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!
Inheriting someone else’s entrepreneurship course often comes with challenges:
Topics are out of date and based on traditional long-form business plans, product-centric (as opposed to problems-centric) idea generation, and barely common topics today like Design Thinking, Business Models, Customer Interviews.
Not experiential instead relying on textbooks and lectures.
Based on quizzes and tests which can’t effectively assess skill development.
So how do you make it better? The two most common approaches:
Iterate what’s already there
Start fresh with a modern approach
Iterating a Course
If the bones are strong and the course is just slightly out of date, it’s relatively easy to:
Identify the least engaging/most out-of-date lessons
Replace those lessons with updated experiences
Convert quizzes to reflections
The first step is to identify the weaknesses of the current course schedule (i.e. lessons that are the least engaging or most out of date). In particular, look for lessons on:
Business plan writing
Legal structure, IP, etc.
Product-centric (as opposed to problem-centric) idea generation
Finance (old versions of these lessons are often overwhelming and confusing for students)
While all of the above can be valuable, if your goal is to help your students develop entrepreneurial skills that will be applicable regardless of their career path, you can likely replace those lessons with more engaging experiences like:
60 Minute MVP. This exercise is engaging, fun, and fully immersive, teaching critical aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset while students build, and launch, a company in 60 minutes…with no technical expertise!
Why Business Plans Don’t Work. This game helps students understand why business plans have fallen out of favor, and what data-driven entrepreneurs do instead, allowing you to introduce business model canvas and minimum viable products in a fun, gamified experience.
Customer observations. During this exercise, students learn a technique to gain insight into the small details of a customer’s interaction with their environment that a customer may not think to express in interviews, thus understanding what a customer truly values.
Financial Modeling Showdown. This exercise leads students through an experimentation process where they make different assumptions about their financial model, making entrepreneurial finance more accessible to all students through a game-like experience.
After injecting some energy into your class with new exercises, you can update your assessment strategy to assess skill development. Here we have two suggestions:
Swap tests/quizzes for reflection assignments. Entrepreneurship students work developing a mindset and a set of skills. Quizzes cannot effectively assess either of those. Instead, the recommended tools for assessing entrepreneurship students are reflective assignments. Video reflections provide a fast, and rigorous way to assess entrepreneurship students, so we provide a demo of our video reflection and a rubric to assess video reflection submissions.
Update the final class pitch. Too many entrepreneurship courses end with students pitching unrealistic ideas, or pitching ideas they don’t believe in, and a random variety of “judges” predicting the potential of these “bad” ideas. Instead, you can optimize the ineffective pitch day by focusing on skill-building and engaging all students if you shift away from Shark Tank pitches to what we call “process pitches.”
Those tweaks can go a long way if your class has a solid overall structure.
If, however, your course is lacking structure, or you’d like a cohesive, engaging experience for your students, consider a…
Fresh Start with a Modern Curriculum
If you want a structured, engaging entrepreneurship curriculum that focuses on customer interviews, design thinking, and business models:
Let’s be honest. Teaching to a screen isn’t as fun as teaching in person. In person you can:
See if students are engaged
Have lively discussions
Connect with students
None of those are easy to do online, and because of it, teaching online can be more draining and less enjoyable.
Online Teaching Best Practices
Interested in learning how to teach online in a more engaging way? How about learning best practices in a live, “practice what we preach” environment with other entrepreneurship instructors from around the world?
Whether you’re new to online teaching and looking to improve your experience, or a pro willing to share your wisdom, please let us know if you’re interested in a virtual workshop dedicated to increasing engagement in online classes.
I am a starter, with big ideas. The kind that make you sit back in your chair (or jump out of your chair, depending on your risk tolerance).
I am not a finisher – details and I have an on-again-off-again relationship. I need a community to create impact, and I know I would have one in the USASBE family, because we are so woven together in our pursuit of becoming the boldest teachers, scholars, and practitioners we can be. (btw, please join hundreds of entrepreneurship educators in New Orleans this January for our annual USASBE Conference!)
I have seen the operations of this organization for many years, both as a member and how we engage with our members, and as a Board member and how we run the organization. Nothing is perfect, and while we do a fantastic job of delivering an great conference experience, we leave the other 51 weeks of the year largely ignored.
We can do more! We can do better!
I have some ideas how:
Most of us currently do or aspire to host any variety of competitions on our campus. Pitch competitions. Business model competitions. Design competitions/hackathons. Business plan competitions. I would like to see USASBE become the leading authority on how to develop and deliver an innovative competition experience for students. I think many of our competitions are fairly ineffective in accomplishing sustainable and responsible impact for the students. What if we were the go-to resource for anyone looking to implement a robust competition on campus?
On each of our campuses, we currently do or aspire to host any variety of guest speakers. Maybe you’re looking for a classroom guest. Or an event keynote. Maybe you’re looking for a student club keynote. No matter what your need, if you are looking for any sort of entrepreneur guest on your campus, we should be the go-to resource for any guest speaker needs. What if we built a USASBE Campus Entrepreneur Speaker’s Bureau? (and monetized it, just like we teach our students to do)
In our membership, we have a hugely diverse mix of folks new to the academy, some who have been around the block more times than they can count, and anything in-between. Our members represent all kinds of colleges and universities, from all kinds of departments and centers. This diversity screams for developing a transformative Member Mentor Network. The newbies need help navigating this career path. The old folks need help keeping up with current trends and technology. Everyone should be a lifelong learner. We all like to learn, and we all like to give back. What if we built a Member Mentor Network that deeply engaged every member in meaningful learning and professional development?
USASBE membership is a nationwide blanket; we have members in every state across the US, and many foreign countries. In all our individual communities, we see many social problems that could use an entrepreneurial solution. What if we leveraged our national network to begin attacking some national social problems that affect all our communities (recidivism, hunger, etc.)?
These aren’t even the scary ideas (I’ll save those for later!), these are just the kinds of things I think about on a daily basis.
I do bring some shortcomings to the table. I am not the best with keeping track of details. I struggle mightily with work-family balance, and am learning how important it is to put family first. I have lower-than-average emotional intelligence so sometimes I step in it – but always act with the best innovative intentions.
To fix our broken education system by giving students a voice and control.
To motivate younger generations to be comfortable owning their dreams and creating their own careers.
You can see I’m firmly student-focused. I don’t make apologies for that, as I believe that is how I can create the most impact for others. Similarly, I believe in USASBE I can make the most impact by disrupting normal routines and tired procedures to help our members create more value for students on their campuses.
I look forward to serving the USASBE community long into the future, in whatever role the community decides is best. Thank you for the opportunity to share a bit of me, and the opportunity to lead us into the next exciting chapter!
Want Tools To Engage Your Students?
We email new experiential entrepreneurship tools, techniques, and lesson plans regularly.
This year’s USASBE conference, a gathering of hundreds of the best experiential entrepreneurship instructors from around the world, was a harrowing one for us.
We survived a strep throat breakout, an unimaginably poorly timed dead laptop, an all-nighter prepping exercise kits, and lost luggage.
Despite the challenges, or perhaps because of them, this was our favorite conference yet. We shared, we learned, and we got energized to improve our product and process to provide you and your students more value.
This award is recognition for the work we all do, for the feedback and engagement you have generously provided over the past few years.
The recognition is not an arrival point, but is validation we are on the right track, and an inflection point to co-create even more value for our students.
After winning the 3E competition, Justin and Federico quickly turned their attention (until 4am!) to assembling curriculum kits for our happy hour.
Despite just three hours of sleep, Justin (we call him The Champ!) brought his full high-fiving, chair-jumping energy to the competition the next morning, presenting our Toothbrush Design Challenge with an unparalleled passion that inspired the audience and judges. It was a sight to behold.
We also sat down for an hour-long, 1-on-1 interview with Steve Blank on the future of entrepreneurship education.
Thanks to your questions, we had a fantastic conversation that covered:
the ideal class an entrepreneurship major should include,
the weaknesses of customer development and Lean Startup,
the academic research around Lean Startup, and
how to balance exposing students to the harsh realities of entrepreneurship, while still making entrepreneurial skills accessible to all students
Click here for the full video as soon as it’s released!
And of course, we had a wonderful time hosting happy hour on Friday night. We celebrated our collective success, and enjoyed demoing some new ExEC lesson plans:
Thank you, for supporting us, for challenging us, and for sharing our passion with your students and colleagues. Our success doesn’t happen without you!
Florida was an amazing host, but we’re already planning for next year’s USASBE conference in New Orleans. We hope you join us!
If you want to introduce your students to the #1 Experiential Entrepreneurship Exercise, request a preview of ExEC here
This conference is an incredible few days of entrepreneurship educators and folks planning entrepreneurship programs sharing their work and ideas.
If you’re going, we’ll see you there!
Friday Night Party
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. We’re hoping to host our second-annual happy hour party Friday night after the conference activities. We’ve got room for 100 USASBE Conference attendees to join us, so register here if you’d like to attend.
3 Talks + A Competition
We’ll be leading a handful of sessions during the conference:
Mechanical Pencil Challenge: Defining “Early Adopters” And Where To Find Them (Fri. @9:30 am in the Banyan room & again Sun. @9:30 am in Blue Heron).
This exercise uses mechanical pencils, and a 10-minute competition between attendees, to introduce Early Adopters. We contrast them with Early Majority and Late Majority customers, and demonstrate where and how to find a business model’s Early Adopters.
A Better Toothbrush: Testing Assumptions Via Customer Observations (Fri. @9:30 am in the Banyan room & again Sun. @ 9:30 am in Blue Heron).
This fun and high energy exercise utilizes children’s toothbrushes to help attendees see how easily they can make hidden assumptions that hinder the success of a project. We introduce attendees to customer observations, a tool to mitigate the consequences of hidden assumptions. Overall, this is an engaging Design Thinking exercise that encourages attendees to assume less, and observe more.
Rigorously Assessing Experiential Courses: Transparent Grading Using Check-Ins, Mini-Cases, And Reflections (Sat. @ 9:30 am in Snowy Egret).
During this session, attendees feel how frustrating it is to be evaluated by vague/subjective criteria. Attendees learn five tools for transparently evaluating experiential courses and then brainstorm ways they can incorporate these techniques in their course. Attendees leave with session with a set of detailed sample rubrics that will enable them to both teach more experientially and assess more objectively.
The Mechanical Pencil Challenge and the Better Toothbrush exercise
…are finalists for the 3E Experiential Entrepreneurial Exercises Competition!