VentureCatalyst™ Overview

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. The program includes a proven checklist, up to $7,500 in funding, dedicated mentorship, and tactical training workshops. It is open to all majors, self-paced, and can be completed in as little as 3-months. Successful exit from the program is met when the team has built a company that has raised sufficient capital for 18-months of operation or is self-sustaining on its own earnings.

Open to all majors ● Self-paced ● Co-curricular ● Complete as fast as 3-months


Follow a proven path with tools to advance your business.


Up to $7,500 capital. We take no equity, and it’s not a loan.


Meet with executives one-on-one and learn from successful alumni.


Take workshops covering tactical skills taught by experienced entrepreneurs

VentureCatalyst Checklist

The VentureCatalyst program is for companies built on a scalable, innovation. (e.g. new widgets, software, or IP)

Stage 1 – Start

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

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

  Complete online training course. Score 85% or higher. Access Canvas

  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

  Present at a Peer Review Entrepreneurship Panel (PREP) meeting for a $500 grant. $500

  Gate 1: Start Stage checklist complete and approved by PREP.

Stage 2 – Search

Goal: Identify the customer, value proposition, and market opportunity, and validate all three.

  Complete a business model canvas; review with your E-Center Student Client Specialist. PDF Meet

  Talk with at least 30 potential customers; provide names, dates, & conversation highlights. Read Watch

  Write a one-page summary of what you learned from your customers:

What did you get right in your business model?
What did you get wrong and will change based on feedback?

  Construct a proof-of-concept or basic functional demonstrator of product/solution.

  Complete a unit financial analysis of the proposed product(s). (Tabs A-D in Financial Tool) Download Workbook (.xlsx)

  Draft an executive summary. Download Template (.docx)

  Identify and recruit complete team capable of executing the business. Find Co-Founders

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

  Develop a new pitch deck; review with E-Center. Download Guide Meet

  Submit online application form. Apply to Pitch

  Present to the Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board (ECAB) for up to $2,000.

  Gate 2: Search Stage checklist complete and approved by ECAB.

Stage 3 – Plan

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

Part 1:

  Identify and recruit a dedicated mentor.

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

  Complete the in-person CEO Training Course.

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

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

  Draft a business plan. Download Template (.docx) Get 12-mo Free Access to LivePlan

  Draft 48-month financial projection. Download Financial Template (.xlsx)

  Evolve slide deck from Stage 2, refining and shifting focus to investment opportunity.

  Review all documents with dedicated mentor. Mentor signs and remits endorsement. Download Template (.docx)

  (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) for preliminary review. Apply Online

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

Stage 3, Part 1 Checklist complete and reviewed by IRC.

Part 2:

  Modify all submitted documents based on IRC-provided feedback.

  Write a document in response to feedback from IRC describing corrective steps you’ve made.

  Review your pitch deck with E-Center director and your student client specialist. Meet

  Adjust the pitch deck; repeat as required until approved by E-Center Director.

  Submit all revised documents for final approval by IRC for $5,000 grant.

Stage 3, Part 2 checklist complete and approved by the IRC. (Maximum 2 attempts)

Stage 4 – Launch Stage

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

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

  Work with through Due Diligence Checklist with E-Center. Download PDF

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

  Schedule a final review session with partner angel network to secure investment terms.

  Present to partner angel network(s).

  Work with your attorney to close the round.

  Gate 4: Launch Stage checklist complete; investment for 18-mo OR self-sustaining on earnings