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Category: Idea Generation

Motivated Students in 3 Steps

Motivated Students in 3 Steps

We all want to teach motivated students, but this is a particularly challenging time for them:

  • Classes are virtual. You and I are experiencing Zoom fatigue, but imagine being a student and being asked to sit through hours of lectures each week.
  • Experiential learning is scary. Getting out of the classroom, engaging with strangers, sharing rough experiments with the world – these can all cause students significant anxiety.
  • “I’m not an entrepreneur.” Some students may just be filling credits. Others may have a misconception about what it means to be an entrepreneur.

We’ve found the key to keeping students motivated is to…

Help Students Discover Their Intrinsic Motivators

How do you guide students to their intrinsic motivators? Focus on the intersection of three elements:

  1. The skills they have and want to develop further.
  2. Their interests that spark their curiosity.
  3. Where they want to make an impact in the world.

Get Motivated Students with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Purpose lies at the intersection of these three elements. If you guide your students through the exercise below early in the semester, they spend the semester working on their purpose.

Students pursuing their purpose = motivated students.

If you did not see us present this exercise at our Summer Summit, we will be presenting it again at the 2021 USASBE Annual Conference on January 5

Pilot Your Purpose = Motivated Students

Once students have a purpose, you can ground each class session in that purpose. You don’t have to talk abstractly about difficult or stressful topics like customer interviewing or entrepreneurial finance. Instead, talk with students about how to interview customers for the idea they are most passionate about pursuing, or how to finance their passion project.

Your class becomes an opportunity for students to pursue their purpose!

Interests + Skills = Passion

The easiest on-ramp to identifying passion is interests. Have students think about:

  1. What friends say they always talk about
  2. What they would spend time doing if money was no object
  3. What they were learning about the last time they lost track of time watching Youtube or scrolling on social media

I talk to my friends and colleagues, who say I’m always talking about mentoring programs, curriculum, and big town & gown ideas. I think about what I would do if money was no object, and some things I thought about are building mentoring programs, adopting old dogs, and teaching entrepreneurship to prisoners (I’ve never engaged with prisoners, but think teaching them entrepreneurship would be deeply meaningful). I then think back to the last time I lost a couple of hours staring on my phone, and it was watching others teach Adobe Illustrator.

I now see my interests mapped out, according to what my friends say, what I dream about, and what holds my attention.

Step 1 of Pilot Your Purpose Exercise is identifying interests The next step is identifying skills students think about. Similar to interests, students do this by thinking about:

  1. What friends say they are good at
  2. What they would like to get better at doing
  3. What they think they are above average at doing

I again talk to my friends, who say I am good at being coaching teachers, giving honest feedback, and at being sarcastic. I think about things I do that I want to be better at. I love, for instance, trying to create engaging content on social media, but know I have a lot to learn! Last, I think hard about what I am really good at, and land on creating curriculum, presenting, coaching/mentoring and connecting others.

I now see my skills mapped out, according to what my friends say, areas I want to improve, and what I’m already good at.

Step 2 of Pilot Your Purpose Exercise is identifying skills

Here is the exercise to motivate your students!

To download the full Pilot Your Purpose exercise enter your email below!


Want More Engaged Students?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

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

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

Preview ExEC Now
 

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

60 Minute MVP [ExEC Online: Express Pack]

60 Minute MVP [ExEC Online: Express Pack]

We’ve fast-tracked the development of new online-ready exercises which you can use individually or as a set, called the ExEC Online: Express pack, available free through June!

Our final lesson, 60 Minute MVP, is ready!

60 Minute MVP ExEC Online image Free Lesson

Based on the extremely popular in-person version of this exercise, the online version of the 60 Minute MVP will have your students designing experiments to test demand just like they would if they weren’t under lockdown. They will:

  1. Create a landing page
  2. Add an explainer video and then
  3. Start accepting pre-orders

The key to thriving in the face of high uncertainty and limited resources is efficient experimentation. With that in mind, this exercise will show your students how to quickly reduce the uncertainty of their business model by helping them launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to measure demand for their products/services.

Almost more important though…

This exercise is a ton of fun!

Students are excited because they’re doing something they didn’t know they had the skills to do, and it’s a great time for you because students are engaged in creating and sharing something with you and the rest of the class.

