Teaching Entrepreneurship in “Chilecon Valley”

Teaching in Chile
I’ve spent the last week in Santiago, a guest of Professor Cristóbal García at the Catholic University of Chile as part of Stanford’s Engineering Technology Venture Program.

Valaparaiso houses

Entrepreneurship and innovation in what I call “Chilecon Valley” is being talked about continually here.  In my next post I’ll share a longer description of my impressions.  But to give you a sense of how fast they are moving, it’s only been a week since I posted the syllabus for our new Stanford entrepreneurship class Engr245 (The Lean Launchpad.) This week the class has been adopted in the Computer Science department of the Catholic University of Chile. (Thanks to Professors Professor Felix Halcartegaray Vergara and Rosa Alarcon who will be teaching the class.)

Here’s the course announcement from Professor Halcartegaray (in English):

Customer Development Course in Chile – Lean Launchpad
Next semester on the Department of Computer Science of the Catholic University of Chile professor Rosa Alarcón (@ruyalarcon) and I (@felixcl) will be teaching a course based on the Customer Development Model developed by Steve Blank. The objective of this course is that groups of students finish with a completed software product that has real customers and an identified market. The idea of this course started on a trip to Stanford University during March 2010, where we realized that many of the great innovations in Silicon Valley are born from Computer Science students, so we said “We should give our computer science students an opportunity to develop a company”. Then we saw the great alignment between the Customer Development Model and the Agile software development methodologies so we decided to create the course IIC3515 “Workshop of Entrepreneurship with Software” that applies both models to develop real software products with customers from the startup ideas of the students.

A few weeks ago, it was great to see that professor Steve Blank was developing a very similar course in Stanford called ”The Lean Launchpad” (Engr245) that combines the customer development model with agile development with the business model canvas, and therefore we convinced ourserlves that we where not so crazy with this course, or at least we are as crazy as they are. The syllabus for the Stanford course can be seen here. This course brings to life in a very interesting way the idea we had with professor Rosa Alarcón, and it starts on January 2011 so when Steve Blank was visiting Chile this week, we told him about our course,  and he offered all his help and experience to help us, and so we are very grateful to him. Therefore we will leverage the experience in Stanford giving the course on January and February to have a very interesting proposal to our students on March when we start. The syllabus for our course (in Spanish) is here: Programa de curso IIC3515. In this blog post I will add more information about the development of this course when I have it. We are very excited on this project, and we think it will have an important impact on our university and our students so thank you very much Steve for making this happen.

The goal of course IIC3515 is that students get together in teams (probably of 4) and develop their business idea during the semester, developing the software that represents it. Unlike other courses on entrepreneurship, this one is NOT about developing a Business Plan (in fact, the idea is that they write little and spend the time programming and getting out of the building to talk to customers.)  The students must develop their initial hypothesis of who their customers are and what is their products (using the Business Model Canvas) , and then get out to test this Hypothesis and pivot as they start knowing their customers and “getting smarter about them”.

With this methodology, once they finish the course they will have very important tools to continue developing their startup, and they will also have a product that they will feel confident about that there are customers that want to buy it, unlike what usually happens when the development of the product is completed and then you go out to the market to see if any customer wants it. In this case,  the customer will be considered since the first moment, and this results in a much more controlled market risk for the venture. The idea is also to have investors on the final stages of the course, and have mentors for the students that have real world experience in startups to support the students with their projects.

We look forward to your comments and suggestions! Any updates on this course in english will have the tag “Lean Launchpad course” to make it easier to search.

Here’s the course announcement in Spanish
Listen to the post here: Download the Podcast here

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