Exercise: 60 Minute MVP

Exercise: 60 Minute MVP

Imagine looking out at your classroom, and every student is talking and typing furiously. It’s noisy. Students are learning together and teaching each other.

There’s a buzz of nervousness and excitement!

Exercise: Students launch landing pages in < 60 Minutes

This is by far, one of Justin and my favorite in-class experiences because “60 Minute MVP” is engaging, fun, and fully-immersive, while teaching critical aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset.

Your students are going to build, and launch, an MVP in 60 minutes…with no technical expertise!

In fact, during this hour, your students will build…

A Landing Page

A simple website that describes the problem they’re solving to the customers they want to serve.

Your students will create landing pages like this

An Explainer Video

A quick video that hints how their solution will solve the problem.

And a Currency Test…

…to validate demand for their product!

Your students will learn how to use a service called Celery to take pre-orders for their products to demonstrate real demand, without them actually having to charge money/store credit card information/etc.

For example:

currency testing sample

And they’ll do it all, in an hour.

What are Landing Page MVPs?

Over the course of an hour, your students will create a landing page (a simple, single-page website) that:

  1. Tells their customers the problem their team is solving,
  2. Uses a video to demonstrate how the team will solve the problem and
  3. Asks for some form of “currency” from their customers to validate demand.

You can incorporate this exercise into one class period in your syllabus; push your students to complete every step within an hour. They can tweak things later, the important thing is that they don’t spend a ton of time trying to get everything perfect the first time around. As they will find later on, doing that for every experiment wastes a lot of time.

It’s important to note, for this exercise:

They’ll Learn More in 60 Minutes

…than they will in 6 hours of lectures:

  1. The true meaning of MVP. They will learn exactly how “minimum” a minimum viable product should be. MVP doesn’t mean “beta” – it means making the least amount of investment possible, to test a business model’s riskiest assumption.
  2. How much they can accomplish when they work as a team. By dividing and conquering, your students will be astounded at how much they can collectively accomplish in one hour.
  3. How many great, free tools exist for entrepreneurs. The internet is a crowded place, so we want to show them that there are free tools out there to help them develop skills they don’t yet possess.
  4. The upside of deadlines. Our students don’t usually work under tight deadlines, but they will soon! We want to show them how tight deadlines push them to get everything done and give them a positive experience executing under tight deadlines.
  5. It is easier to launch a product than they thought. Most of our students are overwhelmed at the idea of launching a product because their assumptions are wrong. We want to correct those assumptions so they believe in their ability to launch.
  6. That the easiest thing about building a business is launching the product. In a future post, we will explain that the most difficult part of launching is actually the testing and validation. Getting something into the world is quite easy, which your students will understand after this experience.

Most importantly, they will learn…

When it comes to MVPs, done is better than perfect.

Your Job in the Class

You have an important role during this exercise. While we’ve documented all of the instructions your students need to follow (see the lesson plan for details), you’ll need to be the chief cheerleader, time-keeper, and discussion leader.

Here’s what that entails:

  1. Give your students the instructional videos. We’ve recorded step-by-step videos for your student teams to follow when creating their MVPs. Links to the videos and instructions are provided in the lesson plan below.
  2. Play music. Ask them what music gets them pumped, and then play that. Create an energetic, intense, exciting environment for the students.
  3. Keep shouting how little time they have left. Create a sense of urgency; don’t write time on the board. Don’t announce it in your normal tone. Shout it, wave your hands; stress how important it is that something gets launched, even if it’s not the perfect something. It is likely your students will want to focus on minor technical or design details. Because the goal is to execute in 60 minutes, you need to refocus your students on that goal and steer them away from their inclination toward perfection. Remind them that:

“Done is better than perfect.”

  1. Celebrate the hell out of each MVP as it launches. Show each team’s MVP on the screen, and congratulate them on the incredible things they accomplished in 60 minutes.
  2. Host a discussion with your students about what it was like to build an MVP in 60 minutes. You’ll find your students reflect most, if not all, of the learning objectives listed above.

Note: when they step out of their comfort zone, they’ll get the most out of this exercise.

Full Class Engagement

If you’re looking for an immersive exercise that activates your class, complete with a chaotic, noisy, high-pressure environment, that teaches real entrepreneurial principles, give “60 Minute MVP” a shot.

Justin and I both love it. We think you, and your students, will will too 🙂

Complete details, including all the instructions for you, and videos for your students are in the lesson plan below.

Get the “60 Minute MVP” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “60 Minute MVP” exercise 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.

