Program Dates:
NOLA: Dec 17-19 (Deadline has passed)

Essentials is a three-day experience designed to help individuals move their ideas forward. Through one on one and group coaching, user testing, and continually iterating on their idea, participants will leave Essentials with a better understanding of their users and the problem they are trying to solve for them. Essentials is designed for individuals and teams actively working on an idea for a product, company, school model, or service and are looking to prototype and refine their idea.

Application submissions specifying an upcoming Essentials workshop are reviewed on a regular basis. We will fill each cohort of 15-20 participants on a first-come, first-serve basis and then open a wait list for each session. Since we offer Essentials multiple times a year, we’d be happy to hold your application for a future Essentials if you’re accepted and placed on the waitlist. If you have any questions, please contact

Refer Someone


*We’ll make a $10 donation to the Donorschoose project of your choosing for every referral application. If your referral gets in, we’ll up it to $100.

The Essentials Experience

Over three days, early-stage entrepreneurs from all over the country come together to learn how to prototype their ideas. Essentials participants give each other feedback, build on each others ideas, and go from strangers to collaborators very quickly.

By the end of Essentials, participants will have unbundled the problem they want to tackle, identified the assumptions embedded in their solution, and developed the skills and roadmap to test these assumptions.

Is there a Cost?

Yes. Essentials is priced at $300. We offer a 50% off scholarship for individuals who meet one of the following criteria:
1) current teacher
2) current student
3) attending Essentials from out of town
4) financial hardship

Day 1 – Thursday

4:30-5:00 Kickoff!
5:00-6:00 Empathy Through Improv
6:00-7:00 Cohort Dinner
7:00-8:00 Review Goals

Day 2 – Friday

9:00-10:30  Optional Book Club
10:30-12:00 Intro to Design Thinking
12:00-1:00   Lunch
1:00-2:00    Unconference
2:00-4:00   Coaching: Validating Ideas
4:00-5:00   Share out
5:00 ’til       Happy Hour

Day 3 – Saturday

9:00-10:30 Prototyping Practice
10:30-11:30 Meet beta-testers
11:30-3:00   Lunch+Run Pilot tests
3:30-4:30   Synthesize Learnings
4:30-5:00   Debrief+Next Steps

What 4.0 Offers Entrepreneurs During Essentials

Hard-hitting Coaching

Essentials includes 1 on 1 feedback, workshops with experienced entrepreneurs, and time with your peers to hone your idea. Through the program, the focus is on learning how to get feedback from your users so you can build something that meets their needs.

Built-in Beta Testers

Both during and after the weekend of Essentials you will have direct access to students, teachers, and parents who can give you feedback about your idea and serve as beta testers.

Training on how to unpack and then prototype your ideas

During Essentials, our team and alumni will coach you on effectively defining the problem you’re trying to solve and understanding the needs of your user. You’ll get training on how to run disciplined tests and get time to run real tests with real potential users.

A community to support you moving forward

Over 300 people from all over the country have gone through Essentials in the past four years. As part of this community, you’ll have access to the knowledge, connections, and resources to help you move forward with your idea.


The Ideal Essentials Candidate

Essentials is an experience for people who are interested in moving from an idea to actually piloting and testing their idea with parents, teachers, and students. Essentials applicants don’t need to know exactly what their product is, just have an idea about the problem they want to solve and some initial hunches on how to potentially tackle it. Lastly, Essentials is an opportunity to determine 1) if you are tackling the right problem, 2) if your idea is responding to that problem and 3) if you are truly listening to your users.


Essentials Applicants Should Be:

  • COACHABLE: You’re dedicated to your vision, yet voraciously seek feedback.
  • GRITTY: Entrepreneurship involves failure, and you’re ready to get back up when you’re knocked down.
  • DECISIVE IN AMBIGUITY: When faced with the hard, messy work of building a venture, you make smart decisions, prioritize, and hustle.
  • HUNGRY YET HUMBLE: You’re “all in,” yet maintain a spirit of optimism and fun, and leave your ego behind.
  • BOLD THINKERS: You are hard-hitting and persistent in challenging assumptions about the way the world approaches school and learning.

Essentials Alumni

Following Essentials, the 4.0 Team will continue to support Alums through ongoing coaching, as well as connecting alums to other supports. Additionally, Alums can: