SQ1 program

CET’s Square One Program: Where Do You Fit?

CET’s Square One (SQ1), is a hands-on training program designed to provide support to early-stage and first-time business owners in the St. Louis region actively engaged in the development of a bioscience, information technology or advanced manufacturing commercial enterprise.


“A lot of the other organizations have areas of specialty and programs that are only accessible if you have a lot of the business model validation pieces already completed,” says Christy Maxfield, CET director of entrepreneur development services. “There needs to be a feeder source for those kinds of resources and a way for having potential entrepreneurs validate their business model and that’s really what Square One is trying to provide.”

Not all aspiring entrepreneurs are alike, so CET has created two different tracks, SQ1 Bootcamp and SQ1 Ignite. Whether you are ready to dive into a 10-week intensive or jump start your business model validation process, there is an accessible entry point to get things moving.


If you’re beyond the idea phase…

Square One Bootcamp

Square One Bootcamp combines formal instruction with hands-on learning, networking and mentoring for startups in high-growth industries. Local experts lead each of tracks in bioscience, information technology and advanced manufacturing.

What you need before you start:
You should have a first draft of a business model canvas complete. You’ll then have a phone interview with the program leader or sector leader, and must complete any pre-assigned work before the first day of class.

Why you should apply:
You’ll have access to industry leaders and will work on specific deliverables like refining your business model canvas, financial statements, pitch decks, elevator pitches and a planning checklist. You’ll also be able to network with fellow entrepreneurs in your class, as you receive a crash course in business planning and the current St. Louis startup ecosystem.

“It’s a lot of information in a short period of time, so the program helps you decide if entrepreneurship is really for you, and that’s a good thing,” says Maxfield. “Come in with an open mind, and be willing to solicit and gain customer feedback. We’re looking for folks who have really great ideas, who are coachable, and who will take the training and mentorship we’re providing and maximize those resources.”

When and how often you’ll meet:
Monday and Tuesday nights for 10 weeks (50 hours total)

Graduates you may recognize:
Squarefruit Labs
Start Right Foods
Arch Innotek

If you’re not quite there yet, but in the concept/pre-prototype phase…

Square One Ignite

Square One Ignite is for new and early-stage entrepreneurs: some of whom may go on to participate in the Bootcamp, others who will use Ignite as a catalyst to move their business idea forward. Participants are introduced to the different facets of St. Louis’ startup ecosystem and begin their business model validation process.

What you need to start:
A great concept, willingness to learn and an open mind. Like the Bootcamp, the primary industries are IT, bioscience and manufacturing. You may be asked to complete pre-class assignments.

Why you should apply:
You have an idea or a concept, but now you need to build the right plan. That’s where SQ1 Ignite comes in. Essentially a crash course in all things entrepreneur, the business model canvas is at the core of the program, with emphasis placed on validating the entrepreneurs’ value proposition and customer profile. Other topic covered throughout your four weeks include differentiation and competition, team building and bootstrapping.

“Our Bootcamp and Ignite graduates will either pivot, persevere or perish,” says Maxfield. “The ones that persevere and pivot are the ones that ideally will get funding and accelerator support and other services from the rest of the ecosystem.”

When and how often you’ll meet:
Tuesday nights for four weeks; sessions are around three hours.

Graduates you might recognize:
Upaya Pharmaceuticals

Leave a Reply

Enjoy our work? Follow us on social media!