Startup Academy Year One

Semester One

The first semester starts with ideation techniques--seeing the world through the eyes of an entrepreneur--and wraps up with each team presenting its minimum viable product for testing. Each session is built around one or more 'deliverables' (knowledge and skill sets entrepreneurs must use). Many deliverables are expected to take more than one session to complete. Teams move at their own pace; progress is measured by satisfactory completion of deliverables by semester's end.

The approach to learning is learner-centered, facilitated by knowledgeable coaches trained in entrepreneurial thinking. Activities are as real as possible, simulating startup work where necessary, e.g., through game-based learning. Teams interested in developing their ideas into real businesses complete all the deliverables to get them to that point, including team formation, incorporation, IP protection, market research and validation, term sheets, networking and much more. The approach may be game-based, but we're not playing around.

  • Deliverable 1: Networking Skills
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    Networking Deliverables

    • Introduce yourself and your idea to strangers who may be able to help you
    • Learn how to work a room
    • Provide a written or oral summary of networking conversations, including information pertaining to business insights and/or actionable steps (e.g., applying what was said, working together, new awareness, follow-up meeting, etc.)
  • Deliverable 2: Startup Stories (research)
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    Startup Stories Deliverables

    • Research a startup founder
    • Present a one-page paper that answers these questions about a real startup founder: name, company, founder’s background, the company’s main value proposition, how they came up with their idea and a recent challenge or accomplishment associated with the company.
  • Deliverable 3: Ideation techniques (Game: Founder to Fortune)
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    Ideation Deliverables

    • Develop and pitch new business ideas by combining randomly generated keywords
    • Invest in ideas that have the most potential for winning
  • Deliverable 4: Ideation and Pitching
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    Ideation and Pitching Deliverables

    • Using selected keywords, develop a A 60-second pitch to elicit feedback from an investor about a new business idea
    • Pitch a new business idea to get feedback
  • Deliverable 5: Developing Value Propositions
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    Value Proposition Deliverables

    • Choose a company: study their marketing statements
    • Evaluate how the company attempts to appeal to customers
    • Report on the company's value propositions
  • Deliverable 6: Value Propostions and Empathy (Game: Sticky Props)
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    Value Propostions and Empathy Deliverables

    • Play STICKY PROPS: make strategic decisions to maximize perceived value for sample demographics
    • Empathize with diverse types of consumers--interpret values from others' perspectives
  • Deliverable 7: Market Research (digital information fluency)
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    Market Research Deliverables

    • Research and list the characteristics of distint customer segments
    • Research and identify competitors by using browsing, queries and specialized databases
    • Fact check and evaluate findings
  • Deliverable 8: Researching Customer Segments
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    Customer Research Deliverables

    • Compile a list of characteristics that describe a specific customer segment
    • Use research to determine what a specific customer segment values and what motivates them
    • Report on the findings
  • Deliverable 9: Introduction to Business Modeling (Business Model Canvas)
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    Business Model Canvas Deliverables

    • Fill in a Business Model Canvas (BMC) with information about a company’s value proposition and customer segments
    • Research to discover additional information for the two categories (e.g., competitors' value propositions and customer segment specifics)
  • Deliverable 10: BOSI and balanced teams (Game: Hire Power)
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    BOSI Deliverables

    • Become conversant in Builder (B), Opportunist (O), Specialist (S) and Innovator (I) definitions
    • Complete a BOSI survey and identify your primary and secondary roles
  • Deliverable 11: Team formation
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    Team Formation Deliverables

    • Become a member of a BOSI startup team
    • Builders: conduct interviews to recruit team members
    • All others: complete a resume and participate in interviews with Builders to join a team
  • Deliverable 12: Team building
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    Team building Deliverables

    • Collaborate as a team to solve three 'impossible' problem scenarios
    • Challenge contextual assumptions, exploit loopholes in rules
  • Deliverable 13: Teamwork (Game: Scrum)
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    Teamwork Deliverables

