Get out of the building

You will be spending a significant amount of time in between each of the lectures outside the class talking to customers. Each week your team will conduct at least 10 customer interviews focused on a specific part of the Business Model Canvas. This class is a simulation of what startups and entrepreneurship are like in the real world: chaos, uncertainly, impossible deadlines in insufficient time, conflicting input, etc.

Online lectures

Unlike a traditional classroom where the instructor presents lecture material, this course lectures are online. Watching the assigned lectures is part of your weekly homework. The information in them is essential for you to complete your weekly interviews and present the insights the teaching team will expect in your presentation for that week. We expect you to watch the assigned lectures for the upcoming week before class and we will use time in class to discuss questions about the lecture material and to provide supplemental material. You need to come prepared with questions or comments about the material for in-class discussion. We will cold-call about the online lecture material.

Flipped classroom

The instructors will be sitting in the back of the classroom together with mentors and invitees that are professionals who’ve built and/or funded startups and have a lot of experience in working with entrepreneurial teams. We won’t be “lecturing” in the traditional sense, but commenting on and critiquing each team’s progress. While the comments may be specific to each team, the insights are almost always applicable to all teams. While other teams are presenting the results of their weekly experiments, the rest of the class is expected to attentively listen, engage, and react to what they see and hear. Sharing insights, experience, and contacts with each other is a key way that this unique laboratory achieves results. 

Projects

Teams must submit a project proposal that must be approved by the instructors. Team projects can be software, a physical product, or a service of any kind. While your first instinct may be a web-based startup, we suggest that you consider a subject in which you are a domain expert. In all cases, you should choose something for which you have passion, enthusiasm, and hopefully some expertise. Teams that select a Web or mobile-based product will have to build the site or app for the class. Do not select this type of project unless you possess the necessary skill and are prepared to see it all the way through.

Deliverables

Meaningful Customer Discovery requires the development of a minimum viable product (MVP). Therefore, each team should have the applicable goal of the following:

  1. Teams building a physical product must have a bill of materials and a prototype. The product should have an associated website with the product features to attract potential customers.
  2. Teams building a web product must attempt to build the site, create demand and have customers using it.
  3. Your weekly LaunchPad Central narrative is an integral part of your deliverables. It’s how we measure your progress, and it is required that you maintain and update it at least once per week, if not after every customer insight.
  4. Your team will present a weekly in-class PowerPoint summary of progress. The presentation must be submitted before class starts.