Further Explorations

BBUS 590
Special Topic: Technology Ventures

4 credits / Winter 2015

Saturdays: 08:30 - 12:20
UW1 060

Startup Graphic


  • Welcome to Class!

Instructor: Payman Arabshahi, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and the Applied Physics Laboratory, ude.notgnihsaw.ee@namyap, Tel: (206) 221-6990. Office hours: after class (UW1 060), or by appointment.

Class Mailing List: ude.notgnihsaw.u@51iw_a095subb.

Class blog: http://uwbtv.blogspot.com.

Class Dropbox: https://catalyst.uw.edu/collectit/dropbox/paymana/34341


Course Description:

This course is designed for students who may be interested in launching their own startups or who will work at early-stage startups. It will include case studies on new businesses in the Internet, mobile, hardware, software, and energy sectors, although the lessons from these sectors may be quite generalized and useful elsewhere. This initial offering of the course is based on two excellent courses offered at Harvard by Thomas Eisenmann (Launching Tech Ventures), and at Stanford by Steve Blank (The Lean Launchpad).

The course will explore concepts in "Lean Startup" management practices and address scaling challenges in technology ventures. Different points of view, from the founder to functional leaders in product management, sales, and business development will be discussed. The course will focus on learning from implementation case studies, rather than strategy issues, avoiding overlap with concepts covered elsewhere.

The course will be organized into case study discussions and project sessions. The case studies will explore execution challenges before and after a startup achieves product-market fit, i.e., a match between its product solution and market needs. Topics explored include: (1) Time to launch, (2) Product feature set and the concept of a minimum viable product (MVP) and customer surveys, interviews, feedback, usability tests, and customer support data, (3) Development and use of metrics for "success", such as viral coefficients, customer retention rates, and unit economics, (4) Pivoting, i.e., modifying a product/business model based on market feedback; (5) "Crossing the chasm" from early adopters to mainstream customers; (6) Scaling (product, sales force, support), (7) Tradeoffs for startups relying on business development partnerships with large companies; and (8) Why, when and how startups should introduce formal product management processes such as project prioritization and tracking systems, and product roadmaps.

Project sessions will be team exercises during which a team of students specify, for one team member's startup idea, business model assumptions and rigorous tests to validate those assumptions, leveraging ideas, tools and techniques learned from the case study sessions.

Guest lectures/discussion moderators from local technology entrepreneurs will be sought.

Prerequisite: An inquisitive mind.


  • Case study presentations: 50%
  • In-class participation and discussions: 20%
  • Final project presentation: 10%
  • Final project report: 20%

Last updated on January 7 13:18:23 PDT