Today, the first half of the Stanford Engineering Lean LaunchPad Class gave their final presentations. Here are the first five.
It Feels Like 20 Years Ago Today
It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since we taught the first 10 teams in the Stanford Lean LaunchPad class. To share what we learned, we blogged each of those class sessions, (all the slides can be found here.) Since then we’ve taught an additional 50 Lean LaunchPad teams: 21 teams for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps, 11 teams for a joint Berkeley/Columbia MBA class, another 9 for a Berkeley MBA/Engineering class, and now 9 more teams in this Stanford Engineering Lean LaunchPad Class class.
Later this month, the next 25 National Science Foundation Innovation Corps teams will show up – but this time with reinforcements. The NSF has selected the best entrepreneurship teaching teams from two major universities and they will be joining the class. The goal is for them is to observe this class, then host and teach the next round of50 NSF Innovation Corps scientist/engineer teams in July. The process will repeat itself, quarter by quarter – new students, new University entrepreneurship teaching teams.
We’ll teach over 175 NSF Innovation Corps teams in the Lean LaunchPad course in 2012. While at the same time spreading the Lean LaunchPad entrepreneurship curriculum to campuses across the United States.
The 2012 Stanford Lean LaunchPad Presentations
The class is intensely and deliberately experiential to develop the mindset, reflexes, agility and resilience an entrepreneur needs to search for certainty in a chaotic world. Students were going to get a hands-on experience in how to start a new company. The premise of the class is that startups, are not about executing a plan where the product, customers, channel are known. Startups are in fact only temporary organizations, organized to search–not execute–for a scalable and repeatable business model.
Yet this isn’t an incubator. We trying to teach students a methodology that combines customer development, agile development, business models and pivots. (The slides and syllabus here describe the details of the class.) Our goal is to teach them the art, science and strategy of entrepreneurship that will forever change how they view early stage ventures.
And do it in 8 weeks.
A kite-boarding startup? Only in California! This team spoke face-to-face with 50+ end users, 3 manufacturers, 25 potential partners, 22 domain experts and surveyed an additional 115 customers. And they got to the beach a lot. Don’t miss their video of the product below.
To see the slide presentation, click here.
View the video here
The EngineKites customer discovery narrative blog is here.
Team Sync spoke face-to-face with 74 customers, 10 experts and surveyed another 103 customers
To see the slide presentation, click here.
The Sync customer discovery narrative blog is here.
This team won the award for the most pivots in the class. They had face-to-face interviews with 252 customers + 10 partner interviews + 76 surveyed.
Loved the “evolution” slide.
See the slides here.
The Nudge/Dyanmo customer discovery narrative blog is here
These guys hold the record for the number of customers touched 4,000! 147 face-to-face or phone interviews.
For the slide presentation, click here.
The GameSpeed customer discovery narrative blog is here.
This team was trying to solve a hard problem – getting girls engaged in science and engineering. They spoke to 294 people: 69 parents, 110 kids, 6 high school girls 32 experts, 6 manufacturers, and surveyed an addtional 68 parents.
View the presentation here.
The ColorWheels customer discovery narrative blog is here.
We Got Smarter Too
One of the great things about the class is that the curriculum is evolving as fast as the teams are learning. As a teaching team we’ve learned a ton of how to best select teams, so we now insist that they come in as preformed teams. We hold mixers a month or two in advance to help facilitate the process. It has made a dramatic difference in team efficiency and cohesion.
We have the students formally apply for the class by filling out a business model canvas. And at the first class they introduce themselves and their teams by presenting the canvas. This moved the learning up by one entire class session since we can now hit the ground running.
Given how important the students work in customer discovery outside the building was, we made each team keep an online journal on each step of their progress. Since the teaching team read each of their narrative before class and office hours, it made their in-class presentations short and efficient.
We realized that students needed help turning all that they were learning from customers into a coherent and crisp presentation. So we offered a special evening workshop on how to present a story-arc and narrative.
We’ve been experimenting in other ways – trying to figure out how to “bubble-up” some of the customer discovery data onto the canvas with red/yellow/green dots you see on some of the business model canvas slides. We suggested that teams talk about their hypothesis tests, draw diagrams of product flows through the channel and let us know who the customer segment is with a “customer archetype” slide.
We’re about to move our class text to The Startup Owner’s Manual and put together a draft of a standard Lean LaunchPad teaching guide.
Finally, we’ve been paring the lectures back to the absolute minimum to impart the information necessary for the teams to move forward, but leaving more time for us to provide feedback and critique of their weekly presentations. We’re actively considering running an experiment of making the lectures an on-line homework requirement (with on-line quizzes to make sure they view the material.)
None of this would be possible without the two VC’s who volunteer their time to teach this Stanford class with me: Jon Feiber of Mohr Davidow Ventures and Ann Miura-ko ofFloodgate,
And we had the help of Lisa Forssell, director of technical artists from Pixar, who taught the “how to present class” and Thomas Haymore our indefatigable Teaching Assistant and our team of mentors.
And hats off to Kathy Eisenhardt and Tom Byers of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program who gave us the freedom to invent and teach the class.
The rest of the teams present next week. We’ll post their slides in part 2.