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Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Teaching an online entrepreneurship class to students who are used to taking classes in-person can be particularly challenging:

  • Discussions can be lethargic
  • Students are sometimes unmotivated
  • You can end up teaching into the “void” with little input or interaction from your students

If you’ve run one of these lectures, you probably didn’t get much out of the experience and neither did your students.

To genuinely engage online students, rethink your course from top-to-bottom. You want to answer questions like, how do you…

  • Redesign your interactive exercises to work online?
  • Get students to reliably ask and answer questions?
  • Connect students to each other, and the material, when they’re socially isolated?

As you start your redesign, we wanted to share our online course syllabus in case it’s helpful.

Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus Structure

A Blend of Sync and Async

No one likes teaching to the void (or being in the void).

What is the void? Have you ever used Zoom to teach to a bunch of black boxes? Or were your students’ cameras turned on but you consistently confronted with awkward silences and blank stares? Engagement is very difficult to maintain in an online course. Asynchronous is the most popular way to teach online, but an asynchronous learning environment alone can feel disconnecting to your students.

We wanted to avoid teaching to the void, and the disconnecting feelings it can create, so our syllabus is a combination of asynchronous activities students do individually with:

  • Interactive Synchronous Sessions. These experiential learning activities engage students and keep them motivated even when they’re learning remotely.
  • Reflection groups. This component of our online entrepreneurship course brings students together at regular intervals to share and process their experiences and processes. In these groups, students can reflect on the processes and the product of their journey through the course, helping them to learn from and teach each other, and also encouraging them to support each other thrive during the journey.
  • Check-ins. One of the biggest challenges experiential entrepreneurship classes face is that different teams progress at different speeds. Students who fall behind get discouraged when the class progresses to topics that are not yet relevant to them. Students who find success in making progress get bored if the class content stalls their progress. We also know that students can run into unique challenges in project-based classes, especially when they are online, and that students highly value time with instructors to help them overcome those challenges. One of the most successful remedies to both the problems outlined above is to provide students with differentiated learning experiences, via coaching/check-in sessions with teams. Every coaching session is an opportunity for students to measure the skills they’ve acquired in order to learn what to do next.


An experiential entrepreneurship course, done well, helps students gain transferable skills they can use to create value for anyone or any organization in their professional and personal life. These skills are particularly important during times of uncertainty we are currently living through.

Find a Problem Worth Solving

Our curriculum has two phases of skill-building. The goal of Phase 1 is to find a problem worth solving. These are the skills taught in that phase:

  • Growth Mindset. This mindset is the belief a person has that they can learn more or be good at anything if they work hard and persevere. It is important to set the stage with this skill so students believe they can be good at anything, and that skill comes from practice.
  • Leveraging Failure. Failure is inevitable in the entrepreneurial process – we want students to build the skill set to take advantage of their failures to
  • Idea Generation. We don’t want your students to work on just any idea. Our syllabus highlights exercises and lesson plans that invite them to practice the skills necessary to discover ideas that bring them meaning. Once they have that idea, we guide them through identifying and actually locating their Early Adopters.
  • Customer Interviewing. The most critical skill entrepreneurs must learn is interviewing customers. Our exercises guide students through learning what to ask customers, iteratively practicing customer interviews, and analyzing interviews to guide their business model iteration.
  • Problem Validation. Students must decide whether they have validated a problem and whether they want to work on solving it or pivot to solve a different problem.

Find a Solution Worth Building

The goal of Phase 2 is to find a solution worth building. These are the skills taught in that phase:

  • Creativity & Design Thinking. These exercises enhance students’ brainstorming skills and how to develop solutions based on customers’ problems.
  • Financial Modeling. Successful entrepreneurship requires entrepreneurs to effectively monetize solutions. During this stage, students practice pricing and building a viable financial model.
  • Prototyping. Here we teach students to build new versions of their product that allows them to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
  • Experiments. Running business model experiments is your students’ fastest path to success. Students learn to make small bets and test a number of different strategies until they find one that works.
  • Storytelling. In our curriculum, students don’t pitch their product/company. Instead, they share the story of the process they went through (in)validating their business model. In this way, they demonstrate they have acquired the entrepreneurial skills to find and test new opportunities.


Your students should experience creating and capturing value, not passively learn about others who have. Experiential learning techniques are critical to any entrepreneurship course because they increase student engagement and excitement as they build knowledge by doing.

Using our new online syllabus gives you a way to engage and excite your students from the first through the last day with our innovative approach to experiential learning. One example of our approach to experiential learning is our award-winning Lottery Ticket Dilemma exercise.

Through this exercise, students will discover how important emotions are in the decision-making process and the importance of understanding and fulfilling other people’s emotional needs.

Specifically, students will experience:

  • Why the majority of businesses that start end in failure, & how to avoid those failures, & so students learn how to recognize and avoid those failures
  • Customers making decisions driven by their emotions, & so students learn how to uncover and leverage those emotions to create solutions customers want
  • Creating products customers want to purchase by understanding the emotional journey they want to take

Get the Online Entrepreneurship Sample Syllabus

We’ve created a detailed Online Entrepreneurship sample syllabus that details the components of a full semester course.

Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus Structure
Get the Sample Syllabus

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers, so you’re welcome to share it.

If you haven’t already registered, remember to join us at the:

Engaging Students Online:
A Virtual Conference

Last week we opened registration to a virtual conference dedicated to engaging students online. So far, 350+ entrepreneurship educators have registered. We hope you join us!

engaging students online teaching entrepreneurship virtual conference workshop

“The Best Entrepreneurship Curriculum Available”

“The Best Entrepreneurship Curriculum Available”

The Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) will help your students learn:

  • Idea generation
  • Customer Interviewing
  • Financial modeling
  • MVPs and prototyping
  • Pitching and storytelling

In a way that…

You’ll Love to Teach

entrepreneurship curriculum

Mark McNees and the Florida State University entrepreneurship teaching team have been impressed by ExEC’s award-winning approach. So much so that they’ll be adopting it at both their Tallahassee and Pensacola campuses this Fall.

online entrepreneurship lessons

Dr. Samantha Fairclough of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln knew the way she previously taught entrepreneurship “isn’t working for me. The students hate it. I hate it. I don’t enjoy the book.” She decided to ditch all textbooks and was searching for readings and articles she could use instead when she found the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC). Read more about Samantha’s experience adopting ExEC in her classroom. 

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

A Winning Approach

In addition to winning praise, ExEC exercises have won USASBE’s prestigious Experiential Entrepreneurship Exercises (3E) competition, the last two years in a row.

Entrepreneurship Education

This competition is judged by entrepreneurship professors who know how hard it is to engage all students – and these exercises have won because they do precisely that.

Better experiences create better engagement.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Peer Reviewed

The 60-Minute MVP exercise continues to be both a professor & student favorite.  Recently, it was also published in the Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy Journal

Academy of Management Learning & Education review of Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

And ExEC has been reviewed in the Academy of Management Learning & Education, the leading journal on the study of management learning and education.

Learn more about ExEC in Academy of Management Learning & Education.

80+ Universities Now Use ExEC

Teaching experiential entrepreneurship courses is trending worldwide. We currently have 80+ universities teaching ExEC, including:

  • Virginia Tech
  • Penn State
  • Marquette University
  • TCU
  • Oklahoma State University
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln

These diverse universities have adopted the ExEC curriculum into their classroom, and it can help your students too:

university entrepreneurship

Kim Pichot of Andrews University met the team at the annual USASBE conference. She tried a few exercises with her students, and her classroom came alive! Kim was so happy with the experience she wanted to try the full ExEC curriculum. Read about her experience using ExEc in her university’s Interdisciplinary Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate (4 courses and a capstone ending with a demo day and real money).

teaching creativity

Like hundreds of other entrepreneurship professors, Georgann Jouflas of Colorado Mesa University struggled to adapt the Lean Launchpad approach for her course. Rather than an accelerator cohort, she needed a comprehensive curriculum that was a better fit for students taking an entrepreneurship course. Learn how ExEC helped Georgann transform her students’ learning experience. 

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Online or In-Person

There are two versions of ExEC: one we’ve optimized for teaching in-person, and the other which we’ve optimized for teaching online and, especially relevant this Fall…

You can seamlessly transition between the two, even mid-term.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

We’ve spent years testing and iterating a structured set of comprehensive exercises that we know teach entrepreneurial skills in an engaging way – online or in-person.

Why waste your time trying to tie together a set of unrelated exercises you compile from around web? Use a set of rigorous, cohesive lessons that will engage your students.


Use the “Best Entrepreneurship Curriculum Available”

Check out ExEC, engage your students and give them access to the best tools available.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo
Teaching Entrepreneurship Online in Fall?

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online in Fall?

Now that we’re a couple of weeks into the “new normal”, your bookstore will soon be contacting you.

What are you going to do about Fall?

Assume You’re Teaching Online in Fall

Most of us want to get back to in-person teaching in Fall. Realistically, that may not happen:

  • This season, the US may lose more lives to COVID-19 than WWI (source)
  • The virus is expected to return in Fall (source)
  • A vaccine won’t be available for Fall (source)
  • Social distancing appears to be our best bet (source)

Given the devastating effects of the virus, and the likelihood of returning, It’s hard to see how it makes sense for schools to invite students back into dorms and classrooms in Fall.

Even if we’re able to start classes in-person, we’ll all need plans to quickly transition our class online if necessary. 

So how do you prep a class hoping it’ll be in-person, but assuming it’ll be online while knowing that…

Engagement is Harder Online

Let’s not kid ourselves…

Student engagement was a challenge before COVID-19.

But now that students are taking classes from home (i.e. bed), can attend class while watching Netflix, and know that we can’t be in every breakout room simultaneously, it’s an even bigger challenge.

Fortunately, there’s a way to prep for fall that will…

Engage Your Students: Online or In-Person

Lecture and quiz-based classes won’t cut it (they’re the antithesis of engagement), and it’s near impossible to structure a rigorous online class if you’re mixing and matching exercises from around the web.

If you want an engaging approach you can use online or in-person and don’t want to spend all summer building it.

Consider trying ExEC this Fall.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

We’ve been developing ExEC, the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum, for the last 5 years and so far it’s…

…while producing outstanding student evaluations

Online or In-Person

There are two versions of ExEC: one we’ve optimized for teaching in-person, and the other which we’ve optimized for teaching online and, especially relevant this Fall…

You can seamlessly transition between the two, even mid-term.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

We’ve spent years testing and improving a structured set of exercises that we know teach entrepreneurial skills in an engaging way – online or in-person.

