A New Way to Teach Entrepreneurship: Class 1 at Stanford’s Lean Launchpad


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seeing the difficulty biomed researchers have had in citing the materials used in experiments. The Personal Libraries business model is built on the belief that researchers are overloaded with wasted energy and inefficiency and would welcome a product that eliminates the tedious tasks associated with their work.

PowerBlocks makes a line of modular lighting. Imagine a floor lamp split into a few components (the base, a mid-section, the top light piece). What would you do if wanted to make that lamp taller or shorter? Or change the top light from a torch-style to an LED-lamp? Or add a power plug in the middle? Or a USB port? Or a speaker? “PowerBlocks” modular lighting is “floor-lamp meets Legos” but much more high-end. Customers can choose components to create the exact product that fit their needs.

Voci.us is an ad-supported, web-based comment platform for daily news content. Real-time conversations and dynamic curation of news stories empowers people to expand their social networks and personal expertise about topics important to them. This addresses three problems vexing the news industry: inadequate online community engagement, poor topical search capacity on news sites, and scarcity of targeted online advertising niches.

While I was happy with how the class began, the million dollar question was still on the table – is teaching entrepreneurship with business model design and customer development better than having the students write business plans? Would we have to wait 8 more weeks until their final presentation to tell? Would we signs of success early? Or was the business model/customer development framework just smoke, mirror and B.S.?

The Adventure Begins

We’re going to follow the adventures of a few of the teams week by week as they progressed through the class, (and we’ll share the teams weekly “lessons learned,” as well as our class lecture slides.

The goal for the teams for next week were:

  • Write down their hypotheses for each of the 9 parts of the business model.
  • Come up with ways to test:
    • what are each of the 9 business model hypotheses?
    • is their business worth pursuing (market size)
  • Come up with what constitutes a pass/fail signal for the test (e.g. at what point would you say that your hypotheses wasn’t even close to correct)?
  • Start their blog/wiki/journal for the class

Next Post: The Business Model and Customer Discovery Hypotheses – Class 2

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Steve Blank is the co-author of The Startup Owner's Manual and author of the Four Steps to the Epiphany, which details his Customer Development process for minimizing risk and optimizing chances for startup success. A retired serial entrepreneur, Steve teaches at Stanford University Engineering School and at U.C. Berkeley's Haas Business School. He blogs at www.steveblank.com. Follow @sgblank

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