    • Complete an array of work tasks efficiently as a team
    • As a team, complete work under challenging time constraints
    • As a team, discuss what worked and what didn't and how to improve performance
  • Deliverable 14: Team Ideation
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    Team Ideation Deliverables

    • As a team, collaborate to compile a list of potential ideas to develop into products or services
    • Use the United Nations Sustainability Goals to help foster new ideas for products or services
  • Deliverable 15: Idea Sniff Test
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    Idea Sniff Test Deliverables

    • Submit potential business ideas to "stress test" questions (including Sustainability Goals)
    • Determine the strengths and weaknesses of each idea
    • As a team, select the 'best' idea to develop into a product or service
  • Deliverable 16: Team Incorporation
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    Team Incorporation Deliverables

    • Present an Incorporation Plan for registering your company as a business entity
    • As a team, select and report on the most suitable type of business entity for your company (LLC, LLP, C-Corp, S-Corp, B-Corp, non-Profit)
  • Deliverable 17: Initial Market Validation
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    Initial Market Validation Deliverables

    • Compile and present a market report that connects your proposed values with customer segments
    • As a team, develop and deliver an elevator pitch describing your validated idea
  • Deliverable 18: Build an MVP Prototype
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    MVP Prototype Deliverables

    • Explore different types of prototypes and select the best type for your idea
    • As a team, create a prototype that can be used as the basis for a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
  • Deliverable 19: Test the MVP Prototype
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    MVP Prototype Test Deliverables

    • Collaborate to develop a plan for prototype testing, including desired outcomes
    • Produce a testing protocol
  • Deliverable 20: Build updated MVP
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    Updated MVP Deliverables

    • As a team, complete an MVP ready for market testing

Semester Two

The second semester commences with planning MVP tests and concludes with investor pitches.

  • Deliverable 21: MVP: Test Strategy and Statistics
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    MVP Test Strategy Deliverables

    • As a team, compile a set of questions to be answered by MVP testing
    • Select appropriate statistical methods for analyzing the results of testing (mean, frequency distribution, t-test, chi-square test, correlation, bar, line, pie charts)
  • Deliverable 22: MVP: Test (with end users)
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    MVP Test Deliverables

    • Follow a protocol for testing and interpreting results from MVP testing
    • Collect and save MVP Test results
  • Deliverable 23: MVP: Learn (evaluation)
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    MVP Learn Deliverables

    • Group discussion of testing analysis and results
    • Written description of results supported by appropriate data displays (e.g., bar, line, pie charts)
    • Presentation of findings
  • Deliverable 24: MVP to Beta Launch
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    Beta Launch Deliverables

    • Finalization and development of Beta version
    • Beta release of the product or service
  • Deliverable 25: IP Protection Planning
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    IP Protection Planning Deliverables

    • As a team, develop a list of necessary legal to-dos with target dates for completion
    • These may include a company-specific Intellectual Property protection strategy, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, Returns/Refunds Policies, Product Warranties, Human Resources Policies (e.g., personnel contracts, equity shares), Term sheets, investor contracts
  • Deliverable 26: Soft Launch
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    Soft Launch Deliverables

    • A soft launch party held to announce the Beta release of the product or service.
    • As a team, draft plans for monitoring the live product
    • Create a rubric to evaluate when the Beta release is ready to move to full release
  • Deliverable 27: Market Projections
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    Market Projection Deliverables

    • Spreadsheet showing customer segment statistics and reasonable, estimated sales projections
    • Market information transferred to the BMC
  • Deliverable 28: Production Costs (Game: Survivor Island)
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    :Production Costs Deliverables

    • As a team, research costs to make your product or deliver your service
    • Produce a spreadsheet detailing manufacturing costs, development costs, hosting costs, shipping costs
    • High-level cost numbers transferred to the BMC
  • Deliverable 29: Distribution Costs
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    Distribution Costs Deliverables