Get the 60 Minute MVP Lesson

Get All Four Free Lessons

The ExEC Online: Express Pack is a collection of free, interactive, online entrepreneurship lessons available through the rest of this term that you can easily plug into your class individually or as a set.

In addition to the 60 Minute MVP lesson plan, we’re releasing three other exercises that are not only engaging, but particularly relevant in this time of uncertainty:

  1. Problem-Inspired Idea Generation: We know customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to problems – and right now people’s problems have changed dramatically. This exercise will show your students a systematic way to identify new opportunities inspired by their customer’s real-world problems that is particularly helpful during times of disruption like we’re experiencing right now.
  2. Financial Projection Simulator: With a global recession looming, it’s essential our students understand the elements of a robust financial model, and how to develop a sustainable one. This exercise makes finance approachable by turning what would normally be an overwhelming series of numbers, into a game-like experience that enables students to experiment with many different financial models.
  3. How to Interview Customers on Lockdown: Now that business model assumptions have been flipped on their head, it’s more critical than ever that students learn how to effectively talk to customers to discover what problems they’re facing. A person with the skills to learn about how this new world will effect people individually, is a person that will thrive during this, and any future dramatic changes. This lesson will help students understand how to find customers to talk to, what questions to ask, and most importantly, why asking them will form the basis of a successful business model.

If you’re interested in using any of the exercises from the ExEC Online: Express Pack, please click here.

Due to the accelerated pace at which we’re releasing these lessons, the first iteration of the ExEC Online: Express Pack is designed for use in colleges/universities in the US and Canada. Future iterations will be accessible to students across a wider range of environments.

Regardless of who or where you teach, we welcome you to request access and we’ll notify you if, and as soon as, we’re able to bring your students on board!

Get All the ExEC Online: Express Pack Lesson Plans (Free)

Know an Entrepreneurship Instructor?

If you know anyone who these new lessons might help, please invite them to participate! You can:

Thank you for all the work you’re doing teaching and supporting young people during this challenging time – we’re grateful to have an opportunity to support you, and look forward to helping you however we can!


Interviewing Customers Remotely [ExEC Online: Express Pack]

Interviewing Customers Remotely [ExEC Online: Express Pack]

We’ve fast-tracked the development of new online-ready exercises which you can use individually or as a set, called the ExEC Online: Express pack, available free through June!

Our third lesson, Interviewing Customers Remotely, is ready!

Express Pack Entrepreneurship Lessons Online: Interviewing Customers

Teach Interviewing Customers in an Engaging Way

Based on our Customer Interviewing Cards, this exercise has been adapted to teach students how to interview customers under the unique circumstances that COVID-19 has presented. Hopefully, this lesson will only be applicable this term, but…

…it may be helpful in the Fall too!

This lesson is a fun way to teach your students:

  1. Where to find customers to interview during a quarantine
  2. How to ask those customers for an interview
  3. What to ask during the interview

Below is a quick overview. For full details, be sure to register for the ExEC Online: Express Pack.

Easy to Integrate

We’ve made this exercise as easy to integrate as possible.

Interviewing Customers Step 1


Have your students watch this video:

If you’re teaching a synchronous class, feel free to skip showing the video and simply teach the principles yourself.

Step 2

Students complete the Digital Customer Interviewing Cards spreadsheet where they learn what their “objectives” (i.e. goals) for conducting customer interviews are, as well as the best and worst questions to ask during those interviews.

Here’s a quick look at what the spreadsheet looks like:

Step 3

Students get access to a robust interview script they can use for both remote, and in-person, problem discovery videos.

Interviewing customers ExEC online script

Get the Customer Interviewing Lesson

Get All Four Free Lessons

The ExEC Online: Express Pack is a collection of free, interactive, online entrepreneurship lessons available through the rest of this term that you can easily plug into your class individually or as a set.

In addition to the Customer Interview lesson plan, we’re releasing three other exercises that are not only engaging but particularly relevant in this time of uncertainty:

  1. Problem-Inspired Idea Generation: We know customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to problems – and right now people’s problems have changed dramatically. This exercise will show your students a systematic way to identify new opportunities inspired by their customer’s real-world problems that are particularly helpful during times of disruption like we’re experiencing right now.
  2. Financial Projection Simulator: With a global recession looming, it’s essential our students understand the elements of a robust financial model, and how to develop a sustainable one. This exercise makes finance approachable by turning what would normally be an overwhelming series of numbers, into a game-like experience that enables students to experiment with many different financial models.
  3. 60 Minute MVP: The key to thriving in the face of high uncertainty and limited resources is efficient experimentation. This exercise will show your students how to quickly launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to measure demand for their products/services. Plus, even outside the entrepreneurial context, in a future where online, remote-enabled work will likely be in demand, this is a great opportunity for students to learn how to build websites and create animated videos.

ExEC Online Express Pack

We’ll make each lesson plan available as soon as it’s finished. So if you’re interested in using any of the exercises from the ExEC Online: Express Pack, please click here.

Due to the accelerated pace we’re releasing these lessons, the first iteration of the ExEC Online: Express Pack is designed for use in colleges/universities in the US and Canada. Future iterations will be accessible to students across a wider range of environments.

Regardless of who or where you teach, we welcome you to request access and we’ll notify you if, and as soon as, we’re able to bring your students on board!

Get All the ExEC Online: Express Pack Lesson Plans (Free)

Know an Entrepreneurship Instructor?

If you know anyone who these new lessons might help, please invite them to participate! You can:

Thank you for all the work you’re doing, teaching and supporting young people during this challenging time – we’re grateful to have an opportunity to support you, and look forward to helping you however we can!


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

If you’d like lesson plans email to you directly, subscribe here to get the next one in your inbox.

Financial Projection Simulator [ExEC Online: Express Pack]

Financial Projection Simulator [ExEC Online: Express Pack]

To help with the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve fast-tracked the development of new online-ready exercises – which you can use individually or as a set – called the ExEC Online: Express pack, available free through June.

Our second lesson, Financial Projection Simulator (FPS), is ready for you to use!

Making Finance Fun

Even in the best of times, students struggle to engage with and understand the financial elements of entrepreneurship. Of course, this topic is critically important, especially during times of economic uncertainty like we’re facing now.

To help make entrepreneurial finance more accessible to all students, we designed our Financial Projection Simulator to teach financial modeling, with a fun, game-like experience.

Encourage Experimentation

The Financial Projection Simulator leads students through an experimentation process where they make different assumptions about their financial model, including their:

  • Product price
  • Cost of Customer Acquisition
  • Employee salaries (including benefits & taxes)
  • Initial capital investments
  • Etc.

And as they enter their assumptions, the simulator automatically calculates the financial sustainability of their business, giving students a Red, Yellow or Green assessment:

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

This question-based approach forces students to think through the major elements of a financial model in an approachable way. Plus, the real-time feedback encourages students to get creative, iterating their business model until they find one that’s profitable.

Engage Your Students

Like all of our lessons, the Financial Projection Simulator uses several resources to create an experiential, interactive experience for students online, including:

  • Step-by-step videos for students
  • Overview videos for you, like this:


When combined, these tools create an engaging experience for your students (even when they’re learning about finance ;).

Get the Financial Projection Simulator

Get All Four Free Lessons

The ExEC Online: Express Pack is a collection of free, interactive, online entrepreneurship lessons available through the rest of this term that you can easily plug into your class individually or as a set.

In addition to Financial Projection Simulator, we’re releasing three other exercises that are not only engaging, but particularly relevant in this time of uncertainty:

  1. Problem-Inspired Idea Generation: We know customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to problems – and right now people’s problems have changed dramatically. This exercise will show your students a systematic way to identify new opportunities inspired by their customer’s real-world problems that is particularly helpful during times of disruption like we’re experiencing right now.
  2. How to Interview Customers: Now that business model assumptions have been flipped on their head, it’s more critical than ever that students learn how to effectively talk to customers to discover what problems they’re facing. A person with the skills to learn about how this new world will effect people individually, is a person that will thrive during this, and any future dramatic changes. This lesson will help students understand how to find customers to talk to, what questions to ask, and most importantly, why asking them will form the basis of a successful business model.
  3. 60 Minute MVP: The key to thriving in the face of high uncertainty and limited resources is efficient experimentation. This exercise will show your students how to quickly launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to measure demand for their products/services. Plus, even outside the entrepreneurial context, in a future where online, remote-enabled work will likely be in demand, this is a great opportunity for students to learn how to build websites and create animated videos.

