Carnegie Mellon University

Customer Discovery Kickstart Program

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship’s Project Olympus Incubator is excited to offer Customer Discovery Kickstart, a program for early-stage startups to explore the feasibility of their business ideas. This program is designed to help early-stage startups determine product – market fit by connecting with potential customers and industry stakeholders. Through the process, teams will quickly gain insights into their intended market and use customer research techniques to inform the next steps in their entrepreneurial journeys.

The curriculum is modeled after NSF I-Corps, a program funded by the National Science Foundation to help university researchers commercialize their technologies Preference is given to startups who have not previously completed a customer discovery program.

Startup teams will learn about the fundamentals of customer discovery, including conducting customer discovery interviews and participating in required Zoom cohort meetings. Teams will receive coaching from experienced Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. Teams must commit to attending all required cohort meetings and completing course assignments. The time commitment for participation is approximately 7 hours per week which includes prep work, homework, cohort meetings and conducting customer interviews.

Questions can be directed to Melanie Simko, Program Manager.

Info Session slides


"I went through the Customer Discovery Kickstart 2 years after graduating from CMU and can't recommend it enough! The program kept me accountable to completing customer interviews and introduced me to a community of people who helped me refine, test, and ultimately pivot my product idea. A great place to start for anyone in the early stages of building a startup."
Nicholas Ross, founder

"The most efficient and knowledgeable customer discover cohort to work with and move our idea one step forward!"
Anita Chen, founder PreferDesign

"The program was an amazing experience. It pushed our thought process and challenged our ideas. It made us think more about the customer and not the solution. We began to understand the problem at a level that we never saw before." 
Ramon Williams, co-founder Mailverse

“CDK has been instrumental to us in identifying the product-market fit before investing lots of time and resources into our startup. We have also identified alternative go-to-market strategies after interviewing with customers.”

            Ardalan Tajbakhsh, co-founder Piximo Robotics

“Through Project Olympus, Sonder could develop its business model and product/market fit in a more structured and effective way with continuous invaluable support from EIRs.”

            Bruce Kim, co-founder Sonder