Course 2019-2020 a.y.


Department of Management and Technology

Course taught in English
CLMG (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - M (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - IM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - MM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - AFC (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - CLELI (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - ACME (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - DES-ESS (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - EMIT (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - GIO (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - DSBA (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - PPA (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - FIN (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:


Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Suggested background knowledge

Students attending this course should be familiar with basic business management concepts, in particular with Strategy notions of Value Capture, Differentiation, Market Positioning and Competitive Advantage, and with basic notions of financial analysis and projections (such cash flow and break-even point analysis).

Mission & Content Summary


Entrepreneurial start-up activity is about discovering a profitable market and develop a business model to exploit this market opportunity. The process is highly uncertain; entrepreneurs need to apply some methods for successfully managing this discovery process. This course examines the key aspects of the process of starting up a new business, from the business idea generation to the design of a business model. The course looks at the various activities related to business planning, with a focus on the ambiguity and uncertainty of the market discovery process. The course explores how entrepreneurs can manage this uncertainty and transform it into calculated risk by articulating their vision about the business opportunity, identifying key underlying assumptions, and collecting early evidence to validate these assumptions. This allows to how the distinct business planning activities relate to each other, and how do they create value for the customer, and ultimately for the business’s entrepreneurs and investors.


  • Identification of the entrepreneurial opportunity (from the idea to the business concept).
  • Market, customers and competitors analysis.
  • Business model design principles.
  • Customer creation.
  • Identification and test of key assumptions underlying the business model.
  • Strategic positioning and go-to-market strategy.
  • Financial projections (customer acquisition cost; customer lifetime value).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Understand the start-up and business planning process, and its practical utility. 
  • Identify and explain how a particular innovation can create value for a target customer.
  • Identify the trade-offs that entrepreneurs face in designing a business model, as well as in the choice of positioning strategically their business in the market.  
  • Explain the relationship between the different business model activities, and how they relate to value creation and value capture for the business venture.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Perform a business opportunity analysis based on the potential market value.
  • Identify and profile a clear target market for the business – i.e., early adopters; and the customer journey.  
  • Choose and apply the appropriate tools to design experiments for testing the business model’s assumptions.
  • Interpret the evidence from the tests to validate the key assumptions or reformulate them while designing the business model.
  • Work in team, interact in a constructive way, and think critically.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)
  • Participation in external competitions


The learning experience of this course includes, in addition to face-to-face lectures, working in team and interacting (outside the classroom) with prospective customers.

  • As a team, students conduct surveys, experiments, talk to prospective customers/partners/competitors, deliver (for scheduled sessions) presentations about the individual parts of the business model, and discuss the tests and results the team has come up with for validating the underlying assumptions of the business model.
  • Guest speakers and stylized cases are proposed to students to offer and discuss the issues of the entrepreneurial process in applied, real cases.
  • Moreover, students are offered the opportunity to work on real startup projects and interact with their entrepreneurs.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • Peer evaluation


With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the students’ assessment is based on two main components: 

  1. Teamwork outcome (60% of the final grade), which includes group assignments and presentations, final elevator pitch presentation and final business plan document, aimed to test the students’ ability to work in team, and deliver a project’s result. 
  2. Peer evaluation (40% of the final grade), aimed to assess the student individual contribution to the team’s output. Each student is asked to rate the contribution of each of the team members by confidentially assigning a score from 0 to 30 to each group member, with a minimum difference of 2. 


Students’ assessment is based on a written exam. The exam consists of 5 open questions on the key aspects of the start-up and business planning process. 

Teaching materials


The main course material, for both attending and non-attending students, is: 

  • S. BLANK, B. DORF, The Startup Owner’s Manual. K&S Ranch Publishing, 2012. 
  • A. OSTERWALDER, Y. PIGNEUR, Business Model Generation. Wiley & Sons, 2010.
  • J.W. MULLINS, The new business road test. What entrepreneurs and executives should do before writing a business plan, Prentice Hall - Financial Times, 2006.
  • The slides of the course, and additional readings are uploaded to the Bboard platform of the course.
Last change 15/06/2019 09:22