Activate Your Students in 60 Minutes

Activate Your Students in 60 Minutes

Immersion pressure challenge chaos motivation 60 minute MVP

If you haven’t already run the 60 Minute MVP exercise in your class this term, now is the time. It’s the most popular exercise on our blog – over 500 students having done it this month alone.

As Thomas Nelson, one of our new Experiential Curriculum (ExEC) pilot professors from the University of South Alabama, told us after running this exercise:

“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.” 

In just 60 minutes, your students will…

Design Landing Pages

Your students will build a website that describes the problem they’re solving, like this one Thomas’ students built:

Here’s one from Emma Fleck’s class at Susquehanna University, another of our pilot professors:

Create Explainer Videos

Your students will build an explainer video to show how their solution solves that problem, like this one from Thomas’ class:

Your students will build a currency test to validate demand for their product, like this:

Teach your students this critical entrepreneurship lesson:

We’ve documented all of the instructions your students need to follow in the lesson plan below.

You want to do this exercise in your class. Your students need you to do this exercise in your class.

Complete details to bring this exercise to life in your class, 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.

Reminder: Learn From Professors Who Teach Without a Textbook

If you want to replace all your lectures with activities like the 60 Minute MVP, join us on Nov. 13th, to learn from four professors who have done just that, and to learn if the same will work in your class. They will tackle the most common problems, like:

  1. How do you grade/assess my students without a textbook?
  2. How do you engage students who aren’t into entrepreneurship?
  3. How do you set student expectations when they’re used to traditional classes?

Teaching Without a Textbook

An online panel discussion

Nov. 13th. 1:30 – 2:30 pm Eastern Time

Stay Tuned

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Teaching without a Textbook

Teaching without a Textbook

Marshmallow challenge failure
Nothing teaches better than failure experience 🙂

Textbooks and lectures are the antithesis to an engaging entrepreneurship classroom. You already know…

The entrepreneurship mindset is best developed through experience.

In fact, you’ve probably already incorporated a number of experiences into your course, and noticed how your students are more engaged than when you lecture.

Which begs the question…

What if you replaced all your lectures with activities?

4 Professors Can Show you How

Emma Fleck, James Sprenger, Jennifer Daniels and Mike Dominik have all jettisoned textbooks from their entrepreneurship courses this semester, replacing them with exercises from the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).

The benefits from making the switch have been eye-opening:

“I LOVE [Who Are Early Adopters?] exercise!!! So many times, I have had conversations with my students who are going to interview their dad, friend, someone who works in the industry and this exercise really takes the time to dispel this myth that these are important.” – Jennifer Daniels

“One student described [60 Minute MVP] as a Navy Seal mental training exercise. Not sure it was that intense, but they were amazed and proud that they got it done.” – Thomas Nelson

“Given the previous exercises students were able to quickly identify the interview channels that their early adopters might use. Students felt very confident about getting out and learning about the problem.” – Emma Fleck

At the same time, building a textbook-free course takes some consideration. If you’re interested in going experiential, these professors want to share details about their transition at:

Teaching Without a Textbook

An online panel discussion

Nov. 13th. 1:30 – 2:30 pm Eastern Time

Is it Worth Changing your Course?

A lot of questions will come up as you think replacing a textbook with experiential activities:

  • How much work will the transition be?
  • How will your students respond?
  • What are the downsides?
  • How will your administration respond?

At the Teaching Without a Textbook webinar, panelists will answer all of those questions, as well as any additional questions you have about their experience:

  • What’s the hardest part about teaching without a textbook?
  • What do they wish they would have known before ditching their textbook?
  • What are the best exercises they teach now?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of ExEC?

By the end of the panel discussion, you’ll know whether or not going textbook-free is right for you.

Engage your Students

You already know…

The key to engaging your students is to replace words with action. Click To Tweet

Join us on Nov. 13th, to learn from four professors who have done just that, and to learn if the same will work in your class.

Teaching Without a Textbook

An online panel discussion

Nov. 13th. 1:30 – 2:30 pm Eastern Time

Stay Tuned

For more updates on ExEC, and our continuing series of free classroom resources delivered to your inbox, subscribe below.

Join 4,000+ teachers. Get new lesson plans via email.
An Interview About Empathy: Meet Our Founder

An Interview About Empathy: Meet Our Founder

Many of you know me (Doan) from USASBE or my blog, or my research, but you may not know Justin Wilcox, the passionate entrepreneur driving TeachingEntrepreneurship.org. With this post, we pull back the curtain and introduce our wizard!

Who Is Justin Wilcox? A Snapshot:

  • 2003: Degree in Computer Science from Cal Poly
  • 2003: Engineer/Lead at Microsoft
  • 2007: Left Microsoft to start a healthcare company
  • 2009: Realized no one wanted what the startup was building
  • 2009: Found out why after learning about Customer Development
  • 2010: Used Customer Development to turn healthcare startup around
  • 2010: Started Customer Development Labs blog about how that happened
  • 2012: Blog turned into talks at Lean Startup conferences
  • 2014: Talks turned into workshops with accelerator programs (e.g. Google for Entrepreneurs, Techstars, Startup Weekend, etc.), and Fortune 500s
  • 2015: Workshops turned into the FOCUS Framework and the “How to Find Product-Market Fit” workbook series
  • 2017: The FOCUS Framework inspired our ExEC curriculum

Let’s Dive Deeper . . .

Justin and I did a one-on-one interview so you could hear his perspective in depth.

Or if you prefer, here’s a summary of our conversation:

How did Justin come to build curriculum for university professors?

As mentioned above, Justin started a healthcare software company, but realized that he built a product nobody wanted to use. He studied what went wrong in his entrepreneurial journey, eventually finding Steve Blank’s Customer Development model, one of the precursors to The Lean Startup.

It was then that Justin realized,

He hadn’t learned how to empathize.

While he learned how to write code in school, and build innovative products at Microsoft, innovation was meaningless if it didn’t lead to impact. To create impact, he had to learn how to see the world from his customer’s perspective – to feel what they felt. To become a better innovator, he had to become a better empathizer.

At the time Justin discovered Customer Development and Lean Startup, they were largely theoretical concepts with little practical guidance on how to apply them. So Justin started developing, documenting, and teaching, ways to practice integrating empathy into the entrepreneurial process.

After helping thousands of individual entrepreneurs do just that, university professors began reaching out asking Justin for help teaching these methodologies in the classroom. That’s when it became clear:

Professors faced the same challenges turning Lean Startup theory into action that he had.

Having discovered effective ways to teach the techniques, Justin reached out to me and we began collaborating on ways to teach them to entrepreneurship professors – which is when TeachingEntrepreneurship.org was born. 🙂

Why work with academics instead of entrepreneurs?

The big draw for working with academics is the impact multiplier we enable. By collaborating with professors, Justin learned he could have a larger impact because we as professors work with hundreds of thousands of students every year.

By helping us teach our students how to understand other people’s perspectives (empathy) and how to sustainably solve their problems (via business model validation), our combined impact can be much larger than if Justin worked solely with entrepreneurs.

Our whole is greater than the sum of our parts.

Where would he like to see entrepreneurship education go?

Justin practices what he preaches, and he’s heartened by professors who act the same way.

He wants to support teachers who apply the lean principles they teach, so they can optimize their impact. To that end, Justin is most excited by professors who treat their class like a startup:

  • Creating hypotheses about their course,
  • Running experiments to optimize the course,
  • Measuring their impact with metrics.

Justin wants to see more professors treat students like their customers and engage with them to build better courses.

These principles work. The more we apply them, the better we can teach them.

What most exciting about ExEC’s Fall Pilot?

We’ve implemented a system for students to give us emotionally-driven feedback on every exercise.

Students tell us, and their professors, how they feel about each exercise.

The insight from this is super exciting for both of us. The aggregated feedback helps us know how students feel about their course, so together we can iterate and improve them.

Student feedback from ExEC’s Business Model Canvas intro exercise

Looking forward, what is most exciting is our ability to turn that data into engagement analytics so professors know in real time exactly how their students are feeling, and how exactly they are engaging with the material.

What’s the next step with ExEC?

Justin is busy updating much of the underlying technology for a streamlined experience for professors and students.

We are keeping our Spring cohort fairly small; there are only about five spots still available.

If you’re eager to use an experiential approach, can provide us feedback on a regular basis, and can ask your students to provide us feedback on a regular basis…

Then you’re a perfect candidate to be an ExEC Pilot, and you can shape the way entrepreneurship is taught.

Bonus Question

If you’ve read this far – thank you – you deserve a little extra. What’s one thing that very few people know about Justin?

He holds a Guiness World Record.

Want to know for what? Shoot him an email or ask him at the upcoming USASBE conference!

Want to work with Justin and I to change Entrepreneurship?

If you’re a progressive entrepreneurship professor interested in getting your hands dirty in the name of improving entrepreneurship education join us and you can play a significant role in reshaping how entrepreneurship is taught at colleges around the world.

