Startup Success 101: Rev1 Helps Entrepreneurs Validate Market with Concept Academy

Leading Venture Development Firm Reveals Novel Approach and Top Tips for Startups at Concept Stage

Columbus, OH—July 21, 2015—Early stage companies are an extremely vulnerable group since most have a limited financial runway and a great deal of uncertainty about whether the market needs what they’ve built, this according to a recent CB Insights study. In an effort to set more startups up for success at the beginning, Rev1 Ventures has developed a first-of-its-kind program that helps entrepreneurs validate a product’s market before they spend the time, money and resources to build a company around it. Today, Rev1 is revealing insight into the success of its Concept Academy program, along with the team’s top tips to help entrepreneurs overcome early hurdles.

“The best product in the world won’t succeed without customers, and that’s why data-driven market validation is Rev1’s starting point for entrepreneurs,” said Tom Walker, president & CEO of Rev1 Ventures. “Concept Academy was formed to kick start this process, leveraging industry best practices and our team’s extensive expertise of over 100 combined years starting, building and funding high-growth companies. As a result, the program serves as a phenomenal launching pad for startups.”

Launched one year ago, Rev1 Concept Academy is an intensive, three-day program aimed at validating the startup’s concept by proving the market first. In its first year, Rev1 held six sessions for 150 startups – and nearly three in 10 attendees validated their concept.

According to Ryan Sevey, co- founder of Nexosis, a predictive analytics platform, Concept Academy helped him to quickly secure targeted input from his market, which saved him precious time and money in getting his company off the ground.

“Had we not gone through Concept Academy, we would’ve been going down the wrong path and would not have been developing something the market really wanted,” said Sevey. “Instead, within a few months of working with Rev1 and strategic investors, we were able to secure clients who told us they would buy the solution we were building.”

Rapid customer validation is just one of the positive results startups are seeing from Concept Academy. Attendees have also reduced the time it takes to secure their first funding from Rev1 by 31 percent – from an average of 269 days to a mere 187 days from the time they first attend Concept Academy.

Top Tips for Startups at Concept Stage

Rev1 knows that every entrepreneur could benefit from the fundamentals of Concept Academy, which is why the company is revealing its top tips for early stage success:

  • CEO Tom Walker says…know your customer.

    Nothing else matters if you aren’t building something people will want to buy. Concept validation should be your starting point. Start with your target market and get honest feedback from them. Sit down with them and honestly listen to their input. Survey them.

  • SVP of Entrepreneur Development Mike Blackwell says…let your customers fund your product.

    Don’t spend a dime on developing a functioning product. Create a simple prototype that serves their needs (the ones they’ve told you they have). If they agree, they’ll sign up and write you a check. Use that to build your product.

  • EVP of Venture Acceleration Wayne Embree says…be intellectually honest.

    This is a tough one. Many entrepreneurs are so passionate about their idea that they will hold onto it – teeth bared – even after they’ve lost barrels full of money. In my 20 plus years of backing hundreds of startups, the most successful entrepreneurs are able to take market input and refine their product – heck even abandon it – to meet a market need.

  • SVP of Investment Funds Ryan Helon says… align your funding needs with key milestones.

    One of the most important investment considerations at the concept stage is aligning your near-term capital needs and use of funds with achieving commercially relevant milestones such as securing early customers, product development, and identifying talent to build your team. Demonstrating a track record of successful execution and positive results will increase the value of your venture and improve your chances for successfully raising your next round.”

  • SVP of Venture Acceleration & Development Dave Bergeron says…start with your Total Addressable Market.

    This is the entirety of your market if you could sell to EVERYONE who could potentially buy your offering. Once that is identified, narrow it down to the subset you can realistically reach. Drill down even further to understand the segment you will target in your startup’s first 36 months. This funnel approach should serve as the foundation for your business model and plan.

  • Chief Marketing Officer Kristy Campbell says…the messaging matters.

    In the concept stage, it’s all about knowing what your market wants and aligning your product – and your message –with customer pain points. A cool name, a logo and your Twitter feed may be important eventually, but in the beginning it’s all about the customer’s experience. Be sure you can answer this: what job is my customer hiring my product to do? That’s how you position your product and is the basis for your messaging.

About Rev1 Ventures

Rev1 Ventures helps entrepreneurs build great companies. With the capital of a VC and the connections of an accelerator, Rev1 supports start-ups through the first phases of growth to increase their probability of success. Our team of experts leads an ongoing, data-driven process that ensures entrepreneurs develop products people want, and companies people need. Rev1 manages a continuum of investment funds made possible by the participation of Ohio Third Frontier and other strategic partners. For more information, visit



Aimée Eichelberger

Press (at) rev1ventures (dot) com