Tag Archives: Stanford University

Opportunity Analysis Project

Business Model Canvas

s you go about developing your startup idea by testing the assumptions and hypotheses in each aspect of the business model (value proposition, key partners, revenue model, etc.) you should keep it up to date. If you find from the feedback that you get that you need to change or pivot one aspect of the business model, you should make that change on the business model canvas so that it stays up to date.

While a few entrepreneurs stumble across exactly the right idea and way to bring it to the market right away, most wind up having to iterate and change their strategy a lot early on. The business model canvas is the way for you to keep track of these changes and to organize your thoughts and the feedback from others. It’s best if you do not change your idea entirely since that throws away the value in the experiments and learning you’ve already done. However, you are also permitted to change the idea entirely if you feel you must.

All members of a group can edit the business canvas model. We keep your ten latest revisions, and you can revert back to any of them whenever you want. The team leader can “lock” an model meaning that none of the members can no longer edit it.
Here is a reminder on the description of business canvas model.

Testing Value Proposition

Your first task in opportunity analysis project is to test your hypothesis about your value proposition. You should begin by

  • Testing your “value proposition” with potential customers by talking with them face to face, the more face to face interviews with users/customers the better.
    The people with a “technical” background on the team should focus on setting up and running these meetings.
  • Estimating the market size in dollars (or your local currency).
  • Potentially doing a survey to gain more information about your target customers.

You should enter the results of your research in the system which will appear on the team page. You should also write about your meetings, ideas, and other activities on a regular basis.

You can submit as many reports as you want for each task. All members of a group can edit the team submission, we keep your ten latest revisions, and you can revert back to any of them whenever you want. The team leader can “lock” a report meaning that none of the members can no longer edit it. Note that the team leader can unlock a report whenever they would like to.

Visit the venture-lab on May 7th when tools for reporting, blogging and keeping your business canvas model are going to be deployed.

Final Report for OAP

By the end of the OAP deadline, we would like to see a complete team page with the name of the team, a short description plus a few (at least one) reports corresponding to your surveys and experiments for testing your value proposition.

You should also write up one page report on your startup idea, focusing on what you have done to test whether this is a viable opportunity for a business. We want a summary of how many face to face interviews you did with customers and what you learned from the customer feedback. Do customers have the problem that you think they do? If so, how are they currently solving it and how much do they pay for that solution? Are they interested in your solution? Are they willing to pay you for it? Is there a different problem that they are much more interested in having you solve for them? Let us know if you are still pursuing the same idea or if you are changing to a new idea based on customer feedback.

In addition to the report, we encourage you to also submit either a link to your video presentation on YouTube (tagged with “Venture Lab 2012”) or a link to your presentation on Slideshare.

For the youtube video, imagine you are giving a short presentation on what you did for OAP project for the class. Start with a brief description of your idea. Explain what you learned from customers and whether you modified the idea as a result of this feedback. Finally, whether you think this opportunity is worth pursuing for the OEP.

Takeaways and Lessons from OAP

The Opportunity Assessment Project (OAP) is meant to serve several purposes but the primary one is to force the startup teams that you’ve formed to go through a process of brainstorming an entrepreneurial opportunity and then determining whether it is worth pursuing as a startup. Many of you appear to have actually found something that you want to continue building a business around, which is very exciting!

If you decide that it is not worth pursuing this particular idea, then the OAP project should have helped to shed light on which aspects of the idea should be change or what other big problems your potential customers have that they would like you to solve. This should have led you to some potential avenues for a more promising startup.

  1. Approach potential customers and users face to face and ask them open-ended questions.

    If you try to only survey customers (and do not talk to them face to face) then you gain significantly less insight into what their problems are and how they think about your potential product or service. Too often the students I ask to do surveys just end up with what I call “glory metrics” where they ask not very insightful questions and get not very insightful answers. They get to claim that 90% of the people they surveyed want their product, but how much do they really learn? I still asked you all to do a survey because it is important to determine whether it is only the few people that you spoke with face to face that have this problem or whether there are a broader set of people who also have this problem and really badly want it solved.

    If you talk to potential customers but ask them closed-ended questions or quickly narrow them down on your particular product idea, then you get much less useful feedback.