Don’t spend your summer recording lectures or compiling exercises from around the web. Make the most of your break, and your Fall, by using a set of rigorous, cohesive lessons your students will engage with.

This Fall, Try ExEC…

Whatever path you take this Fall, we wish you and your students the very best, and are happy to offer any help we can.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

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Teaching Entrepreneurship Online: 5 Common Mistakes (and how to Avoid Them)

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online: 5 Common Mistakes (and how to Avoid Them)

Successful Online Classes

As many of us transition our classes online, growing pains will abound. We wanted to provide a quick summary of the most common pitfalls you’re likely to run into so you know how to avoid them.

5 Online Teaching Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1: Weekly assignments

If you have weekly assignments, in other words just one touchpoint per week where students are expected to turn something in, you’re inviting time management challenges for your students. This can be especially true if students are new to taking online classes; they’re not used to planning out their weekly schedule around finishing assignments. Couple that with other work and class commitments and in all likelihood, they will wait until the last minute to get their work finished.

Solution: Multiple touch points each week.

When transitioning our own in-person curriculum online, we’ve found it helps set our students up for success by having at least 2 touchpoints per week. For example, we have assignments due on Tuesday and Thursday. Alternatively, you can set up your course so that assignments are due Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Whatever you decide, break up the assignments into smaller chunks to help avoid any time management problems your students may have. This will help keep them on track and reduce their tendency to cram.

Mistake #2: Not Using Groups

We often hear from professors who teach online that they don’t feel as connected to their students, or they worry their students don’t feel connected to them. Additionally, we’ve heard from students that they don’t feel connected to other students when taking an online class. 

If you’re avoiding group work because you’re teaching online, you’re missing an effective tool for fostering a connection between your students. 

Group work can seem daunting to set up, assess and grade online, but it doesn’t have to be. And since group work is a powerful tool to combat disconnection in an online classroom, it’s worth the effort. Here are a few of our proven methods for creating a successful group.

1) Reflection Groups

Reflection Groups are small groups of students (3-4), who meet up “face-to-face” online via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, etc. to reflect on individual experiences they’ve had during the class. This provides an explicit opportunity to reflect, and take notes about their reflections, with peers from the class, helps drive student thinking deeper. It also helps them connect with other people in their class and fosters a more profound connection since it provides space for them to share their reflections of their experience, rather than simply sharing right/wrong answers.

For example, in our classes students meet with their reflection groups to discuss:

  • Their fears and curiosities about life after graduation
  • The biggest failures they’ve encountered in their lives so far, and what they’ve learned from them
  • Successes and struggles they’ve had with individual assignments

Creating groups isn’t difficult. All Learning Management Systems (e.g. Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, Brightspace, etc.) have functionality for creating student. While technology like Zoom, WhatsApp, Facetime, and Skype make it really easy for students to meetup. This makes it simple to leverage group work and increase your student’s feeling of connection.

What can feel a little more daunting about online groups is grading/assessment. Here’s how to tackle that: 

2) Team Work + Individual (Video) Reflections

Have the students complete their exercises together, but have them turn in individual reflections. 

In our classes, we encourage students to work together but require each student to submit their own video-based reflections on the work they’ve done. These videos (which we limit to 1 – 3 minutes), speed up the assessment process, cutting down on overall assessment time while ensuring each student is developing their own skills.

Mistake #3: Not Using Webcams

Webcams establish an instant face-to-face connection which is incredibly helpful in establishing a connection with your students. We recommend, whenever possible, using your own webcam, and to encourage your students to use webcams themselves. 

When we ask for student submissions, we have them use a tool called Loom, which is an easy-to-use browser extension which allows students to simply record their screen and capture their webcam at the same time. We’ve used Loom thousands of students and have had great results.

Loom lets you see your students (establishing a connection) and gives you a real insight into what they’ve been working on. We’ve found this is an invaluable tool in discovering how well they understand the concepts being taught in class. It also leads to a deeper level of understanding of the material because students will need to be able to write about the subject as well as talk about it concisely. We do recommend setting time guidelines for the videos. For example, we have students make videos 2-3 minutes long. This reduces the amount of time needed to go through the videos.

Mistake #4: “Read and Regurgitate” Discussion Boards

Typically, discussion boards are used as a way to ensure students complete some reading by asking students to reflect on what they’ve read, and possibly comment on another student’s post. Most of the time, this leads to students simply summarizing what they read and writing similar comments on fellow students’ posts. Unfortunately, this doesn’t lead to a lot of in-depth discussion or reflection. 

Discussion boards are optimal when people are presenting diverse viewpoints as opposed to all reflecting similar ideas. 

We recommend using discussion boards for personal reflections. For example, instead of asking students to go through an experience and describe what the experience was, have them talk about their personal challenges that came up with the experience. Ask what they learned most as a result of the experience. How are they going to apply that skill going forward?

Making personal comments creates a connected feeling in the class as students read other people’s responses. They get to know each other better and you get a sense of if they’re really understanding what you want them to take away from the material.

Discussion boards can also be used for students to pitch business ideas. You can even have students form teams around pitch ideas. Any experience you can create where students are leveraging different ideas is a great place to use discussion boards.

Mistake #5: “Class-Based” Thinking

It’s hard enough to create an engaging classroom in-person. Going online can feel even more daunting because we don’t have the opportunity for real-time interaction with students.

That said, there’s a little-known benefit to teaching online that can be used to create extremely engaging experiences.

When teaching in-person classes, it’s normal to have your thinking centered on “classes.” Whether a 75-minute class, 90-minute class, etc., we know that we have X-amount of things we want to cover in that amount of time. However, an online class doesn’t have the same time constraints.

We have found that it’s helpful to shift from a “class” structure to focus on creating “ah-ha” experiences for our students. Start by thinking about the ah-ha moments you have in your in-person classes and write out all of the interactions you have with your students that lead up to that moment. Then start translating each of those interactions online. Once you start thinking on an “interaction” level, as opposed to a “class” level, it’s much easier to… 

Structure your course around creating “ah-ha” experiences.

As we created the online version of our in-person curriculum, we’ve had to tease out the interactive moments between instructor and students and rethink the time frame of these interactions. For example, in an in-person class, the professor can provide a prompt and the students respond in real-time and the entire lesson may only take 30 minutes. Online, this same lesson may span two weeks as the professor provides a prompt, awaits student responses, provides counter-discussion or reflection, etc. While this takes longer calendar-wise, we have found it is possible to create just as engaging of an experience for online students as we have in-person, by focusing primarily on these interactions.

For example, in the first class of our curriculum, we have students write out on post-it notes their fears and curiosities after they graduate. We then have them share their fears and curiosities with someone sitting next to them. We then create post-it note clouds around common themes they share. Then our instructors take those common challenges and map them into their syllabus. Some common fears are:

  • How am I going to find a job?
  • Is my job going to pay enough?
  • Am I going to like my job?

Professors then take these common problems or themes and point towards the places in the syllabus that will help address them. Students then realize, “Oh, even if I don’t want to be an entrepreneur, here’s what I’m going to get out of this class or entrepreneurial skills.” This whole process takes roughly 30 minutes in-person. 

The online version, on the other hand, is more drawn out. First students fill out a survey that says “here are my fears and curiosities.” Then they utilize the aforementioned reflection groups where they’ll talk about their challenges. Then the instructor takes the survey results and makes a video response connecting the dots between their students’ challenges, and their syllabus. So, the interaction takes longer in terms of calendar time but creates the same “ah-ha” moment as students realize the value entrepreneurship skills can have on their lives, even if they don’t see themselves becoming entrepreneurs. 


Transitioning to teaching online can be challenging, but it can also be extremely effective. If you want to make sure your students:

  • Avoid cramming
  • Feel connected to you and your other students
  • Engage fully in your class

We recommend:

  1. Having multiple touch points per week
  2. Group assignments w/ individual reflections
  3. Everyone record videos with webcams
  4. Use discussion boards for personal reflections
  5. Replicate your interactions, not your classes, online

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If you have any suggestions to fix the mistakes above or want to recommend any mistakes we missed, please let us know!

In the meantime… 

We Need Your Questions!

During this time of uncertainty, we want to hear what challenges you’re running into, and questions you have. We’re eager to experiment with ways to serve the teaching community, but like good innovators, we want to make sure we’re solving real problems.

What's Your Biggest Teaching Challenge?

In my role as USASBE President-elect, I’m hosting a USASBE Virtual Town Hall on March 25th, where we’ll discuss your challenges in detail. Answering the question above, or clicking the image below, will register you for the discussion, and make sure you get the recording afterward.

United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Town Hall Discussion of Entrepreneurship Education

Register Here for the USASBE Town Hall

Our Curriculum

If you’re looking for a structured, comprehensive, and engaging experiential entrepreneurship curriculum you can run with your students in person, or online, check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Used at more than 80 colleges and universities, ExEC helps students feel connected with you, and one another, while they learn practical entrepreneurial skills regardless of their career path.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo


Preparing for Class During the Coronavirus

Preparing for Class During the Coronavirus

As the Coronavirus spreads, more and more schools are transitioning to online classes.

If you’re asked to teach entrepreneurship online, know that we’ve accelerated the development of ExEC Online due to the outbreak. If you’d like to use it, please reach out and we’ll see if/how we can be most helpful.

creativity lesson plans

Fortunately, teaching with ExEC Online takes relatively little prep – much of the teaching material is already prepared – and student engagement is at least as high as in-person classes.

For more information on teaching entrepreneurship online with ExEC, click here.

Otherwise, please stay as safe (and stress-free) as possible, and let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help.

Creating Rigorous But Accessible Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

Creating Rigorous But Accessible Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

Whether teaching Intro to Entrepreneurship at a community college, or Tech Entrepreneurship at Stanford, we know…

Experiential exercises are the key to engaging students.
teaching entrepreneurship stanford

In our continuing collaboration with Rebeca Hwang from Stanford, who introduced us to her Wish Game, we were excited by her invitation to share two of our lesson plans with her students.

Teaching at Stanford

Knowing that experiences are both the best to teach skills, we decided to introduce students to the difference between Inventors and Entrepreneurs with our award-winning Lottery Ticket Dilemma lesson plan. With our second lesson, we shifted our focus to customer interviews. We wanted students to walk away with a clear understanding of what questions they should, and more importantly, what questions they shouldn’t ask, during customer interviews.

Inventors Vs. Entrepreneurs

We chose to present this exercise because it creates a fun, experiential way for students to conceptualize customer behavior. They can also identify business opportunities, by demonstrating it’s not actually customer problems that drive behavior, but customer emotions. 

entrepreneurship lesson plans online

After this game-based activity, students understand why some products are successful even if they don’t solve an obvious problem. This inspires them to identify non-problem based opportunities to leverage. 

