AFWERX Style: What’s an Assumption?

The AFWERX program is like a startup program within the Department of Defense SBIR/STTR framework.  If, you aren’t familiar, take the time now to visit the Air Force/AFWERX program website AND review some of our past blogs on the topic. 

The AFWERX program uniquely places an emphasis on finding customers for your Phase 1.  A $50,000 award is available to help you develop a potential Air Force partner towards your Phase 2 technical plan. 

But how do you prepare a five-page technical plan when you are in customer discovery phase?  Below are some ideas to consider when preparing your proposal.

  • Do you have an Air Force customer in mind? You end goal for the Air Force SBIR/STTR program is to show you can deliver a good product to their needs. The more leg-up you give yourself in knowing the Air Force, the more likely the DoD can trust your ability to find a target customer by the end of your typical 3-month Phase 1 project.
  • Do you have customer use-case experience?  The function of this SBIR/STTR program is to provide a solution to the Air Force, which includes customizing an existing solution to the needs of the Air Force.  The more you know about how things work with customers, the better you can state assumptions on how the solution MIGHT work with your Air Force market.
  • Can you envision a ‘final’ product for the Air Force? Knowing what your potential final product is might help you articulate quantitative assumptions that will guide your Phase 1 customer discovery project. It also helps lay out potential competitive advantages as you showcase the potential impact of your solution over current options.

In the end, your customer discovery technical plan needs to be focused on outcomes that help you compete for Phase 2 funding.  Participate in the AFWERX Challenges to begin networking with Air Force potential partners and customers. As always, reach out to the CTC and let us help you customize a competitive approach for any of the eleven agencies participating in the SBIR/STTR program.

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