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share a companion exercise to the “60 Minute MVP” exercise. This will help students understand why it is critical to engage customers prior to launching!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and exercises via email!

Winter Summit Invite

Winter Summit Invite

Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit
Last summer we had a blast launching our new “Pilot Your Purpose” and “Skills Scavenger Hunt” exercises and sharing best practices with 1,350+ entrepreneurship teachers like you at the 
 
 
Entrepreneurship Educators Attending the Teaching Entrepreneurship Summit
In fact, we had such a good time…

We’re doing it again…with more new exercises!

Join us at the Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit for two interactive days of workshops and exercises.

REGISTER NOW!

Dec. 9th
How to Build an App
(without writing code)

So many of our students want to launch apps but don’t think they have the skills. On Dec. 9th, that will change.

Join us to learn how your students can create their own apps, by creating one yourself, without writing a single line of code!

Plus, meet and share best practices for prototyping and MVPs with other entrepreneurship instructors from around the world.

Dec. 16th
Entrepreneurial Plinko:

Why Business Plans Don’t Work

This new game will teach your students why business plans are falling out of favor and being replaced by:

  • Business Models
  • Customer Interviews
  • Design Thinking and
  • MVPs

Combining Plinko with Tinder, this game will demonstrate why we don’t emphasize business plans anymore while getting students excited about running business model experiments instead!

Join us at the Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit to:

  • Play the game
  • Get access for your students
  • Get a lesson plan on how to use it!

Early Bird Tickets Available!

REGISTER NOW!

We know budgets are tight right now so we’re offering a new “Live Access Only” ticket free of charge.

Or if you’d like to have recordings and slides from the Summit:

Register before Dec. 2nd for $100 off the Full Access ticket.

REGISTER NOW!


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:

  • Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement. Zoom fatigue is ruining student engagement in online classes. Use Slido to inject energy and interaction into your online classes.
  • Less Time = More Engagement. Teaching entrepreneurship online to engage students is hard. Use the “best entrepreneurship curriculum available” to WOW! your students this Spring and spend less time preparing and more time engaging.
  • Gamify Your Online Class. Don’t lecture at your students. Invite them into a game to learn the material. If you gamify your online class sessions, your students engage and perform!
  • Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus. This online entrepreneurship syllabus is an innovative online experience that is asynchronous with multiple touchpoints, skills-based, and experiential.

Want More Engaged Students?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system
Preview ExEC Now

 

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.

3 (Easier) Ways to Combine Your Camera and Slides

3 (Easier) Ways to Combine Your Camera and Slides

Our previous article on how to combine your slides and webcam to engage students was a hit because…

Combine slides and camera to engage students

Only trouble was, it was a little complicated to get this technique working. Fortunately, new tools have come along, and now…

It’s much easier to integrate your webcam in your slides!

Easiest Solution if you Use Zoom

In Zoom, your presentation can now be your virtual background!

Combine slides and camera to engage entrepreneurship students

This setup puts you directly on top of your slides, so you can interact with your slides as you’re leading your students through them.

What It Looks Like

How to Do It

For the step-by-step instructions, read this article from Zoom.

Caveats

While this is a wonderfully simple solution, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • It’s beta functionality, meaning Zoom is actively working on it. There might be rough edges to the experience for a few more months.
  • For the best effect, your computer needs to be able to support Zoom’s virtual backgrounds
  • It doesn’t support animations in your slides. If you have animations you want to keep, there’s a tool called PPspliT that may help you split each of your animations into separate static slides.

Easiest Solution if You Use a Mac

If Zoom’s slide virtual backgrounds won’t do the trick for you and you’re on a Mac, the next easiest option is to use the new mmhmm app.

Similar to the solution for Zoom users outlined above, mmhmm allows you to show content “over your shoulder” and dive into an immersive full-screen presentation. Like the Zoom setup above, this experience engages your students in an interactive experience.

Mmhmm integrates with Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet, and a few others.

Recent updates now allow for full compatibility with any video app that allows screen sharing!

Setting Up mmhmm

Step 1: Open the app

Step 2: If you use a green screen, click the Camera button in the top right corner, and click the I have a green screen box. If you don’t have a green screen, use the Presenter sidebar and experiment with the SilhouetteRound and Portrait mask tools to frame yourself. With mmhmm, you can use the resizer to shrink and grow yourself and your images to direct your viewers’ attention exactly where you want it to be.

Step 3: Click the Rooms sidebar to choose your background image. You can choose from the always-growing variety included, or you can upload your own image or video to use as a background.

Step 4: Add your slides in the Slide Tray at the bottom of the mmhmm screen. 

