customers to cash (c2c)

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Designers…Innovators…Engineers…Tinkerers… We want YOU at LTU!

Join the next CUSTOMERS TO CASH™ Program beginning OCTOBER 10, 2015

Take Your Product Ideas to Market using Innovative Design Thinking and the Proven Business Model Canvas


  Business Model Canvas  
  A Overview 1  
  + Design Thinking  
  A Overview 1  
  = Product Success  
  A Overview 3  

Enroll NOW and enjoy the additional benefits of using the nationally recognized Launch Pad Central Platform and the Business Model Canvass with an added focus on applications of DESIGN THINKING & INNOVATION.

This program is held on nine Saturdays to allow busy students, faculty, alumni and other designers, innovators, engineers and tinkerers time to succeed.


 Apply Here!   (Apply by October 7, 2015)

Have a new product idea, innovation or business concept? 

Enroll in the Customers to Cash Program and let your success begin!



Customers to Cash (C2C) at LTU is a real-world, results-oriented, customer-driven proven business mentoring program that helps innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, tinkerers, and companies advance new product ideas and establish new commercial opportunities.  You are mentored through a 9-week program based on the Business Model Canvas – now integrated with Innovative Design Thinking techniques! (This is not your typical business plan workshop or competition!)


Are You Ready?

If you are serious about advancing a new product idea, growing market share, or establishing a new business opportunity, then the Customers to Cash wants to work with you!


The C2C PROGRAM serves:

  •  Established Companies with new products to launch in new or existing markets
  •  College students with new product ideas to validate with customers1-full.jpg
  •  Innovators with new technologies to sell
  •  Entrepreneurs with fresh business ideas to start-up and grow
  •  Tinkerers with product ideas and prototypes to test with real customers


Participant Benefits

Convenient Saturday morning program 

 Your team…

  •  Receives a prototyping stipend
  • Can qualify for additional Seed Funding
  • Is matched with an industry mentor for individual assistance
  • Can qualify for a year of additional professional mentoring
  • Is eligible to showcase your products in the Detroit area
  • Plus, $10,000 in prizes awarded to the top 3 teams.

Learn More @ C2C Workshops

Tuesday, September 29, 12–1:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 1, 12–1:30 p.m
Tuesday, October 6, 5:30 - 7:00 pm
Buell Management Building
Food and beverages served

 Apply Here!   (Apply by October 7, 2015)

Program Overview

Innovative Design Thinking

Beginning with the Spring session in February 2015, LTU integrated Innovative Design Thinking into the Customers to Cash Program. Design Thinking is human-centered with a focus on people and customers and their needs – not on a specific technology. It is an iterative learning process of defining, ideation, prototyping and testing your product – potentially several times until the customer says they can’t live without it!

A Overview 1

The #1 Obstacle to Start-Up Success – Lack of Customers!2-full.jpg

Research has proved that most new businesses fail for a single reason – a lack of customers.  New companies frequently launch with great ideas, but company principals simply do not know how to find, attract and service customers for their product or service.


C2C Shows You How to Find Your Customers

With a nationally proven track record for success, the C2C program coaches and mentors each participant in a 9 week program with a focus on determining if your product or service solves an important customer need or problem, and if it is desired by enough customers to be profitable. These are proven methods fostered by the National Science Foundation.  Graduates of the C2C Program have a solid understanding of their product/process/service and knowledge of the customers who want and need what they have to offer.

A Overview 2

The Business Model Canvas

Results: Improved Product Success, Market Acceptance, Customer Satisfaction and Significantly higher investor interest.

A Overview 3

How We Work:

  • Form an Innovation Team (2 or 3 members) around your business idea with associates you know.
  • Apply to the Program
  • Each team is matched with an Industry Mentor. You receive frank feedback, mentorship, discussions and information from the LTU Collaboratory Team and your Mentor, including testing ideas and assumptions about your business model; questioning what you are learning from customer meetings; and how you are applying feedback and your innovation.
  • All Teams are expected to participate in all 9 Saturday workshop sessions. The typical format will include a project status presentation by each Team Leader, focusing on the progress made the previous week, with relevant feedback provided by the LTU Collaboratory Teaching Team.
  • Team Presentations will be followed by a 15 -20 minute talk from a guest speaker who will share their expertise on a relevant topic, a guided discussion on the topic of the day led by the LTU Collaboratory Team, and an open Q&A session.
  • Feedback will be provided by other participants as well.
  • In addition to key assignments each week, Teams have the obligation to engage in approximately 100 direct interviews over 9 weeks with customers, suppliers, partners, and competitors to provide the necessary input to their Business Model Canvas.
  • Team members should be prepared to commit 20 hours per week to successfully complete this program! This includes time spent in Saturday sessions; reading; watching online videos; preparing for, executing and documenting customer discovery interviews; analyzing the “ecosystem” surrounding your customer and preparing presentations for weekly updates. The model for success includes a minimum of two enthusiastic team members and an experienced industry mentor who are all committed to work together and follow this process.
  • Each Team will update its Business Model document each week and use software provided by the program to record customer insights.
  • By the end of the 9-week program, each Team Member will have gained insight on whether to advance their idea to the next stage of development – or not – or what changes may need to be explored to do so. Knowing this direction is great insight that saves time and money.

Learn More @ c2c Workshops

Tuesday, September 29, 12–1:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 1, 12–1:30 p.m
Tuesday, October 6, 5:30 - 7:00 pm
Buell Management Building

Food and beverages served | RSVP:

  Apply Here!

customers to cash Selection Criteria

Following are requirements to apply to the C2C program:

  • Ideal projects will be based on a novel differentiating business innovation. The Fall 2015 program will be focused on DESIGN related innovation with applications that encompass projects in INDUSTRIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL, URBAN and TECHNOLOGY design.
  • A 2-3 member project team must be formed around the development of the innovation.  Each team should identify an industry mentor to help them.
    • The Team Leader serves as the spokesperson for the team3-full.jpg
    • One or more additional team members provide support for the Team Leader in completing all assignments. 
    • There is no limit to the number of team members that may support the project “behind the scenes; however participation in Saturday sessions may be limited by meeting room space and software licenses available.
    • Each team also includes an industry mentor. If the team does not have access to a mentor, the LTU Collaboratory will identify an appropriate mentor to join the team.
    • Teams are expected to participate in each of the 9 weekly workshops held on Saturday and be prepared to devote approximately 20 hours per week to this program.  This includes time spent in Saturday workshops, reading, watching videos, interviewing customers, analyzing your market, and preparing weekly update presentations.”
    • Teams must participate in each of the 9-week workshops held on Saturday mornings and approximately 15 hours per week to advance their work plans. This includes preparation for and attendance at each weekend session, and making customer contacts each week.


Teamwork and Collaboration

  • Team members must be willing to work together, with a shared commitment to advance their innovation following the proven C2C process. Over the course of 9 weekly sessions, each team will be required to contact 100 people representing groups that will determine their potential for success. This requires division of labor amongst your team members, consistent communication, a shared work ethic and being open to feedback and challenges by your mentor and the Collaboratory Team.
  • The idea, innovation, or business concept should have an initial concept plan in place that can be used as a base platform from which to work. It should be more than “an idea on a napkin” but not so mature as to be already locked into a specific market.


Cost of the Program

The C2C program is available free of charge to qualified teams thanks to Lawrence Technological University Collaboratory and the City of Southfield Economic Development Smart Zone. 


 Apply Here!

Program Details At-A-Glance

Review the key information below on the C2C program:



The Fall 2015 Customers to Cash program begins on Saturday, OCTOBER 10, 2015, with the final session on Saturday, DECEMBER 19.  This provides for 9 weeks of active program participation with no sessions held on NOVEMBER 28, and DECEMBER 12.


The Fall 2015 program will meet on the LTU campus in M336 of the Buell Management Building.


Most sessions will run from 9 am to 1 pm. The first two Saturdays will run from 9 am to 4 pm and the final day will run from 9 am to 2:30 pm.

Food and Beverages:

A continental breakfast with coffee, tea and water will be provided each week beginning at 8:30 am.  Lunch will also be provided for the first two weeks and the final week of the program that meet until later in the day. Download PDF Calendar

 First Week:

Following a brief introduction of the Collaboratory Team and review of the first day agenda, Team Leaders will each introduce their team and present their proposed innovation, followed by comments and discussion from the Collaboratory Team. The balance of day one will include a software orientation, review of the I-corps™ process of customer discovery, a video on design thinking, and conclude with an open Q&A session. 


What to expect from a typical Saturday:

  • Project Reviews - each team leader will present to the group, focusing on learnings from the prior week’s customer contacts and how this insight has changed the Business Model Canvas. Teaching Team feedback will challenge, support, and motivate each team.
  • Learn from the Experts - an interactive lecture/discussion session led by a member of the Teaching Team on a different element of the Business Model Canvas will provide ample opportunity to apply the information to the specifics of your project; and a guest speaker will also share their expert perspective on a topic relevant to the program, with time for audience Q&A to address your special concerns.


…..between Saturdays:

  • The idea of “getting out of the building” and talking to real customers (those who must buy, sell, distribute, manufacture or otherwise participate in the success of your idea) is a key component of this program. Your team will be expected to contact 15 customers each week.  Listening and learning from these contacts is critical to the ultimate success of your proposed business venture.
  • Reading and online videos provide “how to” guidance as you apply the process to your idea and update your Business Model Canvas each week with new analysis and customer insights.
  • Engage with your mentor and sign up for office hours with a member of the Collaboratory Team to work through problems or get feedback on ideas.

Communicate with mentors, other teams or the Teaching Team using the program software that also is the repository for your customer discovery documentation and insights  


Fall 2015 Session Schedule: (See Link)


Contact Anytime:

For more information, email Tex Criqui of the LTU Collaboratory at to arrange an on-campus meeting.


 Apply Here!

Apply for the customers to cash

Fill out my online form.

What our customers are saying...

What I liked best…. Excerpts from Participants in our Post Program Survey

  • “I love the customer discovery process and the business model canvas because it provides a scientific framework for finding a product-market fit.”
  • “Taking non-business experienced participants through a crash-course of entrepreneurship.”
  • “It made me think of my business model in a different way.”
  • “Its hands-on, practical, real world approach makes sense.”
  • “The knowledge and feedback from the Collaborative team of Mentors/Instructors.”
  • “Interaction of all the groups.”
  • “This program exceeded my expectations.  All of the elements of my business are clearly organized and defined due to this program.”
  • “Beyond my expectations. Awesome experience.”

A few success stories...

Company A:
  The innovators from this company had an idea to improve visual communications of materials developed during the collaborative phase of business meetings.  The company won first place in LTU's Spring 2015 program and has recently been awarded a position in the Emerge Xcelerate Program earning them $20,000 in a convertible note that allows them to complete a functioning prototype.

Company B:  This four-year old, revenue-producing company decided to enter a new market with a new product that was developed from the waste stream of another industry.  After going through the LTU program, the company verified with its target market of customers that they had developed a valuable new family of plastic products that are more affordable and more environmentally friendly.  The company is now in the late stages of product development based on close customer input and will be ready to launch their product line soon.

Company C:  This start-up company completed the LTU program and launched their business….10 months start to finish.  After learning who their customers were, what they wanted, and how much they were willing to pay, this young company continues to work with the LTU Collaboratory to seek funding to “scale” their operations to handle the orders they have received.

Company D:  A police officer designed a very simple solution to a very aggravating problem experienced by public safety officers.  This early-stage company went through the LTU program, refined their product based on extensive customer feedback, completed an industry-led design review, an investment review by a panel of investors, and is now selling product to retail outlets in Michigan as part of a 100 unit pilot.


 Apply Here!

Show me the money…

Customers are the #1 source of capital to help you grow your business. In addition to helping you validate your product offering with customers, the LTU Collaboratory Team will assist your efforts to secure additional funding for your business. This includes pre- and post-award assistance, such as building key relationships, identification of funding opportunities, proposal or application development and submission, coaching on financial presentations, mentoring to achieve agreed upon milestones or deliverables, and more.

In addition to Angel Funds and SBA Loans, a few of the opportunities that the Collaboratory Team can help you with include:

Business Accelerator Fund (BAF):
( As part its MEDC Gatekeeper Award, its affiliation with the MEDC SmartZone network, and its work with the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), LTU is authorized to guide companies through the BAF application and award process. The average award across Michigan is $25,000. Companies can accrue up to $150,000 in total grants that provide specialized business acceleration services to companies commercializing advanced technologies.

The Innovation Fund:
( is a $2.7 million effort to stimulate economic development and job growth among promising Detroit-area entrepreneurs and next-stage business with high-growth potential. It is funded by the Macomb County Community College Strategic Fund and JPMorgan Chase.

Invest Detroit:
(, who has several funds to evaluate based on your needs.

Hitachi Business Finance:
( which provides business cash flow solutions to support a company’s continued growth and success with a complete tool kit of solutions, includingA/R financing and flexible lines of credit – all designed with your specific interests and needs in mind to help you grow and sustain your business.

Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition:
( is an annual international business competition designed to bring together later stage entrepreneurial companies with local, national, and international investors. It provides $1 million in awards to a combination of Business and Student winners.

Motor City Match:
( provides $500,000 per quarter in grants, loans and technical assistance to help businesses locate and thrive in Detroit by matching the best businesses from the City and around the world with Detroit’s best available real estate.Techstars Detroit:

( which provides $118,000 in seed funding, intensive mentorship, and an advanced network of mentors and alumni for 7-10% equity in the participating company.

Small Business Innovation Research Grant:
( A very competitive national program managed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the SBIR/STTR program provides grants for up to $225,000 for Phase 1 companies to investigate the feasibility of innovative ideas. This program continues by offering Phase 2 companies up to a million dollars.

Michigan Emerging Technology Fund (EFT):
( This fund, managed by MEDC, provides matching funds for companies awarded SBIR/STTR Phase1 & 2 awards. 

TiE Detroit:
( This global program provides startups with essential capital for companies in the internet, mobility, software/infrastructure, bio-tech, clean-tech, finance, and other sectors; a very broad scope. Proposals area submitted the first week of the month, vetted on the second week and, for those selected, presented to the group pf angels on the third week of the month.

The First Customer Program (FCP):
( assists companies with identifying first customers, gaining introductions, and closing deals. FCP is focused on start-up tech companies that need both preparation for and introduction to first customers. While focusing on start-ups, FCP also assists established companies that are facing start-up challenges as they diversify into new markets.   

The Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0:
( is a $6.8 million fund aimed at supporting early stage high tech companies by making investments in opportunities originating from technology innovation in Michigan Universities and in pre-seed and seed stage investments. The MPSF 2.0 supports high tech start-up companies as they near commercial viability by providing access to early-stage capital, accelerating company development. As a central fund to the Michigan SmartZone Network, these funds are designed to support this critical stage in the development lifecycle to prepare companies for follow-on private investment.   

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