Pasadena is a mecca for fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is a city with a robust group of organizations and individuals who bring talent, technology, time, networks and a variety of resources into the community. The Pasadena Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is one of those organizations; it features a diverse group of expert advisors supporting businesses by helping them launch, grow and thrive using the latest methodologies.

In their most recent efforts to cultivate the startup community, the SBDC completed its first cohort called PCC Venture Launch. The program provided real world, hands-on learning about what it’s like to actually start a company rather than simply how to write a traditional business plan. It is not an exercise on how smart one is in a classroom, nor how well you use the research library to size markets. The end result is not a PowerPoint slide deck for a VC presentation or a Y-Combinator Demo Day. And it is most definitely not an incubator where you come to build the “hot-idea” that you have in mind.

Instead, the program combines theory with a ton of hands-on practice. The goal is to give participants a framework to test the business model of an early stage startup while facing all the pressures and demands of the real world. It is designed to provide the experience of how to work as a team and how to turn an idea into a company.

Participants get their hands dirty by talking to customers, partners and competitors as they encounter the chaos and uncertainty of how a startup actually works. They practice evidence-based entrepreneurship in order to learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a company. And they understand customer development by getting out of the classroom to test whether anyone other than themselves would want to use their product or services. Finally, based on the customer and market feedback gathered, they use agile development to rapidly iterate their product or concept to design and build something customers would actually buy and use.

The PCC Venture Launch program does not guarantee that the startups will succeed. However, it does guarantee that if they follow the process, they will be less likely to fail. These results are achieved by helping the participants discover that their initial idea will only be a small part of what makes a company successful.

Cohort 2 of Venture Launch is scheduled for October 8th. More information can be found at: