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Teaching Entrepreneurship Summit – Winter 2021

Teaching Entrepreneurship Summit – Winter 2021

Register Here


Day 1: Dec 14th, 1 – 2:30 pm Eastern

Marketing MVPs: Testing Demand on Social Media

Social media marketing is an incredibly powerful tool for entrepreneurs (and an in-demand skill set for employers).

Whether it’s to test demand for their MVPs, or learn more about how their personal information is used, this exercise will help your students see just how powerful social media marketing is.

Register Here


 

Day 2: Dec 16th, 1 – 2:30 pm Eastern

Making Entrepreneurship Relevant to All Students

With the exercise and techniques we discuss in this class, we’ll show you how to engage all students in entrepreneurship, regardless of their desire to become an entrepreneur, so they can develop their entrepreneurial skills.

If you teach an intro or elective entrepreneurship course, this workshop is for you!

Register Here

Last Call For ExEC This Spring

Last Call For ExEC This Spring

If you’re considering ExEC’s award-winning structured curriculum in Spring …

This is your last call!

We want your prep to be as easy as possible, so we’d like to get you set up by December _____.

Semester Experiential entrepreneurship education schedule

ExEC Engages Students

Whether you are teaching classes in-person, online, or hybrid, there’s a version of the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) that will engage and motivate your students.

For more details on this award-winning curriculum …

Preview ExEC Now

1 Week Left to Adopt ExEC for Spring

1 Week Left to Adopt ExEC for Spring

Spring is just around the corner!

Adopt ExEC today and let us set you up for success by delivering detailed lesson plans and a simplified grading process, and enabling you to deliver award-winning experiential exercises that transform your classroom into a hive of activity from day one.

Engage Your Students This Spring

We’ve been busy updating our curriculum to adapt to your learning environment:

Sample ExEC Syllabus

We’ve got you covered whether you’ll be in-person, online synchronous or asynchronous, or some hybrid model.

ExEC is an engaging and structured curriculum that’s flexible enough for your Fall. To fully engage your students this Spring, request a full preview of ExEC today!

Preview ExEC Now

A Modern Alternative to Textbooks

A Modern Alternative to Textbooks

If there’s one thing we know about textbooks, it’s that . . .

Students dislike them.

Too out of date to be relevant, too boring to be worth reading, and too expensive to be worth buying, textbooks aren’t the best way to teach entrepreneurship skills (or engage students).

To engage a generation of students who have grown up in a digital media environment, what’s needed is a way to . . .

Meet Students Where They Are

Textbooks can’t compete with the dynamic, personalized spaces our students are used to.

Can you blame students for not being motivated to read a “riveting” chapter on entity formation when Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu all have queues of personally recommended shows vying for them to watch (not to mention curated profiles from Instagram, TikTok, and Tinder to check out)?

What if instead of having to use quizzes to compel our students to read bland, out-of-date textbooks, we produced content that was more personalized and engaging than the Netflix’s of the world?

This Spring, we’ll take a step in that direction. Starting in January, your students can have . . .

Personalized entrepreneurship experiences, online.

In a major update to the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), students will be able to personally define and customize their entrepreneurial experiences.

A Student-Led Experience

With the new ExEC experience, students customize the content to suit their interests.

Unlike the “read-only” experience students get with textbooks, with the new ExEC, students literally edit the content based on their interests and business models.

The process starts with . . .

1. Identifying “Their” Customers

One of the most powerful ways to engage students is to make your course more about them than the subject you’re teaching. In other words . . .

What if instead of teaching an entrepreneurship class that may one day help your students pursue their passions, you taught a course on pursuing their passion – that happened to leverage entrepreneurship skills?

You’d cover the same content, but by prioritizing your students’ motivations, you automatically make the content more engaging.

That’s precisely what the new ExEC experience does.

Asking students questions about their interests and skills, and the people they’re most passionate about serving, students literally update their reading material to reflect the customers they’re most excited to serve:

At this early stage of the class, when the #1 goal is to engage students . . .

Who their customers are isn’t as important as how excited they are to serve them.

The students will find out for themselves whether their segment is a part of the business model validation process. Our job right now is to help the students find a set of customers they’re eager to go through the validation process with.

Soon, the students will start interviewing their customers, but in order to do that, they need to discover. . .

2. Where Are Their Customers?

You can’t interview a customer unless you can find them, so ExEC uses interactive prompts to guide students through a process that’s customized for their customer segment.

The results of which are a specific, actionable “channel” to use to find customers to interview:

In preparation for their interviews, students are ready to discover . . .

3. Good (and Bad) Customer Interviewing Questions

Using an interactive card game, students discover the right and wrong questions to ask during their customer interviews:

Customer interviewing script instructions

After completing a round of 5 interviews, students are ready to . . .

4. Analyze Their interviews

As students read through the theory of interview analysis, they plug in responses from their actual conversations with customers to discover how the theory is applied in the real world.

After having a thorough understanding of the problems their customers are trying to solve, students are ready for . . .

5. Solution Ideation

Using design thinking and creative problem-solving techniques, students ideate dozens of ways to resolve the problems they discovered during their customer interviews.

After which they’re ready for . . .

6. Financial Modeling

To understand how to build a profitable solution to the problem they’ve discovered, students use real-world data in ExEC’s Financial Projection Simulator; iterating their business model until they know it’s financially sustainable.

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

All of which contributes to their . . .

7. Business Model Canvas

Capturing all of the hypotheses they’ve validated (and the hypotheses still in need of validation) students edit the ExEC content to reflect their business model throughout the course.

Business Model Canvas

All of which culminates in their . . .

8. Process Pitch

Best of all, while they’ve been updating their content to reflect their experience . . .

Students have simultaneously been developing their end-of-the-term pitch deck!

Every step of their journey – every failed experiment, every validated hypothesis, every business model iteration – is automatically recorded and turned into a “Process Pitch Deck” students can use to present their understanding of the business model validation process and how they applied it.

 

 

More important than the outcome of any single experiment, or grade on any one assignment, is helping students learn an entrepreneurial mindset – a process they can use repeatedly to solve problems of the people they want to serve.

See It In Action

Watch the video to see how even ExEC’s readings are interactive and experiential:

A Better Way to Teach Entrepreneurship

We all know . . .

Textbooks aren’t the best way to teach entrepreneurship.

Personalized, interactive content is what makes Netflix, Instagram, and every other platform our students use so engaging. The same principles work in educational content too.

Request a preview of ExEC today:

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Engaging Students in Spring

Engaging Students in Spring

For those of us fortunate enough to be teaching again in person, it’s been wonderful to be back. Teaching via Zoom just isn’t the same.

That said, between the masks, and general uncertainty, and anxiety, it’s still more challenging to keep students engaged than it was pre-COVID. So as Spring approaches, we wanted to explore . . .

How do we engage our students even more this Spring?

Step 1: Get Relevant on Day #1

Think about the college classes you engaged with most as a student. Which classes had the most positive impact on your life? Which classes had the most positive impact on your career? Which classes do you remember most fondly?

Chances are, those classes all had something in common:

Those classes were personally relevant.

There was something about those classes that resonated with where you were in your life, on a personal level. Whether they tapped into your interests, piqued your curiosity, or aligned with your aspirations, those classes probably weren’t an introduction to a generic subject; those classes were about how that subject impacted you and your future.

Your students are looking for the same thing.

Students want to engage with subjects that are relevant to their lives right now. That’s why in every class there are a few students who automatically engage (i.e., those that see themselves as entrepreneurs) and those that have a harder time engaging (i.e., those that don’t).

And that’s why entrepreneurship can be a hard class to teach. While you and I know entrepreneurship skills will be relevant throughout their career, it’s hard for students to see how entrepreneurship will be relevant today.

That’s why in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), we use exercises like “Pilot your Purpose” to help students discover their passions, and “Fears and Curiosities” where they use those passions to design what they’d like to learn.

The first page of the “Pilot Your Purpose” exercise for ExEC students.

Leveraging these exercises in the first week of class, and strategically revisiting them throughout the course, make entrepreneurship skills personally relevant to students, regardless of their desire to “become an entrepreneur.”

Whether you use a curriculum like ExEC, or your own combination of resources, in order for your class to be as engaging as your most memorable classes, you’ll want your students to see how entrepreneurship is personally relevant to them from day one.

 

Step 2: Get Organized

If you’ve ever tried to increase engagement by incorporating exercises from disparate sources (e.g. journals, conferences, etc.)., you know that’s not the answer.

Activities alone don’t make a class engaging.

Individual exercises can be interesting, but without a cohesive thread linking them together, students check out because it’s not clear how what they’re learning can improve their lives.

Semester Experiential entrepreneurship education schedule

Structuring your course from the beginning with a combination of:

  1. Personally relevant exercises
  2. That cohesively teach a set of
  3. Real-world entrepreneurial skills

Has been the formula we’ve found that keeps students engaged at 120+ colleges and universities:

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Faculty Testimonial

LMS Integration

Since the pandemic began, virtually every element of your course needs to be reflected in your Learning Management System (LMS) so that students know what’s due when, regardless of how they attend class.

To assist our ExEC instructors, we’ve created course shells for all of the major LMSs so it takes less than 5 minutes to get a new course imported.

student engagement in any LMS

Flexible Schedules

And despite our best efforts, scheduling issues inevitably show up. Whether due to holidays, weather events, or COVID outbreaks, you need to make sure your schedule can withstand unexpected disruptions.

For ExEC instructors, we produce a wide range of schedules to accomodate in-person, online, and hybrid classes anywhere from 8 to 15 weeks long:

All of which can be customized to include a combination of award-winning lessons and your own.

not every classsince the pandemic began, virtually every element of your course needs to be reflected in your Learning Management System (LMS).

Fair and Transparent Grading

All that said, no amount of engaging activities and structure will make a difference if students feel like they aren’t be graded fairly.

To that end, structured rubrics go a long way toward making assessment transparent.

For ExEC courses, we produce rubrics for each assignment which makes grading more objective – something both students an instructors appreciate.

student engagement with rubrics & syllabi

This spring, if you want to save time while engaging your students, use “the best entrepreneurship curriculum available” – structured, cohesive, interactive experiences that will engage your students in deep learning.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Student Testimonial

Step 3: Have Fun

Teaching should be enjoyable – for you and your students. In fact . . .

The more fun you have, the more fun your students will have.

For ExEC classes, we try to create environments that buzzes with excitement and energy with games, competitions, and activities that engage students while teaching them real-world skills.

Engage Your Students This Spring

If you haven’t already . . .

Preview ExEC and see if it can help you and your students!

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Even if ExEC isn’t a fit for you, we hope you’re able to:

  1. Make your class relevant from day #1
  2. Get organized
  3. Have fun

This combination should help your students get, and stay engaged, throughout your course.


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share information about our upcoming Winter Summit where we will share some exciting new exercises!

Subscribe here to be the first to grab a “seat” at the Summit.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Teach the Business Model Canvas: Part 3 – Test

Teach the Business Model Canvas: Part 3 – Test

Dr. Alex Osterwalder, one of the creators of the Business Model Canvas (BMC), uses a 3-step process to teach it to students. This article outlines his third step:

How to test a business model canvas.

In the first step of his process, Alex introduces students to the different components of the BMC by having them match the business model hypotheses to the appropriate boxes of the canvas. In the second step, Alex helps students learn to write their hypotheses by asking students to complete partially finished BMCs.

In this third step, Alex helps students learn how to use the Business Model Canvas as a tool to prioritize their business models’ riskiest assumptions so they can design tests to validate them.

Prioritization Exercise

It’s critical to teach this prioritization step because it’s one of the major benefits of teaching the BMC over traditional business plans. Once entrepreneurs have a prioritized list of their riskiest assumptions, they can design experiments to test each of those assumptions in order of their prioritized risk.

To introduce prioritization, Alex presents an example from one of Steve Blank‘s classes that you’re welcome to use as well. Steve’s students were working on a company called Ceres, where they wanted to fly drones over farmland to capture images and generate data to help farmers fight drought, disease, and pests.
To help your students visualize what that means in practical terms, you can show them this video:

Step 1: Technical Hypotheses

Show your students the following BMC for Ceres and ask them to brainstorm what technological challenges have to be addressed for the business model to work.
Ceres drone business model canvas
Your students might share similar thoughts as Steve’s students had, such as:
  • Demonstrate they can build drones
  • Develop software to extract data from images the drones collect
  • Present data to farmers in a way they could use it

As with the previous exercises in this series, we recommend using the Think. Pair. Share. technique where students first reflect on the question individually, then share their thoughts with a partner, and finally, you facilitate a discussion with the entire class. This approach enables a lot more interaction and discussion than immediately starting with a class-wide discussion.

Step 2: Business Hypotheses

Next up, have your students brainstorm the non-technical challenges Ceres will have to tackle for their business model to be successful.

Your students may come up with challenges like:

  • Farmers want data to treat their fields
  • Farmers want to forecast their production
  • Farmers have a budget for our value proposition
  • Farmers are willing to pay for data
  • Farmers struggle with diseases and drought
  • Local water utilities and fertilizer/pesticide producers are interested in partnering

Step 3: Prioritizing Hypotheses

Now ask “which of these hypotheses should Ceres test first?” In other words, when there are so many assumptions about a business model, how do you prioritize which ones to test first?

Ask your students which 3 of the 9 hypotheses listed above would they test first.  This is another great opportunity to utilize the Think. Pair. Share. technique.

After sharing, tell students that when we talk about the riskiest hypothesis of a business model, we say…

The riskiest assumption of a business model is the one that is most likely to kill the business.

With that in mind, it might make sense that the Ceres students chose the following as their riskiest assumptions:
  1. Demonstrate they can build drones
  2. Develop software to extract data from images the drones collect
  3. Present data to farmers in a way they could use it

Ceres business model hypotheses

You could imagine the Ceres students saying, “Without drones and the data they collect, we have no business!” What they and most entrepreneurs don’t realize is, as Alex puts it, “Desirability” hypotheses are almost universally riskier than “Feasibility” hypotheses.

Desirability, feasibility, and viability hypotheses of a business model canvas

It turns out that “Feasibility” hypotheses (i.e., “Can we build it?”) are nowhere near as difficult to validate as “Desirability” hypotheses. That’s because…

A problem without a solution is a matter of time. A solution without a problem is a waste of time.

Put another way, if you find out someone has a problem, there are a myriad of ways you can try and solve that problem. But, if you have a solution to a problem, but no one actually has or cares about solving that problem, the solution is useless and all the time spent building it was wasted.

So Ceres’ riskiest assumption isn’t that they can build a drone; their riskiest assumption is that farmers have problems that can be solved with drones.

Their actual riskiest assumptions all fall under the “Desirability” category:

  1. Farmers struggle with diseases and drought
  2. Farmers are willing to pay for data
  3. Local water utilities and fertilizer/pesticide producers are interested in partnering

Once the desirability and viability hypotheses have been validated, the riskiest assumptions fall within the feasibility category.

To demonstrate this point, tell your students about the…

Step 4: Ceres Case Study Update

What happened, in reality, is that Ceres students started interviewing farmers, and farmers asked:

Why would you build drones to take pictures when we already fly planes over our fields to spray for fertilizers and pesticides?

Farmers told students they could just attach a camera to the planes that are already flying over the fields to capture images. If students had built their drones first and talked to customers second, they would have invested millions of dollars building unnecessary technology.

Instead, because the Ceres team validated their desirability hypotheses before their feasibility hypotheses, they were able to simplify their business model and lower costs for themselves and their customers by eliminating the need for developing drones entirely.

As a result, the Ceres team was able to scale its business model to secure significant funding and recognition for its innovativeness.

The lesson for your students:

Always test desirability before feasibility.

Step 5: Homework

At this point, students have experience with the Business Model Canvas that they’re ready to apply what they’ve learned.

For homework, assign students to fill in the BMC for a venture they’d like to validate, as well as identify the 3 riskiest hypotheses of their business model.


The Business Model Canvas and variations of it (e.g. Lean Canvas, Mission Model Canvas, etc.) are some of the most popular and ubiquitous tools in use. Dr. Alex Osterwalder’s use of matching, fill-in-the-blank, and prioritization exercises is intentional, and helps educators avoid some of the common pitfalls when teaching the BMC, namely: 

  • disengaging learners with lectured-based instruction, 
  • overwhelming learners with insufficient structure, and 
  • not adequately addressing how to use the BMC as a hypothesis prioritization and validation tool

In this 3-article series, we shared the steps Alex uses to teach this important tool for entrepreneurship educators.

  • In the first step, Alex introduces students to the different components of the BMC by having them match the business model hypotheses to the appropriate boxes of the canvas.
  • In the second step, Alex helps students learn to write their hypotheses by asking students to complete partially finished BMCs.
  • In this third step, Alex helps students learn how to use the BMC to prioritize the riskiest assumptions so they can design tests to validate them.

Want More from Dr. Osterwalder?

If you like this exercise, Alex also has two new books that are great resources for the classroom:

Find more about Alex’s work at Strategyzer.com.

Watch Alex Teach

If you’d like to see Alex teach the Business Model Canvas himself, just enter your email below to watch his full workshop on Teaching the BMC:

Get the Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 3 Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 3” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers so share it with another instructor you know.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students and more tips and tricks to improve your evaluations.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Prototyping and Pitching. Storytelling is an important entrepreneurship skill. In this experiential exercise, students learn they must inspire others to take action.
  • Financial Modeling Showdown. If your students get overwhelmed by financial modeling, try this exercise that combines a competitive game with real-world financial modeling tools.
  • Improve Student Evaluations and Outcomes. Journaling can transform your students’ experience in your classroom. And can be a great way to get quality feedback on whether you’re an effective educator.
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 2 – Apply

Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 2 – Apply

Dr. Alex Osterwalder, one of the creators of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) uses a 3-step process to teach it to students. The article outlines his second step:

Fill-in-the-blank exercises to help students develop their own hypotheses.

In the first step of his process, Alex introduces students to the different components of the BMC by having them match the business model hypotheses to the appropriate boxes of the canvas. In this second step, Alex helps students learn to write their hypotheses by asking students to complete partially finished BMCs.

Fill-in-the-Blank BMCs

In this exercise, you’ll give students some of the business model components for well-known companies and ask them to fill in the rest.

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Alex uses fill-in-the-blank exercises intentionally. By providing students with some components of the BMC and asking them to write in the rest, students are able to start practicing using the BMC without the risk of them getting overwhelmed.

He repeats this process several times for different companies, each time providing students fewer components filled in until ultimately, students are completing the canvas entirely on their own.

Like in the first exercise, we recommend using a Think. Pair. Share. model with this lesson to make this activity more interactive and engaging. Details on how to complete all of the above are below.

Step 1: Think

Show students this Dollar Shave Club commercial:

Next, you’ll ask your students to fill in a BMC for the Dollar Shave Club, but you’ll want to give them a couple of hints first. Tell your students that Dollar Shave Club:

  1. Started selling online, with no physical stores
  2. They acquired customers through viral videos
  3. And that these two approaches were novel at the time and instrumental to their success

Give your students this partially filled out BMC for Dollar Shave Club’s business model (link to the worksheets are in the lesson plan below). Give students a few minutes to individually fill in their assumptions for the following boxes:

  • Channel
  • Revenue Streams

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Step 2: Pair

Next, ask students to pair up (or create breakout rooms for virtual students), and compare their answers. If there’s anything they disagree on, ask them to try to discuss and come to a consensus.

Note: this is an important part of the Think. Pair. Share. process. Talking with a peer helps them organize their thoughts better and practice vocalizing them. If your students are reluctant to speak in class, pairing students up like this before asking for a class-wide discussion can help inspire more interaction.

Step 3: Share

Finally, reconvene the class and ask students to share the assumptions they filled in. Progress around the room asking for students’ assumptions for the Channel, Revenue Streams boxes, and discuss any discrepancies or disagreements.

Start filling in the boxes:

  • The first Channel you gave them – online store. The second Channel is viral videos (Youtube).
  • The Revenue Stream is a customized subscription.

Step 4: Second Think-Pair-Share

This is a good opportunity to point out to students that they cannot utilize the channel that provided lots of visibility (YouTube) without incurring significant costs. In the case of Dollar Shave Club, replacing traditional marketing with viral videos requires costly activities & resources. Give students a few minutes to individually fill in their assumptions for the following boxes:

  • Cost Structure
  • Key Activities
  • Key Resources
  • Key Partners

Next, ask students to pair up and compare their answers. If there’s anything they disagree on, ask them to try to discuss and come to a consensus. Finally, reconvene the class and ask students to share the assumptions they filled in. Progress around the room asking for students’ assumptions for the Key Activities, Key Resources, and Cost Structure boxes, and discuss any discrepancies or disagreements.

Start filling in the boxes:

  • Key Activities are viral videos.
  • Key Resources are an e-commerce store and a brand.
  • Costs are for viral videos and marketing.
  • Key Partners are manufacturers and e-commerce platform providers.

Using viral videos is Dollar Shave Club’s way to keep the online store flowing with customers.

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Fill-in-the-Blank Exercise: B2B

For a B2B business model canvas, we suggest using Salesforce. Provide students the following context:

Salesforce was founded with the goal of “making enterprise software as easy to use as a website like amazon.com.” They pioneered the software-as-a-service (Saas) model for customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and was visionary in predicting the potential of online software.

Step 5: Revenue & Relationships

Repeat the Think. Pair. Share. process from above, this time with a partially-completed BMC worksheet (links to worksheets are in the lesson plan below) asking students to fill in the following boxes for Salesforce:

  • Revenue Streams
  • Customer Relationship

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Step 6: Complete the Canvas

Repeating the same process as before, ask students to complete the rest of Salesforce’s BMC:

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Step 7: Design Your Own Canvas

By this point, your students will have completed several BMCs and they’ll be ready to start creating their own. Using the included BMC template in the worksheets (linked in the lesson plan), ask your students to individually start designing the business model for the company they want to create.

Step 8: Get Feedback

After filling in their canvas, ask students to share their business model’s design with one other student in the class and see if that person has any feedback (i.e., did the designer use each of the boxes appropriately?). Then switch roles so both students get a chance to present and get feedback.


Next Exercise: Prioritization

The BMC is great for helping students develop their business model hypotheses, but that’s only half the value of the tool. The other half is…

Using the Business Model Canvas to test your hypotheses.

In our next article, we will outline a lesson plan for Alex uses to demonstrate how the BMC helps entrepreneurs prioritize their business models’ riskiest assumptions.

It’s critical to teach this step because it’s one of the major benefits of teaching the BMC over traditional business plans. Once entrepreneurs have a prioritized list of riskiest assumptions, they can design experiments to test each of those assumptions and validate their business model!


Want More from Dr. Osterwalder?

If you like this exercise, Alex also has two new books that are great resources for the classroom:

Find more about Alex’s work at Strategyzer.com.

Watch Alex Teach

If you’d like to see Alex teach the Business Model Canvas himself, just enter your email below to watch his full workshop on Teaching the BMC:

Get the Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 2 Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 2” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers so share it with another instructor you know.


What’s Next?

In our next post, we will share the last step in the process Dr. Osterwalder uses to teach the business model canvas.

Subscribe here to be the first to get this in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 1. Check out the first post in this series, where we learn Dr. Osterwalder’s process of using matching to help students understand the Business Model Canvas.
  • How to Improve Student Outcomes & Evaluations. Journaling can transform your students’ experience in your classroom. And can be a great way to get quality feedback on whether you’re an effective educator
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 1 – Intro

Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 1 – Intro

When we ran a workshop with Dr. Alex Osterwalder about how he teaches his Business Model Canvas, attendees were so excited about what he was sharing, 98% of them voted to change our schedule on the fly and extend his session from 60 to 90 minutes.

The exercises he was sharing were too engaging to let him stop.

In this article, the first in a 3-part series, we’ll structure Osterwalder’s exercises into easy-to-implement lesson plans you can use with your students.


Exercise #1: Business Model Matching

To introduce students to the 9 components of the BMC, Dr. Osterwalder starts by giving students a set of business model hypotheses and asking them to place each one in the appropriate box of the BMC.

Prepping Before Class

To make the most efficient use of class time, assign students to watch these videos before class:

Then you’ll want to print out the worksheets linked in the lesson plan below. Digital worksheets are also in the lesson plan if you’re teaching remotely.


Step 1: Fill the Boxes

Alex uses Airbnb in his first exercise because:

  1. Students are familiar with Airbnb
  2. As a two-sided marketplace, Airbnb is a great example of how one business model may need to fulfill the needs of multiple customer segments to be successful

Starting with the “Airbnb BMC: Travelers” worksheet, ask students to write each of the provided business model hypotheses in their appropriate boxes:

Copies of this worksheet are available in the lesson plan below.

We recommend each student complete this individually. While students will work in pairs for the next step, to help increase engagement and discussion, we like using Think. Pair. Share. with this type of exercise, which starts by having students work on their own.


Step 2: Pair

Next, ask students to pair up (if necessary, create breakout rooms for virtual students), and compare their answers. If there’s anything they disagree on, ask them to try to discuss and come to a consensus.

Note: this is an important part of the Think. Pair. Share. process. Talking with a peer helps them organize their thoughts better and practice vocalizing them. If your students are reluctant to speak in class, pairing students up like this before asking for a class-wide discussion can help inspire more interaction.


Step 3: Share

Reconvene the class. Go one by one through the boxes and ask a pair to share what they wrote for a particular box. Go through each of the boxes in this order:

  1. Customer Segments
  2. Value Proposition
  3. Channels
  4. Customer Relationship
  5. Revenue Streams
  6. Cost Structure
  7. Key Activities
  8. Key Resources
  9. Key Partners

Ask a new pair to report out what they wrote for each box and then ask the rest of the class if they had anything else different for that box. If student pairs disagree on what should be in a particular box, use that as an opportunity to increase discussion and, before you reveal the correct answer, have your students vote on which answer they think will be right.

Business Model Canvas for Airbnb Travelers

Slides with the correct answers, like the one above, are available in the lesson plan below.


Step 4: Repeat with Airbnb Hosts

Now ask students to fill out the AirBnB BMC: Hosts worksheet using the same Think-Pair-Share technique. 

Take time to explain that many businesses don’t have just one business model as a part of their success. Instead, many businesses, like Airbnb, are a multi-sided market. In this business model, the needs of two parties must be met.

You can highlight the popularity of this business model by pointing out that Uber, Doordash, Amazon all have this multi-sided market where the business has to keep multiple customers happy.

Business Model Canvas for Airbnb Hosts


Summary & Next Steps

Alex prefers simple matching exercises like these as a quick way to introduce the BMC. For more details on how to use it, including worksheets and slides, check out the free lesson plan below.

Next up, Alex provides students with BMCs that are partially filled out and asks students to fill in the rest – which we’ll detail in the next article in this series! We’ll share two more steps in the process Dr. Osterwalder uses to teach the business model canvas:

  • How to use fill in the blank exercises to help students create their own canvases
  • How to use prioritization exercises to teach how to use the BMC to test business model assumptions

Want More from Dr. Osterwalder?

If you like this exercise, Alex also has two new books that are great resources for the classroom:

Find more about Alex’s work at Strategyzer.com.

Watch Alex Teach

If you’d like to see Alex teach the Business Model Canvas himself, just enter your email below to watch his full workshop on Teaching the BMC:

Get the Teaching the Business Model Canvas Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 1” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers so share it with another instructor you know.


Read Part 2 In This Series of Teaching the Business Model Canvas

Check out the second post in this series, focused on using a fill-in-the-blank exercise to help students develop their own hypotheses.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share two more steps in the process Dr. Osterwalder uses to teach the business model canvas.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Improving Your (Inherited) Course. Inheriting an entrepreneurship course presents many challenges. Re-design the course and provide engaging experiences with this curriculum.
  • How to Improve Student Outcomes & Evaluations. Journaling can transform your students’ experience in your classroom. And can be a great way to get quality feedback on whether you’re an effective educator
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
Paper Airplane Storytelling

Paper Airplane Storytelling

Storytelling is an important entrepreneurship skill. Whether pitching to investors, writing marketing copy, or leading teams…

Entrepreneurs must inspire others to take action.

In this exercise, students get to learn the importance of storytelling as they design and build one-of-a-kind paper aircraft and try to convince the rest of the class that their design will fly the best.

This exercise is based on the Kitty Hawk in the Classroom exercise originally published by Reginald Litz and colleagues in the International Review of Entrepreneurship and from the Airplane Contest Exercise published by Bradley George in Teaching Entrepreneurship: A Practice-Based Approach by Heidi Neck, Patricia Greene, and Candida Brush.

Overview

In this exercise students teams complete to see who can build, and pitch, the best performing paper airplane. Specifically, students will:

  1. Form teams
  2. Build the best paper airplanes they can
  3. Pitch their planes’ designs
  4. Votes on which team’s planes they think will perform the best
  5. Fly the planes
  6. Tally the scores for best planes and best pitches
  7. Reflective Discussion: What mattered more, the planes or the pitches?

Learning Objectives

  • Pitches are as important as the product. Students learn that they can create the greatest products in the world, but it won’t do any good unless people know about them. In this exercise, the same points are available for great pitches as there are for great planes, but students inevitably spend more time perfecting their planes than their pitches.
  • Pitches are prototypes too. Students will experiment with different plane designs throughout the exercise, but they’ll often neglect to iterate their pitch. Whether speaking to customers, investors, or team members, entrepreneurs should treat pitches like products – they need to be practiced, iterated, and improved upon to produce the best results.

Run this Exercise When…

…your students are just about to do their final pitch session of the class or in preparation for a pitch competition. Doing so will emphasize that your students should put more time energy into practicing and improve their pitches.

Want to try it?

Details are below.


Materials List

Provide students with the following supplies:

  • Paper for their aircraft – if you want to add an additional element of creativity to the exercise, you can provide a variety of colors, paper sizes and paper weights, i.e., notecards, card stock, paper plates, etc.
  • One dollar in your country’s coins for each group (provide a variety if possible)
  • Scotch tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Staples (and staplers)
  • Binder clips
  • Paper clips

Step 1: Identify a Leader

With students assembled in groups of 4-5, instruct each group to select a leader. Project the following image and tell them they have 2 minutes to identify a leader:

Step 2: The Task

Print out the following instructions and provide one copy to each group.

NOTE: Do not go over the instructions, and do not answer any clarifying questions students have. Answer any question with “You have your instructions.”

You are to design and create a paper aircraft capable of keeping one dollar of coins (or other local currency) aloft for as long (time) as possible while simultaneously transporting the coins as far (distance) as possible. The assignment is as follows:

  • Your final aircraft design must use the same number of pieces of paper as the number of people in your group (for example, a group of four must create an aircraft that uses four pieces of paper in its design)
  • Your plane must be designed to transport one U.S. dollar of coinage (or other local currency). You may choose the number and denomination of coins used; your only constant is that their total value must be exactly one dollar. 
  • You may not simply crumble paper into a ball; you must design an aerodynamically sensitive aircraft-based design, not a projectile
  • The only permissible additions are tape, paper clips, staples, rubber bands, and binder clips.
  • Your aircraft must leave the thrower’s hand and move 100% under its own power during the entire flight without touching another person
  • You will have two minutes to pitch your design to your classmates and convince them that your design will fly the furthest (distance) and will stay aloft the longest (time).
  • Your group’s performance is based on your aircraft’s performance (time and distance) and the number of votes your design gets from your classmates in each category (time and distance).

Step 3: The Exercise

Begin by explaining the voting rules. Each group is allowed one vote for only one team (not their own) on each dimension (time aloft and distance flown). Students can vote for different aircraft for each dimension.

Give students time to design their aircraft – roughly 10-15 minutes. Allow enough time for each group to pitch their aircraft for 1-2 minutes, for about 10 minutes for each group to fly their aircraft, and for about 15-20 minutes of debriefing).

Students will want to ask lots of questions, including where they will be throwing the aircraft, what you’re expecting in the pitch, the order of pitching, etc. Do not answer any questions – let the students know that you have provided all the instructions already and that they should get to work.

The Pitches and Voting

Have each team pitch their aircraft for 2 minutes max. Record each group’s vote on a chart on the board for the aircraft they think will perform best in each dimension (time and distance). Remind students that they cannot vote for their own design. 

The Flight

Take students to a predetermined location. This can be anywhere (we recommend somewhere close to your classroom to limit time on this step) – outdoors, a hallway, a gymnasium, in the classroom, etc. Each team gets one throw. Have a line delineated somehow that the thrower cannot cross, and record the time each aircraft stays aloft on a stopwatch. Have one or two trustworthy students mark and record where each aircraft first touches the ground.

The Results

Record the actual performance on the chart on the classroom board.

  • 1 point if the group voted for the aircraft that flew the furthest distance
  • 1 point if the group voted for the aircraft that stayed aloft the longest (time)
  • Rank aircraft based on distance flown (furthest distance gets the highest number)
  • Rank aircraft based on time aloft (longest time aloft gets the highest number)

The highest score wins. Let students know that nobody will lose points, that you added that element to increase the perceived risk and the intensity of the exercise. Reward each winning group member extra credit, and reward the winning group leader additional extra credit.

Debrief

There are several ways to debrief this activity, but one of the most powerful ones is for students to compare how they approached the iteration of their planes versus the iteration of their pitches.

Some interesting questions to reflect with students are:

  • How many points were available for the best performing product? How does that compare to the number of points available for the best pitch?
  • How many times do you think you tested and tweaked your plane’s designed? How does that compare to how the number of times you tested and tweaked your pitch?
  • If you wanted to test and iterate your pitch more, how could you have done it?
  • What was compelling about the pitches?
  • How did your group decide to vote? How important was the aircraft itself, and how important was the pitcher’s confidence and way of presenting the aircraft?
  • Why do you think others did or did not vote for your design?
  • How would you change your pitch if you had a chance to present your design again?
  • If your plane represents your product, and your pitch represents the way you market your product, communicate with your customers, talk with investors and collaborate with your teammates, how can you apply what you learned today to entrepreneurship at large?

As mentioned previously, students will often spend far more time on building their product than they will honing the stories they tell about it, which negatively affects their performance in this exercise as it does in the real world.

Other great debriefing questions include:

  • How did you view the coins? Did you see it as a negative constraint, or an opportunity to improve performance? Why?
  • How did you view the optional supplies? Did you see them as a negative constraint, or an opportunity to improve performance? Why?
  • How did you decide who your “thrower” would be.

These are great discussion questions because they offer a chance to talk about how successful entrepreneurs turn seemingly negative constraints into opportunities. Additionally, most teams will not experiment with different team members as the thrower. Instead, most tend to identify a student who is “good at throwing”, such as a baseball or softball player. This is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of prototyping everything related to execution.


Get the Paper Airplane Storytelling Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Paper Airplane Storytelling” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students and more tips and tricks to improve your evaluations.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Improving Your (Inherited) Course. Inheriting an entrepreneurship course presents many challenges. Re-design the course and provide engaging experiences with this curriculum.
  • How to Improve Student Outcomes & Evaluations. Journaling can transform your students’ experience in your classroom. And can be a great way to get quality feedback on whether you’re an effective educator
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
Financial Modeling Showdown: A Game to Teach the Basics of Entrepreneurial Finance

Financial Modeling Showdown: A Game to Teach the Basics of Entrepreneurial Finance

If your students get bored (or anxious) when you start talking about finance, you know what’s waiting for you:

Disappointing and unrealistic financial projections.

Financial modeling is incredibly difficult to teach in an engaging way.  That’s why, in addition to our Financial Projection Simulator, we’ve developed a new game to play with your students that makes finance fun and memorable:

The game works in two phases:

  1. Theory: Introduce a lightly competitive game that teaches students the core elements of a robust financial model
  2. Practice: Using the same concepts they learned in the game, students create a financial spreadsheet for their own business model

Check out this quick demo / summary video of the Financial Modeling Showdown:


STEP 1: CREATE TEAMS

The first step in the Financial Modeling Showdown is to divide your class into two teams. Before revealing what choices students have for their teams, you’ll want to make big deal out of the fact that these two teams are mortal enemies and “disagree on just about everything” with the implication that the teams may be political in nature or represent major cultural differences.

Then you’ll tell your students to pick which team they morally align with most:

  • Team Pineapple: People who believe pineapple is a perfectly reasonable pizza topping
  • Team No Pineapple: People who believe pineapple has no business on pizza

Tell your students you’re going to play a game to determine if pizza topping preference is a predictor of entrepreneurial success.

This lighthearted way to create teams is quick, evenly distributes students, and sets a fun tone which is especially helpful for financial modeling exercises.


STEP 2: OPTIMIZE PROFITS

Tell your students they can put their pizza toppings preferences aside for now because they are all now inventors of a new product:

They’ve created a solar-powered cell phone charging case and their goal is to bring it to market in a way that will result in the most profitable financial model possible.

Students will then answer financial questions about their new product via a Google Forms survey (e.g. “How much will you charge for your product?”, “What do you want your salary to be?”, etc.).


STEP 3: THE WINNER IS…

As your students answer the financial questions, behind the scenes, the survey is automatically averaging the responses by team.

That means, as an instructor you’ll get a report that says (for example) on average:

  • Team Pineapple members want to charge $29.42
  • Team No Pineapple members want to charge $42.10

…and this is where the competition begins!

“It looks like Team No-Pineapple wants to charge more for their product. Of course, the more you charge, the more revenue you can make, so I’d say say they’re winning at this point. Next, let’s explore what effect conversion rates have on revenue, and we’ll see if Team No-Pineapple is still ahead.”

And just like that, you’re using financial vocabulary in a way that keeps students engaged because you’re using simple examples and leveraging a competitive game mechanic.

You’ll go through each of the major elements of a financial model this way, covering topics like:

  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Customer Acquisition Costs
  • Salary, Taxes, and Benefits
  • Real Estate Costs
  • Unit economics
  • Etc.

And at the end, you’ll get to declare a “Winner.”

Or rather, you’ll get to demonstrate to students how hard entrepreneurship is to win. While one team will technical “do better” than their other team, it’s most likely that neither team will be profitable:

The game ends this way because we want to show students that:

Designing a financially sustainable business model takes iteration and experimentation.

Like everything in a business model, our initial assumptions are often wrong…and that’s why we do financial modeling!

Financial modeling is a tool to help them understand what assumptions they’re making about their business model that might set them up for failure.

If they begin modeling the finances for their own company, they’ll be able to see if they’re on the path to riches, or the path to ruin.

And this is the perfect segue for students to…


STEP 4: BUILD THEIR OWN MODELS

To apply the principles they learned playing the game, each student gets their own spreadsheet to model their business’s finances:

The results are financial models that are more realistic because students actually understand the concepts they’re based upon.


TRY IT THIS SEMESTER

If your students get overwhelmed by financial modeling, this exercise will help. Combining a competitive game with real-world financial modeling tools, students learn the core elements of a financial model in a way that keeps them engaged and results in realistic financial projections.

Get the Financial Modeling Showdown Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Financial Modeling Showdown” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

 

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share exercises shared with our TeachingEntrepreneurship.org community by Business Model Canvas creator Dr. Alexander Osterwalder!

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Improving Your (Inherited) Course. Inheriting an entrepreneurship course presents many challenges. Re-design the course and provide engaging experiences with this curriculum.
  • How to Improve Student Outcomes & Evaluations. Journaling can transform your students’ experience in your classroom. And can be a great way to get quality feedback on whether you’re an effective educator
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.