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Course 2020-2021 a.y.


Department of Management and Technology

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 95

BSS (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/08)
Course Director:

Classes: 95 (I sem.)

Mission & Content Summary

This course provides real world, experience-based learning on what it’s like to actually start a new venture, either within an existing company, or as a new startup company (the essential elements and the underlying logic are the same). The main objective is to allow you to directly experience the earliest phases of an entrepreneurial startup process. Focus will thus be on building and testing a novel business idea. In this course you will be asked to actively engage in developing the initial business idea, but also in talking to potential customers, suppliers, partners, and competitors, as you confront the chaos and uncertainty of how a real new venture actually emerges from the entrepreneurs’ efforts.


You will:

  • identify or create one or more potential innovative opportunities for an existing company or a startup
  • meet real startuppers, learn from their experiences, and help them address and solve real entrepreneurial problems they’re currently facing
  • learn, and directly experience, how to present your entrepreneurial ideas to an audience of potential partners
  • practice the process of customer development (getting out of the building to see whether anyone other than you would want/use your product)
  • learn and experience how to attract the attention and contributions of potential partners such as entrepreneurial team members, other managers, investors, and suppliers
  • work in small teams with the aim of learning how to turn your own ideas into a functioning company or business unit within an existing company
  • encounter issues on how to build and work with a team and be guided in understanding how to effectively build and lead the startup team
  • learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a new company
  • see how agile development can help you rapidly iterate your product to build something customers will use and buy

Each session will be a new adventure as you and your team test each part of a business model and then share the hard earned knowledge with the rest of the class. The goal is to get you out of the building to test different parts of a business model, understand which of your assumptions were wrong, and figure out what you need to fix them.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...

Your objective is to develop practical solutions to practical problems by the end of the course. You will learn to use the tools that help managers and entrepreneurs test their hypotheses and make adjustments when they learn that their original assumptions about their innovative idea are wrong. You will thus experience wrong assumptions not as a crisis, but as a learning event called pivot—a learning opportunity to change the business model.

Besides learning how innovative businesses and startups are created in real life, you will thus develop skills in creativity, proactiveness, public speaking, teamwork, and leadership. This course may also be seen as a springboard to prepare for more advanced entrepreneurship courses at the Master of Science level.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Company visits
  • Individual assignments
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)

Participation: The instructor will record attendance (in the first 10 minutes of class; afterward, participants will be considered as not having attended that class). Participants cannot miss more than THREE (out of 13) classes and are supposed to attend ALL 3 company visits. Participants who leave class after having recorded their attendance will be considered as not having attended that class. Participants whose attendance is recorded while they are not physically present in class will be reported to Bocconi U. Disciplinary Committee (which will likely result in failing the course).

Failure to: (a) actively participating in class discussions; (b) timely uploading requested assignments (as indicated in this syllabus, in class slides, and in class presentations); (c) actively participating in teamwork (as timely reported by other team members to the instructor during the course) may result in a reduction of the final mark or even in failing the entire course.

This is a highly interactive course which requires your active and committed participation. You are thus not allowed to use your smartphone in class (with the exception of recording your attendance in the first 10 minutes of each class), nor to browse the web or use any social media on your laptop while in class.

Class Organization: This class is primarily team-based. Working and studying will be mostly done in teams. Teams will be formed around ideas and tasks proposed by the students or by real entrepreneurs (not by the instructor). Proposals can be software, physical products, or services of any kind, including social and not-for- profit ventures. Projects are treated as real business innovations, so the workload will be intense.

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •     x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •     x

    (1) Teamwork: Group assignment. Participants will work in teams on tasks proposed by real entrepreneurs, or on their own business ideas. As a team, participants will be asked to work on their project and deliver (for the exam session) a (maximum) 15 minutes presentation of their teamwork (the exact length of the presentation will be determined depending on the actual number of teams that will formed), followed by a Q&A session. This final presentation (and the related set of slides), will determine the evaluation of the group assignment. Participants will self-organize both individual roles and group activities to be carried out within the team.
    Teams should be composed of about 5 members. The instructor will determine the minimum and maximum number of participants per team, depending on the actual number of attending students and on the number of tasks presented by real entrepreneurs, or business ideas advanced by participants. The instructor will assign or re-assign team members: if teams of the proper size are not autonomously formed by participants; if some participants could not join any of the autonomously formed teams; if too many participants are interested in a
    specific task/idea.
    Final presentations: Each team will have to submit a set of slides for evaluation on BlackBoard. The file will have to be PowerPoint or pdf (no other software is allowed). The set of slides will have to include (in the same file): (a) the slides presented in class; (b) maximum 15 additional optional slides (ALL inclusive) reporting additional data, analyses, information, references etc.
    The set of slides will have to be uploaded on Bboard (following the instructions provided) by the specified deadline. Teams will have to use the uploaded set of slides for their final presentation. Teams that fail to upload their set of slides by the deadline will have to present without slides (but they will have to provide the slides to the instructor on the last day of class, otherwise their teamwork will be evaluated on class presentation only).
    NOT all team members have to present the slides in the final class presentation (effective presentations are typically done be 1-3 participants). Presenting in the final session does not count as “individual class participation”.
    Projects: Participants will have the opportunity to work on specific tasks presented by real entrepreneurs. As an alternative, participants may also advance their own business idea. In this latter case, while your first instinct may be a web-based startup, you should consider a subject in which you are an expert for some reason (e.g., hobby, sport, family business etc.). In all cases, you should choose something for which you have passion, enthusiasm, and hopefully some expertise. Teams that select a web-based product (app, website etc.) will have to build a prototype for the class. Not-for-profit projects are perfectly suitable for this course.
    Before selecting the task or business idea you want to work on in this course, please keep in mind that you will be required to actually contact real potential customers, suppliers, partners, providers, influencers etc. Therefore, given the limited length of the course (3 weeks), and your limited knowledge of, and access to, the local environment, you may want to work on business ideas that have as clients: other Bocconi (including Summer School) students; people who live in the neighborhood; people you can easily access through online tools and social media; other people you can easily access, in person or virtually, over the next three weeks.


    (2) Individual business idea. A short individual assignment – posted on Blackboard – will be designed around the development of individual entrepreneurial ideas. Detailed instructions will be provided in class and on the web-learning platform.



    (3) Active class participation. Please, consider that “active” class participation means offering to the class insightful answers, comments, examples, which significantly advance class discussion. Merely attending class and/or providing a large number of irrelevant comments does not count as “active” class participation.

    Teaching materials

    Want to know more? (suggested readings)

    • Blank, S. (2013). The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Quad Graphics.
    • Eisenmann, T., Ries, E., Dillard,S. (2013). Hypothesis-Driven Entrepreneurship: The Lean Startup. Harvard Business School.
    • Keeley, L., Walters, H., Pikkel, R., & Quinn, B. (2013). Ten types of innovation: The discipline of building breakthroughs. John Wiley & Sons.
    • Kuratko, D.F. (2014) Introduction to entrepreneurship. South-Western, CENGAGE Learning, 9th Edition.
    • Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Y., In Clark, T., & Smith, A. (2010). Business model generation: A handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. John Wiley & Sons.
    • Ries, E. (2011) The lean startup. New York: Crown Business


    Credits: The course is modeled in part after Steve Blank’s lean startup approach. Part of the structure and some of the contents of this syllabus are thus drawn from materials available on his website, which is an invaluable source of learning for students interested in this approach (