    • As a team, research and estimate costs to move the team’s product or service through all the necessary channels from the producer to the consumer
    • Produce a spreadsheet detailing distribution costs
    • Transfer bottom-line information on channels and costs to the BMC
  • Deliverable 30: Marketing Strategies (Game: CMO Target Rounds)
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    Marketing Strategies Deliverables

    • As a team, select Marketing Strategies best-suited to reach your specific customer segment
    • Evaluate the effectiveness and estimated costs of Paid Ads, Guerrilla Tactics, Proximity Marketing, Event Experiences, Face-to-Face, and other strategies, as relevant
    • Provide samples of Marketing Media to be used in campaigns
  • Deliverable 31: Marketing Costs
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    Marketing Costs Deliverables

    • As a team, create and defend a Market Calendar that displays marketing strategies with information about when, how often, who is responsible and estimated costs.
  • Deliverable 32: Marketing Demo Day
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    Marketing Demo Day Deliverables

    • Demonstrate Marketing Media to be used in campaigns
    • Document feedback received and plans for using it
  • Deliverable 33: Customer Loyalty Planning
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    Customer Loyalty Planning Deliverables

    • As a team, create a plan that includes policies for maintaining good customer relationships (e.g., privacy policy, warranties, complaint handling, etc.)
    • Refine marketing strategy plans to keep customers coming back for more
  • Deliverable 34: Total Estimated Costs
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    Total Estimated Costs Deliverables

    • As a team, create a spreadsheet that itemizes all the known and estimated costs of running a startup (including incorporation, personnel, production, distribution, marketing, sales, legal, taxes and more, as needed)
  • Deliverable 35: Revenue Streams
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    Revenue Streams Deliverables

    • Building on the Total Costs spreadsheet, develop a pricing model that includes all selected revenue streams
    • As a team, project Lifetime Value for the first year of sales
    • As a team, agree upon Quarterly Sales Quotas--how many units need to be sold, at what price, to make a profit
  • Deliverable 36: Business Valuation
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    Business Valuation Deliverables

    • As a team, determine the potential value of your company using (pre-revenue) sales models and market information
  • Deliverable 37: Elevator Pitch
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    Elevator Pitch Deliverables

    • Every member of the team practices and delivers a 30-second elevator pitch that includes these elements: attention-getting hook, who you are, what your product does, its main value proposition(s), its market appeal, your ‘ask’ (your purpose)
  • Deliverable 38: (Show) and Tell
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    (Show) and Tell Deliverables

    • As a team, determine the elements (content) and order for your investor pitch
  • Deliverable 39: Show (and Tell)
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    Show (and Tell) Deliverables

    • As a team, select and adapt marketing materials that support the purpose of your pitch
    • Possibilities include graphics, audio, video, product samples and experiences
  • Deliverable 40: Pitch Decks
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    Pitch Decks Deliverables

    • As a team, complete a pitch deck with 10 slides or so that helps tell your story
    • Slides should not distract from the message but at the same time should attempt to make it unforgettable
  • Deliverable 41: Managing Questions and Answers
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    Questions and Answers Deliverables

    • Teams develop strategies for answering expected and unexpected questions in preparation for the investor pitch
  • Deliverable 42: Pitch Practice
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    Pitch Practice Deliverables

    • Teams deliver a pitch using a pitch deck and take questions from an audience
  • Deliverable 43: Term Sheets
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    Term Sheet Deliverables

    • Teams play a simulation game, negotiating acceptable terms with an investor for a seed round of funding
    • Mock terms are recorded on a Term Sheet
  • Deliverable 44: Investor Pitch
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    Investor Pitch Deliverables

    • Teams pitch their product or service to one or more investors, seeking an ask
  • Deliverable 45: Next Steps
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    Next Steps Deliverables

    • Teams decide whether to dissolve or move ahead, signing an agreement that defines their next steps