How it Works

How are we different from other Startup Activities?

  • Hackathons – We believe hackathons are a great way to learn how to code, but you aren’t focused on developing a new business or on validating a business model with real customers.
  • Startup Weekends – Startup weekends are a great way to learn about how to start a company. Unfortunately, due to the short time frame, there isn’t enough time to validate your learning and pivot.
  • Business Plan Competitions – These competitions look at startups as minature big corporations, which a startup is not. Big corporations are about executing a business model, while a startup is about searching for a business model.

How does it work?

1. Create a Business Model Canvas
Take your idea and map it out on a business model canvas.  You can use Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas Business Model Canvas

2. Apply

The Indy Startup Challenge is a competitive program, and we will only accept a select group of applicants. An application fee will be charged for teams, which goes towards materials for the boot camp and prizes. We will notify you if you are selected by September 7th. If you are not selected, we will refund your money. (Registrations will close at midnight September 4th.)   Remember, the the Indy Startup Challenge is all about validated learning, so the sooner you start, the more learning you'll have!

Sign up Today

3. Blog Your Progress

After your registration has been accepted, we will give you free access to  Launch Pad Central, so you can start documenting your lean startup.

4. Share and Post Weekly

Once a week create a post that:

  • - Shows what experiments you have run to validate your business model.
  • - Tell us what you learned
  • - Let us know who you talked to
  • - Show us you know what you measured and what the metrics were
  • - Let us know what changed on your canvas
  • - Invite your advisors to comment on your blog (you are going to get advisors, aren’t you?)

For ideas look at  From Boardroom to Bits,  the winner of the Boston Lean Startup Challenge blog,  and Lean Launchpad’s examples

5. Post a Video

After 8 weeks, post a video describing your business model hypotheses, experiments, and what you’ve learned.

6. Choosing the Finalists
Mentors will determine the Final 4 in November.
The judging criteria to reach the finals includes...

Validation (40%)  – How much of the model has been validated and for those things that are validated, are they really justified.

Metrics (30%) – Is the company using data to make decisions and is that data shared and updated regularly.  Are there   vanity metrics (note: that is bad).

Customer Acquisition and Retention (30%) – Is there a clear path to the customer? Are CAC and LTV being measured and managed?

7. Intense Acceleration

Mentors will provide feedback to each finalist on what they need to do to take it to the next level. The finalists will receive extra mentoring, design and development help and receive pitch coaching to accelerate their progress over a 1 week period.

8. The Finals: Compete for Cash and Prizes

Finalists will present to a panel of local Investors like: High Alpha, Meridian Street Capital, Elevate Ventures, Developertown as well as an audience.  The presentation will consist of a 10 minute presentation, followed by 10 minutes of feedback.  The judges will decide the winners and present the cash and prizes.


The competition is for new, independent ventures in a seed position:

Booked Revenues - Existing companies that have booked revenue are not eligible to enter the competition.

Professional Investment - Any existing company or idea that has received angel or venture capital financing is ineligible for this competition. Funding from personal sources, including “family and friends,” is allowed for competition applicants as long as its less than $100,000.

Venture Type Exclusions - The following ventures are generally excluded from the competition: buyouts, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, and spin-outs from existing corporations

What Participants Get

Lean Startup Resources -A one day Lean Startup bootcamp, weekly learning materials, checklists and access to classes

Hands on Advice from Mentors

Essential Startup Tools


Cash and Prizes -Details coming soon