NaperLaunch Academy

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The NaperLaunch Academy offers a focused curriculum to help entrepreneurs develop fundamental business knowledge, improve salesmanship and leadership skills and learn the “lean startup process.”

NaperLaunch Academy Courses

   Business Feasibility Model

In the Business Feasibility Model course, participants will learn how to use the Lean Business Model Canvas to explore a business idea and will gain an understanding of the "lean startup process."

In the first part of the course, participants will design a customer interview strategy to identify customer problems and confirm the solutions in their own product or service. They will develop a unique value proposition and identify customer segments and channels leading to appropriate marketing strategies.

The latter part of the course is focused on development of a minimally viable product and mapping out a strategy for a proof of concept. Participants will complete the nine parts of the Lean Business Model Canvas, which will provide guidance going forward with their business ideas.

This course meets four times over four weeks.

  Starting a Business in Illinois

The Starting a Business in Illinois course includes an Entrepreneur Index Assessment that helps to identify strengths and weaknesses and entrepreneurial potential. Participants will learn how to create a business organization with the state of Illinois, file articles of incorporation or organization, and register with county and city officials. They will also explore funding options, insurance protection and other risk transfer techniques, bookkeeping options, and other aspects of entrepreneurship.

This course meets two times over two weeks.

  Write a Business Plan

In the Write a Business Plan course, participants will use Gale Business: Plan Builder software to create a business plan that builds on the ideas and concepts discovered in the Lean Business Model Canvas. Participants will learn the importance and purpose of a business plan and follow the five steps of plan creation—entrepreneur profile, ideation, break-even analysis, plan narrative, and financial projections—to produce a full business plan that covers all aspects of starting up and running a business.

Participants will learn how to use library resources to complete market research, competitor analysis and demographic studies. Following a simple step-by-step process in the Gale Business: Plan Builder software, they will produce a final written business plan that includes complete financial statements, a sales forecast, recap of all expense categories and identification of funding sources and the amounts needed.

This course meets three times over four weeks.

  Write a Strategic Marketing Plan

In the Write a Strategic Marketing Plan course, participants will use the Strategic Marketing Plan outline in the Gale Business: Plan Builder software to create a plan that includes goals, objectives, customer personas, customized messages and tactical plans.

Participants will learn how to create marketing goals and objectives and use library resources to conduct market research and analysis that can be used to develop ideal customer personas. They will practice turning their unique value proposition into marketing messaging and explore a variety of marketing platforms, channels and media. Budgets and measurement will also be discussed.

This course meets four times over four weeks.

  Professional Selling Skills

In the Professional Selling Skills course, participants will learn specific selling skills based on research that identified fundamental behaviors of successful salespeople. The course will engage each participant in sales scenarios and role plays to solidify learning outcomes.

Through lecture and practical application, participants will learn how to distinguish between features and benefits; use probes to uncover customer needs and support those needs with a benefits statement; recognize buying signals and use a trial close; overcome objections; use probes to confirm a customer need or acceptance of a proof; and close a sale with agreement for next steps.

This course meets three times over three weeks.

My sales have already grown

"NaperLaunch's multi-week Lean Canvas Model class isn't just for the aspiring entrepreneur! It helped this owner of an eight year old company see her business with new eyes through in-class discussions and meaningful homework assignments which included interviews with potential customers. We worked on product/service features, customer segments, pricing, marketing/distribution channels, and customer acquisition strategies. It wasn't easy but we had a lot of help from our facilitator, Kent Palmer, and many SCORE mentors at our disposal. My sales have already grown markedly since I've instituted what I learned in class. I highly recommend this class, not only for people thinking of starting a business but also for seasoned business owners who want to review and refine their business plans. Highly recommend!!"


   — Clementine Calleja
   Cool Science!

