What We Learned From High Alpha’s First Co-Founder Led Sprint Week

by Riley Crane

When I joined High Alpha as a Business Design Analyst, my first task was to research different industries to develop a pipeline of business concepts that address user pain or fill market needs. 

At High Alpha, we launch new software companies every quarter and my team works with the High Alpha Partners to select markets to explore that could be developed into the next generation of B2B SaaS companies. From our research, a handful of the best ideas are put through our “forcing function” for new business creation called Sprint Week.

The purpose of a “sprint” is to rapidly advance a concept, reducing ambiguity by developing and testing a prototype. During each sprint, we create a brand identity, develop user-validated click-through models of the product, determine an initial pricing and packaging strategy, and craft a go-to-market strategy, which are informed by product roadmap and headcount assumptions.

Most of our business ideas are generated by the High Alpha team. In parallel, we often run a co-founder recruiting process to identify leaders with the skill, energy, and passion for making a big impact on the national stage.

In past Sprint Weeks, we’ve combined both “co-founder led” and “idea led” teams. 

  • Idea Led – An internal team identifies and validates new business concepts which they find intriguing. Once the idea is sufficiently validated, an idea-led venture studio will attach an entrepreneur to the concept and launch the idea through the studio.
  • Co-Founder Led – Entrepreneurs with very early stage ideas (typically MVP or earlier) will bring forward those ideas and collaborate with a venture studio to validate the concept and launch the business.

For our May 2021 Sprint Week, we deviated from our typical set up by accepting applications from aspiring co-founders and conducting our first 100% co-founder led Sprint Week.

Why did we host our first Sprint Week with Co-Founders?

Running a modified Sprint Week with Co-Founders was something we’ve been planning all the way back to last year.  Even as a world-class venture studio, we cannot see all the problems across the horizon. Entrepreneurs across the country possess a vision to fill the whitespace where the next big opportunities lie, and we want to help them.

That’s why we decided to recruit aspiring leaders with the most conviction and excitement into our May Sprint Week. By pairing a talented entrepreneur with a great idea that they are convicted to solve, with our team of expert business builders it creates an electric combination. By creating a completely co-founder led Sprint Week, we gained the opportunity to collaborate on ideas that we would not otherwise have explored.

What did we learn?

When Eric Smith wrote about co-founder led Sprint Week back in March, we weren’t sure what sort of response our call for applications would get. With our first co-founder led Sprint Week now behind us, we are happy to share what an awesome week we had.

  • Talent: Running an open application process uncovered incredibly talented people who were previously unknown to High Alpha.
  • Ideas: These entrepreneurs shared their visions for an exciting future where a B2B SaaS solution existed for a painful problem we might not otherwise have identified.
  • Passion: Above all, the passion on display was amazing. Passion has a sort of gravitational pull on people and ideas. This was certainly the case in Sprint Week.

Magic happens when a talented entrepreneur pairs their idea and their passion with a team built to help them move fast.

How to partner with us in the future?

Sprint Week has been integral to innovation within our company. We’re always looking for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their great idea into the next High Alpha company. We are excited to continue creating companies during our next Sprint Week starting June 7. 

If you’re interested in partnering with us for future Sprint Weeks, you can apply here. We’d love to chat!