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Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit

Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit

Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit 2022


The Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit is back with . . .

2 New Workshops!

You and our community of entrepreneurship educators voted for your favorite workshops, and now they’re happening!

Register Here

Learn Best Practices

The Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit provides you with top-performing exercises and lets you experience these exercises like your students will. Plus, they’re…

Free when you join us live!

Both sessions will run from 1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern on their respective days but if you can’t join us live, recordings are available for purchase.

Tuesday, December 13th

See It Taught Live: Financial Modeling Showdown

Winter Summit 2022: Financial Modeling Showdown

Watch Dr. Doan Winkel teach his students financial modeling live* using a fun, interactive game that you can use with your students too!

*We’ll live stream cameras from the classroom so you’ll literally see how the lesson is taught.

Tuesday, December 20th

Engagement From the First Day

Winter summit: Engagement From Day One

Use this lesson to get your students to think like entrepreneurs from the first day of class. 

In collaboration with Jay Markiewicz from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Register Here

Early Bird Tickets Available

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

Plus: Full Access tickets, which include recordings and slides, are $100 off before November 30th.

Winter Summit Benefits

Winter Summit map

At our last summit. . .

600+ educators joined us live!

Register here so you don’t miss the Winter Summit!

Register Here

How to Teach Revenue Models

How to Teach Revenue Models

How do you engage students while teaching a financial subject like revenue models? Try the . . .

Revenue Models Matching Card Game

Step 1: Match the Cards

Students start by matching revenue model definitions cards like…

To familiar companies that use those revenue models:

teaching revenue models

The cards actually teach students the revenue model definitions – no textbook required!

Step 2: Brainstorm

Next, students brainstorm ways they could use 9 different revenue models:

After exploring a wide range of revenue models they could potentially use, they’re ready to…

Step 3: Apply

Finally, students pick the revenue model(s) they think will be most profitable for their company…

…and now they’re ready to add them to their Business Model Canvas (and start validating them).

Try It!

This is a really fun way to teach revenue models that we’ve had a lot of success with.

Get the “Revenue Model Matching Game” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Revenue Model Matching Game” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

 

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.

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


Coming Soon…

We will be sharing more engaging exercises like this one!

Subscribe here to get lesson plans delivered in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

 

New Design Thinking: Backpack Design Challenge

New Design Thinking: Backpack Design Challenge

Tell students they are hired as a product designer. Their first job out of school is to design an ideal backpack. To help them do this, introduce the series of worksheets laid out in the Backpack Design Challenge lesson plan.

Step 1: The Most Exciting Purchase or Gift

The first worksheet asks students what is the most exciting thing they bought themselves, or were given as a gift recently.

It is really helpful with this exercise for you to share your perspective. At this step, share with them a concrete example of something that really excited you.

Make sure the thing they think of is something specific, and something they were really looking forward to. For example, a birthday present, or a holiday present, or something they’ve been wanting for months that they finally splurged on.

Design thinking backpack design challenge

Step 2: Feelings About the Purchase or Gift

Students record the feelings that came up as they made the purchase or received the gift. Give students time to reflect on the emotions they felt.

The point of these two steps is to build the foundation for the design thinking exercise to come.

Our goal is for them to learn a set of skills that helps them design products and services that get their customers as excited about the thing the student is creating as the student was about the purchase or gift. 

 Get The Lesson Plan Today!

Step 3: Must-have features

Now we will teach students to design a backpack that people get super excited about.

Ask students to describe their three “must have” features of their backpack.

A new approach to design thinking

Start by describing your three “must haves” and give them a few minutes to write down their three “must haves” that are unique to them.

Step 4: Draw the ideal backpack

The next step is for students to draw their ideal backpack. The point here is not beautiful artwork. The point is to visualize what the backpack with their must-have features looks lke.

Step 6: Ideal backpack reflection

Pair your students up for this step. Each student shares their drawings with their partner.

Each partner will ask lots of questions to dive deep into why their partner wanted certain features and anything else they are curious about.

design thinking reflection

Next, give students a few minutes to reflect on their partner’s backpack design. They describe what they saw and heard, how they felt about what they saw and heard, etc.

Components of the traditional design process

  • What should be built (start with product in mind)
  • How should it work / what should it look like? (functionality)
  • Do people love it?
  • Goal: build the best thing

Alternative approach: design thinking introduction

Explain to your students that what they just experienced is the traditional design process. Continue by sharing that this traditional way is not the best way to get customers excited about their product or service.