We’ll be making each lesson plan available as soon as it’s finished, so if you’re interested in using any of the exercises from the ExEC Online: Express Pack, please fill out the form below.

Due to the accelerated pace we’re releasing these lessons, the first iteration of the ExEC Online: Express Pack is designed for use in colleges/universities in the US and Canada. Future iterations will be accessible to students across a wider range of environments.

Regardless of who or where you teach, we welcome you to request access and we’ll notify you if, and as soon as, we’re able to bring your students on board!

Get All the ExEC Online: Express Pack Lesson Plans (Free)

Know an Entrepreneurship Instructor?

If you know anyone who these new lessons might help, please invite them to participate! You can:

Thank you for all the work you’re doing teaching, and supporting, young people during this challenging time – we’re grateful to have an opportunity to support you, and look forward to helping you however we can!


Problem-Inspired Idea Generation [ExEC Online: Express Pack]

Problem-Inspired Idea Generation [ExEC Online: Express Pack]

To help with the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve fast-tracked the development of new online-ready exercises – which you can use individually or as a set – called the ExEC Online: Express pack, available free through June.

Our first lesson, Problem-Inspired Idea Generation, is ready for you to use!

Idea Generation is a Skill

Customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to problems – and during this crisis, people’s problems have changed dramatically. This exercise will show your students a repeatable way to generate business ideas, inspired by their customer’s problems, that will become the foundation for opportunity identification skills they can use throughout their careers.

3 Steps to Better Ideas

Problem-Inspired Idea Generation creates an experience where students:

  1. Learn why great business ideas come from problems.
  2. Brainstorm people they’re passionate about solving problems for.
  3. Hypothesize, and prioritize, those peoples’ problems.

Those hypothesized problems kickstart your students’ customer discovery and/or solution ideation processes, resulting in more meaningful, and more feasible business ideas.

Engage Your Students

Our goal is to create highly interactive, experiential exercises. You can review this lesson to see how it can help you engage your students online with tools like:

  • Interactive Digital Worksheets your students can fill out and turn into you online
  • Video overviews for students
  • Sample slides for you to use with any live, or recorded, videos overviews you’d like to (optionally) produce for you students
  • Assessment recommendations

Get the ExEC Online: Express Pack

Get All Four Free Lessons

The ExEC Online: Express Pack is a collection of free, interactive, online entrepreneurship lessons available through the rest of this term that you can easily plug into your class individually or as a set.

In addition to Problem-Inspired Idea Generation, we’re releasing three other exercises that are not only engaging, but particularly relevant in this time of uncertainty:

  1. How to Interview Customers: Now that business model assumptions have been flipped on their head, it’s more critical than ever that students learn how to effectively talk to customers to discover what problems they’re facing. A person with the skills to learn about how this new world will effect people individually, is a person that will thrive during this, and any future dramatic changes. This lesson will help students understand how to find customers to talk to, what questions to ask, and most importantly, why asking them will form the basis of a successful business model.
  2. Financial Projection Simulator: With a global recession looming, it’s essential our students understand the elements of a robust financial model, and how to develop a sustainable one. This exercise makes finance approachable by turning what would normally be an overwhelming series of numbers, into a game-like experience that enables students to experiment with many different financial models.
  3. 60 Minute MVP: The key to thriving in the face of high uncertainty and limited resources is efficient experimentation. This exercise will show your students how to quickly launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to measure demand for their products/services. Plus, even outside the entrepreneurial context, in a future where online, remote-enabled work will likely be in demand, this is a great opportunity for students to learn how to build websites and create animated videos.

We’ll be making each lesson plan available as soon as it’s finished, so if you’re interested in using any of the exercises from the ExEC Online: Express Pack, please fill out the form below.

Due to the accelerated pace we’re releasing these lessons, the first iteration will be designed for use in colleges/universities in the US and Canada. Future iterations will be accessible to students across a wider range of environments.

Regardless of who or where you teach, we welcome you to request access and we’ll notify you if, and as soon as, we’re able to bring your students on board!

