Education / Entrepreneurs / Startups

So you want to be an entrepreneur?

Leesburg's Innovation School is here to help.

Ready, set, ideate. (Photo by Flickr user, used under a Creative Commons license)
So you’ve got an idea, an innovation, and you want to turn it into a company. Where do you start?

While it is certainly true that no two startups are exactly alike, there are some general steps along the entrepreneurship path that we all can agree on. That’s the whole idea behind’s own Tomorrow Toolkit ebook which, incidentally, is a great read. Find it here.

It’s also the whole idea behind Innovation School — a new five-week-long entrepreneurship course that is launching with its first cohort this week in Leesburg, Va.

Aldo Avanzini, founder of Innovation School, has a background in “innovation consulting” and rapid prototyping. His career in quickly bringing new ideas to market led him to realized that there are a lot of people out there with cool ideas who simply don’t know how to take the next step. “What if we can create a school,” he wondered, “where we teach you all the skills of entrepreneurship.”

So that’s exactly what he decided to create.

Innovation School participants meet two days a week for about two hours each day. The cohort of between 30 and 60 people (that’s still being finalized) will divide into groups around their interests and work toward the creation of a product over the course of those five weeks. In this way it’s sort of like Startup Weekend, but longer and with a little more of a hands-on educational element. Lessons include everything from the ideation process to A/B testing, branding and marketing and team management.

Avanzini is developing the curriculum himself, but is also working on partnerships for specific lessons on things like legal issues, etc.

At the end of the five weeks, Avanzini hopes, participants will walk away with the skills necessary to be a serial entrepreneur.

But can all that really be taught?

Avanzini is fairly pragmatic. “At the end of the day it’s still an introductory course,” he said. But at least participants will know where to start, and some key steps along the way.

Avanzini says the response has been “very enthusiastic.” Some say the course (which costs $3,000) is too expensive — but Avanzini encourages potential participants to think of it as an investment. It’s far less expensive, he argues, than making a bunch of easily-avoidable mistakes with your startup just because you don’t know any better.

Why start the Innovation School in the D.C. area? For one thing, Avanzini is based here. But beyond that, he says, D.C. is a great market for what he’s offering. “The area has so many talented working professionals,” he told These are “really talented, ambitious individuals” who may want to start something of their own, but are not sure how to proceed. Avanzini is here to help.

“I just wish they had this when I began my career,” he said.

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