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FoundersPlus Proves to be a Launchpad for Mississippi Startups

FoundersPlus is a six-week program designed to equip Mississippi startup founders with the knowledge and tools they need to transform their ideas into thriving businesses. The program, run by Innovate Mississippi, guides founders through a carefully curated curriculum that covers critical aspects of building a successful startup.

How FoundersPlus Works

The program follows a structured, weekly format, with each week focusing on a specific theme:

  • Week 1: Kick-off and Foundations: The program begins with an overview of FoundersPlus, outlining expectations and setting the stage for the journey ahead.
  • Week 2: Market Fit and Validation: Founders learn to define their target market, validate their product-market fit, and conduct customer discovery processes. Resources like the Lean Canvas help founders effectively understand and articulate their value proposition.
  • Week 3: Funding Strategies and Financial Planning: Founders learn about navigating the startup funding landscape, including Innovate MS’s funding opportunities. They are provided with tools like Excel templates to develop financial forecasts, business models, and strategies for securing funding.
  • Week 4: Product Development and MVPs: This week distinguishes between prototypes, minimum viable products (MVPs), and full product launches. Founders gain insights from case studies on MVP development and user testing and learn how to collect and integrate user feedback for product improvement.
  • Week 5: Pitching to Win: Founders learn the art of pitching their businesses effectively. They are provided with a standardized pitch deck template and learn best practices for crafting compelling narratives that resonate with investors.
  • Week 6: Networking and Peer-to-Peer Learning: The program culminates with a focus on networking with fellow founders, providing a platform for peer learning, sharing experiences, and fostering valuable connections.

Beyond the weekly sessions, FoundersPlus provides continuous support through office hours, enabling founders to receive personalized guidance and address specific challenges. Founders also benefit from access to various online resources curated to help them navigate the complex world of startups.

Impact of FoundersPlus

FoundersPlus aims to empower participants with the knowledge and tools to transform their companies into high-tech, high-growth opportunities:

  • RoadRescuers: After the founders participated in the FoundersPlus program, they expanded their workforce by three new tow-truck employees in the Jackson-Hinds area.
  • Total Body SubmersionAfter participating in FoundersPlus, TBS expanded from a solo operation to operating in multiple counties with multiple employees across Mississippi.
  • Sweet Purseonality: After FoundersPlus, this founder developed a machine-learning model to identify luxury purses, transforming her nearly decade-long consignment shop into a high-tech opportunity.

Our Founders Continue to Experience Success After Program Completion:

  • Pitch Competition Success: Four FoundersPlus participants were chosen to compete in regional pitch competitions in its initial year. Each of these startups placed in the top three of the competitions they entered, demonstrating the program’s effectiveness in equipping founders with the skills and confidence to pitch their businesses and attract potential investors effectively.
  • CoBuilders Cohort: Three FoundersPlus participants advanced to the prestigious CoBuilders Cohort, a rigorous 12-week accelerator program also run by Innovate Mississippi. This placement positions these startups for further scaling, investment opportunities, and mentorship, highlighting FoundersPlus’s role as a stepping stone to more advanced business development programs.