the key principles of the program, eliminate the requirement to have a working prototype by the fourth week, and provide contact with some of the mentors and advisors that are volunteering to support the program. HTR LaunchPad Intensive will have three sessions of about 3 hours each. Now we could provide support to all the applicants that are interested in the Lean LaunchPad approach.
The selection process got a little easier—select those applicants that could most benefit from each of the two programs. We also had a team offer a donation of their time for engineering support for the other program participants if they were included. While this all helped, we still had a big challenge. With another hour of debate and discussion two groups were formed that we thought would work well in each program. We collectively decided to accept 12 teams into HTR LaunchPad along with the engineering team—for a “baker’s dozen”. The other 16 applicant teams have the opportunity to participate in the HTR LaunchPad Intensive.
Getting to this point took a lot of work and over 100 volunteer hours of time was put in from the Advisory Board and Selection Committee members. More time was volunteered to make the HTR LaunchPad Intensive a reality and to support the additional teams in the original program. The Community of Rochester is really coming together to support these entrepreneurial ventures.