Customer Interviewing: Learning the Basics Through Gamification

We followed with another fun and interactive exercise designed to improve your students’ interviewing skills in just one lesson. During this class, students will identify what their problem interviewing goals should be and should not be. Those goals will point them to what questions they should and should not ask during customer interviews.

entrepreneurial lesson plans online

After the card game, we provided an interview script template to the students. They can use this script as the basis for any problem discovery interview they conduct. This robust script will increase the quality of their interviews, and their confidence in conducting them. 

Students Love Engaging Entrepreneurship Classes

After our two lesson plans were concluded, one thing was very clear: students love to be engaged in the classroom. Here is a snapshot of some of our feedback:

entrepreneurship lesson plans
entrepreneurship lesson plan

We were delighted to get this real-time feedback from Stanford students. We believe in practicing what we preach and the opportunity to teach at Stanford allowed us to perform our own customer discovery interviews. The overall response was two-fold. The students:

  • Loved how engaging the lessons were
  • Appreciated learning a new, practical skill

Rigorous and Accessible Entrepreneurship Curriculum

But what excites us most about the work we do at is that these same exercises are accessible and loved by a wide range of students and university professors like. You can find our curriculum in:

college entrepreneurship lessons

Don’t Take Our Word for it

teaching entrepreneurship lessons

No Matter Where You’re Teaching

Our goal continues to be to move the art and science of teaching entrepreneurship forward. Customer Interviewing Cards and the Inventors vs. Entrepreneurs presentation are just a few the experiential exercises we’ve created. If you’d like to see how the Inventor vs. Entrepreneur lesson can work in your classroom, click to learn more. We hope you give them a shot, and if you, and your students enjoy, check out the full Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).


Click Here for Our Stanford Presentation




It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers, so you’re welcome to share it.



Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

A Better Way to Teach Entrepreneurship Online

A Better Way to Teach Entrepreneurship Online

Teaching entrepreneurship online is daunting. In addition to the technical challenges, teaching entrepreneurship online comes with extra questions like:

  • How do you make online classes experiential?
  • How do you keep virtual students engaged?
  • How do create connections between you and your students?

And most importantly…

How to can you teach entrepreneurial skills online?

Introducing ExEC Online

Over the last 5 years, we’ve worked hard to produce the best available experiential entrepreneurship curriculum possible. During that time, we’ve had a laser focus on in-person classes. Over the same time period…

We’ve seen an increasing number of our instructors being asked to teach entrepreneurship online. 

This shift has inspired us to run an experiment this semester, creating a special version of ExEC that:

  • Teaches entrepreneurship online
  • Using the same experiential, interactive, approach we use for in-person classes
  • That creates meaningful connections between students and professors

And most importantly…

Builds students’ entrepreneurial skills, regardless of where their career takes them!

Coming Summer 2020

teac entrepreneurship onlineThis spring, we, the founding team of are alpha testing the first version of ExEC online at John Carroll University.

Our ExEC Online students are launching companies, running experiments, testing their hypotheses and interviewing customers – everything they do in our in-person ExEC classes! 

But that’s not even the best part. Based on what we’ve seen so far…

ExEC online could enable you to spend less time prepping, and more time coaching and mentoring individual students, which means your online classes could potentially be, more impactful than your in-person classes.

The combination of:

  • Automatically scheduled assignments
  • Pre-recorded video lessons
  • Online experiential exercises that integrate with your LMS and 
  • Quick-grading rubrics

…means you can significantly reduce your prep.

Imagine an experiential, skill-building, online entrepreneurship course, with 10% of the prep of a traditional class – and just as much impact.

When Will You Teach Online?

Looking at the flexibility online classes offer students, and the potential for growth they offer universities means, it looks like online classes will be the part of all of our futures’.

For example, below you can see close to 50% of all Oregon Public school students are taking online classes now – more than double the rate just 10 years ago.

Whether you’re already teaching online, or think it could be in your future, know that we’re developing and testing an online version of our award winning experiential curriculum, that you can use starting Fall 2020.

Curious about ExEC Online?

If you’re teaching entrepreneurship in an online, or hybrid, class in Fall or Spring of next year and are curious about our online experiments, let us know and we’ll show you what we’re up to:

ExEC Online Interest Form



2019 Most Popular Lesson Plans

2019 Most Popular Lesson Plans

“This approach to learning is just what students need.” – Eric Liguori, Rowan University

From enabling students to discover ideas that are meaningful to them to improving customer interviews, we design lesson plans to enhance engagement and improve skill-building. The following are our 5 most popular lesson plans from 2019 to transform your students’ experience as they practice generating ideas, interviewing customers, identifying early adopters, and validating assumptions.

5. Increase the Quality of Your Student’s Ideas

One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurship professors tell us is inspiring students to come up with ideas that are impactful or solution-centered. 

How do you get your students to focus on problems, not products?

So often, students are attracted to low-impact products without a clear idea of who their customer is, much less why they would want to buy into the idea. We want them to understand that customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to their problems.

Student Idea Generation Lesson

The Student Idea Generation lesson plan sparks your student’s idea generation so they can identify what problems they want to solve. 

Rather than leading a brainstorming session in which students develop business ideas on their own (which can result in unactionable ideas), the Student Idea Generation lesson plan:

  • Instructs students how to pinpoint the customers they’re passionate about helping
  • Leads the students to identify the biggest challenges or problems they want to solve for these groups

In this lesson plan, students first discover the customers they are passionate about helping and the problems/emotions they want to help them with. Students then determine solutions they can use to create a successful business.

After this lesson, your students’ ideas will be:

  • More focused because they’ve identified the specific group they want to help
  • More practical because they’ll be solution-focused
  • More innovative because they’re inspired to solve problems

View Idea Generation Lesson Plan

4. Transform Your Student’s Customer Interviews

Nothing can make some students more uncomfortable than not knowing what to ask during customer interviews.

A number of factors make a student wary of conducting customer interviews, including:

  • Talking to strangers gives them anxiety
  • They’re nervous because they’ve never conducted an interview and want to get it right
  • They don’t understand the benefit of interviews in the first place

Because customer interviewing is so critical to building solutions people want, customer interviews are an integral part of the entrepreneurship curriculum. We designed the Customer Interview lesson plan to eliminate the barriers students have around performing customer interviews.

This comprehensive lesson plan includes materials to prep before class, and step-by-step instructions for leading the lesson. After the lesson, students will walk away understanding:

  • Their role in the interview
  • What makes a successful interview
  • Preparation for real customer interviews
  • Specific interview questions

The benefits of this lesson plan are two-fold:

  • Takes the guesswork out of customer interviews for the students 
  • Minimizes preparation for the instructor

Get the “How to Interview Customers” Lesson Plan

3. Experiential Exercise for Teaching About Early Adopters

Another problem professors shared is teaching students how to identify early adopters. Early adopters are vital for the success of any product or service, but students often struggle in understanding the concept of an early adopter.

Students understand the definition of Early Adopters easier if they’re led through this experiential exercise.
Identifying Early Adopters Experiential Exercise

The Finding Early Adopters lesson plan features a mechanical pencil challenge that introduces the concept of an early adopter and contrasts it with early majority and late majority customers. This exercise also demonstrates where and how to find early adopters.

This exercise was a finalist in the prestigious 2019 USASBE 3E Competition, which recognizes the best experiential entrepreneurship exercises at the USASBE Annual Conference.

After this lesson plan, students will be able to answer:

  • Who is the target for customer interviews?
  • How and where to find the best prospects for customer interviews?

View the Finding Early Adopters Lesson Plan

2. Coaching for Entrepreneurship Students

While valuable, team projects can be a source of great anxiety for students. Many students working in teams:

  • Worry about their final grade
  • Fall behind with the coursework or understanding of the content
  • Are bored because their team has surpassed other teams’ progress

Team projects can be problematic for professors to successfully meet students’ diverse needs. The How to Coach Your Students lesson plan provides a differentiated learning experience using individual team coaching sessions that provides a positive and productive team experience for all students.

Popular Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans
Individual coaching sessions allow students to quantify the skills they’ve built and identify next steps.

Similar to a daily stand-up approach to scrum meetings, this lesson walks you step-by-step through a process to perform a Stand-Up Coaching session in 1 of 2 ways and discusses the pros and cons of each technique:

  • Coaching through simulation
  • Private team coaching

After this lesson, students will:

  • Shift from searching for the right answer to asking the right questions
  • Focus on learning rather than earning a specific grade
  • Feel better equipped to prepare for their final presentation

View the “Coach Your Students” Lesson Plan

1. The True Meaning of Minimum Viable Product

The 60 Minute MVP remains one of our most popular lesson plans. During this hour-long experience, students launch an MVP website, with an animated video and a way to take pre-orders, without any prior coding experience. 

“One student described it 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 Curriculum Professor
Minimum Viable Product Experiential Exercise

This class is the ultimate combination of engagement and skill-building as the students navigate each task. On the lesson plan page, you can view an example of a video students created based on actual customer problems in about 20 minutes.

After this class, your students will understand:

  • The true meaning of Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  • It’s easier to launch a product than they assume
  • Launching a product lays the foundation for their entire business

View 60 Minute MVP Lesson Plan

Bonus: The Power of Customer Observations

In addition to teaching customer interviewing techniques, we developed a Teaching Customer Observations lesson plan because it helps solidify the student’s understanding of the importance of understanding their customer’s problems. In this lesson plan, students experience first-hand the value of seeing how their customers experience problems rather than just imagining certain scenarios.

Customer Observations Lesson Plan

The goal of this lesson is to teach students to have a clear picture of their customer’s problems before they try to come up with a solution. 

After this class, students will understand

  • The value of observing customer behavior rather than trying to predict it
  • How to listen with their eyes to improve empathy for what their customers value and care about

In addition to the positive feedback we’ve received from the community using this exercise,

this lesson won first place in the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Exercises Awards at the USASBE 2019 Annual Conference!

View Teaching Customer Observations Lesson Plan

Want an Experiential + Structured Curriculum?

If you’re looking for a comprehensive, tested, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum to use next semester, that fully engages your students, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum and we’ll get you set up!

Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

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Students Don’t See the Value of a Textbook: Dr. Samantha Fairclough

Students Don’t See the Value of a Textbook: Dr. Samantha Fairclough

    It’s a struggle for every professor to keep their class engaged.

In an over-stimulated culture, we are at a disadvantage to create an environment where students aren’t constantly looking at their laptops or phones. To keep their eyes up and maintain their interest can sometimes seem like lofty goals.

Kim Pichot - Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Professor

Dr. Samantha Fairclough understands that struggle. As an Assistant Professor of Practice at University of Nebraska-Lincoln & the Associate Director of the UNL Center for Entrepreneurship, she feels personal and professional pressure to make sure she maintains a high level of student engagement.

As she prepared to teach her Managing Growth and Change class recently, she realized she had to make a change.

    She knew the way she previously taught “isn’t working for me. The students hate it. I hate it. I don’t enjoy the book.”

Entrepreneurship Alternative to Textbook Learning

She decided to ditch all textbooks and was searching for readings and articles she could use instead when she found the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).

After using the ExEC 60 minute MVP lesson from the website in her current creativity class as a pilot for using the entire ExEC curriculum, she was pleased by the great buzz of energy and student engagement. 

    Dr. Fairclough describes being blown away with the kinds of things her students came up with.
Teaching Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Fully Adopting the ExEC Entrepreneurship Curriculum 

From websites to explainer videos, the lesson was such a great moment and garnered such positive results, she decided she was ready to adopt the full ExEC curriculum with her next group of students.

The timing also seemed right for change because she felt she had the right group of students to try something new. Instead of pushing her class of entrepreneurially minded students into a lecture-based system, Dr. Fairclough fully embraced the ExEC curriculum and found that the tools and techniques worked from day 1.

Making it Real Lesson Plan

Using the Making it Real lesson plan, Samantha got the students together in the downtown Lincoln area. She gave each group $5 (in singles) and told them to make as much money as possible in 30 minutes. The winning group would split the winnings. This lesson proved to be a great kick-off for introducing the ExEC philosophy. 

    “One of the joys of this class is, it’s so interactive, there’s a lot of engagement.”

Students returned to class filled with energy and excitement. One group took a temporary job to make money, while another sold shares in their future winnings. The creativity of the ideas combined with the feedback from her students made it obvious to Samantha that the kids loved the exercise.  Coverage of their experience on social media gained some great exposure on campus too. Word of the positive experience continued to spread, even reaching the Dean’s office.

Similar to other entrepreneurship professors, Samantha wants her students to enjoy learning. She found that having a great rapport with her students starts with the material that lays a foundation for a solid experience and exchange of ideas.

Pressure from Above

“As an entrepreneurship professor, I strive to be the best and receive the highest evaluation scores from students,” Samantha shared. “Across the board, those of us who teach entrepreneurship are expected to have interactive, experiential classes. This creates a pressure to continuously find new and effective ways to do that in a way students enjoy but isn’t cumbersome for us as educators.”

Additionally, professors feel added pressure from their institution to remain on the cutting edge of teaching methods. The unspoken thought being if the professor does not create an interactive class that elicits great feedback, they’re not teaching effectively.

Ditch the Textbook: Start Engaging

ExEC was designed to help you engage all of your students without requiring significant prep time.

If you’re, like Dr. Fairclough, looking for a curriculum that

  • Engages every student
  • Provides structured, skill-building, real-world experiences
  • Has comprehensive support for easy adoption

request a preview of our ExEC curriculum here.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

Samantha Isn’t Alone! Read More Case Studies of ExEC Instructors

Related Articles

We’re committed to providing content that will help our community of entrepreneurship educators remain on the forefront of the field. Here is a list of some recent posts we think you’ll find valuable for your next class:

  • Textbooks Don’t Work. More and more professors are finding textbooks are not an effective way to teach entrepreneurship. Experiences are. Engage your students with the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.
  • Idea Generation vs. Problem Generation. Idea generation is one of the most difficult aspects of teaching entrepreneurship. We share an alternative to idea generation that will quickly help your students generate ideas.
  • How to Teach MVP’s. In this exercise, students will design their first MVP by identifying their riskiest business model assumption. They’ll then design the simplest experiment they can to test that riskiest assumption. 

Ready to Take Student Engagement to the Next Level?

We email new experiential entrepreneurship lesson plans regularly.

Subscribe here to get our next lesson plan in your inbox!

We engage students in practicing skills, actively. Class time should be spent learning by doing, with professors guiding students through an experience where they can see the material come to life in a way that is meaningful for them. We built that experience for you and for your students.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum
Engage Students This Spring

Engage Students This Spring

This spring you can have:

  • More engagement
  • More structure
  • More impact

We practice what we preach, and apply entrepreneurial principles to how to teach entrepreneurship. The Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) combines all of the best practices of entrepreneurship education, and after just 2 years is now used at almost 100 universities!

If you want more engagement, more structure, and more impact, now is your chance with ExEC!

Universities using Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Why People Love ExEC

Each semester, our founders continuously interview faculty and staff to improve the user experience, and create more meaningful moments.

Kim Pichot - Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Professor

One student of Kim Pichot, from Andrews University, shared:

“This one is by far the best class I’ve ever taken at this University!”

Maureen Cumpstone from Ursinus College said:

“Students understood the focus on skill-building rather than going through the motions of creating something that we all know is pretend.”

Students also share the impact of learning experientially:

“This course teaches more practical skills which are not available in other courses during college.” – Student, Georgia State University

“I enjoyed the interactive class. It gets everyone involved and awake and gets the juices flowing in your brain. Class was more enjoyable rather than something I had to attend.” – Student, Rowan University

What’s New In ExEC?

