Validating Your Startup Idea – A 5-Week Process and Program

Santa Fe Innovates, in collaboration with the new UNM Anderson Center for Responsible Entrepreneurship, is now accepting applications for our fall 2022 early-stage idea and business model validation program to begin the week of October 10, 2022. An hour introductory session will be held on Tuesday, October 11, at Noon MT.

Our five-week program will include:

  • An online learning platform – content to read and activities to complete during the week
  • Saturday workshops to add to your thinking and actions to test, iterate, and validate your startup idea
  • Mentoring sessions during most Saturday workshops – entrepreneurs will be placed in breakout rooms with a mentor for 1-to-1 interactions

We will conclude the program with an idea fast pitch on Saturday, November 12, 2022.

Validating Your Startup Idea

Ideal applicants will have an open mind and a growth mindset. Applicants should have an early-stage idea, a preliminary business model in mind, and have worked on their concept for the past 30 days (or more). Startup applicants with multiple team members will receive special consideration. Ideas can target any industry. Regardless of the business focus, the processes for exploring, iterating, and validating your ideas are the same. Program participants will be limited to 20 for our fifth virtual cohort.


Our experience with our four previous cohorts confirms that a successful program requires a community of experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders that listen, challenge, suggest and guide our participants. We have created an engaged mentoring community to help you navigate the process and the program. We also encourage our entrepreneurs to share ideas, connect with like-minded individuals, and, most importantly, learn from one another.


Our program uses Lean Startup and Lean Canvas concepts and tools to explore, iterate, and validate your idea. The emphasis is on reducing risks and gaining traction, goals essential for every startup leader. The program includes Saturday workshops, mentoring sessions, online videos, readings, and templates to support your work effort.

This program requires your most valuable resource – time. If you are willing to apply the effort early on, you will be rewarded by solving a problem while developing a business model to support your business.

We begin with a focus on the actual problems faced by the customer rather than perceived solutions. This is known as achieving a problem-solution fit. We believe business models should be built systematically with a customer-first approach demonstrating traction and evidence that customers care about your idea. Using this approach, the business model, not the solution, is the product. More information on the program is available here.

During the program, we will discuss the principles of being a social entrepreneur and an ethical business leader. Included will be a discussion of Benefit Corporations and Certified B Corps. Our mission is to develop economic diversity within New Mexico and support business leaders who want to be a force for good – socially, environmentally, etc.

Ready to Join?

Before joining, please read the details and requirements of the program.

If you’re ready, you can apply easily by completing this simple form. The application form requires:

  • Name, City, State
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • A three-sentence idea pitch
  • A statement highlighting why you want to participate in our program

The program begins on October 10. We will hold a one-hour session at Noon MT on Tuesday, October 11, for introductions and a program review.

There is no financial fee for joining our early-stage idea and business model validation program. The cost is in your time to do the work and meet the expectations for the program.

Program acceptance includes access to our online learning platform, Saturday workshops, and mentoring sessions (each Saturday and in our virtual community during the five weeks).

Note: We will limit the number of participants in the fall 2022 early-stage program to 20. Preference is given to those entrepreneurs in New Mexico who have plans to start their business in New Mexico and those with two individuals involved in the venture (e.g., two co-founders).

Grateful for Sponsorship and Support!

City of Santa Fe Logo

We are excited that the City of Santa Fe Economic Development Department is sponsoring our work with this group of entrepreneurs and their early-stage ideas! Their team is always encouraging and finding ways to build a sustainable startup community here. We are grateful for their collaboration, and a portion of their support goes directly to our entrepreneurs. Apply today!

Jon Mertz

About Jon Mertz

Jon is a 25-year tech and marketing executive. He led brand development, product management, marketing, and sales channel efforts for startup and enterprise companies.