Course Learning Goals

This course is designed to improve your entrepreneurial management skills and analytical approach to decision-making in the context of the overall management of a web-based start-up.  It focuses on the field of entrepreneurial management and adopts the perspective of the start-up founder implementing a "lean startup."   Accordingly, the following objectives have been established for student achievement in this course:

Specific Knowledge and Skill Objectives

On successful completion of the course you should be able to:

  • Understand how to construct a Business Model Canvas and/or a Lean Canvas. Of specific interest here is a compelling Value Proposition and Competitive Advantage.
  • Be able to clearly and realistically identify your start-up's strengths and weaknesses, and diagnose the real threats and opportunities facing your start-up in an entrepreneurial environment. At a minimum, students accomplish this by first assessing and prioritizing the risk areas in the Business Model or Lean Model. Optionally, they may perform an Industry Analysis as well as a SWOT analysis.  Combining these three approaches gives the student a clearer perspective of how to proceed to test the business model.
  • Understand how to manage entrepreneurially as opposed to tactically, functionally or operationally. Recognize that start-ups are not small versions of large companies. Students demonstrate this by making decisions that reflect, as appropriate, minimal or clever use of resources, leveraging existing resources in unique or novel ways, and generally having the foresight not to engage in practices that are considered unnecessary, or superfluous, in advance or upon reflection.
  • Understand different methods of measuring overall entrepreneurial performance and see what you and your co-founders must do to make your business succeed as it moves through various stages of growth. Students demonstrate this by acquiring an appropriate set of customers for the customer development process during the early stage of their startup. Depending on how students implement the customer development process, tools such as Woopra and Google Analytics may be used to demonstrate an understanding of how well marketing messages are working in drawing target customers to the web site.
  • Understand that while all start-ups may benefit from uniqueness in strategy, there are also common patterns found in innovative approaches. These emerge continually, and students should be able to identify these trends and ideally be able to apply them in novel ways.
  • Demonstrate competency in building a basic web site using the tools provided in class. Tools may change from semester to semester and will be announced for each class. If pursuing an "app" business, be able to develop a prototype or work with a development team.
  • Implement "inbound marketing" effectively. Demonstrate this by developing clear target customer profiles with well-articulated customer problems, solutions and triggers. Understand the concept of risk reversal and implement it accordingly for the venture. Understand how to trigger the RAS in potential buyers using appropriate headlines and marketing content.  Demonstrate an understanding of how to develop and test landing pages by crafting a personal, company and product uniqueness and driving traffic to the venture site.
  • Organize and implement an effective customer development process. Students demonstrate this by capturing the trail of changes or "pivots" made to the venture (product and process) during the course of interacting with customers. Students may also be able to refine over time the target customer profile, by further segmenting the prospects based on customer characteristics and requirements, and other factors, most importantly by using a "jobs" or "purpose branding" segmentation approach.

Have a clear mental model of entrepreneurial management at an overview level. In other words, when contemplating your next entrepreneurial endeavor, you should feel significantly more confident in your capabilities. Ideally, following this course a student will be able to conceptualize a new venture and rapidly implement and test the venture business model using the skills learned in this class - in a matter of a few weeks or less of full-time effort, significant progress can be made.