Faster Assessment

We redesigned what students turn in, dramatically reducing assessment time, while keeping the curriculum robust and the grading transparent.

Assessments used in Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

We also simplified and updated our rubrics, so you can more efficiently and effectively provide constructive feedback to your students.

Updated rubrics in Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Updated Modules

The Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum has expanded to include the core topics that are essential to successful entrepreneurs:

Idea Generation. This module helps students identify ideas they are uniquely qualified to pursue. The experience will teach students:

  • A repeatable process for generating business ideas.
  • Brainstorming problems to solve generates more good business ideas than brainstorming products to build.
  • Which customers they are uniquely suited to serve.
  • How to identify “backup ideas” if their primary business idea falters.

Idea Generation Exercise in Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Financial Projection Simulator. This module helps students determine if a business model will be financially sustainable. The experience will teach students how to:

  • Estimate costs for their venture.
  • Project their revenue from a “bottom-up” perspective.
  • Update their business model hypotheses to ensure they are on a path to achieve their business goals.

Customer Interviewing. Our updated method of teaching customer interviews use’s ExEC Customer Interviewing Playing Cards with an online collaborative quiz game to show students:

  • What their problem interviewing goals should and should not be, and
  • What questions they should and should not ask

Customer Interviewing Script used in Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

The curriculum now enables professors to easily shift from the ineffective sage-on-the-stage model of education to the guide-on-the-side model, because the real teacher with the ExEC curriculum is the students’ experience.

AOM Review of ExEC!

We were fortunate that two of our rock-star colleagues (Dr. Emma Fleck from Susquehanna University and Dr. Atul Teckchandani from California State University Fullerton) shared their thoughts about our curriculum in Academy of Management Learning & Education, the leading journal on the study of management learning and education.

Learn more about our curriculum from this review in Academy of Management Learning & Education.

Academy of Management Learning & Education review of Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Improved LMS Integration

For Fall 2019, we we updated our integration of ExEC with the four major learning management systems (LMS): Canvas, D2L, Moodle and Blackboard. This offers our professors the capability of uploading all our content neatly into their respective LMS, which greatly reduces the setup time, and provides a more comfortable learning process for the students.

From hundreds of professor and student interviews, we built a brand new professor platform for our entrepreneurship curriculum. After a few well-managed hiccups rolled it out with overall great success.

The ExEC experience contains over 30 detailed lesson plans, each containing seven core elements designed to enable easy navigation and execution for our professors:

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Overview

  1. The lesson’s goals and objectives.
  2. A quick overview of where each lesson fits into the scheme of the overall curriculum.
  3. An engaging overview video explaining the lesson.
  4. Detailed Google Slides for classroom use.

Video and slides in every lesson plan in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

  1. Instructions to prepare before class, including all necessary resources.
  2. An exhaustive minute-by-minute outline for delivering the lesson.
  3. Instructions for what students could and should do after class.

Lesson plan instructions in Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

From the first moment of planning a lesson to returning graded assignments, we frame the entire learning experience in detailed, practical terms that are mapped onto the Business Model Canvas to highlight what lessons are applicable for particular boxes on the Canvas.

Award-Winning Curriculum!

Our founding team are entrepreneurs. We’ve spent years interviewing entrepreneurship faculty and students. This combined knowledge led us to build a skill-based award-winning entrepreneurship curriculum that probes critical entrepreneurship topics in-depth.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum wins first place at USASBE

ExEC Online?

We’ve had a ton of interest in using ExEC for online classes, so this semester we’ll be alpha testing a fully online-enabled version of ExEC.

We have been hard at work creating engaging videos and online experiences for students, and will kick the tires on this new experience before rolling it out nationally in Fall 2020.

In Spring 2020, our co-founders will teach the first fully online semester-long ExEC course at John Carroll University!
Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum co-founders

Engage Your Class

We engage students in practicing skills, actively. Class time should be spent learning by doing, with professors guiding students through an experience where they can see the material come to life in a way that is meaningful for them. We built that experience for you and for your students.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum professor Georgann Jouflas

Georgann Jouflas wanted to teach her students to discover their passion and solve problems

Her students needed to deeply engage with understanding the power of hidden assumptions, and how to prototype. She found her solution with ExEC!

 Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

ExEC provides the entire learning experience, giving students meaningful content and the tools to turn that content into action.

Don’t worry about covering every topic in a particular niche of entrepreneurship hoping they will get it. Invite students into an experience that facilitates learning and understanding. They will thank you. However, we don’t expect you to take our word for it.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Chris Welter

Dr. Chris Welter, who uses ExEC with undergrads and MBAs, says:

“It’s the software I’ve been looking for for 3 or 4 years . . . I really appreciate the ability for students to get their hands dirty.”

Try ExEC This Spring

There’s a community of more than 70 entrepreneurial professors like you, and they’re using ExEC to bring entrepreneurship to life for their students.

Request a preview of ExEC today and make this Spring the most engaging semester of entrepreneurship yet! Our curriculum is full of experiential exercises that will make your students’ learning come alive.

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:

  • “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!
  • Improving Student Idea Generation. Help students build ideas around the customers they are most passionate about helping, and the problems they are most excited to help them resolve.
  • Teachers Need Tools.  Our curriculum makes prepping your entrepreneurship classes a breeze, and makes teaching the classes a powerful experience for students.