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Entrepreneurship Process Fundamentals

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Course Description

Course Description

Entrepreneurial Process Fundamentals 46-831

Arthur A. Boni, PhD, John R. Thorne Distinguished Career Professor of Entrepreneurship


Entrepreneurial Process Fundamentals focuses on learning and applying entrepreneurial principles and processes for delivering a continued stream of compelling products and services thru any organization. We take the perspective that entrepreneurship consists of behavioral traits that are essential to innovation in organizations, not just startup or growth stage companies.  We will focus on product/service development in organizations that range from startups (creation and development stage), to growth stage (market entry and expansion), to more mature organizations (reinvention phase).  Most large organizations fail because they do not advance their existing product pipelines thru sustained innovation, nor understand how to create and introduce disruptive innovations to the market. 


The course is focused on understanding and exploiting and intersection of technology, design, and business.  Our target audience consists of the individuals and teams that conceive, develop, and deliver new products and services that are compelling to users and buyers.


The entrepreneurial process consists of focusing on three interrelated components: opportunity, resources, and team, all balanced by leadership.  In this course we first identify and examine entrepreneurs in all phases of organizational evolution with a goal of understanding the behavioral traits that characterize both success and failure in individuals and innovation teams.

We then proceed to refine an understanding for how opportunities are recognized and developed.  Tools and theories studies include: needs or outcome driven innovation, jobs to be done, which then frame the challenge of creating differentiable, sustainable solutions to meet the needs and do the jobs. This module will also utilize concepts from lean startups and agile development to conceive and test minimum viable products/services quickly, iteratively and with capital efficiency. We adopt a strategy of looking a product development that also includes an appreciation of the route to market most appropriate for the commercialization process in parallel with product development.  This process is initiated with use of a metaphor that examines three possible commercialization paths – “project, product, or company”.

We then examine in more detail a key component of any innovation; the business model to be employed to create, deliver and capture value (especially how revenue is generated in amount sufficient to cover cost and earn adequate margins).   We utilize a business model canvas and illustrate its utility and application in multiple industries. In this context we will also examine open innovation business models, which may be used to open up the corporation to partnering with outside partners or to spin off units that are more creative and nimble.

We emphasize the importance of understanding risk and employing an innovation model that is iterative or emergent.  All of the elements of a business plan are incorporated into a pitch (for investors or corporate management).  Preparation of a pitch, which sets the stage for the plan, forms an integrating methodology for the course.

Once the opportunity is understood, entrepreneurs then proceed to articulate and acquire the resources needed to pursue the opportunity whether or not they are under the direct control of the entrepreneurs (not often).  We will develop an understanding of this part of the process from the perspective of an early stage venture, creating sustaining innovations in an existing corporation, or as a potential spinoff (or “skunk works” unit) created by an organization as a means of creating disruptive innovations.   Common measures of return on investment (ROI) such as Net Present Value (NPV) or Internal Rate of Return (IRR) will be studied for each of these investments as used by investors of corporate boards.

The course will be delivered as lectures, case studies and projects to be carried out in teams interested in innovation in multiple industries.  Guest speakers will also be engaged from across the company life cycle. Project teams will be formed early on to apply the principles of innovation from the class – experiential learning. Projects will be suggested, or conceived by student teams to develop solutions and commercialization strategies relevant to industries of interest to each team. Students will then “pitch” their opportunities to experienced innovators, seeking investment and support to pursue them in a corporate form appropriate for the innovation being recommended.

The course is designed to be complementary to 96815, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  



Lecture: 100min/wk and Recitation: 50min/wk