NaperLaunch Academy Open House

Held quarterly, this informal, interactive session is an opportunity for potential participants to ask questions and learn about the NaperLaunch Academy, its curriculum and class schedule. Attendees will receive guidance about the purpose of the academy, the expectations of participants and the intended learning outcomes. Get a preview of the academy and hear from past participants the value that the academy has been to them as they started and expanded their businesses.

  More Info »

Class Schedule

Classes are held in the NaperLaunch coworking space at the Nichols Library from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m..


   Cohort 9 - Registration Deadline: Jan. 10

Cohort 9 - Tuesday Nights (Jan. - May)

Business Feasibility Model
  • Session 1: Jan. 14
  • Session 2: Jan. 21
  • Session 3: Jan. 28
  • Session 4: Feb. 4
Start a Business in Illinois
  • Session 1: Feb. 11
  • Session 2: Feb. 18
Write a Business Plan
  • Session 1: Feb. 25
  • Session 2: March 3
  • Session 3: March 10
  • Session 4: March 17
Write a Strategic Marketing Plan
  • Session 1: March 24
  • Session 2: March 31
  • Session 3: April 7
  • Session 4: April 14
Professional Selling Skills
  • Session 1: April 21
  • Session 2: April 28
  • Session 3: May 5
Open House & Graduation
  • Session 1: May 12
  Cohort 10 - Registration Deadline: March 2

Cohort 10 - Wednesday Nights (March - July)

Business Feasibility Model
  • Session 1: March 4
  • Session 2: March 11
  • Session 3: March 18
  • Session 4: March 25
Start a Business in Illinois
  • Session 1: April 1
  • Session 2: April 8
Write a Business Plan
  • Session 1: April 15
  • Session 2: April 22
  • Session 3: April 29
  • Session 4: May 6
Write a Strategic Marketing Plan
  • Session 1: May 13
  • Session 2: May 20
  • Session 3: May 27
  • Session 4: June 3
Professional Selling Skills
  • Session 1: June 10
  • Session 2: June 17
  • Session 3: June 24
Open House & Graduation
  • Session 1: July 1
  Cohort 11 - Registration Deadline: Aug. 3

Cohort 11 - Tuesday Nights (Aug. - Dec.)

Business Feasibility Model
  • Session 1: Aug. 11
  • Session 2: Aug. 18
  • Session 3: Aug. 25
  • Session 4: Sept. 1
Start a Business in Illinois
  • Session 1: Sept. 8
  • Session 2: Sept. 15
Write a Business Plan
  • Session 1: Sept. 22
  • Session 2: Sept. 29
  • Session 3: Oct. 6
  • Session 4: Oct. 13
Write a Strategic Marketing Plan
  • Session 1: Oct. 20
  • Session 2: Oct. 27
  • Session 3: Nov. 3
  • Session 4: Nov. 10
Professional Selling Skills
  • Session 1: Nov. 17
  • Session 2: Nov. 24
  • Session 3: Dec. 1
Open House & Graduation
  • Session 1: Dec. 8
  Cohort 12 - Registration Deadline: Oct. 3

Cohort 12 - Wednesday Nights (Oct. - Feb.)

Business Feasibility Model
  • Session 1: Oct. 7
  • Session 2: Oct. 14
  • Session 3: Oct. 21
  • Session 4: Oct. 28
Start a Business in Illinois
  • Session 1: Nov. 4
  • Session 2: Nov. 11
Write a Business Plan
  • Session 1: Nov. 18
  • Session 2: Dec. 2
  • Session 3: Dec. 9
  • Session 4: Dec. 16
Write a Strategic Marketing Plan
  • Session 1: Jan. 6, 2021
  • Session 2: Jan. 13, 2021
  • Session 3: Jan. 20, 2021
  • Session 4: Jan. 27, 2021
Professional Selling Skills
  • Session 1: Feb. 3, 2021
  • Session 2: Feb. 10, 2021
  • Session 3: Feb. 17, 2021
Open House & Graduation
  • Session 1: Feb. 24, 2021