VentureCatalyst™ Overview

  • Self-paced, guided program
  • Go from idea to funded company
  • Open to all students or faculty
  • Up to $7,500 in grant funding
  • Includes training and mentorship

It takes more than a good idea to build a great business.

VentureCatalyst is a comprehensive, co-curricular program for MSU’s students and faculty who are interested in starting a successful, investor-backed company. Comprised of five, progressively more difficult stages matched with up to $7,500 in grant funding, entrepreneurs will learn how to evaluate a market, create a detailed product plan, and draft an investable business & finance plan. Startups graduate when they have raised investment of 2-yr burn rate OR are self-sustaining on earnings.

Our Process

MSU VentureCatalyst™ guides founders through a four stage process to help teams raise sufficient capital to operate for at least 18-months of runway. Each stage is detailed below. Click the tabs below or download the entire checklist.

Start Stage Overview

Goal: Articulate business idea. Demonstrate commitment, initiative, and focus.

Stage Checklist

  Meet one-on-one with the E-Center to discuss idea. Book a Meeting

  Complete online training course through Stage 1. Score 85% or higher.

  Develop a short pitch deck describing: Download guide

What problem are you solving?
What is your solution?
Who is the target customer?
How do you plan to reach them?
Who the competition; how are you better?

  Submit online application form. Apply to Pitch

  Pitch to Peer Review Entrepreneurship Panel (PREP) for $500

Stage Gate:

  Approval by the PREP to proceed into program.

Plan Overview

Goal: Develop an executable business plan, working one-on-one with an experienced mentor.

Stage Checklist

  Identify and recruit two dedicated mentors. (Must have experience commercializing new products)

  Implement feedback from ECAB into business model canvas, executive summary, pitch deck.

  Complete online training course through Stage 3. Score 85% or higher.

  Prepare a product plan describing: key features, production details, BOM, partners/suppliers.

  Discuss product plan with at least 20 potential customers to verify product-market fit.

  Read at least one additional book from the E-Center’s recommended reading list. See List

  Draft a business plan and 3-year financial projection. Download Template (.docx) Download Financial Template (.xlsx)

  Evolve slide deck from Stage 2, refining content and describing the investment opportunity.

  Review both documents with dedicated mentor. Mentor signs and remits endorsement.

  (Optional) Apply to InnovateMS Proof of Concept Fund for up to $10,000 non-recourse note. More Info

  Submit document set to Investment Review Council (IRC) up to $5,000 grant. Apply Online

Pitch Deck
Business Plan
3-years Financial Projections (Cash Flow, P&L, Balance Sheet, Investment ROI)
Mentor Endorsement Letter

Stage Gate

  Plan Stage Checklist complete and IRC approved.

Launch Stage

Goal: Begin execution of plan. Raise sufficient follow-on funding to reach 18-months of runway.

Stage Checklist

  Implement feedback from IRC into completed document set.

  Engage an attorney to establish legal structure, initial capitalization table, any IP cleanup.

  Build customer-ready, demonstrable prototype.

  Get prototype in front of multiple potential customers. Capture feedback.

  Review Angel Guidebook: Screening Committee Worksheet and Due Diligence Checklist. Download PDF

  Assemble advisory board commitments.

  (Optional) Apply to InnovateMS Seed Fund for up to $100,000 convertible note. More Info

  Schedule a final review session with partner angel network representatives.

  Present to angel network for up to $1M investment.

  Secure terms with angel network and attorney to close the round.

Stage Gate

  Launch Stage checklist complete; investment for 18-mo OR self-sustaining on earnings.

VentureCatalyst is self-paced and includes:

We provide up to $7,500 across three funding rounds reviewed by external boards.

Spark Grant

Fixed awards to help new entrepreneurs identify their customer, value proposition, and develop a basic proof of concept or mock-up.

Startup Grant

Capital to continue customer and market discovery, develop a minimum viable product (MVP), purchase critical equipment, hire professional counsel, or other requests.

Seed Grant

Grant to enable teams to begin execution of their approved business plan.

Three training programs help teams identify their customers, create an executable plan, and build necessary infrastructure to begin sales.


Understanding who is the customer, what is the value provided, and the basics of building a business model.


Developing a product roadmap, business plan, and building financial projections.


Numerous tactical tools and methods to develop a sales pipeline and supply chain.

Teams participating in VentureCatalyst have access to three different kinds of mentors

Core mentors provide light guidance by subscribing to biweekly email updates from teams.

Advisers hold office hours to meet with multiple teams monthly for 30-minute periods,

Coaches work one-on-one with a single paired startup team, as a dedicated mentor.