Program Overview

April 27, 2016

Enrollment
  • Admission is by teams of 2 or more current PCC students from any school or department
  • Teams must interview with the teaching team prior to the class start date
  • Your entire team must attend the first class to be enrolled
  • Teams must submit a business model canvas and leaf diagram followed by an interview with the teaching team prior to the class start date
Students
  • Non students can serve as advisors to the teams
  • Exceptions for team size and external members will be made on a case-by-case basis
  • There are no remote options for this course – you must take the class on campus
  • This is very intense class with a very high workload. We expect you to invest at least 15-20 hours per week
Attendance and Participation
  • You cannot miss the first class without prior approval
  • This is a very intense class with very high workload. If you cannot commit to 15-20 hours a week outside the classroom, this class is not for you
  • If during the 10 weeks you find you cannot continue to commit the time, immediately notify your team members and teaching team and drop the class
  • We expect your attention during our presentations and those of your fellow students
  • We ask that you use a name card during every session
  • During your classmates’ presentations you will be required to give feedback online via the LaunchPad Central system. Please bring a laptop (and charger, if necessary) to every class and be prepared to give your undivided attention to the team at the front of the room
The Flipped Classroom Model

Unlike a traditional classroom where the instructor presents lecture material, our lectures are online in LaunchPad Central (you will receive access once you are enrolled in the course). 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 students to answer questions about the online lecture material.

Experiential Learning

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 a minimum of 10 customer interviews focused on a specific part of the business model canvas. This class is a simulation of what startups and entrepreneurship is like in the real world: chaos, uncertainty, impossible deadlines in insufficient time, conflicting input, etc.

Inverted Lecture Hall

Sitting in the back of the classroom are experienced instructors and professionals who have built and/or funded world-class startups and have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurial teams. We won’t be lecturing in the traditional sense, but commenting and critiquing on each team’s progress. While the comments may be specific for each team, the insights are almost always applicable to all teams. Pay attention.

Peer to Peer Culture

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

Class Culture

Startups communicate in a dramatically different style from the university or large company culture you may be familiar with. At times it can feel brusque and impersonal, but in reality is focused and oriented to create immediate action in time- and cash-constrained environments. We have limited time and we push, challenge, and question you in the hope you will quickly learn. We will be direct, open, and tough just like the real world. This approach may seem harsh or abrupt, but it is all part of our wanting you to learn to challenge yourselves quickly and objectively, and to appreciate that as entrepreneurs you need to learn and evolve faster than you ever imagined possible.

This class pushes many people past their comfort zone. If you believe that your role of your instructors is to praise in public and criticize in private, you’re in the wrong class. Do not take this class. You will be receiving critiques in front of your peers weekly.

The pace and the uncertainty pick up as the class proceeds.

As part of the process, we also expect you to question us, challenge our point of view if you disagree, and engage in a real dialog with the teaching team.

Amount of Work

This class requires a phenomenal amount of work on your part, certainly compared to many other classes. Projects are treated as real start-ups, so the workload will be intense. Teams have reported up to 20 hours of work each each week. Getting out of the classroom is what the effort is about. If you can’t commit the time to talk to customers, this class is not for you. Teams are expected to have completed at least 10 in person or Skype video interviews each week focused in the business model canvas area of emphasis for that week

This means in total over the 10-week course you will have completed in the range 100 interviews.

Team Organization

This class is team-based. Working and studying will be done in teams. You will be admitted as a team. Teams must submit a proposal for entry before the class begins. Projects must be approved before the class.

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.

In addition to the instructors, each team will be assigned a mentor (an experienced entrepreneur, service provider, consultant, or investor) to provide assistance and support.

Pre-class Preparation

This class hits the ground running. It assumes you and your team have come into class having read the assigned reading, viewed the online lectures, and prepared a set of contacts to call on.

Only Project

Given the amount of work this class entails, there is no way you can do the work while participating in multiple startups. A condition of admission to the class is that this is the only startup you are working on this quarter/semester.

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 show us a costed bill of materials and a prototype.
  2. Teams building a web product need to build the site, create demand and have customers using it. See steveblank.com/how-to-build-a-web-startup-lean-launchpad-edition
  3. Your weekly LaunchPad Central narrative is an integral part of your deliverables. It’s how we measure your progress.
  4. Your team will present a weekly in-class Powerpoint summary of progress.
Shared Material

Your weekly presentations and final Lessons Learned presentations will be shared and visible to others. We may be video taping and sharing many of the class sessions.