Ask them whether their partner offered to pre-order when saw other design. Was their partner so excited that they offered to give them real money? The answer will be no.

design process steps

Explain that in the traditional design process, someone

  • decides a product they should build
  • figures out the functionality of their product – what are the nuts and bolts
  • as a last step, they launch their product and work to figure out whether people love it

For your students to design something that gets people truly excited, they need to understand the design thinking process.

The design thinking process has five steps to create products people get really excited about:

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test

Talk to your students about the difference between the traditional design process and the design thinking process. In the traditional design approach, they start with thinking about the product they’re going to build.

In the design thinking process, they start with no product in mind. Instead, they start by understanding the customer’s emotional needs. In other words, what motives them on emotional level? This is the empathizing stage

If the goal is to build something people love, empathizing should be the first step in the process not the third step.

Step 7: Design something useful

Now that they are inspired to design something people want, pair students up again. Students interview the partner they previously worked with for 4 minutes each.

It is important here to tell them to forget about the backpack. They are taking a design thinking approach, so they don’t know what the “right” thing to build is. They learn what their partner really loves and why, so they can design something these customers truly want.

design thinking first step

The goal of this interview is to find out what’s the hardest part about being a student, how they felt, when they felt that way, and why it’s a problem.

Step 8: Dig deeper

Students then conduct another 4-minute interview with their partner. The difference is, this time they

  • What feelings arise for their partner when they have the problem they described before
  • Have they done anything to try and solve that problem
  • What didn’t they like about that solution

 Get The Lesson Plan Today!

Steps 9-11: Define the problem

Students next will define the problem their partner mentioned. They will

  • Synthesize data obtained from partner interview
  • Answer 3 questions
    • What goals is their partner trying to achieve?
    • What did they learn about their partner’s motivation
    • What is the partner point of view: [partner name] needs a way to [verb] because [problem to solve]

design thinking: define the problem step

This step outlines for the student a structure for the process of designing a solution that excites their partner.

Step 12: Ideate solutions

We now understand the problem. The goal here is to draw 5 different designs for alternative solutions using the new information they gathered. These designs can be anything. They don’t have to be based in reality – encourage your students to use their imagination.

design thinking new exercise

Step 13: Solicit feedback

In same pairs as before, students share their new solutions with each other and provide feedback. They share with each other what do they like, what don’t they like, and why.

design thinking feedback

Students will then iterate with their partners to come up with a more ideal solution for the problem based on their partner’s feedback.

design thinking iteration

This work will likely have nothing to do with backpacks – it will relate to the biggest problems the students experience. It could be about time management, or the dining hall, or parking, or boring classes.

That’s OK – we are working to get them trying to solve real problems for their partner!

Step 14: Reflect on new design

Students now have a new design based on feedback from their partner. Now we want them to reflect on that new design.

In pairs, they will answer two questions about the design their partner developed to solve their problem:

  • What emotions come up with thinking about partner’s new design, and why?
  • More excited about partner’s original design or new design, and why? 

design thinking reflection

Step 15: Compare approaches

Now you will recap everything with your students as a class. Tell them they went through two approaches to design:

  • Traditional design approach – their first design
  • Design thinking approach – their second design

They now fill out a comparison worksheet for these two approaches. First each student writes down the two different designs their partner create for them. The questions they will answer about these two designs are:

  • Which design are they most excited about?
  • Which design is more feasible?
  • Which design solves their partners’ problem better?
  • Which design would they choose?

design thinking comparison

Ask the class as a whole which design method feels more valuable. Specifically, ask them to put up the numbers of fingers representing the number of Xs they have in the Design Thinking row.

You should see an overwhelming number of students put up at least 3 fingers for the design thinking approach.

Highlight for students that this is why we do design thinking:

It is so much more powerful for creating ideas that are exciting to customers and that they want to pay for because the product actually solves their real problems.

Then, summarize for your students that they just completed the full design thinking process:

  • They empathized – they worked to understand their customer’s problems
  • They defined the problem – they gathered all the information they learned from their customer & now understand the problem that customer experiences
  • They then ideated on solutions for that problem – they developed multiple potential solutions for the problem their customer was experiencing
  • They prototyped products to solve the problem – here they would develop something that a user could actually interact with
  • Last, they tested their prototype – they solicited feedback from their customer to learn what appealed to them and what did not

The design thinking process is iterative. Students went through it once during this exercise. After testing, they can start again by empathizing with their customer based on their new product.

This approach is powerful because it will help your students work on solving problems that real customers actually experience.

After this exercise is a great place to segway into your syllabus and the topics you will cover and experiences students will have. You can connect this experience to the rest of your course by highlighting they will now be able to:

  • Understand a wide range of customer needs
  • Defining the problem
  • Iterating on a solution to that problem
  • Designing prototypes of that solution
  • Testing how customers feel about that solution

Get the “Backpack Design Challenge” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Backpack Design Challenge” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

 

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.