Get All the ExEC Online: Express Pack Lesson Plans (Free)

Know an Entrepreneurship Instructor?

If you know anyone who these new lessons might be help, we welcome you to invite them to participate. You can:

Thank you for all the work you’re doing teaching, and supporting, young people during this challenging time – we’re grateful to have an opportunity to support you, and look forward to helping you however we can!


Free Online Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

Free Online Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

We know the transition to teaching online can be overwhelming. We want to help.

We’ve fast-tracked a subset of the ExEC Online exercises you’ll be able to use free through June 2020!

The ExEC Online: Express Pack will be a collection of free, interactive, online entrepreneurship lessons available through the rest of this term that you can easily plug into your class.

We’re specifically releasing exercises that are not only engaging, but particularly relevant in this time of dramatic uncertainty:

  1. Problem-Inspired Idea Generation: We know customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to problems – and right now people’s problems have changed dramatically. This exercise will show your students a systematic way to identify new opportunities inspired by their customer’s real-world problems that is particularly helpful during times of disruption like we’re experiencing right now.
  2. How to Interview Customers on Lockdown: Now that business model assumptions have been flipped on their head, it’s more critical than ever that students learn how to effectively talk to customers to discover what problems they’re facing. A person with the skills to learn about how this new world will effect people individually, is a person that will thrive during this, and any future dramatic changes. This lesson will help students understand how to find customers to talk to, what questions to ask, and most importantly, why asking them will form the basis of a successful business model.
  3. Financial Projection Simulator: With a global recession looming, it’s essential our students understand the elements of a robust financial model, and how to develop a sustainable one. This exercise makes finance approachable by turning what would normally be an overwhelming series of numbers, into a game-like experience that enables students to experiment with many different financial models.
  4. 60 Minute MVP: The key to thriving in the face of high uncertainty and limited resources is efficient experimentation. This exercise will show your students how to quickly launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to measure demand for their products/services. Plus, even outside the entrepreneurial context, in a future where online, remote-enabled work will likely be in demand, this is a great opportunity for students to learn how to build websites and create animated videos.

We’ll be making each lesson plan available as soon as it’s finished. If you’re interested in using any of the exercises from the ExEC Online: Express Pack, please fill out the form below.

Due to the accelerated pace we’re releasing these lessons, the first iteration will be designed for use in colleges/universities in the US and Canada. Future iterations will be accessible to students across a wider range of environments.

Regardless of who or where you teach, we welcome you to request access and we’ll notify you if, and as soon as, we’re able to bring your students on board!

Get the ExEC Online: Express Pack

Know a Teacher?

If you know anyone who these new lessons might be help, we welcome you to invite them to participate. You can:

Thank you for all the work you’re doing teaching, and supporting, young people during this challenging time – we’re grateful to have an opportunity to support you, and look forward to helping you however we can!


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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAcSLvRGb-o&feature=youtu.be

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

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

Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

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High Functioning Innovation Teams in 10 Steps

High Functioning Innovation Teams in 10 Steps

Student teams formed randomly erode the student (and professor!) experience through internal conflict and apathy.

This lesson plan will help your students form high-performing innovation teams by creating more alignment around interests, and more diversity of skills.

Successful entrepreneurship teams have aligned goals and diverse skills. Students looking to gain entrepreneurial skills need to practice teamwork and collaboration around common goals. 

To help students mitigate some of the biggest drawbacks of group work, during this exercise they form the entrepreneurial teams based on the other people in the class whose goals and motivations most align with theirs. 

Help students execute better, and conflict less, by empowering them to successfully assemble their own teams.

For this post we will be using the Aligned Goals + Diverse Skills worksheet from the Lesson Plan below.

Aligned Goals and Diverse Skills WorksheetThis exercise will enable students to:

  1. Identify their goals for the course.
  2. Self-form teams based on shared goals.

In an entrepreneurship course, students spend time asking people for interviews, conducting interviews, analyzing the interviews, building MVPs, and pitching their solution. They will need to work with teammates to tackle this tremendous workload.

By the time they’re done with this exercise, they will be in teams that give them a greater likelihood of enjoying the course while developing ideas that are meaningful to them.

Aligned Goals

You want to optimize the positive aspects of teamwork for your students, while mitigating the negative aspects. To accomplish this, don’t assign students to teams. Instead, teach them the keys to creating a successful team and let them practice those skills to interview and choose teammates.

The first key is aligned goals. Successful innovation teams, or founder teams, need to be aligned in terms of revenue and impact goals, as well as a number of other criteria (culture, company size, etc.) Ask students to brainstorm some goals that might be helpful for members of their course team to be aligned on. They might mention:

  • Grades
  • Business outcomes (start a company, pass the class, etc)
  • Customers to serve

Let students know this exercise will enable them to identify classmates that align with them along these three goals.

Diverse Skills

The second key to creating a successful team is the diversity of team member skill sets. Imagine a sports team where all the players are excellent at one component, for instance, soccer players all being excellent goalies. This team will fail in their ultimate goal of winning because they are all good at one small portion of the larger plan.

Entrepreneurship team members also need diverse experiences. These teams are smarter at analyzing facts, which applies directly to the students’ need to analyze interview and experiment data.

The Exercise

Step 1Aligned Goals and Diverse Skills Step 1: Minimum successful grade

Students should first write down the lowest grade they could get in the class and still consider their performance in the class a success. Stress to students this is not about their ideal grade.

Step 2

Aligned Goals and Diverse Skills Step 2: minimum successful business outcomeYour students will choose the option that they most want to achieve during this course. If appropriate, they can check multiple boxes.

Steps 3 and 4

Aligned goals and diverse skills worksheet: Step 3, customer uniquely suited to servePrior to this exercise, students should have worked to identify customer segments who they either are a part of or have been a part of in the past. From this list, students choose the top two they want to pursue.

aligned goals and diverse skills step 4: student's majorStudent next fill in their academic major.

Step 5

aligned goals and diverse skills step 5: student kills and experienceStudents will brainstorm the skills and experience they possess that could be helpful in serving customers and/or validating a business model. Here are some ideas to help your students think of their skills:

  • They are a member of the customer segment
  • Any relevant job experience
  • Know someone who is influential within their customer segments
  • Have a large reach within this customer segment (e.g. large social media following, know a bunch of them, etc.)
  • They an artist, designer, software developer, good with tech, good with numbers, good writer, good at creating videos, etc.
  • Experience leading teams before
  • Previous entrepreneurial experience
  • Bi-lingual (i.e. can speak the customers’ native language)

Leave the room so your students feel comfortable sharing their minimum successful grades. Instruct students to form groups based on their minimum successful grades, and within groups, to share their minimum successful business outcomes, the customers they are uniquely suited to serve, their major, and the skills and experiences they have. Read this example:

“Hi, my name is Jennifer. My minimum successful business outcome is to try starting one. I can uniquely serve roboticists and florists. My major is Computer Engineering and I have skills and experience building websites, and launching an app in the Apple App store.”

Step 6

aligned goals and diverse skills worksheet step 6: potential teammate notesStudents now turn to finding teammates by finding students with similar goals, and different skills.

As students interview each other, they take notes of who seems like a good fit with them, and why.

Steps 7 – 8

aligned goals and diverse skills worksheet step 7: team name and team minimum successful grade

Students will next imagine a team name (encourage them to be creative and develop a name that reflects what value they are trying to create, and for whom). They should agree on the minimum successful grade for the general team.

Step 9

Aligned goals and diverse skills step 9: minimum successful business outcomeEach student will bring their own dreams to the group. Give students ~5 minutes to identify shared business outcomes and jot those dow.

Step 10

The last step is for all students, in their individual teams, to narrow down the customers they are uniquely suited to serve, either because they were members of that group, are members of that group or have an intentional purpose to work with that group.

Summary

Your students just identified the customers they are most passionate about helping, and the problems/emotions they’re most excited to help them resolve. In doing so, your students identified several potential paths that could lead them toward creating a profitable business. By focusing on the people and using them as inspiration for business ideas, your students have an infinite source of potentially successful businesses to choose from now, or in the future.


Get the “Aligned Goals + Diverse Skills” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed “Aligned Goals + Diverse Skills” lesson plan. This exercise walks you, and your students, through the process, step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

 

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

 


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Improving Student Idea Generation

Improving Student Idea Generation

This lesson plan will help you increase the quality and creativity of the ideas your students work on.

As we’ve talked about before, we know that most successful entrepreneurs don’t focus on products, they focus on problems. So idea generation should really start with identifying the problems we can solve.

Successful business ideas solve problems by addressing the emotional needs of their customers.

Whether by solving problems, or offering pleasurable experiences, all successful business ideas resolve an emotional desire of customers.

Knowing that, one way to come up with business ideas would be to brainstorm lots of different options, and then hope that one of them will resolve an emotional need of your customers. Of course that means your students spend a lot of time coming up with ideas – most of which will have no substantial emotional impact on their customers. Instead, they will go the other way around.

Your students start by understanding the emotional needs of potential customers, and then use their needs to come up with ideas on ways to resolve them.

For this post we will be using the Your Ideal Customers worksheet from the Lesson Plan below.

Click to download the worksheet.
This exercise will show your students how to develop meaningful ideas that solve problems by helping them…

  1. Identify the customers they are ideally suited to serve.
  2. Hypothesize the emotional needs of those customers.

By the time they’re done with this exercise, they will have a set of potential customers they can serve, and some ideas about problems they can solve for them.

Step 1

Groups of people you belong to filled inYour students will make a list of the groups of people they currently belong to, and all the groups they used to belong to. Each is a group of people whose problems your students understand better than the average person. If they serve members of this group, your students have a competitive advantage because they know them better than other people. The more segments they come up with, the more problems (i.e. ideas) they can come up with.  Tell your students to come up with at least 10.

Step 2

Groups of people you want to serve filled inYour students will list the groups of people they are not part of, but are excited to help.  In this list, the passion your students have for helping these people will be their unique advantage.

Your students don’t have to know these segments intimately, they just have to want to serve them.

Step 3

Groups you are most excited to work for filled inFrom all the groups of people brainstormed in steps 1-2, students pick the three they would be most interested in helping solve a problem they are facing. Next, it’s time to brainstorm what problems, or emotional needs, your students might be able to help them resolve.

Step 4

Biggest challenges for a group filled inStudents will brainstorm the biggest challenges members of the first group face. Once your students have a couple problems written down, imagine “A Day in the Life” of one of these people. What’s it like when they wake up? What do they do after that? Think about how the rest of their day is affected by being a member of this group. Once your students have a rough sense of their average day, ask them to try to identify the hardest part of their day. This process may help your students identify even more challenges they can help them solve.

Steps 5-6

Students will repeat that process for step the second and third potential customers “segments.” In this scenario, we’re using the word “segments” to describe a group of people with a common set of problems that might ultimately become your students’ customers.

Step 7

Customer emotions filled inGo to the second page of the worksheet, and list they three potential segments again. For each segment, use the questions to identify emotional situations that either cause members of the group pain or pleasure. These situations are additional scenarios that your students might be able to build a business around resolving for the particular customers – which they can test in future exercises.

Steps 8-9

Most interesting customer emotions selectedLooking at all of the challenges on the first page of the exercise, and the emotional situations on the second page of the exercise, students should identify:

  • The situations they hypothesize are the most emotionally intense for their potential customers. Circle the two most intense situations.
  • The problems or emotions they are most excited to resolve for their customers. Put stars next to two of those.

Step 10

Looking at the problems or emotional situations circled and starred, students should choose three combinations of customers and problems/emotional situations they would like to explore going forward. These will serve as their first “Customer” and “Value Proposition” hypotheses, and they will use them as the basis for their first set of business model experiments! If their assumptions are right, they may have just identified their ideal customers, and how they’re going to serve them!

Summary

Your students just identified the customers they are most passionate about helping, and the problems/emotions they’re most excited to help them resolve. In doing so, your students identified several potentials paths that could lead them toward creating a profitable business. By focusing on the people and them as inspiration for business ideas, your students have an infinite source of potentially successful businesses to choose from now, or in the future.


Get the “Your Ideal Customers” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed “Your Ideal Customers” lesson plan. This exercise walks you, and your students, through the process, step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

 

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

 


Get our Next Free Lesson Plan

We email new experiential entrepreneurship lesson plans regularly.

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


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: