According to the ILT Academy website, the program’s purpose is “empowering communities to keep entrepreneurs local and create high growth 21st-century businesses. ILT Academy partners with community and economic leaders to teach and train local innovators and entrepreneurs, the skill sets needed to develop successful ventures.” The program is based in a virtual setting. 

The west-central Minnesota representative is Dr. Shauna Overgaard of Fergus Falls. Overgaard specializes in clarity applied intelligence. The program itself is a 20 week immersive and interactive program that introduces key concepts and methodology to new and early stage entrepreneurs. 

The program began by discussing innovation tactics and has now progressed to investigating customer-driven innovation. Through customer interviews, entrepreneurs are identifying areas of difficulty within their area of innovation. “We are gathering, analyzing, and discussing insights to refine our definition of the problem and craft a workable solution,” explained Overgaard. “We are learning the language of innovation and start-ups and have grown comfortable receiving and providing critical feedback. A key learning point for me has been developing a lean canvas and the conceptualization of a minimum viable product (MVP).” Next on the agenda is development of a strong five minute thesis presentation to emphasize technology or product value proposition to clients and investors. 

The leadership team works from the notion that if Minnesota can be infused with a stable start-up community from which other networks can be built, innovators can be a driving force of the economy. “I’m grateful to be a small part of that vision and hope to build on the success of our business community,” shared Overgaard.

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