Stay Tuned

For more updates on ExEC, and our continuing series of free classroom resources delivered to your inbox, subscribe below.

Join 4,000+ teachers. Get new lesson plans via email.
The Good, Bad and Ugly of the ExEC Fall Pilot

The Good, Bad and Ugly of the ExEC Fall Pilot

ExEC is an experiment to see if we can revolutionize how entrepreneurship is taught in college classrooms.

Halfway through our first pilot semester, we wanted to share the results so far – warts and all – so the entrepreneurship education community at large can learn along with us.

The Numbers

We’re grateful to have 10 schools across the United States and Canada piloting with us this Fall:

  • Rowan University
  • Brandon University
  • East Carolina University
  • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)
  • University of South Alabama
  • Gulf Coast State College
  • Xavier University
  • John Carroll University
  • Susquehanna University
  • Georgia State University

Across these institutions, we have nearly 500 undergraduate students using the curriculum.

Just as ExEC challenges those 500 students to do, we’re testing the curriculum’s assumptions and iterating its design. Here’s what we’ve found so far.

The Good

Our pilot professors and students have told us ExEC stands out with respect to other curricula in a couple areas:

Developing the Entrepreneurial Mindset

We want students engaging with their customers, discovering problems that can be solved instead of just thinking of new ideas to create.

One professor told us:

“More than anything, I’ve enjoyed that we have spent 4-5 weeks exploring the issue of problem solving. In previous classes, students have been convinced they had the right solution to a problem by week 2 and no matter what research they found, they wouldn’t pivot appropriately given the new evidence.”

Students are also sharing their excitement at better understanding how entrepreneurs think. One student said:

“This activity made me look at the creation of a product in a different aspect than I have before. It allowed me to think of solving a problem and not just creating a product to create one. It needs to be something that people will actually use. It made it easier for me to be creative and think more like an entrepreneur.”

Another student told us:

“The exercise was a very clear, somewhat concise explanation of the mindset needed for successful entrepreneurship. It shows the clear relationship between successful startups and outlines the key consistencies for success.”

And perhaps our favorite student feedback:

“[The Business Plans vs. Business Experiments exercise] made me think like a kindergartener again and that made me excited.”

Replacing Lectures with Experiences

ExEC provides professors with comprehensive lesson plans, and constant support, so you can create experiences like this that will excite students about experiencing entrepreneurship.

One of the exercises uses marshmallows to teach students about the danger of hidden assumptions, and why business plans lead to failure more often than not:

Pilot students have been sharing their excitement with the exercises as well. They are seeing how they can apply what they are experiencing in class:

This really showed me what it takes to develop an idea. Also helped me get more in touch with who I’m trying to target with my idea and how it can help [him/her].”

“I can use the [exercise] for all business ideas that come to mind and when analyzing other companies.”

Students have shared how the exercises have shifted their thinking:

“I feel I will perform better in the future when completing a project because now I know the value of prototyping, also, now I understand the importance of identifying the hidden assumptions which cause many times good ideas to fail.”

“Knowing how feelings play a part in buying and decision making is interesting and will help with my business model. I did not really think or relate the two before this class.”

“This provides a clear understanding of what it takes to solve a problem and come up with ideas to solve those problems. It showed me some key resources that I did not know before to help start a company through problem solving.”

Getting Students Interviewing Customers

We want students having real conversations with real customers about the customer’s problems. This is the essence of entrepreneurship, and a skill we heard most professors struggle teaching.

One professor told us:

“Given the previous exercises on identifying the early adopters and clarifying the problem statement, [The How To Ask for Interviews exercise] was a very positive exercise. Students were able to quickly identify the interview channels that their early adopters might use (social media, blogs, interviews) and plan how to initiate that conversation using the strategy outlined in this exercise. By the end of today, the students felt very confident about getting out and learning about the problem.” 

Our interviewing exercises push students to think about learning from actual customers, instead of industry or product “experts”, as shared by one professor:

“I LOVE [Who Are Early Adopters?] exercise!!!  So many times, I have had conversations with my students who are going to interview their dad, friend, someone who works in the industry and this exercise really takes the time to dispel this myth that these are important.”

The students are also realizing how powerful interviews are, especially in comparison to surveys, thanks to an ExEC exercise that makes them survey and interview customers, and compare the results:

“The [Student Challenges Survey exercise] is showing how surveys do not capture the full picture from a consumer whereas an interview lets the customer give more feedback.”

After half a semester, we are confident the pilot students are engaged in their class experience. Through that engagement, we see them developing an entrepreneurial mindset, and honing their customer interviewing skills.

The Bad

We preach iteration because there’s no way to get everything right the first time around – and that’s the case with ExEC. Here are a couple areas we need to focus on going forward.

Less is More

We created too much content. We originally wanted to arm our professors with more experiences and exercises than they could ever use, so they could build a customized syllabus specifically for their class.

That strategy has started to backfire as some professors have, understandably, began feeling pressured to cover a lot of material in a limited amount of time. One told us:

“I was extremely nervous . . . to teach a class that had so many new components that I was learning day by day.”

Another shared:

“I think there are too many lessons on interviewing, although I see its utility.”

ExEC has 30+ experiential exercises, which is simply too many for one semester, especially when life readjusts the class schedule, as it did with Hurricane Irma for a couple professors.

The Fix

Based on the exercises students find most impactful, we’re streamlining ExEC’s content to focus on a subset of activities.

Restricting Access

We were so excited to share ExEC with as many schools as possible, we initially weren’t as rigorous as we should have been in restricting access.

ExEC has a lot of moving parts, several of them untested before this semester. We should have started with a slightly smaller, more targeted, pilot cohort so we could iron out ExEC’s wrinkles (details below) more efficiently.

The Fix

Having been through trial by fire this semester, we think we have a handle on the major issues. That said, we’ll be limiting access to our upcoming Spring Pilot, just to err on the side of caution.

The Ugly

There is one area we really missed the mark this semester. Because of it, we’ve already started the redesign process.

Poor Design Choices

We made some incorrect assumptions about the technical comfort of some of our students and professors – which really means we made poor design choices on our end.

Our pilot professors and their students are less familiar with technology than we anticipated. We expected more feedback like this from one professor:

“I have taken one class at a time, one new element at a time and really enjoyed exploring the new materials.”

But one professor told us:

“I like to think I’m not stupid, but working through this to get it ready for my students makes me question that.”

And one student told us:

“I’m absolutely thrilled that [I] bought a program coded by a team of incompetents.”

While our professors certainly aren’t stupid, and we (hope we) aren’t incompetent, any experience that makes even a subset of customers feel that way needs to fixed immediately.

The Fix

We’ve already begun making to several exercises, but there’s more work to do.

We’ve started redesigning both the professor and student experiences from the ground-up; while the content will largely remain the same going forward, the way professors and students interact with it will be completely revamped.

Takeaways

So far, this has been a perfect pilot!

Not perfect in that we got everything right – we certainly haven’t – perfect in the sense that this is what pilots are for. With the help of our amazing pilot professors, we’ve been living the Build, Measure, Learn loop.

We’re really excited about ExEC’s and while we haven’t gotten everything right so far, we’ve made some great progress on some of the hardest parts:

  1. Developing the entrepreneurial mindset
  2. Replacing lectures with experiences
  3. Getting students interviewing customers

Next up, we’ll polish our rough design edges so everyone feels confident engaging with the content!

Want to Shape Entrepreneurship?

As mentioned above, we’ll be limiting access to the Spring Pilot, but if you’re a progressive entrepreneurship professor willing to get your hands dirty in the name of improving entrepreneurship education…

Check out ExEC and schedule a preview.

We’ll accept a handful of programs into the Spring Pilot, which will not only get you early access, as you can see, you’ll also play a significant role in reshaping how entrepreneurship is taught at colleges around the world.

Stay Tuned

For more updates on ExEC, and our continuing series of free classroom resources delivered to your inbox, subscribe below.

Join 4,000+ teachers. Get new lesson plans via email.
Experiential Curriculum Launch

Experiential Curriculum Launch

We all struggle teaching idea generation, problem validation and customer interviewing in a way that fully engages our students.

Not only are we competing for our students’ attention, our methods for teaching business model validation are uninspired – especially when many of our students don’t want to be entrepreneurs.

Building an Experiential Curriculum

So what can our 1,100-strong community of teachers do about it?

Build our own experiential curriculum.

We need a curriculum that motivates our students to learn skills like:

  1. Quality idea generation
  2. Customer interviewing
  3. Problem validation

With immersive exercises, experience labs, and relevant case studies our students connect with.

We’ve drafted the ideal curriculum and a comprehensive resource guide we’d like to see for our community. Now the question is, should we build it?

We invite you to preview our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum and let us know if you would use it in your classroom, and if not, why not.

We are practicing what we preach, validating demand for a solution to our struggle of teaching idea generation, problem validation and customer interviewing in a way that fully engages our students.