Jump-Start Your Entrepreneurial Mindset Program (JEM)

Group of students working together in front of a computer

The Jump-Start Your Entrepreneurial Mindset (JEM)  experience is a two part program for all majors that helps to develop the proactive and adaptive mindset needed to turn your innovative ideas into something that customers want to pay for. Whether you are looking to be innovative within a company or to start your own business, it all starts with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, in partnership with other members of the entrepreneurial community, will facilitate activities that focus on different aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset that are not only needed to be an entrepreneur but are also sought out by many employers. The workshops and events allow students to apply the mindset they’ve developed in a challenging and engaging setting.

The JEM program builds your entrepreneurial mindset in two parts:  the fall semester focuses on how to create customer value and the spring semester focuses on how to build a pitch that shows potential partners, investors, and bosses the value of your idea.

For more information on the program, see the JEM Program FAQs section below.  For questions not addressed, feel free to email Chris Stewart, our lead Entrepreneur-in-Residence, at stewarch@sonoma.edu.


Guided Pitch Preparation for the Seawolf Pitch Competition

Available to students from all disciplines, the Seawolf Pitch Competition (scheduled for 03/26/24) is an opportunity for those who want to pitch an innovative product, to start their own business, or just to pitch a “practice” idea to gain the experience of pitching.  But pitching innovative ideas (regardless of the ultimate purpose) requires you to develop a convincing pitch and we have two opportunities to help you with that.

1.  Pitch Competition Prep Series:  The Spring Pitch Competition Prep workshop series will help you hone your pitch whether or not you have prior entrepreneurship training.  Our focus will be on (1) building the aspects of your business model that are necessary for a convincing pitch to get people on board with your idea and (2) providing dry run opportunities and feedback to improve your ability to pitch.  See below for the program's dates, time, and location.  The Pitch Prep Series is open to all SSU students!

2.  Pitch Mentoring:  Those students who submit a well-structured value proposition will be matched with a member of the local entrepreneurial community for one-on-one guidance and feedback.  The ability to match students to mentors is limited and, therefore, it is on a first come, first served basis.  The sooner you submit your value proposition, the more likely you can be matched.  If your value proposition is not sufficiently well structured, we will help you develop it!  Therefore, if you submit it soon enough, you may still be able to develop it into a qualified value proposition in time to be matched to a mentor.  The Value Proposition Submission Form (see link below) requires the following information concerning your idea in order to make sure that you've thought sufficiently about it to be matched to a mentor.  

Information required on submission form (for your preparation purposes):

1.  Name

2.  Email Address

3.  Idea Name (can be changed later)

4.  Problem being solved

5.  Value Proposition (written as a 30-second elevator pitch, ideally).  To do this, write 2-3 sentences answering the following questions

 What is the problem being solved?   Who is the problem being solved for (e.g., target customer)?   What makes it valuable and unique (why yours)?

6.  Customer Pains (at least 2)

7.  Customer Gains (at least 2)

8.  How do customers do this now? (Give at least 2 options whether it be another product, a do-it-yourself way, or something else.)

9.  What makes your idea new & unique? (Be sure to refer to how it addresses the pains & gains from above in a way not addressed by the options.)

Click here for two examples to guide you in thinking through what you would submit. 

Click here to access the Value Proposition Submission Form

JEM and Pitch Competition Prep Program FAQs
What will I learn?

The JEM Program builds your entrepreneurial mindset through:

  • exploration of entrepreneurial concepts, and
  • application to an idea.

The idea can be one you already have or one you develop with the help of the JEM program.  It can be for an actual product/service or what we might call a “trial” idea (one you will use to learn the process).

Specific dates and times for the workshops are given in the “What are the dates?” section.


Fall Semester:  Creating Customer Value (The Value Proposition)

To create customer value, you must make sure that your idea meets the needs of the customer in unique ways.  After completing the following seven workshops, you will have a value proposition that is ready to turn into a commercially viable pitch.

  • What Makes a Good Idea
    • Exploration (workshop 1) & Application (workshop 2)
  • Customer Profile and Customer Needs
    • Exploration (workshop 3) & Application (workshop 4)
  • Value Proposition and Value Map
    • Exploration (workshop 5) & Application (workshop 6)
  • Impact of Your Competitive Landscape
    • Exploration (workshop 7) & to be applied in Spring semester


Spring Semester: What Makes It Business-Worthy? (The Pitch)

You will turn your value proposition into an 8-minute pitch covering the typical criteria used to evaluate the potential success of a startup of a product/service.   Using your well-articulated value proposition from the fall semester, you will be matched to a mentor who will provide feedback on how to construct your pitch for maximum impact over the course of five scheduled pitch workshops (listed in the “What are the dates?” section).

The pitch you develop will be ready for our Seawolf Pitch Competition should you choose to enter.

Pitch Evaluation Criteria

·        Problem

·        Solution

·        Market Size

·        Competitors

·        Customer Acquisition Strategy

·        Key Assumptions & Challenges

·        Business Model

·        Revenue & Expense Profit & Loss expectations

What are the dates, time, and location of the program?

Workshops will be held on Tuesdays from 6:00 - 7:30 pm in STEV 1300

  • Fall 2023
    • 09/26/23:   JEM Workshop #1 - Explore: What makes a good idea?
    • 10/03/23:   JEM Workshop #2 - Apply: Develop your own idea
    • 10/10/23:  JEM Workshop #3 - Explore: Customer profile & customer needs 
    • Hackathon: Join the Hackathon Friday, 10/20 - Sunday, 10/22
    • 10/24/23:   JEM Workshop #4 - Apply: Develop your customer profile
    • 11/07/23:    JEM Workshop #5 -  Explore: Value proposition & value map
    • 11/14/23:   JEM Workshop #6 -   Apply:  Develop your value proposition
    • 11/28/23:   JEM Workshop #7 -   Explore: Impact of your competitive landscape
  • Spring 2024
    • 02/06/24:  Pitch Competition Prep Series Kick-off
    • 02/13/24:  Pitch Competition Prep Workshop #1
    • 02/20/24 : Pitch Competition Prep Workshop #2
    • 02/27/24 : Pitch Competition Prep Workshop #3
    • 03/05/24 : Pitch Competition Prep Workshop #4
    • 03/12/24 : Pitch Competition Prep Workshop #5
    • Seawolf Pitch Competition is on Tuesday, 03/26/24
What’s in it for me?

As well as developing the entrepreneurial mindset that allows you to create a commercially viable value proposition and a pitch that shows this to others, you will receive two types of takeaways.

Certificates of Participation

Sometimes it’s hard to easily demonstrate to others what you have accomplished.  Therefore, we will provide three certificates of participation.

·       Entrepreneurial Mindset Certificate:  for those who attend all seven Fall JEM workshops.

·       Hackathon Certificate of Participation:  for those who attend and present at the Hackathon.

·       Seawolf Pitch Certificate of Participation:  for those who enter and present at the Seawolf Pitch Competition.

Your Entrepreneurial Network

Every entrepreneur will tell you that it is the people you know and the entrepreneurial community you are part of that is most critical to your success.  These are the ones who will be your partners, provide support and feedback, and/or introduce you to the game changers that you need to be successful.  Therefore, one of the most valuable takeaways you receive from the program are the people you will meet.

·       Mentors

o   Your pitch mentor is a great resource if you continue to keep in touch, whether as your own mentor or as someone who can introduce you into their entrepreneurial community.

·       Network

o   Our events provide great opportunities for you to connect and create relationships with members of the local entrepreneurial community

And don’t forget the other JEM members who can support you as you continue your entrepreneurial journey!

Can I attend only one workshop or event?

Although you need the information in each workshop to develop your idea into something that customers will pay for, there are ways to catch up.  Therefore, please attend all those that you can, but don’t let missing one or two stop you from signing up.  We can direct you to resources that will allow you to catch up as needed.


What if I miss a workshop?

You can work with the program coordinator on a way to make up one missed workshop. However, keep in mind that part of the entrepreneurial mindset is perseverance and determination to do whatever it takes to bring your Big Idea to fruition. Therefore, you should do whatever it takes to make all workshops, barring emergencies.

How Do I Sign Up?

The JEM Program is free to all SSU students but does require an application to participate. Space is limited.  Depending upon space, sign-ups for individual workshops may be available but for those interested in the certificate and stole, applications must be submitted by the following due date.

We recommend that you submit your application by midnight on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. However, you can submit your application any time after that date too, as we will be reviewing new applications on a rolling basis. We look forward to finding out about you and your interests through this application! Click the link below to access the application. 

JEM Program Application