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


Coming Soon…

We will be sharing more engaging exercises like this one!

Subscribe here to get lesson plans delivered in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

 

Improve Student Evaluations With Lean Teaching

Improve Student Evaluations With Lean Teaching

What happens when we apply Lean Startup principles like “Build, Measure, Learn” to our own teaching?
Our team’s experience: Vastly increased engagement.
Lean Startup helps entrepreneurs shift from “build it and they will come” to “Build, Measure, Learn.” So we wanted to know what happens if we apply the same principles to our teaching? Are there benefits to a “Teach, Measure, Learn” loop?
Lean Teaching - Teach, Measure, Learn
We’ve seen huge benefits (higher student evals, increased enrollment, awards won, etc.), so we wanted to share our process with you.
If you’re looking to increase student engagement give “Teach, Measure, Learn” a shot.

Step 1: Pick a Lesson to Improve

Start small; don’t worry about changing your entire class. The easiest way to get started is by just picking the lesson you’re most excited to improve. How do you decide which one?

  • Which lesson is the least fun for you?
  • Which lesson is the least fun for your students?

Whichever lesson you pick, the most important thing is that you feel excited about improving it.

We recently used this process to test some improvements to our Financial projection Simulator.

Whether it’s the lessons we make freely available like the 60 Minute MVP) or the lessons in our comprehensive Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum, we test every exercise to explore ways to improve them.

Step 2: Ask a Friend to Sit In

The next step is to find an instructor whose teaching style you and/or your students really enjoy. How do you find them?

  • Ask your students who their favorite instructors are.
  • Are there are instructors at your institution who have won a teaching award (it could be at the College level, at the university level, or on a national level)? Ask around to identify them.
  • Do you have a colleague at another school whose teaching style you respect? As you’ll see, the person you ask to observe doesn’t need to be from your school!

Once you identify that instructor, ask them to sit in on the class session you want to improve. On the class day, tell your students this instructor is auditing the class session to see how it works. (you don’t want to bias your students by telling them you want to improve the lesson until after it is over).

Doan testing a new lesson plan as Justin observes remotely via Zoom.

Our TeachingEntrepreneurship.org team is fully distributed – I’m in San Francisco, Doan is in Ohio, and Federico is in Italy but with Zoom it’s easy for us to sit in on each other’s classes.

We usually have one camera in the back of the room so we can see the instructor and one camera in the front of the room (sometimes just a phone logged into Zoom) so we can see how students are responding to the lesson.

 

A camera at the front of the room makes it easy to see when students are engaged and when they are tuning out.

Don’t let location be a barrier to improving your teaching!

With Zoom and a little help from your IT team, you can literally get feedback from any instructor in the world on how to improve a lesson.

Step 3: What Feedback Do You Want?

Before you teach the lesson with your observer, think through what feedback you want. We all teach so differently, it will be important for the person providing you feedback to know the type of feedback you would like on the lesson. Some things we focus on:

  • Are students engaged during the entire lesson? When does energy drop; when do students start to look zoned out or pick up their phones?
  • Does the lesson have a successful “ah ha” moment? If not, how might you create one?
  • Are there any logistical questions that can be eliminated by better instructions (i.e., questions about how to do the exercise aren’t productive, but lessons about how to apply the principles are welcome)
  • Did students actively and eagerly participate in any discussions? If not, how might you improve the discussions?

Step 4: Ask for student feedback

There’s no better way to model to students how and why they should listen to their customers than when you ask for their feedback.

After teaching the lesson you want to improve, give your students an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback about it. For us, we use a slide like this

Slide to get student feedback

which links to a survey like this

Student feedback survey

All of the information is anonymous (unless students volunteer to give us their email address). We simply ask students to fill out the survey before they leave class.

Step 5: Integrate the Feedback

After the class session, talk with the person who sat in the class as they go through their notes. If the person is an experienced and awarded instructor, ask for tips and tricks for anything they notice. Even if they see something as engaging, positive or productive, ask for their ideas on how you can improve.

If there are points where they offer constructive criticism, or where they saw student engagement wane, ask for specific advice on tips and tricks to improve and combine that with the feedback you got from your students.

Results

By practicing what you preach to students in terms of continuous improvement, you’ll not only increase the quality of your lessons, you’ll also demonstrate to students that you care about them – both of which can lead to improved evaluations.

We use this technique for each of the exercises we release, including all of the lessons in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), and the insights we gain have a tremendous impact on quality.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share exercises to engage your students.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • The NEW Marshmallow Challenge.Use this exercise to teach students why invalidated assumptions hinder all new initiatives, and are ultimately the downfall of most new companies.
  • Marketing MVPs. In this experiential exercise, students launch real ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram to test demand for their MVPs
  • Pilot Your Purpose. This exercise helps students discover what they’re passionate about and see how learning entrepreneurial skills can turn that passion into their purpose.
  • 2021 Top Lesson Plans. Here is the list of our 2021 top entrepreneurship exercises and lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.
  • “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!
The NEW Marshmallow Tower Challenge

The NEW Marshmallow Tower Challenge

This revised version of the Marshmallow Challenge is a really fun way to teach the importance of iteration, experimentation, and the value of failure.

Students completing the marshmallow challenge by building a tower with string spaghetti and tape free standing structure

This updated exercise will help your students learn:

  • Why hidden assumptions hinder entrepreneurs

  • How iteration and experimentation weed out hidden assumptions

  • Why business experiments replace business plans

Note: if you’re already familiar with the Marshmallow Challenge, here are the key updates in this version:

  • This exercise isn’t just about team building or ice-breaking; it’s an analogy for business model assumptions, experimentation, and iteration.
  • Teams build towers twice: once to discover that they make hidden assumptions and once to resolve them.
  • There is a minimum height requirement to ensure students push their limits (and reinforce the learning objectives).
  • As homework, students write a short reflection on the dangers of hidden assumptions and the benefits of fast experiments and iterations.

Step 1: The Set Up

Students work in teams of four to build the tallest tower they can using only the provided materials.

Marshmallow Challenge Setup

Step 2: Build, Launch (and Fail!)

With only 18 minutes to build their towers, teams often follow a similar construction timeline:

  • ~3 minutes: Figuring out who is in charge
  • ~10 minutes: Planning
  • ~4 minutes: Taping spaghetti together
  • ~1 minute: Putting their marshmallow on top
  • ~1 second: Watching the tower crumble under the (surprising) weight of the marshmallow

Marshmallow challenge failure

Be sure to strictly enforce the rules and not give students tips.

The point of this first iteration is for students to experience the failure that comes from not testing their assumptions

For example, students often assume:

  • Marshmallows are light
  • Uncooked spaghetti is rigid enough to hold up a marshmallow

Most of the time, students find out these assumptions are incorrect far too late into the exercise to do anything to correct them.

Finish this step of the lesson by asking students what assumptions they made that may have led to their failure. Then ask them, “Do you know who doesn’t make these kinds of assumptions?”

Step 3: Kindergartners

Tell students that this exercise has been completed by a wide range of people and the average tower height is 20 inches tall.

What’s most interesting is that some people consistently perform better. While business school students often struggle, there’s one group of students who do particularly well:

Kindergartners!

Then show a slide like this to your students:

Marshmallow challenge results

Why Do Kindergarteners Build Better?

First thing: let your students know it’s not their fault – there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. They just made the mistake that virtually every first-time entrepreneur makes:

“You made assumptions about the world that turned out to be wrong.”

In the entrepreneurial context, that typically means making assumptions about who your customers might be, how much they’d be willing to pay for your product, and how many of them there are.

In this case, assumptions about their building materials led to sub-optimal performance, but why would kindergartners be able to build better towers than they could?

Because kindergartners don’t make assumptions!

Kindergartners don’t know that marshmallows are supposed to be light and uncooked spaghetti is supposed to be rigid, so the first thing they do is stick the marshmallow on the spaghetti and see what happens.

In other words, kindergartners don’t know enough about the world to make assumptions so instead of “planning” they naturally spend their time experimenting and iterating.

Tell your students that whenever they’re doing something they’ve never done before (e.g., launching a new product), the best way forward is often to run quick experiments so they can discover the hidden assumptions they’re making.

Once they’ve discovered their hidden assumptions, they’re ready to test out different solutions, which leads us to . . .

Step 4: Iteration

Now that they’ve had a chance to discover their hidden assumptions it’s time to let students act like kindergarteners and iterate and try again!

Give your students another set of supplies and let them build again. When they’re finished, compare the results of their first and second iterations. Use this as an analogy for:

  1. Why serial entrepreneurs are often more successful than first-time entrepreneurs
  2. Why business plans are often replaced by business experiments (e.g., quick experiments lead to more, faster, and validated learning than business plans).

FSU students building a marshmallow tower with string spaghetti and tape free standing structure
Florida State University students in Ron Frazier’s class

Step 5: Reflection

After class, ask students to write up a reflection on the difference between writing business plans and running business experiments:

  • When would they want to use a business plan?
  • When would they want to use a business experiment?
  • Why?

What if Your Students Have Already Done It?

It’s not uncommon for students to have done a version of the Marshmallow Challenge in another class. That said, they likely did it as an ice breaker or team-building exercise – not with a focus on iteration and experimentation.

Ask any students who have done this previously to form their own team of “experienced builders.” This will enable you to reinforce the learning objectives no matter how tall their towers are:

  • If the experienced teams build successful towers, you can point to them as examples of the power of iteration (their previous iteration being the first time they did the exercise)
  • If the experienced teams do poorly, you can cite how important it is to keep practicing the power of iteration throughout our careers – it’s an easy lesson to forget!

Get the Updated Marshmallow Challenge Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Updated Marshmallow Challenge” exercise to 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.


 

Attribution

The original version of the Marshmallow Challenge comes from Tom Wujec. Here are his original instructions and associated TED Talk.

A version similar to the original exercise was also published by Bradley George:

George, B. (2014). Marshmallow Tower. In H. Neck, P. Greene & C. Brush (Eds.), Teaching Entrepreneurship: Challenging the Mindset of Entrepreneurship Educators (p.125-130).  Northampton, MA: Edward F. Elgar Publishing.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Marketing MVPs. In this experiential exercise, students launch real ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram to test demand for their MVPs
  • Pilot Your Purpose. This exercise helps students discover what they’re passionate about and see how learning entrepreneurial skills can turn that passion into their purpose.
  • 2021 Top Lesson Plans. Here is the list of our 2021 top entrepreneurship exercises and lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.
  • “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!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
Marketing MVPs: Testing Demand on Social Media

Marketing MVPs: Testing Demand on Social Media

Our students live on social media. But do they know how to make the best use of it (or how they’re being used by it)?

With this exercise, your students can . . .

  • Launch real ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram
  • Use social media to test demand for their MVPs
  • Learn how their personal information is used to target them with ads

Marketing MVP

Step 1: Ad Targeting

The incredible depth and breadth of the information Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook) have on users is astounding.

If your students use Facebook or Instagram, Facebook likely knows things like:

  1. How much money they make
  2. Whether or not they’re in a relationship (and if that relationship is local, long-distance, or even “open”)
  3. Their political leanings
  4. And much, much more . . .

How much more? The first step of this exercise is to introduce your students to how much information Facebook knows about them.

Facebook at targeting options

You’ll send your students a link to the “Facebook Ad Targeting Options Infographic” above and ask them to review the dozens of pieces of data Facebook collects and identify the 3 most interesting, obscure, or surprising things Facebook might know about them (they’ll use this information later in the exercise).

Step 2: Design an Ad

With a sense of ways to potentially target social media ads, your students will have an opportunity to design their own ad for a product you provide for them:

A solar-powered phone charger.

Using our free Social Media Ad Generator each student mocks up different ad images, different ad copy, target audiences, etc. to get a feel for how to create ads.

Social media ad generator

directions to build your facebook ad

Step 3: Design Their Own Ad

Once students have a feel for how to design an ad using a product you assign them, you can ask them to create one for their own product.

Students repeat the same process they did with the solar power charger, except this time they work with their teammates to design a targeted ad for their companies.

Step 4: Launch Their Ad

(Optionally) You can actually help your students launch their ad.

Using the video below, your students will see how they can design a real ad for Facebook or Instagram and share the ad with you so you can launch it for them and measure how well it performs.

Customizing the Marketing MVP Lesson

This lesson is designed to be easy to customize based on the skills of your students:

  • An Intro course may only complete Steps 1 – 3, mocking up their ads but not necessarily launching them.
  • A New Venture Creation may complete Step 4 so students actually see how well their ads perform.
  • In a capstone or graduate course, each team could produce two different ads and you can run them as A/B tests to see which ad variation performs the best.

There are so many ways to leverage this lesson that demonstrates to students the power of social media marketing!. We hope you give it a try!

 


Get the Marketing MVPs Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Marketing MVPs” exercise to 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.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Pilot Your Purpose. This exercise helps students discover what they’re passionate about and see how learning entrepreneurial skills can turn that passion into their purpose.
  • 2021 Top Lesson Plans. Here is the list of our 2021 top entrepreneurship exercises and lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.
  • “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!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
Pilot Your Purpose

Pilot Your Purpose

During this somewhat bleak time to be a student we’re finding one exercise, in particular, is having an impact.

Students are reporting:

“I struggle with mental health and I oftentimes get lost in my day to day challenges. This exercise helped me find a path forward.”

“It gets me pumped to learn more entrepreneurial techniques and skills that will help me start my own business.”

“It gets me excited about the future!”

In fact, the student response has been so powerful that we are revamping our full experiential curriculum to make this exercise the first, and a recurring, lesson of the course.

Pilot Your Purpose

Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but all of us want to pursue our passions.

This exercise helps students discover what they’re passionate about and see how learning entrepreneurial skills can turn that passion into their purpose.

From music to makeup, to martial arts, we’ve seen students come to life when they realize that entrepreneurship skills can help them make a positive impact in the world while pursuing the things that get them most excited.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Pilot Your Purpose

If you run this exercise at the beginning of your course and ask students to share their purpose with you, you can make interactions with them more meaningful by tying events from the course back to their purpose.

Set Up The Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Talk to students about how you know they want to learn things that are relevant to their lives right now. Share with them that entrepreneurship skills will be relevant throughout their career, but that you know it’s hard for them to see how entrepreneurship will be relevant today.

Explain to your students that this exercise will help them understand how entrepreneurship is valuable for them right now, because this exercise will tap into their interests, pique their curiosity, and pull out their passion and purpose.

This exercise will help your students see how entrepreneurship will impact them and their future.

This exercise uses a Google Slides presentation as a digital worksheet. To have their own copies, each student will need a Google Drive account, and ideally will have an iPad or laptop. If a student isn’t able to bring an iPad or laptop to class, they can write down their answers to the questions on paper now, and fill them in later on a computer.

How to Pilot Your Purpose

Your first step when in class is to open the Pilot Your Purpose exercise so you can walk students through it. Direct students to https://bit.ly/PYPurpose (case sensitive) and click the “Make a Copy” button so they each have their own copy to work on.

Interests: Step 1

To identify their interests, ask your students to 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

Pilot Your Purpose: Interests

Have students text a friend now (in class):

“For my homework I’m supposed to ask you ‘What kind of stuff do I always talk about’”

As their friends write back during class, students can type what their friend texts into the correlating box.

Interests: Step 2

Students now think about how they would spend their time if they did not have to worry about money and they could spend their time doing anything they wanted. 

Pilot Your Purpose: Interests

Interests: Step 3

Next, have your students think about how they would like to spend their free time. Students type in what type of content they are watching or interacting when they fall down an online rabbit hole.

Skills: Step 1

To identify their skills, ask your students to think 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

Pilot Your Purpose: Skills

Have students text a friend now (in class):

“For my homework I’m supposed to ask you ‘What do you think I’m good at’”

As their friends write back during class, students can type what their friend texts into the correlating box.

Skills: Step 2

Students now think about what kinds of things they want to get better at doing – what skills they want to improve upon – and write those in the corresponding box.

Pilot Your Purpose: SkillsSkills: Step 3

As the last step in the Skills section, students think about at what things they are above average, and type those into the corresponding box.

Pilot Your Purpose: SkillsPassion

The next step is for students to identify their passion by combining their interests and skills. Guide students to take note of

  1. What most excites them from their interests slides
  2. What they are most interested in getting better at from their skills slides

Pilot Your Purpose: Passion

In the first two boxes of the next slide, students write down what excites them from their Interests slides and what they are most interested in getting better at from their Skills slides.

Pilot Your Purpose: Passion

In the last box on this slide, have your students think about possible ways to combine what they’ve written in the previous two boxes.

Impact

Students have identified their Passions by looking over their Interests and Skills. Next, you will guide them to think about the kind of Impact they desire to create in the world. To do this, ask students to write down:

  1. Groups of people they would be excited to help
  2. Local problems (in their community) they would be interested in working to solve
  3. Global problems they would be interested in working to solve

Pilot Your Purpose: ImpactPurpose

The last step in this exercise is for students to combine their Passion and Impact to identify their Purpose.

Pilot Your Purpose: PurposeGuide students to review their Passions slide and type in the first box anything that excites them from that slide.

Next, ask students to look at their Impact slide, and type in the middle box anything they excites them.

Pilot Your Purpose: Purpose

In the last box on this slide, guide students to think about possible ways to combine what they’ve written in the previous two boxes.

Sharing The Purpose

Students enjoy sharing what they’ve discovered about themselves with others. To facilitate connections between your students and to give them a chance to celebrate what excites them, create groups of 2 – 3 students and invite students to share their Purposes with each another.

Pilot Your PurposeAfter students have had ample time to share their purpose within their small groups, choose a way for you to learn about each of your students’ purposes by having them do one of the following:

  • Send you a link to their slide deck
  • Presenting their purpose slide in class to everyone
  • Recording a video presenting their purpose slide and sending that to you or posting it on the class discussion board

Leveraging this exercise in the first week of class, and strategically revisiting it throughout the course, makes entrepreneurship skills personally relevant to students, regardless of their desire to “become an entrepreneur.”

Why It Works

The result of this exercise is that:

  1. Students identify topics they’re interested in that can be the source of entrepreneurial inquiry.
  2. You discover more about each of your students so that if they end up struggling during your course, you have some clues about how to connect with them in ways that will resonate.

Get the Pilot Your Purpose Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Pilot Your Purpose” exercise to 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.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Improving Your (Inherited) Course. Inheriting an entrepreneurship course presents many challenges. Re-design the course and provide engaging experiences with this curriculum.
  • How to Improve Student Outcomes & Evaluations. Journaling can transform your students’ experience in your classroom. And can be a great way to get quality feedback on whether you’re an effective educator
  • “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!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
2022 Top Free Entrepreneurship Exercises

2022 Top Free Entrepreneurship Exercises

“Your posts help me keep my students engaged – they and I thank you!” – ExEC Professor

Based on the popularity of our 2019 Top 5 Lesson Plans and 2020 Top 5 Lesson Plans articles, here is the list of our 2021 top entrepreneurship exercises and lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.

We designed the following exercises and lesson plans to transform your students’ experience as they learn how to stay motivated, prototype, and work with finances.

5. Teaching Business Model Canvas with Dr. Alex Osterwalder

Most entrepreneurship programs use the Business Model Canvas (BMC) in some way (it is a core element of the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum).

In collaboration with the BMC creator himself, Dr. Alex Osterwalder, we produced a series of lesson plans detailing how he teaches his powerful tool.

Learning the Business Model Canvas with Dr. Alex Osterwalder

With this 3-part series, you can . . .

  • Part 1: Introduce the Business Model Canvas
  • Part 2: Teach students how to write business model hypotheses
  • Part 3: Demonstrate how to prioritize their riskiest assumptions

View Directions to Teach the Business Model Canvas the Way Dr. Osterwalder Does

4. Financial Modeling Showdown

Financial modeling is incredibly difficult to teach in an engaging way.

That’s why, in addition to our more advanced Financial Projection Simulator, we developed a new game that makes introducing financial modeling fun and interactive.

Financial modeling simulation

If your students get overwhelmed by financial modeling, this game will help them learn the core concepts in an accessible way.

View The Financial Modeling Showdown Exercise

3. 60 Minute MVP

Imagine your students, in just one hour, building, and launching, an MVP . . . with no technical expertise! In our 60 Minute MVP exercise, we present an exercise during which students build a landing page MVP that:

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

Immersion pressure challenge chaos motivation 60 minute MVP

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

View the 60 Minute MVP Exercise

2. Design Thinking with the Ideal Wallet

The Ideal Wallet is an awesome exercise for teaching students to use empathy, prototyping, and iteration to design creative solutions to problems. This exercise that comes from Stanford University’s d.school is a fast-paced way to introduce your students to design thinking.

Design Thinking 101: Design the Ideal Wallet

During this intense exercise, students will learn:

  • That what is important for them to discover is what is important to their customer
  • To design solutions specifically related to their customers’ emotional needs
  • To prototype their design with simple household materials and
  • To gather customer feedback on prototypes

As a result, students will know how to develop powerful solutions for customers because they can empathize with the person or people for whom they are designing solutions.

Available in both an In-Person Version and an Online Version.

View the Design Thinking with the Ideal Wallet Exercise

1. Motivate Students with Pilot Your Purpose

Students engage when entrepreneurship feels relevant.

This exercise makes entrepreneurship relevant by helping students discover that entrepreneurial skills will help them pursue their passions – regardless of whether they become entrepreneurs.

Pilot your Purpose

This is our favorite exercise because when we help students discover their passions, it becomes clear to them that entrepreneurial skills will help them turn a passion into their life’s purpose.

Suddenly, entrepreneurship becomes relevant and engagement increases

In fact, our students like this exercise so much, we’re making it the first lesson plan in the next iteration of our full Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

View the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Want 15 Weeks of Lesson Plans?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

We’ve done the work for you.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share lesson plans for new exercises we shared at our Winter Summit!

Subscribe here to be the first to access these new exercises.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

1 Week Left to Adopt ExEC for Spring

1 Week Left to Adopt ExEC for Spring

Spring is just around the corner!

Adopt ExEC today and let us set you up for success by delivering detailed lesson plans and a simplified grading process, and enabling you to deliver award-winning experiential exercises that transform your classroom into a hive of activity from day one.

Engage Your Students This Spring

We’ve been busy updating our curriculum to adapt to your learning environment:

Sample ExEC Syllabus

We’ve got you covered whether you’ll be in-person, online synchronous or asynchronous, or some hybrid model.

ExEC is an engaging and structured curriculum that’s flexible enough for your Fall. To fully engage your students this Spring, request a full preview of ExEC today!

Preview ExEC Now

A Modern Alternative to Textbooks

A Modern Alternative to Textbooks

If there’s one thing we know about textbooks, it’s that . . .

Students dislike them.

Too out of date to be relevant, too boring to be worth reading, and too expensive to be worth buying, textbooks aren’t the best way to teach entrepreneurship skills (or engage students).

To engage a generation of students who have grown up in a digital media environment, what’s needed is a way to . . .

Meet Students Where They Are

Textbooks can’t compete with the dynamic, personalized spaces our students are used to.

Can you blame students for not being motivated to read a “riveting” chapter on entity formation when Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu all have queues of personally recommended shows vying for them to watch (not to mention curated profiles from Instagram, TikTok, and Tinder to check out)?

What if instead of having to use quizzes to compel our students to read bland, out-of-date textbooks, we produced content that was more personalized and engaging than the Netflix’s of the world?

This Spring, we’ll take a step in that direction. Starting in January, your students can have . . .

Personalized entrepreneurship experiences, online.

In a major update to the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), students will be able to personally define and customize their entrepreneurial experiences.

A Student-Led Experience

With the new ExEC experience, students customize the content to suit their interests.

Unlike the “read-only” experience students get with textbooks, with the new ExEC, students literally edit the content based on their interests and business models.

The process starts with . . .

1. Identifying “Their” Customers

One of the most powerful ways to engage students is to make your course more about them than the subject you’re teaching. In other words . . .

What if instead of teaching an entrepreneurship class that may one day help your students pursue their passions, you taught a course on pursuing their passion – that happened to leverage entrepreneurship skills?

You’d cover the same content, but by prioritizing your students’ motivations, you automatically make the content more engaging.

That’s precisely what the new ExEC experience does.

Asking students questions about their interests and skills, and the people they’re most passionate about serving, students literally update their reading material to reflect the customers they’re most excited to serve:

At this early stage of the class, when the #1 goal is to engage students . . .

Who their customers are isn’t as important as how excited they are to serve them.

The students will find out for themselves whether their segment is a part of the business model validation process. Our job right now is to help the students find a set of customers they’re eager to go through the validation process with.

Soon, the students will start interviewing their customers, but in order to do that, they need to discover. . .

2. Where Are Their Customers?

You can’t interview a customer unless you can find them, so ExEC uses interactive prompts to guide students through a process that’s customized for their customer segment.

The results of which are a specific, actionable “channel” to use to find customers to interview:

In preparation for their interviews, students are ready to discover . . .

3. Good (and Bad) Customer Interviewing Questions

Using an interactive card game, students discover the right and wrong questions to ask during their customer interviews:

Customer interviewing script instructions

After completing a round of 5 interviews, students are ready to . . .

4. Analyze Their interviews

As students read through the theory of interview analysis, they plug in responses from their actual conversations with customers to discover how the theory is applied in the real world.

After having a thorough understanding of the problems their customers are trying to solve, students are ready for . . .

5. Solution Ideation

Using design thinking and creative problem-solving techniques, students ideate dozens of ways to resolve the problems they discovered during their customer interviews.

After which they’re ready for . . .

6. Financial Modeling

To understand how to build a profitable solution to the problem they’ve discovered, students use real-world data in ExEC’s Financial Projection Simulator; iterating their business model until they know it’s financially sustainable.

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

All of which contributes to their . . .

7. Business Model Canvas

Capturing all of the hypotheses they’ve validated (and the hypotheses still in need of validation) students edit the ExEC content to reflect their business model throughout the course.

Business Model Canvas

All of which culminates in their . . .

8. Process Pitch

Best of all, while they’ve been updating their content to reflect their experience . . .

Students have simultaneously been developing their end-of-the-term pitch deck!

Every step of their journey – every failed experiment, every validated hypothesis, every business model iteration – is automatically recorded and turned into a “Process Pitch Deck” students can use to present their understanding of the business model validation process and how they applied it.

 

 

More important than the outcome of any single experiment, or grade on any one assignment, is helping students learn an entrepreneurial mindset – a process they can use repeatedly to solve problems of the people they want to serve.

See It In Action

Watch the video to see how even ExEC’s readings are interactive and experiential:

A Better Way to Teach Entrepreneurship

We all know . . .

Textbooks aren’t the best way to teach entrepreneurship.

Personalized, interactive content is what makes Netflix, Instagram, and every other platform our students use so engaging. The same principles work in educational content too.

Request a preview of ExEC today:

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

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