Computer science students often lack exposure to the difficulty of capturing business opportunities and creating technology companies. Most of the skills required for this process have little to do with one’s technical capacity. Furthermore, one very common misstep individuals make is building technology and then searching for a real problem for that technology to solve, versus finding a problem (or deficiency) and then building a solution and a company to take that solution to market.
Students will form groups of 2 or 3 and pick an idea to develop. It is ideal if students show up with initial ideas, but this is not required. Once they have that idea, they will develop it into a viable venture over the duration of the course. A minimum viable product will be built for each idea, such as a mobile app or website. It is possible (and hoped) that students will develop their idea enough to continue beyond the length of this course. The arc of the project will be on going from early, rough ideas to developing those ideas and testing them, then ending with a pitch-deck and presentation similar to a real fundraising ask.
In addition to the core task of picking an idea and setting up a business model and venture around that idea, students will learn fundamental entrepreneurship concepts and terminology related to:
Classroom time will largely be discussion and group work. Students will also explore case-studies of the challenges that faced some of the most well-known start-ups. Videos and websites will supplement the reading list. Subject to availability there will be a few guest lectures (ideally an entrepreneur, an investor, and a start-up lawyer).
- Forming the founding team
- Building a compelling story
- Equity distribution
- Setting up a corporation
Students who take this course will improve their entreprenurial mindset, learn about real technology start-ups that succeeded and failed, and go through the process of validating, refining, and pitching their own idea in an accelerated timeframe.
Books (tentative list)
- The Art of the Start 2.0: Guy Kawasaki
- Business Model Generation: Alexander Osterwalder
- The Innovator's Dilemma: Clayton Christensen
- Rework: Jason Fried