  2. After you’ve spoken with potential customers face to face, you want to incorporate what you learned and check whether there is a broader set of people who seem to have this problem and want your solution.

    Here is where the guidance depends on your specific industry and product. If it’s very cheap, easy and fast to build and distribute a basic version of your product/service then this is the best way to get real world feedback from a broader set of potential users.

    However, in some cases (biotech, medical devices, physical products), it often requires a sizable investment. Here you may decide to gather more information via a survey before proceeding with building a prototype.

  3. Entrepreneurs never have sufficient information.

    Andrew Chen has an interesting post on the difference between being data-informed and data-driven.

    • In interviews people will sometimes be lead to certain answers or tell you what they think you want to hear.
    • A survey is imperfect because the sample size is going to be limited and potentially biased and people will act different than they respond.
    • Launching a beta version or building a prototype of the product gets you a little closer to real user behavior and response. However your beta version will be just that . . . beta and customer feedback will be diverse on what it needs exactly.
    • Yet, sitting and brainstorming or theorizing or trying to dream up a vision doesn’t get you very far either.

    This is the challenge of entrepreneurship. You have to act on extremely limited information. Yet, the best entrepreneurs will think through how closely they can get an approximation for the real user response at the cheapest cost to the firm in time and money.

  4. It’s very hard to calculate market size, especially for a new market. It’s also very important to have an understanding of whether you’re going after a potential 5M dollars market or a potential 5B dollars market.

    Yet, many people think that they’ve created a brand new market when in fact they are in an existing or growth stage market.

  5. When you get out and talk with potential customers, you’re going to get feedback that what you had in mind initially isn’t quite the right thing to pursue.

    Part of the art of entrepreneurship is then knowing what to change. Whether to change part of the business model, go after a different, bigger problem that the customers have, or stick with it and alter the target customer.


Technology Entrepreneurship – Stanford University

Technology Entrepreneurship,

Charles Eesley , Assistant Professor, Stanford University

Introduction : http://e145.stanford.edu/session1

Stanford University offered a free online classes for interested people around the globe. I was fortunate to take this course and participate in the entrepreneurship project and thought to share my learning’s.

Well, this course introduces the fundamentals of technology entrepreneurship, pioneered in Silicon Valley and now spreading across the world. You will learn the process technology entrepreneurs use to start companies. It involves taking a technology idea and finding a high-potential commercial opportunity, gathering resources such as talent and capital, figuring out how to sell and market the idea, and managing rapid growth.

By the conclusion of the course, it is our hope that you understand how to:

  1. Articulate a process for taking a technology idea and finding a high-potential commercial opportunity (high performing students will be able to discuss the pros and cons of alternative theoretical models).
  2. Create and verify a plan for gathering resources such as talent and capital.
  3. Create and verify a business model for how to sell and market an entrepreneurial idea.
  4. Generalize this process to an entrepreneurial mindset of turning problems into opportunities that can be used in larger companies and other settings.

Who is this Course For?

This course is designed for all backgrounds and majors, including science, engineering, and humanities students who seek to understand what the entrepreneurial mindset and its key processes are about. Topics introduced in this course are relevant for future founders of enterprises, as well as the future employees of a independent or corporate startup.

How Do We Teach this Course?

Through lectures and projects that cover high-growth ventures in information technology, electronics, life sciences, green technology and other industries, this course provides the student with the tools necessary to successfully identify a true business opportunity and to start, grow and maintain a technology enterprise. We will cover material organized in four modules:

  1. The Entrepreneurial Perspective
  2. Opportunity Recognition and Evaluation
  3. Assembling Resources and Managing Growth
  4. Entrepreneurship and You

How Will You Learn?

Entrepreneurship is both an individual and team activity. Therefore this course incorporates both individual and group efforts. Students form project teams early in the quarter and meet regularly to prepare for class discussion. We encourage students to build groups with people from a diversity of majors and from the U.S. and abroad.

Each team will be required to complete written case analyses throughout the quarter. Teams are also required to complete two papers and class presentations regarding an “Opportunity Analysis Plan” as well as an “Opportunity Execution Plan.” In addition, students complete a “Personal Business Plan” using methods learned in the course.

Group discussion is encouraged in preparing for both the team and individual assignments. Note that learning to successfully manage group dynamics, including conflicts and roles, is a key educational component of the course.

More about the course at http://www.eesley.blogspot.com/p/class-description.html

Startup Team: Instructions

Please read these instructions very carefully. In this stage, you will form teams for the main class (startup) project. Note that the composition of your team is one of the most important factors in its success.

  1. Watch the video on team composition on Professor Eesley’s Blog. You can also read Chapter 12 in Technology Ventures for more information.
  2. From the startup teams menu click on the button next to team designation: here you will specify whether you wish to participate in the project, and whether or not you are already in a complete team. If you do not have a team, or your team is open to having new members you will be able to search other members’ profiles and contact them.
  3. Edit your profile: make sure that you give enough information about yourself, about your ideal team, and the project you wish to work on. By sharing more information, you will increase the likelihood of finding good teammates.
  4. Search: you will be able to search on other member’s profile using their Country, career aspiration, industry sector, hours, and keywords (including name and personal statement). You can take a look at their profiles and send them a request to explore the possibility of becoming teammates. Note that you can only send a request to a person once! Your request will include a link to your profile and your email address. You can also include a message with more information about yourself. You can contact at most 50 people to form a team.
  5. Follow up, get to know, and possibly meet your teammates: adding someone as a teammate is far more consequential than friending them on facebook or adding them as a contact on Linkedin. You will be working with your teammate on a project that you may be (or become passionate) about. It is very important that you become familiar with your teammate and you get the sense that you will enjoy working with them. Talk to them over the phone, hangout on G+, meet (in a public place, use your judgment)! Do not restrict yourself to the search feature. Participate in meet ups or organize one!
  6. Form a team, and choose a team leader: your team leader will be like the CEO of the company: he or she will be responsible for adding members, dividing the responsibilities, and entering the reports. You can only designate one team leader. The team leader enters the name of the team, and the names of other team members. Our system will send the team members an invitation and they can join the team by accepting it.

    We are looking forward to working with the strong teams you will be forming and to your projects!

The Venture-lab team

Free Stanford University Professional Education

Stanford University is offering a free online classes for interested people around the globe. Courses are delivered online, on the Stanford campus in the heart of Silicon Valley, and at the work site.

The Future of Technology Entrepreneurship Education:

How do you create a successful start-up? What is entrepreneurial leadership in a large firm? What are the differences between an idea and true opportunity? How does an entrepreneur form a team and gather the resources necessary to create a great enterprise? http://eesley.blogspot.com/

Register for a free online course from Stanford University @ http://www.venture-class.org

Introduction to Databases:

This course covers database design and the use of database management systems for applications. It includes extensive coverage of the relational model, relational algebra, and SQL. It also covers XML data including DTDs and XML Schema for validation, and the query and transformation languages XPath, XQuery, and XSLT. The course includes database design in UML, and relational design principles based on dependencies and normal forms. Many additional key database topics from the design and application-building perspective are also covered: indexes, views, transactions, authorization, integrity constraints, triggers, on-line analytical processing (OLAP), and emerging "NoSQL" systems.

Register for Introduction to Databases:http://www.db-class.org/course/auth/welcome

Cryptography : http://www.crypto-class.org/

Computer Science 101: http://www.cs101-class.org/

Machine Learning : http://jan2012.ml-class.org/

Software Engineering for Software as a Services: http://www.saas-class.org/

Human Computer Interaction : www.hci-class.org

Natural Language Processing : http://www.nlp-class.org/

Game Theory : http://www.game-theory-class.org/

Probabilistic Graphical Model : http://www.pgm-class.org/

Design and Analysis of Algorithm 1 : http://www.algo-class.org/

Computer Security : http://www.security-class.org/

The Lean Launchpad : http://www.launchpad-class.org/

Anatomy : http://www.anatomy-class.org/

Making Green Buildings : http://www.greenbuilding-class.org/

Information Theory : http://www.infotheory-class.org/

Model Thinking : http://www.modelthinker-class.org/

Artificial Intelligence : http://www.ai-class.com/