Google partners with Startup Weekend to expand NEXT, a pre-accelerator for ‘customer discovery’

Google partners with Startup Weekend to expand NEXT, a pre-accelerator for ‘customer discovery’ ...

Google has partnered with Startup Weekend to launch an updated five week curriculum for the NEXT pre-accelerator program, designed to teach startup founders how to engage with new customers, investors, partners and potential employees.

The curriculum is delivered through workshop-style classes and independent assignments, alongside weekly video lectures created by renowned Silicon Valley enterpreneur Steve Blank and supplemental readings.

A course instructor will be assigned to each participant, who will then arrange a weekly three-hour workshop for presenting “their customer discovery insights” and receiving critical feedback from their mentors and peers.

The NEXT organisers argue that the curriculum is unique because it reiles on peer accountability, “the most effective and direct way to expose potential risk areas for ventures and challenge any pre-existing assumptions that participants may have.”

The ‘customer discovery’ premise for the curriculum feels quite abstract and philosophical, but it’s been designed to help early startup founders think about how they can develop a product with the consumer’s perspective and priorities in mind.

The program is being ‘powered’ by Google for Entrepreneurs, along with a number of partners familiar to the tech startup community; TechStars, Startup Weekend, the Startup America Partnership, Udacity and the Global Accelerator Network (GAN).

Startup Weekend launched the NEXT program in over 25 cities in November last year, and a quick check of the registration webpage shows classes available in Greece, Iceland and Columbia, to name just a few.

With Google on board though, the program will be given an extra dose of credibility and fresh ideas. The technology giant says it will expand the program over the course of the year, and help NEXT experts use Google+ Hangouts to train local instructors around the world.

The partnership between Google and Startup Weekend isn’t too surprising though. The latter already runs much of its European operations from inside Campus London, a seven-storey startup hub set up by Google in East London this time last year.

Image Credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images

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