The objective of LLP@Tecnico course is to make students act as entrepreneurs and experience the challenges of finding and executing a new business opportunity, design a business model and apply agile engineering and customer development.
This course provides real-world, hands-on learning on what it’s like to actually start a company. This class is not about how to write a business plan. It’s not an exercise on how smart you are in a classroom, how well you write code or what your patent is, or how well you use the research library to size markets. And the end result is not a PowerPoint pitch deck for a VC “demo day.” And it is most definitely not an incubator where you come to build the “hot idea” that you have in mind.
This is a practical course – essentially a lab, not a theory or “book” class. Our goal, within the constraints of a classroom and a limited amount of time, is to create an entrepreneurial experience for you with all of the pressures and demands of the real world in an early stage startup. The class is designed to give you the experience of how to work as a team and turn an idea into a company.
You will be getting your hands dirty talking to customers, partners, and competitors, as you encounter the chaos and uncertainty of how a startup actually works. You’ll practice evidence-based entrepreneurship as you learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a company and customer development to get out of the classroom to see whether anyone other than you would want/use your product. Finally, based on the customer and market feedback you gathered, you will use agile development to rapidly iterate your product to build something customers would actually use and buy. Each block will be a new adventure outside the classroom as you test each part of your business model and then share the hard-earned knowledge with the rest of the class.This is a limited capacity elective course offered to several IST’s academic programs.
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, uncertainty, impossible deadlines in insufficient time, conflicting input, etc.
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.
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.
This class is team-based. Working and studying will be done in teams. You can only take this class if you are in a team of 5. The teams will self-organize and establish individual roles on their own. There are no formal CEO/VPs. Just the constant parsing and allocating of the tasks that need to be done. Besides the instructors, each team will be assigned a mentor (an experienced entrepreneur or VC) to provide assistance and support.
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.
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.
This course is team-based and 85% of your grade will come from your team progress and the final project. The grading criteria are broken down as follows:
20% Individual participation. The base grade is the team’s grade that will be multiplied by factors that compare individual participation with the team’s participation (1 means same participation as the team). The factors are:
a) Written peer-to-peer comments provided throughout the semester, during class presentations in the course web platform
b) Attendance at each class
c) Timely viewing of ALL Udacity videos
d) Participation assessment from fellow teams members at the end of the course, (form filled by each team member assessing the relative participation of each team members performance and productivity throughout the semester).
40% Out-of-the-building Customer Discovery progress, as measured each week by
a) Quality and number of weekly interviews in the course registered in the web platform
b) Weekly canvas updates on the course web platform
c) Quality and number of hypotheses created, tested, validated or invalidated as registered in the course web platform
d) Exceptional activity and perseverance in customer discovery (hard to get interviews, creative interviewers engagement, etc.)
e) Use of MVP, landing pages, digital marketing and other tools in the customer discovery process.
15% Team weekly “lessons learned” presentation. Team members may be called on randomly to present their team’s findings that week. The grading will take in consideration:
a) The number of interviews conducted that week (include on cover slide).
b) The detail and relevance of what the team did that week, including changes to Canvas.
c) If the presentation followed the assigned topics to be covered each week as outlined in the syllabus.
d) Creative contributions
25% Team final lessons learned presentation and video assessed by a panel of invited jurors including investors, entrepreneurs and professors.
Week 1: Course presentation. Lecture on business model canvas, customer discovery and opportunity assessment.
Week 2: Q&A about business model canvas and customer discovery. Team presents canvas hypotheses. Lecture about value proposition.
Week 3: Product-market fit: value proposition. Q&A value proposition. Team presents value proposition findings. Lecture about customer segments.
Week 4: Product-market fit: customer segments. Q&A about customer segments findings. Team presents customer segments findings. Lecture about channels.
Week 5: Channels. Q&A about channel customer discovery. Team presents channel findings. Lecture about customer relationships.
Week 6: Customer relationships, get-keep-grow. Q&A about customer relationships. Team presents customer relationship findings. Lecture about revenue models.
Week 7: Revenue Streams. Unit economics. Payment low diagram. Q&A about revenue model. Team presents revenue model findings. Lecture about partners.
Week 8: Partners. Q&A about partners. Partner ecosystem map. Partner type hypotheses. Team presents activities findings. Lecture about resources, activities and costs.
Week 9: Resources, activities, and costs. Metrics that matter. Q&A about resources, activities, and cost. Team presents resources, activities and cost structure findings. Lecture about final lessons learned presentation.
Week 10: Final lessons learned presentations. Team presents a 10-minute presentation and a 3-minute video on lessons learned and findings. Teaching team final advice.
BibliographyBusiness Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, ISBN: 978-0-470-87641-1, 2010.
The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company, Steve Blank, Bob Dorf, ISBN 9780984999309, 2012.