Step 5: Once you have your slides and camera set up, share your screen in your respective platform (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) and choose the mmhmm tab to present your interactive, engaging presentation. With new features shipping all the time, mmhmm continues to offer ways to WOW! your students. For instance, they recently released the Copilot feature, so now two people can work together on the same presentation.

As with the Zoom solution outlined earlier, mmhmm is not a perfect solution. This app is currently in beta functionality, meaning mmhmm is actively working on it so there might be bugs and some rough edges to the experience.

Additionally, this app is only for Mac users – while they promise a Windows version is on the way soon, it does not currently exist.

Easiest Universal Solution

While a little more involved, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is the original and most powerful way to combine your slides and webcam.

OBS works on Windows and Mac, and with virtually all web conference software tools. 

Combine slides and camera to engage students

Fortunately, the process of using OBS to achieve this effect has been greatly simplified.

Click here for our easier instructions for using OBS to create engaging presentations.

See It In Action

We hope you give this technique a shot – it helps students stay engaged and it’s a more fun way to lecture.

To see a recorded online session that uses these techniques to combine webcam and slides, add your 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:

  • Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement. Zoom fatigue is ruining student engagement in online classes. Use Slido to inject energy and interaction into your online classes.
  • Less Time = More Engagement. Teaching entrepreneurship online to engage students is hard. Use the “best entrepreneurship curriculum available” to WOW! your students this Spring and spend less time preparing and more time engaging.
  • Gamify Your Online Class. Don’t lecture at your students. Invite them into a game to learn the material. If you gamify your online class sessions, your students engage and perform!
  • Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus. This online entrepreneurship syllabus is an innovative online experience that is asynchronous with multiple touchpoints, skills-based, and experiential.

Want More Engaged Students?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system
Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.

How to Combine Your Slides and Webcam

How to Combine Your Slides and Webcam

If you’re wondering whether your students are paying attention during your online lectures…they’re not.

“I’m waking up and then falling asleep again in Zoom classes.” – Xavier University Student

To be clear, this isn’t your fault or your students’ fault. The way screen sharing works on video conference platforms (where students see your slides fullscreen but only a tiny thumbnail of your webcam) means it’s near impossible for anyone to pay attention during a slide-based online lecture.

combine powerpoint webcam camera zoom teams obs meet
You can recreate this effect for your live (and recorded) lectures.

But you can easily change that. Using free, open source software, you can do what news and TV shows have done for decades:

Show facts and faces side-by-side.

When students can see your face, they can read your non-verbal cues to see how passionate you are and how important a subject is. Combine that with the fact that human faces are naturally engaging, and you can start lecturing online in a way that’s not only more interesting to your students, but more fun for you – at least it has been for me :).

For everything you need to combine your slides and webcam, open the free instructions below.


 

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and exercises via email!




Less Time = More Engagement

Less Time = More Engagement

Teaching online is harder:

  • Your students (and you!) get Zoom fatigue
  • Hybrid teaching provides extra challenges
  • Students start to disengage

…and the whole thing takes more of your time to manage.

This spring, if you want to save time while engaging your students online, use “the best entrepreneurship curriculum available” – 15 weeks of structured, cohesive, interactive lessons that will engage your students.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online To Engage Students

Increase Student Engagement

ExEC is an experience, for both our professors and students. Instead of you having to talk at students, the exercises invite your students to learn by doing, so they engage themselves. For example, you can…

Engage Students in Ideation

In many entrepreneurship courses, students brainstorm ideas to work on based on a Bug List or some other sort of brainstorming exercise. These exercises don’t take advantage of students’ passions and can fail to engage them.

Ideation in ExEC starts with brainstorming their ideal customers. Your students start by understanding the emotional needs of people they are attached to (i.e. people they are passionate about helping). Those needs become the foundation of their business ideas, ensuring students are motivated throughout your course.

Example Idea Generation
Idea Generation Worksheet

We know customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to problems – and right now people’s problems have changed dramatically. The idea generation exercises within ExEC will your students how to identify new opportunities they’re excited about that are inspired by real-world problems.

Engage in Interviews Done Right

Entrepreneurship students must learn how to effectively talk to customers to discover and validate their problems. ExEC uses a three-step experiential process to engage students in this skill. First, students play a competitive game to learn what questions they should and should not ask.

Learn to Interview Customers

When you run this exercise, your students will be immersed as they eagerly sort cards into different piles and compete with one another using their phones to see who can correctly answer the most questions, the fastest.

The second step is for students to practice their interview skills with their classmates. ExEC provides students with a robust interview script, which they’ll practice multiple times with their peers so they can feel more comfortable for step #3 – interviewing real customers.

