Tandem Product Academy


Learning how to scale

Over the course of four months, selected entrepreneurs will learn how to grow their technology product business from the region’s top leaders in the academic and business communities—all at no cost! Apply today ▸


The Tandem Product Academy is a hybrid experiential educational program that will give the leaders of selected participant companies the skills they need to successfully scale a technology product business. It is a part-time program, with Saturday and evening sessions taking place over a four-month semester.  An award-winning teaching team drawn from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and successful and well-known technology entrepreneurs anchor the faculty. 

The Academy program has been designed to provide participants with insights into the various complex challenges that must be overcome to successfully scale a technology  product business. The program syllabus was built from our teaching team's collective experiences, and reflects a common vision: what did we wish someone had told us when we were trying to grow our own businesses? Starting a business is a tough challenge, but our teaching team knows that growing a business is much tougher.  


Completely Free

The Academy is free to all selected companies, the cost is borne by our partner organizations. There is no equity grant or disguised cost for participation. This makes the Academy suitable for a broad range of businesses: graduates from accelerators, existing businesses that are looking to spin out a product, recipients of federal research and development funding who need to commercialize a government funded project and companies that have obtained private financing from angel or venture investors. Participants will not have to suffer additional dilution to participate in the Academy.


Focus on Growth

Our region has a recognized lack of Series A venture capital investment. This lack of capital makes it harder to scale technology businesses for an often unappreciated reason: traditionally, venture capitalist were the source of experienced business growth assistance for emerging technology businesses. We decided that the best solution to this issue was not to wish that there was more venture capital in our region, but to instead work the immediate problem. We are focusing on providing the business scaling expertise that a venture fund would provide to entrepreneurs looking for help. The Tandem Product Academy is designed to work in concert with the more than 130 accelerators and business formation programs that operate in the Greater Washington region and help them grow their businesses. And to provide a place for existing businesses to get insights they need to grow their businesses. It is a program that is designed to make our region’s efforts to grow great technology companies succeed without asking anyone to change the already great things they contribute to that goal.


Our Partners

Our open approach is reflected in the broad regional support the Academy has received. It's partners include Fairfax County, the Greater Washington Partnership, The Greater Washington Board of Trade, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Center for Innovative Technology, Maryland Technology Development Corporation, Robert H. Smith School of Business, and others.


Our Teachers

The Academy brings together a teaching team of award winning business school professors sourced from the Robert H. Smith School of Business with experienced technology product entrepreneurs with proven expertise and success growing technology product businesses.  The teaching team is compensated from funding obtained from Academy partners.  This professional teaching teaching team is led by award winning professors from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, including Jonathan Aberman, managing director of Amplifier Ventures, and includes well-known regional entrepreneurs including Mark Walsh, Tien Wong, Ben Foster, Pat Sheridan and other proven business leaders.


Ideal Applicants

The Academy is looking for leaders of emerging technology businesses with the following attributes:

  • A strong desire to learn and develop their business and leadership skills.

  • A business that is centered on a technology product, not a service.

  • A business that has achieved at least one of the following over the prior 12 months:

    • Revenue from product sales of at least $500,000

    • Receipt of at least $500,000 in federal research and development funding

    • Investment of at least $500,000 from sources other than the business founder and family members.

Some examples of these businesses are:

  • Existing service companies seeking to retool as a product-based business or to commercialize an already developed technology product.

  • Businesses started with capital from friends, family and angel investors.

  • Spin-outs of teams and technologies from government contractors.

  • Companies commercializing technologies developed with federal R&D funding, such as companies that have received federal funding through the Small Business Innovative Research Program.


The next cohort for the Tandem Product Academy begins Saturday November 10, 2018. Applications are due by October 31, 2018. We will accept up to 25 businesses into this cohort. Each company selected will be able to designate up to three members of its leadership to participate in the Academy. Participants will be selected by a group composed of members of the teaching team and partners who have provided financial support. The application process begins with the submission of a short form.