Tandem Product Academy Outcomes Released


A recently completed survey of program participants clearly shows that the fall 2018 cohort for the Tandem Product Academy should be the first of many. The Tandem Product Academy’s thesis – that the Greater Washington region could have more successful technology product companies if it provided them just a fraction of the resources currently aimed at startups – has been proven by the pilot. Synthesizing their experiences, the vast majority of the pilot participants acquired skills and information that will help them move into product spaces if they are currently service companies and expand their revenues if they are already product-oriented. The Greater Washington region will have businesses that successfully grow from participation in this first cohort, and a commitment to further cohorts will have an exponential positive effect on the region’s future.

Results of the pilot also demonstrated a clear appreciation by participants for funding sponsors and a willingness to engage fully with sponsors in content sharing, networking and business opportunities. This open willingness for direct engagement with sponsors as potential vendors, customers or allies is dramatically distinct from more traditional sponsorships of events or networking functions where sponsors are often viewed by participants as a necessary evil.

Participants in the fall 2018 cohort reported a very high level of satisfaction with the educational content and overall value of the Tandem Product Academy.

  • All participants believed they gained useful knowledge from the Tandem Product Academy, with more than three-quarters believing that the program materially increased their level of product knowledge.

  • Over 94% believed that the program would make them more successful in future fundraising.

  • All participants stated the Tandem Product Academy met their expectations and more than three-quarters felt the program exceeded their expectations.

  • If the Tandem Product Academy is offered again, all participants in the fall 2018 cohort intend to recommend the program to other entrepreneurs, and almost three-quarters are extremely likely to recommend the program.

  • Almost 90% of participants want to maintain regular contact with other cohort members after completing the program.

  • Classes achieved almost universal satisfaction, with extremely high satisfaction ranging between a third and 70% of all participants depending upon the class.

  • Classes on strategy, product development, negotiation and fundraising were all identified by participants as being particularly useful.

The sponsors of the fall 2018 cohort — Fairfax County and AARP received strong appreciation from participants. More than 97% of participants had a favorable view of the sponsors and almost two-thirds had an extremely positive view because of the sponsors’ funding of the program. Moreover participants believed that future sponsors should actively participate in the program and not just be given podium time to deliver a short commercial:

  • 85% would welcome sponsoring organizations sending individuals to participate in classes and seminars as an observer.

  • 75% would welcome them providing educational content within their area of expertise.

  • 74% would welcome communications from sponsors that had direct relevance to growing their businesses.

Tandem Innovation Alliance is looking for corporate sponsors to fund two additional cohorts of 20 companies in spring and fall 2019. “The pilot program achieved its goals and made a difference,” noted Jonathan Aberman, Managing Director of the Tandem Innovation Alliance, “it would be a shame if we couldn’t offer it again. The program makes a difference to participants and provides real benefits for sponsors looking to grow relationships. I hope the region’s business community takes notice of the fall cohort’s satisfaction and the progress the companies made.”


Jonathan Aberman