Engage Students in Customer Interviewing with a Customer Interviewing Script

Finally, for the third step, your students will students interview customers the right way, at which point…

The learning becomes real!

Give your students a structured framework to conduct their interviews increases their confidence and, as a result, ensures they don’t disengage when you ask them to step out of their comfort zone.

Make Hybrid Easier

For better or worse, hybrid teaching is the new normal. When you teach online or hybrid, with proper planning you can replicate the engagement of all the experiences you’d do in-person.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online To Engage Students

When we designed the online version of ExEC, we conducted considerable research on the best resources to increase online engagement.

We built each class session, each activity, each homework assignment to bring our award-winning engagement into an online environment. With ExEC, you engage students through elements like:

  • Virtual Post-It note exercises with all students simultaneously
  • Class-wide discussions including everyone
  • Small-group breakouts

Using a structured set of lessons like the ones in ExEC enables you to have modular exercises you can integrate into your online or hybrid course to ensure your class is engaging.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online Professor Testimonial

Plus ExEC offers fully online and hybrid course packages for you on:

  • Canvas
  • Brightspace / D2L
  • Moodle
  • Blackboard

With the right curriculum and enough time to prepare, online learning can be better than in-person.

We will make your hybrid teaching easier.

If you’re teaching entrepreneurship online, you can have an engaging class without reinventing the wheel.Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Keep Students Motivated

Students spend hours each day on Zoom listening to professors lecturing them. Then they spend hours each night on a computer completing homework and in group meetings. Zoom fatigue is a huge impediment to student engagement – our students have to make more emotional effort to appear interested, and the intense focus on sustained eye contact is exhausting.

Learning on Zoom isn’t fun. It isn’t exciting. Unless you can engage students with something like ExEC!

Engage Students with ExEC Exercises

ExEC launches on day one with a super-engaging exercise called “Fear, Curiosity, and Toothbrushes”. Students interactively share their fears and curiosities about life after graduation. Professors map this information onto the syllabus to show students how the class will benefit them personally, in areas that matter to them.

The second part of this kickoff class is about normalizing failure, using the Toothbrush Design Challenge, which won the 2019 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Exercises Competition at the USASBE Annual Conference. Helping your students recognize the value of failed experiments now, early in the course, will help them make the most of the learning opportunities to follow immediately after this lesson.

The rest of the semester proceeds through a variety of high-energy experiences like the 60-Minute MVP, which one professor described as:

“. . . like a Navy Seal mental training exercise. Not sure it was that intense, but they were amazed and proud that they got it done.”

ExEC attacks topics students struggle with like finances with fun, game-like experiences like our Financial Projection Simulator.

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

From the first class session to the last class session, we keep you and your students excited and motivated

Make Spring Better

Spring can be more engaging and less stressful for your students. With a cohesive set of experiential:

  • Lesson plans
  • Sample slides
  • Student exercises
  • Rubrics
  • LMS templates

ExEC enables you to deliver an experience your students will never forget!

Best Entrepreneurship Curriculum available

Preview ExEC Now 

 

Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement

Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement

If Zoom fatigue is lowering enthusiasm for you and your students, here are some tips on using one simple tool – Slido – to inject energy into your online classes and increase online engagement.

Encourage Anonymous Questions

Slido is best known for helping instructors solicit questions from students and providing a mechanism for students to prioritize their most important questions.

A lesser-known element of Slido is that it allows your students to ask questions anonymously, and…

Anonymous questions increase interaction.

For example, if your high school health classes were anything like mine, the most interesting questions came when students anonymously wrote questions on pieces of paper and put them in a box to be answered by the teacher at the end of the week. Those questions started such provocative discussions I remember several of them today…decades later.

When you enable students to ask questions anonymously in your class, several interesting things happen:

  • Introverts participate. If you have a few vocal students asking questions and little participation from others, anonymous questions lower student anxiety, which makes it easier for everyone to participate. 
  • You learn what students are thinking about. Anonymity provides cover for students to ask questions they may be too afraid to ask but are curious about.
  • Discussions start. Anonymity means you can invite students to pose “challenging” questions. If you encourage your students to question what they’re learning, why it’s important, or why they should have to do the work you’re assigning, you spark discussions about how entrepreneurship is relevant, which can often be the key to increasing engagement.

One great way to take advantage of this technique is to start each class session off by inviting students to post anonymous questions about the last lesson you did, their last homework assignment, or anything else on their mind. If you do this at the beginning of every lesson, students know there’s always a safe place for them to ask questions, and you’ll see more of them crop up throughout your term.

Crystalize Learnings

In addition to soliciting questions, Slido also solicits brainstormed ideas from students.

One interesting way to use this technique is to have students post their takeaways from a lesson or exercise.

Some takeaways from the 2020 TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Summer Virtual Conference

When you ask students to write down what they’ve learned from an exercise, the process of writing their takeaway helps cement their learning. Plus, when you ask other students to upvote other students’ takeaways, they get to see a summary of all the topics you covered during the lesson, you also get to see which were most salient (and what topics you may need to reinforce in another class).

Plus, it’s a fun interactive way to end a lesson. Speaking of fun interactions, Slido is also great for creating…

Quiz Games

As we wrote in the Gamify your Lectures post, Slido is also great for replacing boring slides, with interactive games.

Be sure to read our full write-up for details on easy ways to make presenting information more fun for students.

See it All in Action

Enter your email address below to see exactly how we use Slido with these techniques to teach our TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Online Virtual Conference attendees:

Summary

If you want to inject a little energy into your class, we’ve found one simple tool – Slido – enables you to:

  1. Solicit anonymous, prioritized questions from your students
  2. Brainstorm ideas with students, including their takeaways
  3. Engage students with fun, interactive competition

Give it a shot and let us know how it goes!

Gamify Your Online Class with Slido and Kahoot!

Gamify Your Online Class with Slido and Kahoot!

Slide-based lectures are a surefire way to disengage your students – especially in online classes.

One of the easiest ways to keep students engaged is to replace your slides with a quiz game like Slido or Kahoot!.

For example, let’s say you’re teaching a lesson on finance and you want to define a number of different concepts:

  • Profit vs Revenue
  • Cashflow
  • Customer Acquisition Cost
  • Etc.

The most boring way to present this will be to talk through a set of slides with definitions on them, like so:

Bullets are boring.

A more engaging way to teach is to replace your slides with a no-stakes pre-quiz where students get to test their knowledge of concepts before you present them. That ends up looking something like:

Lectures can be fun!

How to Gamify Lectures

  1. For every concept you want to cover in class, create a quiz question that asks your students something about that concept. For example, you might ask:

    “What is the difference between gross profit and net profit?”


    • A) Gross profit refers to physical goods (e.g. groceries) and net profit refers to virtual goods (e.g. internet “net” goods).
    • B) Gross profit is how much money made in total. Net profit is how much money made after expenses.
    • C) Gross profit is how much money made minus the cost of goods sold. Net profit is how much money made after all expenses and taxes.
    • D) Net profit is how much money made in total. Gross profit is how much money made after expenses. 

  2. Instead of asking your students to complete all of the quiz questions at once, you’ll show them the first quiz question before you’ve given them the answer. By asking your students a question about a topic before you’ve spoken about it, you’re inviting them to actively engage and test their knowledge on the subject. 

  3. After your students answer the first question, you’ll be able to see which students got it correct and the students who answered the question most quickly, will show up on your quiz’s “Leaderboard.”

  4. Now that you know who mostly quickly answered the question correctly (they’ll be #1 on your leaderboard), you can ask that student to explain to everyone else why their answer was correct.

  5. You reinforce what your student says and round out any points they missed.

  6. Repeat this process for the remaining questions and you’ll have converted your lecture into an interactive game.

See it in Action

Enter your email address below to see exactly how we use this technique to teach our Engaging Students Online Virtual Conference attendees:

Benefits of this Approach

  • Activates your passive students. Instead of half-listening to you talk through bullets, this interactive quiz format invites students to actively test their knowledge of a subject. Game mechanics like points, a leaderboard, and a timer all help students focus their attention on the material you’re presenting by asking them to do more work than a typical lecture, not less. 

  • Students teach each other. Because you’re asking students to explain to one another why an answer is correct, they’ll do the majority of talking and be able to speak in a way that is more engaging to other students. 

  • Wrong answers inspire learning. Students, like all of us, learn more from mistakes than successes, so inviting them to take their best guess at answering a question before you’ve given them the definite answer creates an opportunity for them to learn either way:
    • If they get the question right, they’ll confirm some information they already knew.
    • If they get the question wrong, they’ll be primed and ready to learn the correct answer.

  • Discover what your students already know / what they need help with. These quizzes are, at their core, formative assessment tools. When the majority of your class gets a question correct, that means they know that concept well and you can devote more time to covering concepts your students don’t know well (i.e. more of their answers were incorrect).

Tips

  1. Use tools like Slido (our favorite) or Kahoot! (another great option).

  2. Make the questions hard, but not impossible. If the questions are too easy, students will get bored. If they’re impossible, they’ll start randomly guessing. If however, the questions are hard by doable, you’ll take advantage of the fact that students learn more when they get questions wrong, while keeping questions within the zone of proximal development.

  3. Don’t overdo it. This is a great technique, but if you do it every class it’s benefits will wear off. Instead, mix this approach up with a number of experiential exercises (like those in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum).

How-To Videos

Finally, here are a couple of quick tutorial videos that demonstrate how to use Slido quizzes:

Summary

If your students aren’t as engaged as you think they could be, give this technique a shot. It’s worked wonders for us, and we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Entrepreneurship Class Essentials with Steve Blank

Entrepreneurship Class Essentials with Steve Blank

Here is part 2 of our interview with entrepreneurship innovator and educator Steve Blank, where he shares his thoughts on what is essential for an entrepreneurship class and an entrepreneurship curriculum. If you missed part 1, you can catch up here.

Steve Blank is an icon in entrepreneurship education. He is known for developing the customer development method that launched the Lean Startup movement.  A serial entrepreneur turned educator, Steve continues to elevate the field of entrepreneurship and greatly influences how we teach entrepreneurship principals. 

Steve Blank on What is Essential to Teach in an Entrepreneurship Class

Increasing numbers of universities require students to take entrepreneurship courses. While Steve doesn’t believe these courses should be mandatory, he had very clear ideas on what the goal should be for entrepreneurship courses.

The truth is we will have students in our classes that are not interested in becoming entrepreneurs. Whether it’s because they’re taking the class because it’s required or whether they have a true interest in becoming an entrepreneur, we have a commitment to helping our students actualize their potential. 

“How do we make a well-rounded individual in the 21st century?”

Steve shared that, at the core, entrepreneurship courses, build skills in tenacity, resilience, and agility in hypothesis testing. These skills are valid for all students, whether they want to be an entrepreneur or not. And it is his belief that these skills should be the foundation of a liberal arts education in the 21st century. 

Particularly since the evolution of society and technology have created a shorter lifespan for most companies. By building up these skills, students will be able to access them as they go about building their careers. In addition, entrepreneurship classes will help identify future entrepreneurs.

However, these skills shouldn’t be limited to college learning.  Steve envisions these methods being taught as part of a K-12 curriculum as well. Similar to the Korda Institute for Teaching, entrepreneurship can be integrated into classroom learning to bolster student skills, knowledge, and community impact. By designing educational experiences that utilize entrepreneurship principles, students can start learning early to solve problems that impact or involve their community. 

Steve Blank’s 4 Essential Courses for Entrepreneurship Curriculum

We liked the idea of narrowing the focus of an entrepreneurship curriculum, but we also asked Steve if there were courses he deemed essential when designing a curriculum. Here are the four core entrepreneurial classes or concepts Steve believes should be included:

  1. Creativity: This course includes customer discovery and helps students isolate the problems they want to solve.
  2. Lean Launchpad Lite: This is a stripped-down version of Lean Launchpad which Steve believes can sometimes be bogged down with jargon. This class includes the framework and practical questions every entrepreneur needs to ask without a large focus on terminology.
  3. Core Skills (or as Steve likes to put it “Fucking with your head”): This is a skill-building class focused on improving student’s resilience, tenacity, and agility. Lesson plans focus on hypothesis testing and fact-checking. In this class, students become more comfortable with chaos, uncertainty, and even failure.
  4. Capstone: The capstone centers around the specific domain of expertise. For each university, it will vary with the region and the focus of the institution.

Designing Entrepreneurship Curriculum for the Students You Want to Attract

One of the questions we’re often asked is how to build a comprehensive curriculum. When put to Steve, he recommends keeping students top of mind when designing an entrepreneurship curriculum. 

If I was in a university the first question I would ask for an educator is, am I building a curriculum for the students I have, or am I building a curriculum for the students I want to attract? 

He shared the example of talking with some educators in Lincoln, Nebraska who work with farmers. The teachers were interested in putting together a class for farmers. The opportunity this presented for the university, in Steve’s words, “is they could become the Lean expert for farm entrepreneurship rather than replicating the other 7,000 versions of a general Lean Startup curriculum”. The question Steve encourages institutions and entrepreneurship professors to ask when designing curriculum are:

  • Is there a domain of expertise we can or should focus on?
  • Can we create a vertical version of Lean Startup for this area?

Teaching Minimum Viable Product 

On the topic of buzzwords and jargon found in Lean Start-up, the idea of an MVP is one of the most often misunderstood concepts taught in entrepreneurship. Particularly, it can be difficult to teach. 

One of the mistakes Steve discussed regarding the idea of a Minimum Viable Product or (MVP) is that businesses may understand finding a product to fit a certain market, but they stop there. Students and entrepreneurs alike need to understand that all components of the business model need to be tested and some of them need to be re-tested. 

Therefore, when teaching MVP to students, finding customers who want particular features of a product or want the product is just Step 1 of a robust class. For example, we could also design a class around MVP’s for pricing. Students can test whether a product could sell for $20,000 rather than $9.99.  

From customer discovery to learning how to pivot, an effective MVP course teaches students to run experiments across all components of commercialization.

Key Takeaway

Finishing out our discussion, Steve expressed the key takeaway he wants educators and universities alike to realize is that one-size-fits-all does not fit all for an entrepreneurship class. Whether we’re teaching tech, corporate, or social entrepreneurship, he encourages us to take our expertise and adjust our curriculums to get the right impedance match for the right students. In other words, treat our students like customers. 

Our classes are our own little start-up.


Get our Next Free Lesson Plan

We email new experiential entrepreneurship lesson plans regularly. Subscribe here to get our next lesson plan in your inbox!

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and exercises via email!


Want More Engagement?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system

Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.


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:

Steve Blank on How to Teach Entrepreneurship

Steve Blank on How to Teach Entrepreneurship

Want to improve how you teach entrepreneurship? Steve has some ideas.


Steve Blank Talking about How to Teach Entrepreneurship

Before we get there though, with the fires raging along the West Coast of the US, one of which is stunningly close to Steve’s home, we wanted to send him, his family, and everyone affected by the fires, our best wishes.


Steve and I sat down, pre-pandemic, for an in-depth discussion on the state of entrepreneurship education and ways to improve it going forward.

Below I’ve written up a summary of half of our conversation: thoughts on how to teach entrepreneurship.

In an upcoming part two, I’ll summarize some of Steve’s ideas on creating a comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum, including:

  • The skills professors should teach their students, and 
  • Four courses Steve thinks are core to a robust entrepreneurship program

First, for anyone unfamiliar: Who is Steve Blank?

Forefather of Lean Startup

Entrepreneur, author, professor, an originator of evidence-based entrepreneurship, Steve Blank has developed or made famous some of the most recognizable approaches to entrepreneurship including: 

In addition, Steve has reimagined the way entrepreneurship is taught throughout the world with his Lean LaunchPad, NSF I-Corps, and Hacking for X (e.g. Recovery, Defense, Diplomacy, Impact, Energy, etc.) programs. 

In short, Steve has dramatically improved the way we practice and teach entrepreneurship.

Why Teaching Entrepreneurship is Hard

One of the very first topics that came up during our conversation was how we all can become more effective instructors.

Roughly 75% of college faculty are adjunct or non-tenure-track professors. Steve shared that as a practitioner, one of the challenges he faced was not what to teach, but how to teach:

There is usually very little onboarding in place to train professors in the most effective way to teach entrepreneurial lessons.”

While most of us are successful entrepreneurs or successful professors, very few of us are equally great at both.

Compounding the problem, Steve mentioned that there are so many kinds of entrepreneurship – small business, high tech, corporate, social, family business, etc.

With these challenges in mind, I asked Steve for recommendations to overcome them.

Steve’s Teaching Tips

Tip #1: Accept You Don’t Know Everything

“I see my mentors and other adjuncts and coaches make this mistake, in thinking your domain expertise is the expertise of entrepreneurship rather than a very narrow slice.”

When Steve first began teaching at UC Berkeley, he was paired with professor John Freeman who recommended he sit in on other instructors’ entrepreneurship courses. Steve mentioned, “the shock to my system, the discovery…there are different types of entrepreneurship.” 

Steve was a successful entrepreneur, but he wasn’t a successful small business, high tech, corporate, social, and lifestyle entrepreneur.

Each type of entrepreneurship has different goals and to be taught most effectively, requires a different approach and expertise. To illustrate his point, Steve mentioned that in high tech entrepreneurship, the first goal is to have a seed round that raises millions of dollars. In small business entrepreneurship, however, the first goal may be to make enough to fund a lifestyle and family.

It’s this diversity in objectives that can make effectively teaching innovation difficult and it was his realization that he didn’t know everything about every type of entrepreneurship that led Steve to increase his breadth of knowledge. 

Tip #2: Get a Mentor

Luckily, Berkely had a semi-formal onboarding process in place which sped up the learning process for new faculty. For other educators who do not have access to that kind of program, Steve recommends:

  • Attending other entrepreneurship instructor’s classes
  • If you’re an entrepreneur first, get another educator to mentor you
  • If you’re an academic first, pair with an entrepreneur to teach

Like we teach our students, teams with aligned goals and diverse skills have better outcomes; the same applies to our teaching. To improve your classes, find people who have a different set of skills and experiences than you and collaborate with them.

When in Doubt: Experiences Teach Skills

“If you’ve never started a company and you’re teaching entrepreneurship, it’s like teaching a med school class and never having cracked a chest.”

Entrepreneurship is a combination of theory and practice and our students learn it best when they are offered by perspectives.

Steve Blank Talking about How to Teach Entrepreneurship

Steve further explained his point by saying, “Startups are essentially years of chaos, uncertainty, and terror. That’s not what a typical academic career is like. And so it’s kind of hard to teach tenacity, resilience, and agility and maybe curiosity, which are the key skills for early-stage entrepreneurs without having lived with that uncertainty.”

Students Learn Best By Doing

How do we teach customer empathy, customer development, and customer discovery effectively?

The answer is learning by doing. When Steve teaches his Lean LaunchPad classes, he insists his students talk to 10 customers each week. And he always follows up to ensure they actually made contact. 

For students who have difficulty performing customer interviews, he recommends students practice interviewing. Steve recommends the book, Talking to Humans: Success Starts with Understanding Your Customers.

For an engaging way to help your students understand exactly what questions they should and shouldn’t ask customers, you can also use our free experiential Customer Interviewing Cards lesson plan.

The same goes for every topic in entrepreneurship:

  • Idea generation
  • Solution ideation
  • Finance
  • Pitching

Every entrepreneurship skill must be practiced to be internalized.

The Future of Entrepreneurship Education

Key skills for early-stage entrepreneurs can be taught with the right combination of theory and experiential exercises.

In class, Steve looks to create a feeling that there is no “right” answer that can be found in a book. It is this approach that encourages students to figure things out for themselves and inspires outside-the-box thinking. The Lean LaunchPad methodology Steve created is great for stimulating the chaos of entrepreneurship. It is this chaos that identifies those students ready for the pursuit of entrepreneurship.

Steve conceptualizes his classes as the Juilliard of entrepreneurship; when the way to train artists was with an experiential, hands-on apprenticeship. With this in mind, Steve thinks successful entrepreneurship curricula should include entrepreneurial appreciation.

“These core [entrepreneurship] courses will be the new liberal arts courses of the 21st century.”


Takeaways

Here are my takeaways from the first part of our conversation:

  1. Get a mentor. If your background is in academia, find an entrepreneur to mentor you in real-world realities. If you’re an entrepreneur, find an academic mentor who can teach you about teaching. Teaching entrepreneurship requires both.
  2. Train entrepreneurs like artists. Just like are no “right” answers in art, there are no right answers in entrepreneurship. Instead of focusing on teaching answers, we should focus on teaching skills.
  3. Students learn skills by practicing them. Experiences, not textbooks, are the best way to teach skills.

Don’t Miss Part 2

Subscribe here to get notified of the second part of my interview with Steve where we discuss:

  • The necessary skills professors should teach their students, and 
  • Four courses he thinks are essential to a robust entrepreneurship program

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and 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:


Want More Engaged Students?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system

Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.

Playing Music in Your Zoom Class

Playing Music in Your Zoom Class

Music is an easy way to add energy to virtual classes. For example, you can:

  1. Play music as students join the session, so you set a tone of good vibes from the beginning.
  2. When students are working on exercises, chill music can increase concentration.
  3. As your session is ending, play music so your students leave with an upbeat impression from the class.

Plus: It takes < 10 seconds to set up.

Here are step-by-step instructions to play music in Zoom:

Step 1: Click on the “Screen Share” green button at the bottom of the screen

Play music in Zoom

Step 2: Click on the “Advanced” tab at the top of the screen

Playing music on Zoom

Step 3: Select “Music or Computer Sound Only” option and click “Share”

Instructions for playing music in Zoom

Step 4: Play your favorite music

Here are some starter playlists we curated specifically to energize your classes:

Use Microsoft Teams?

Here are your step-by-step instructions.

Big thanks to Tristan Kromer at Kromatic for the heads up about this functionality. If you haven’t seen his Innovation Resources, definitely check them out.


Want More Engagement?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system

Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.


Get our Next Free Lesson Plan

We email new experiential entrepreneurship lesson plans regularly. Subscribe here to get our next lesson plan in your inbox!

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and 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: