The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Startup Navigator


The innovation trail is tough to navigate, especially for first-time pre-startup and startup teams. You know your research and your technology but successfully going from concept through to commercialization is uncharted territory. The IALS Startup Navigator is designed to help founders get their bearings. For research-driven UMass STEM ventures, IALS Venture Development and its Business Innovation Fellows are here to help as cross-cutting resources working directly with founders to find a path from lab to market.


Team & Venture Structures

Before there is a startup, there are one or two would-be founders aiming to go from concept to a new company. Their early decisions can pave the way for success or make the road even more difficult than necessary. Check out the resources in this section to learn some good practices as well as pitfalls.

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Market Discovery & Development

No startup becomes a successful company without finding product-market fit in a substantial market that contains customers with a significant unmet need. Savvy founders aim to find evidence of product-market fit as early as possible to reduce the risk of developing an unwanted product. This section includes resources that founders can use to learn about potential markets and gain training in customer discovery to test the interest of potential customers and gather evidence of product market-fit.

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Business Models & Business Plans

Pre-startup teams need to put forth a business model concept that describes how they envision their startup will work. Putting together a business model helps clarify ideas and test assumptions about basics such as: What will be our first product? Who will be our first customers? What unmet need will we satisfy to attract our first customers? How will we generate revenue? What resources will we need? As the team progresses from pre-startup ideas to developing the startup, it will be time to begin developing a business plan. Whether your team is working on one or the other, here are some resources that can help.

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Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) - patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets - are the lifeblood of many technology-based startups. A solid IP position and strategy can add great value to a new venture. Here are some resources to inform your thinking and help you prepare to make the most of time with an intellectual property attorney.

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Pre-startup and startup teams need funding to fuel their efforts to de-risk and add value to their new ventures. Funding can be particularly difficult to come by in the earliest stages. Here are some resources to consider. Non-dilutive funding does not require the startup to give up any equity.

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Technology & Product

Building on research and early technologies to create early products and services that can solve real-world problems and satisfy the unmet needs of early customers presents challenges as work moves out of the university lab environment. Here are some resources to help.

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Crosscutting Resources and Additional Support

Startup Navigator resources are selected to help all pre-startups and startups connect to good information and help. When you are ready to reach out in person, here are some resources that can provide individualized guidance and support.

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