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Summer 2021 Summit Early Bird Last Call

Summer 2021 Summit Early Bird Last Call

Today is the last day to get $100-off a full access ticket to the Teaching Entrepreneurship Summer Summit!


We know budgets are tight right now, so live access to the workshops is free.

If you’d like the session recordings and slides, or simply can’t attend all of the sessions:

Register today for $100 off the recordings of all 3 workshops.

GET YOUR EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT TODAY!


May 25th 1-3 EST: Making Finance Fun

Summer Summit: Making Finance Fun

Financial projections don’t have to overwhelm students!

Get engaging exercises, including a brand new game, for teaching revenue modeling.


June 2nd 1-3 EST: Better Idea Generation

Summer Summit: Better Idea Generation

Exercises and tips to improve the creativity, feasibility and, impact of student business.

Plus: How (and when) to intervene when students “fall in love” with bad ideas.


GET YOUR EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT TODAY!


June 10th 1-3 EST: Improving Student Pitches

Summer Summit: Improving Student Pitches

New tools for tweaking your pitch day format to…

Move students away from “innovation theater” toward rewarding real entrepreneurial skill development.

Hint: Imagine if entrepreneurial skills were at the Olympics.


Early Bird Tickets Available

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

Plus: Full Access tickets, which include recordings and slides, are $100 off – but the Early Bird sale ends today!

GET YOUR EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT TODAY!


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share lesson plans and approaches to engage your students from the first to the last day of class!

Subscribe here to be the first to learn about our innovative approach.

Join 12,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Student Engagement This Fall

Student Engagement This Fall

The biggest challenge this year has been student engagement. How do we flip the script and . . .

How do we engage students in the Fall?

Option 1: Update Your Textbook

The most obvious way to increase the energy of a class is to switch up the textbook. Unfortunately, due to their inherent structure, textbooks don’t often:

  • engage students
  • or teach skills.

Not to mention textbooks are expensive, and for the most part, students don’t even read them.

If your goal is engagement, a new textbook may be an incremental improvement but from our experience, it won’t make a dramatic difference.

Option 2: DIY Experiences

Experiential courses engage students far more than any textbook. If you’ve got the time to build a curriculum with your favorite experiences from around the web, you can create have an interactive class.

That said, classes comprised of ad hoc exercises have downsides especially in terms of:

  • Lack of cohesion / structure
  • Time spent re-inventing the wheel

Fortunately, there’s a way to get the best of both worlds…

Option 3: An Experiential Curriculum

Instead of building your own curriculum, tools like the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum can offer…

  • Engaging classes with the
  • Structure of a textbook.

student engagement with ExEC

Plus, ExEC offers

LMS Integration

In less than 5 minutes you’ll have your course imported into Canvas, Brightspace/D2L, Blackboard or Moodle.

student engagement in any LMS

Rubrics & Syllabi

ExEC integrated rubrics and starter syllabi make both course prep, and grading faster.

student engagement with rubrics & syllabi

Student Engagement Online, In-Person, or Hybrid

No matter what format your class takes this Fall, ExEC has a set of exercises to engage your students:

  • In-person
  • Online synchronous
  • Online asynchronous
  • All of the above!

8 to 16-Week Schedules

ExEC is flexible enough for any schedule including:

  • Accelerated MBA courses
  • Quarter system courses
  • 12-week Canadian semesters
  • 15-week US semesters

For example…

Student engagement with various schedules

Student Engagement Can Happen This Fall

Preview ExEC and see if it can help you and your students next year!

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share information about our upcoming Summer Summit where we will share some exciting new exercises!

Subscribe here to be the first to grab a “seat” at the Summit.

Join 12,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Reflective Quizzes: A Skill-Building Alternative to Multiple Choice

Reflective Quizzes: A Skill-Building Alternative to Multiple Choice

Quizzes are helpful, especially in large classes, because they’re easy to grade and can motivate some students to do their pre-assigned reading.

The problem with quizzes is they assess “reading and regurgitating” skills more than entrepreneurial skills.

Quizzes also create a cat-and-mouse game where students can share answers online, forcing you to constantly update the quiz questions.

On the other hand, reflection assignments are great at assessing skills and mindset development – they just traditionally take longer to grade.

Reflective Quizzes: Build Skills (with less grading)

We’ve been developing a new type of quiz for our ExEC Big Intro curriculum that:

  1. Is as fast to grade as a normal quiz
  2. Incentivizes students to come to class prepared
  3. Uses open-ended questions and reflective prompts to assess student skills and mindset development

Here’s a demo:

Grading Shouldn’t Be Exhausting

Assessments in experiential courses can be as formative for students as the exercises themselves!

So if assessment is one of your least favorite parts of teaching, there are a couple things that may help:


Want Your Students Building Real Skills?

Request a preview of ExEC Big Intro here.

ExEC Intro logo


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share information about our upcoming Summer Summit where we will share some exciting new exercises!

Subscribe here to be the first to grab a “seat” at the Summit.

Join 12,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Summer 2021 Summit Invite

Summer 2021 Summit Invite

The Teaching Entrepreneurship Summit is back!

Now with…

3 New Experiential Exercises

The Teaching Entrepreneurship Summit is your chance to not only get the new lesson but see them in action. Plus, they’re…

Free when you join us live!

All sessions will run from 1 – 3pm Eastern but if you can’t join us live, recordings are available for sale.

REGISTER NOW!


May 25: Making Finance Fun

Summer Summit: Making Finance Fun

Financial projections don’t have to overwhelm students!

Get engaging exercises, including a brand new game, for teaching revenue modeling.

June 2: Better Idea Generation

Summer Summit: Better Idea Generation

Exercises and tips to improve the creativity, feasibility and, impact of student business.

Plus: How (and when) to intervene when students “fall in love” with bad ideas.

June 10: Improving Student Pitches

Summer Summit: Improving Student Pitches

New tools for tweaking your pitch day format to…

Move students away from “innovation theater” toward rewarding real entrepreneurial skill development.

Hint: Imagine if entrepreneurial skills were at the Olympics.

REGISTER NOW!


Early Bird Tickets Available

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

Plus: Full Access tickets, which include recordings and slides, are $100 off before May 11th.

REGISTER NOW!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share information about our reflective quiz approach to more effective assessment!

Subscribe here to be the first to learn about this innovative approach.

Join 12,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

ExEC Big Intro: Improving “Intro to Entrepreneurship”

ExEC Big Intro: Improving “Intro to Entrepreneurship”

Large “Intro to Entrepreneurship” courses often have a common set of problems:

  1. Lack of Consistency (between different instructors)
  2. Low Engagement
  3. Time-Consuming Assessment
  4. Expensive Textbooks

Improving Large Classes

ExEC Big Intro is our new toolset to help tackle these challenges!

ExEC Intro logo

Consistency and Flexibility

When more than one instructor is teaching an intro course, different teaching approaches can lead to different class outcomes:

Students need a consistent experience regardless of their instructor.

Of course, each instructor also needs flexibility to leverage their areas of expertise.

ExEC Big Intro balances these needs by providing a well-documented, structured set of exercises, that each instructor can customize.

Customizable Lessons can be included within the default structure

This approach provides a common course foundation (and an easy way to onboard new adjuncts) while enabling each instructor to play to their own strengths.

Passion + Experiences = Engagement

ExEC Big Intro’s first exercise helps students, especially those that don’t identify as entrepreneurs, discover their passions:

Students engage when they work on something they’re passionate about.

Venn diagram with interest and skills overlapping on an area called
Screenshot from ExEC Big Intro’s exercise, “Pilot Your Purpose.”

Once students know their passions, every subsequent exercise leverages them to make lessons relevant. For example, “entrepreneurial finance”, a topic that often shuts students down becomes an experience to answer the question:

“How do you finance your passion?

Now, regardless of their major, students can see the relevance of entrepreneurial skills – even if they don’t identify as entrepreneurs (yet ;).

Faster Assessment

Assessment is always challenging but for large classes, it can be overwhelming.

One solution is more multiple-choice tests because they’re so easy to grade. Unfortunately, multiple-choice tests assess “reading and regurgitation” skills more than they do entrepreneurial skills.

On the other hand, reflective writing assignments can assess entrepreneurial skills, but aren’t feasible with hundreds of assignments to grade each term.

What we need is the best of both worlds: reflections that are easy to grade. With that goal in mind…

ExEC Big Intro has a new type of assignment: Reflective Quizzes.

Reflective Quizzes have three components:

  1. An interactive experience
  2. An open-ended reflection question
  3. Automated support tools that challenge students to reflect deeply, and make it easy for instructors to assign full, partial and no credit

Here’s a demo of the Reflective Quizzes:

In addition to the student-side checks demonstrated above, the system can also give instructors assessment suggestions (e.g. full, partial, no credit) based on the content of the answer to make grading extremely fast.

With ExEC Big Intro…

Reflective assignments can replace multiple-choice quizzes, even in large classes.

Lowering Costs for Students

We all know how important it is to reduce textbook costs for students.

With the goal of providing experiential learning at a price that’s lower than traditional textbooks, ExEC Big Intro has a new pricing model that aims to make:

Experiential entrepreneurship accessible to all students.


ExEC Big Intro Preview and Pricing

100+ Intro Students?

Request preview and pricing information for ExEC Big Intro here.

ExEC Intro logo

Fewer Than 100+ Students?

If you’re not teaching a large class, but are looking for an engaging experience for your students check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Used at over 120 colleges & universities, this suite of award-winning experiential exercises will help you structure an engaging skill-based class.


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share information about our upcoming Summer Summit where we will share some exciting new exercises!

Subscribe here to be the first to grab a “seat” at the Summit.

Join 12,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Pitch Days: How to Grow Your Program

Pitch Days: How to Grow Your Program

If you’re looking to increase enrollment for your entrepreneurship program…

Pitch days can be incredible catalysts for growth.

In this article, with the help of Meg Weber, Director of Community Engagement and Lead InstMeg Weber, entrepreneurship educatorructor, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Minor at Western Washington University, we’ll build on our Improving Student Pitches article to talk about how to use pitch day to increase the size of your program.

Increasing Entrepreneurship Enrollment

Just like we teach our students that their businesses need to solve a problem for their customers:

Students are our customers and finding a job is their problem.

With data from thousands of students who’ve completed the Fears and Curiosities exercise, we know students’ biggest concerns about life after school revolve around jobs:

  • Can I find a job?
  • Will I like it?
  • Will I be good at it?
  • Will it pay enough?

If you want to attract new students to your program, the key is to:

Demonstrate that students in your program get great jobs.

Pitch days are fantastic opportunities to advertise the career opportunities your program provides. Below we’ll detail 3 steps to make make the most of yours:

  1. Identify “high value” employers
  2. Invite them to be guest judges
  3. Invite prospective students to pitch day where they can see that students involved with your program get to connect with those employers

1. Identify High Value Employers

“High value” to us means employers that can satisfy the needs of our students in terms of supplying jobs that they’ll be good at, will enjoy doing, and will pay enough. Here are some tips on how to find those employers.

Ask Students Where They Want to Work

Ask students, “What companies would you be excited to work for?”, make a list, and constantly keep these companies top of mind because:

Every person you can introduce students to that works for one of those companies can help you recruit more students.

Students will often tell you they want to work for companies that are associated with brands they love:

  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Nike
  • Tesla

Whatever your students tell you, search your LinkedIn connections and keep your eyes peeled for any connections you have to those companies.

Bonus Tip: Start Linking-In with all of your students now. Eventually some of them will get jobs at the companies your future students will love and pitch day will be a great opportunity to invite them back!

Talk to your Career Center

Talk to your career center on campus and ask them for lists of employers who visited previous career fairs / job days. Also, take a look at who is hiring on your school’s job board.

Search Job Boards

Look for job postings on:

  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor

Look for companies that are trying to hire students like yours and that can offer high-quality, good-paying jobs.

2. Invite the Employers to Pitch Day

Once you have a list of high value employers, pitch day is the perfect opportunity to create connections between them and not only your current, but your prospective students.

Find the “Right” People

Ideally, the people you invite from the employees are hiring managers: people with some say over who gets invited in for interviews. If you don’t know any, check LinkedIn, ask your career center, alumni office, or use the contact information associated with the job postings you found.

Invite them to Judge

Identify the people who you think students will respond most positively to, and invite them to be judges. Their companies and positions will be part of your marketing material for pitch day, so make the most of these coveted judging positions.

Side Note: Be sure to set judges expectations that you’re teaching a process (not just launching products).

Your judges might be familiar with a more traditional pitch day format, where people are pretending to know their future revenue, sales, growth, etc. You will need to conduct some basic training with your judges so they understand your students are learning a process and not necessarily working on launching investment-ready products or services. They will hear your students sharing what they did, what they learned, and what they’ll do differently next time (as opposed to, “This is a $10B market and if we capture just 1%…”).

Setting expectations ahead of time will be crucial to ensuring your judges (i.e. your students’ prospective employers) think highly of them during pitch day.

Invite Others Employers to Coach

You can only have a few judges, but you can engage more potential employers as coaches for your students. For those interested in coaching, prepare them with a brief summary of some projects that you think will be especially interesting for them. Your students should progress through multiple practice pitches, each of which is an opportunity for a coach to help them (and you!) create more impact:

  • Rough draft idea quick-pitch – students pitch the basics of their idea early in the course
  • Process pitch – a few weeks before pitch day, students practice sharing their journey (not the outcomes)
  • Dress rehearsal – a week before pitch day students practice their final pitch

Invite coaches to your pitch day and acknowledge their contributions. After the event, you and your students should send a follow-up handwritten note to coaches thanking them for investing their time and expertise.

Take every chance to deepen the connection with your students.

Sample Invite Emails

We’ve included some sample email invitations at the end of the article that you can use to recruit coaches and/or judges.

3. Make Pitch Day a School-Wide Event

Open Pitch Day to all Enrolled Students

Pitch Day isn’t just for your current students – it’s an opportunity to recruit your future students!

When prospective students see that your current entrepreneurship students are building close connections with employers they want to work for, they see your program as a way to solve their biggest problems.

Ask your students to present an invitation to student clubs around campus. Start with entrepreneurship-related clubs like:

  • CEO
  • DECA
  • Enactus

and expand to other clubs in which your students are active. On any given campus there are hundreds of student clubs. Be strategic about those that have engaged members and related goals around employability and entrepreneurship. For instance, your students can present to entrepreneurship fraternities like Epsilon Nu Tau and Sigma Eta Pi, and professional business fraternities like Alpha Kappa Psi and Delta Sigma Pi.

Expand beyond the clubs and departments that are already intimately familiar with your program. Remember, your goal with a pitch day is to grow your program, so you want to reach out to students from areas you don’t normally engage with.

Use this as an opportunity to strategically connect with departments you don’t normally engage with. Maybe that’s the science departments. Or the foreign language departments. Or the fine art departments. Ask your students to present to their other classes, and to their friends majoring in these departments.

Give your students a chance to practice their pitching skills. Give your campus a chance to be excited by your program.

Equip students with a short template so messaging is consistent – keep to the point of “network with employers” as the main message.

Leverage the power of social media. Ask the university to share promotions on their official social media accounts. Incentivize students to share on their social media accounts by making it a deliverable of their pitching assignment (or extra credit).

And last, but certainly not least, take this opportunity to invite your university’s administration. Enable (and guide) your rock star students to handle these introductions – administrators will appreciate it more coming from students. Many will politely decline, but you can make them aware of what you are doing. And if they do show up, make sure they feel the energy of the connections you’re creating between students and employers.

Work with your enrollment/admissions office to invite prospective freshmen and their parents.

The enrollment/admissions team wants to highlight the best of your university for prospective freshmen. Enable them to invite these students to your pitch day – local students and their parents can attend physically, and others can join via Zoom.

This builds your funnel of freshmen students for your program by exciting them before they even get to campus! You can provide immense value to your enrollment/admissions office. Plus, universities struggle with retention and helping students find their way early on in their university careers. Pitch days can help to inspire and have students see future opportunities.

Provide food and drinks for everyone who attends

People get hungry and thirsty, and having food and drink at an event helps create spaces for connection. You don’t want the typical student event pizza and red Solo cups. But you also don’t want the alumni wine and charcuterie. Go for some very simple (and not messy) appetizers and finger foods along with a selection of soft drinks and water.

Food and beverages don’t always come cheap, especially as your guest list grows. If you have former students running or working with local food vendors, reach out to explore ways to incorporate and highlight their stories. You can also ask areas around campus to help fund this and receive recognition, given the presence of potential employers and donors. Ask your career center, a College of Business, enrollment/admissions office to share the cost and get sponsorship benefits of recognition at your pitch day event. See below for more tips on increasing funding.

During the event, highlight your program to prospective students in attendance

Throughout your event, highlight to prospective students the kind of learning experiences they will encounter in your entrepreneurship program.

In breaks between pitches, or as your judges are deliberating, talk to prospective students about how they too can learn how to pitch companies like they’re hearing. Also, share with them stories of the types of companies and jobs successful students from your program are currently engaged in (these stories will also resonate with alumni and enrollment/admissions staff in attendance).

During the event, facilitate connections between your judges and your high-performing students to grow your list of successful graduates from your program.

Most communities really want to give back to students– as educators we just need to figure out the in-roads. Many of the students at Western Washington University are food systems aficionados. One such student is Arlen Coiley. Arlen entered our entrepreneurship program with a great fervor for coffee- of all sorts- recycling hulls, creating compost, exfoliating soaps, you name it- this guy was ALL about coffee.

During his time in the program, Arlen pitched his coffee fervor to community members, who then hired him for events, invested in expanding his pop-up stand Handshake Coffee, and ultimately helped develop connections and now a vibrant restaurant called Storia Cucina.

Get Sample Emails for Inviting Judges and Coaches

Plus get a demo of how to map out external investors to help grow your program:

Go Forth and Grow Your Program

You now have a playbook to use the pitch days we all do to grow your program.

  • It’s not just an event for your students to practice pitching.
  • It’s not just an event to give your students beer money.

This is your opportunity to make connections between your current students, your next cohort of students, and the people in the community who want to support those students.

Teach the Process

If you’re interested in teaching the process that leads to unforgettable student pitches, check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Students complete award-winning experiential exercises during a journey of finding a problem worth solving and then finding a solution worth building.


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share information about our upcoming Summer Summit where we will share some exciting new exercises!

Subscribe here to be the first to grab a “seat” at the Summit.

Join 12,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Example 8-Week, 10-Week, 12-Week Entrepreneurship Syllabi

Example 8-Week, 10-Week, 12-Week Entrepreneurship Syllabi

Experiential courses produce great results, but it can be challenging to cover everything you want in 8, 10 or 12-week:

  • Summer classes
  • MBA/graduate programs
  • Quarter schedules
  • Canadian semesters

Same skills. Less time.

A compressed schedule doesn’t mean your students can’t develop many of the same skills as longer courses, but it does mean you need to be strategic with your course design. That’s because:

Customer interviews and business model experimentation skills take time to develop.

It’s tempting to compress these into a few days, but to really learn them takes practice. That means students may have the best experience by reducing the topics we cover and devoting more time to the highest ROI skills.

So while we’re always disappointed to see topics like pricing optimization go in shorter courses, there are a set of topics we always cover because they offer the best bang for the buck in terms of entrepreneurial mindset development:

  • Idea Generation: Great business ideas come from understanding customer’s needs
  • Business Modeling: How to identify your
  • Customer Discovery Interviews: The core of building a successful business is understanding a customer’s emotional needs
  • Design Thinking: The best way to understand your customer is to see the world from their perspective
  • Financial Modeling: Great business models must be financially viable and sustainable
  • MVPs: Minimum Viable Products focus on learning about business models.
  • Experimentation: How to identify and test the riskiest assumptions of a business model
  • Pitching & Storytelling: How to create an emotionally driven narrative

Example 8-Week Syllabus

Below you’ll find an 8-week sample syllabus you can use if you teach:

  • Summer
  • Graduate and
  • MBA classes

Screenshot of 8-week sample syllabus

Example 10-Week Syllabus

If you teach on the quarter system, feel free to use this 10-week sample syllabus:

Screenshot of sample 10-week syllabus

Example 12-week Syllabus

Our 12-week syllabus is perfect for our friends in Canada!

Screenshot of sample 12-week schedule

.

Get the Sample Syllabi

Split it Across Two Classes

Another option is to divide the topics across two courses. A number of the schools we work with take our 15-week schedule and do just that.

With ExEC, students get access for life, so splitting the material across two classes can save them money.

Typically that looks like:

  1. An intro course that focuses on “Why (and How) to Find Problems Worth Solving”
  2. A new venture creation course on “How to Find Solutions Worth Building”

The benefit of this approach is that students get plenty of time to develop both sets of skills.

Semester Experiential entrepreneurship education schedule

Teaching in Summer?

Check out ExEC, a structured, experiential curriculum that’s flexible enough to work online, in-person, or both with any length of class.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share tips and tricks to create engaging communication using Discord!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 12,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Improving Student Pitches

Improving Student Pitches

If you end your entrepreneurship class by having students pitch their companies, you may have seen:

A handful of pitches are great, but most are…meh.

We’ve had luck improving the overall quality of pitches for all students by updating what we want students to pitch.

Shark Tank Pitches vs Process Pitches

Most instructors run some form of Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, or investor-oriented pitches, students try to convince judges the business model they’ve been working on is worth investing in.

We’ll refer to these as “Shark Tank” pitches.

Shark Tank Pitch Pros

  • Pressure
  • Competition
  • External stakeholders

In the typical Shark Tank-style pitch, students experience a sense of urgency and have to perform in a high-stakes environment. This pressure is a good introduction to how entrepreneurship feels. This approach increases competition among students which can yield some improved results for some, albeit not all, students.

Speaking of competition, Shark Tank pitches are nice in that they help prepare students for other competitions – idea pitch competitions, business plan competitions, and so on. Students who perform well in this environment can travel to other campuses and communities and secure prize money to further their idea.

Finally, this format makes it easy to invite community stakeholders into your class experience. Most people are familiar with Shark Tank and this style of pitch so it’s relatively efficient to onboard judges to create a novel feedback experience for your students. This can also help build community stakeholder participation in your entrepreneurship program, which will benefit students far beyond this one pitch contest experience.

Shark Tank Pitch Cons

  • Penalizes students who test/invalidate their hypotheses
  • Disadvantages students interested in small, family, or social businesses
  • Values judges’ opinions over customers’

There are, of course, drawbacks to this investor-oriented pitch approach. Requiring students to present a “successful” business model incentivizes students to present an overly optimistic perspective in hopes of impressing the judges (or at least getting a good grade).

Investor-oriented pitches encourage students to pretend they’ve found a successful business model, even when they haven’t learned how.

The real skills we’re teaching in entrepreneurship classes revolved around how to find a successful business model, not how to pretend you’ve found one. Not only does this encourage students to skew the way they present their business, but it also puts students who invalidate their business model assumptions at a big disadvantage – even though that’s arguably the most important skill to learn.

Students who discovered through customer interviews or experiments that their businesses won’t work often have learned more about entrepreneurship than students who ignore what their customers are saying.

Is it a good idea to penalize students who learned how to prove their own assumptions wrong?

The Shark Tank pitch approach also disadvantages students who are interested in businesses that aren’t attractive to investors, such as small businesses, family businesses, social enterprises, and intrapreneurship. These are all very viable career paths for entrepreneurship students, but with this pitch format, students pursuing these types of business ideas often won’t be as engaged.

Finally, the Shark Tank approach’s most important shortcoming is that it elevates the judges’ opinions over those of real customers. When we bring in judges to determine whose business model will be most successful, we’re reinforcing the narrative that success will be determined by opinions from “inside the building”, as opposed to “outside the building” where real customers are.

Neither we nor our judges can predict which companies will succeed (I was shocked the Airbnb worked as well as it did). The only people who know what will succeed are customers, so it’s our job to teach students how to test their business models with customers – not to pick the winners and losers ourselves.

An Alternative: The Process Pitch

To optimize the classic pitch day in a way that focused on skill-build and engages all students, we’ve found success shifting away from Shark Tank pitches, to what we call “process pitches.”

During a process pitch, the goal isn’t to convince anyone you’ve found a successful business model. Instead, the goal is to convince judges that:

You’ve learned a process for finding successful business models.

To do that students walk through the iterations of their business model canvases throughout the course, telling the story of:

  • What assumptions they made along the way
  • How they tested those assumptions
  • What they changed in their business model as a result
  • What assumptions they want to test next

Process Pitch Pros and Cons

  • Cons
    • Less intuitive to external stakeholders
  • Pros
    • Emphasizes skill development
    • Values testing business models “outside the building”
    • Engages all students in the process

As with the Shark Tank approach, a process pitch approach has its pros and cons. On the cons side, this model won’t be familiar to any external judges, so you’ll want to help them understand the goals of this type of pitch. Suggestions on how to do that in the judging sheet below.

On the pros side, the process pitch focuses students on skill acquisition: business modeling, testing business model assumptions, customer interviews, etc.. Because students are assessed on their process, they are incentivized to test their business model and report out accurate results, instead of skewing data to look more successful than they were.

The greatest benefit to students of this approach is the celebration of a growth mindset and learning from failure. This approach teaches students to see failure as a way to find success – opposed to seeing failure as something that should be avoided like in Shark Tank pitches.

Finally, this approach is inclusive of all students. With a focus on the learning process instead of a business outcome, all students can fully engage regardless of the type of venture they’re looking to build including social enterprises, small and family businesses, non-profits, etc.

Process Pitch Best Practices

It may not be intuitive how to conduct a process pitch, so we’ll share our best practices below.

In process pitches, students should demonstrate:

  1. They understand the business model validation process.
  2. They applied that process and evolved their business model based on experimentation.
  3. The entire process was led by their customers’ emotional needs/problems.

When it comes to judging, the emphasis is on the students’ journey, not their outcome. The goal is not success or failure but what they learned during the process. You want students to tell the story of the race, not just to focus on crossing the finish line.

Consider showing this sample presentation from Owlet – just the first 2:33 minutes shows students what you expect from them. In this great example, these students did a fantastic job talking about the pivots they made in their journey. 

 

Judging the Process Pitch

For a process pitch, students should keep them short in length (3-5 minutes) and give judges a chance to ask follow-up questions related to the individual/team process. It is important to de-emphasize the public speaking aspects of this exercise for students.

In this last week of class, you want students focusing more on internalizing their takeaways from the validation process than you do worrying about their presentation technique.

Judging process pitches can be confusing for people used to watching and judging Shark Tank-style pitches. We built a scoresheet and onboarding process to combat this that you can access below.

Process Pitch Judging Criteria

It’s crucial your judges are familiar with concepts like:

  • Customer emotions/problems should be the central focus of a business model.
  • The importance of identifying business model assumptions.
  • Why and how teams should test their assumptions.
  • How teams leverage the results of experiments is more important than whether the experiment succeeded.
  • How much the team can replicate the process in the future is far more important than how many validated boxes they have in their business model (i.e., showing off a theoretical success).

While the judging score sheet includes a primer on business model validation, you’ll want to make sure judges have a solid understanding of these principles. If they don’t you’ll risk teams getting confusing/conflicting feedback that focuses more on products than process.

Judging criteria screenshot. Download score sheet for details

One way to make sure judges understand what your students will be pitching is to send them the Owlet video above. Just as a heads up, since judges will only ask process-focused questions, these questions should sound more like:

  • WHY did you…?
  • HOW did you…?

On the other hand, judges should stay away from questions focused on the product/idea/market that would sound more like:

  • HOW MUCH/big/long…?
  • WHAT is your…?

Make sure this concept is clear for the invited judges by holding Q&A sessions for your judges.

Here are some specific questions judges can ask to stay focused on the process:

  1. How did your business model changed during the course?
  2. What role did customer emotions play in influencing your business model?
  3. What role did experimentation play in changing your business model throughout the course?
  4. How would you utilize customer emotions and experimentation differently the next time you test a business model (i.e., how you would improve)?

Get the Process Pitching Scoresheet

We’ve created a detailed scoresheet for judging process pitches to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Scoresheet

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!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, Meg Weber, the guru of the entrepreneurship program at Western Washington University, will share tips for using pitch days to grow your entrepreneurship program!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

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Design Thinking: The Ideal Wallet [Online Version]

Design Thinking: The Ideal Wallet [Online Version]

If you’ve been teaching design thinking, you’re likely familiar with Stanford d.school’s Wallet Project. If you’re not, it’s an awesome exercise for teaching students that anyone can use:

  • Empathy
  • Prototyping
  • Iteration

…to design creative solutions to problems.

Teaching it Online

We have a very popular write-up on the in-person version of the Wallet Project, but with so many of us teaching online now, we thought it would be helpful to draft this…

Online version of the wallet design exercise!

Below are our suggestions for using hand-drawn worksheets, breakout rooms, and supplies found around the house to update the Wallet Project for online synchronous classes.

When to Use This Exercise

Since the Wallet Project is best used as a way to introduce students to design thinking, we recommend running it:

  • Before students conduct customer interviews or
  • Before students start doing solution ideation or
  • At any time during a creativity and innovation course

Design Thinking: Designing an Ideal Wallet

Before Class: Ask Students to Gather Supplies

One of the most fun parts of this exercise is that students will get to build low fidelity prototypes of their new wallet solutions. In preparation, let students know that they should come to class with as many of the following items as they can.

  • Cardboard box, blank paper, and/or Post-It notes
  • Scissors or a utility knife
  • Tape, paper clips, and/or a stapler
  • String and/or rubber bands
  • Markers and/or colored pens
  • Anything else you want to suggest
Example prototyping supplies
Image courtesy of Atomic Object

Note: Not all students will have access to the same supplies, and that this might create some inequity in experiencing this activity. We encourage you to create a large list of the possible supplies your particular student population may have access to.

The goal is for students to have some supplies readily available to create a makeshift prototype.

Step 1: The Wrong Approach

The beginning of this exercise starts begins with a “False Start” where you’ll tell students:

“Instead of just telling you about design thinking, I want to immediately have you jump right in and experience it for yourself. You’re going to do a design project for about the next hour. Ready? Let’s go!”

To help facilitate the experience, in the lesson plan below we have links to worksheets students can print out ahead of time: 

Design thinking exercise from Stanford University d.school

If any of your students don’t have access to a printer, ask them to have 6 sheets of blank (or lined) paper ready so they can sketch out the boxes of each worksheet – they’re all really simple to duplicate by hand.

Tell students their goal is to individually come up with some ideas for the “ideal” wallet, and specifically to draw one idea for a better wallet in 3 minutes.

It’s normal for students to feel stuck and delay putting anything down on paper. Reminding them of the time they have left can push them to start, so remind students after each minute expires.

After the 3 minutes expires, ask students to share how they felt during the experience. Most will have had a negative experience. Tell them they just experienced a typical problem-solving approach, being guided by their own opinions and with a solution in mind.

Let them know they will now learn a better approach, called “human-centered design thinking.”

Step 2: An Empathetic Approach

Direct students to the “Your New Mission” and pair them up in breakout rooms to design something useful for their partner.

Again remind students who do not have a printed worksheet to use a blank sheet of paper to draw two boxes to mimic the worksheet which you can show via screen sharing.

Tell students the most important part of designing for someone is to gain empathy. Students will do this by having a conversation with their partner, which you can facilitate in an online class using breakout rooms.

Before you send students to their breakout rooms, let them know that:

  1. Partner A has 4 minutes to interview Partner B while Partner B meticulously shares the contents of their wallet with Partner A.
  2. Then they switch and Partner B interviews Partner A while Partner A meticulously shares the contents of their wallet with Partner B.
  3. If their partner is having technical difficulties in the breakout room, or simply doesn’t show up after 60 seconds, having them leave their breakout room and join you in the main room where you can assign them to another breakout room (or partner with them yourself if you have an odd number of students).

Encourage partners to ask questions about when their partner carries a wallet, why they have particular things in there, and to make notes of things they find interesting or surprising.

Students make notes in the “Interview” column of their worksheet.

Next Steps

Over the next 30 minutes, 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, after doing this exercise, 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.

The Full Lesson Plan

If you want to bring design thinking into your online class and introduce students to a methodology to engage real people to help them ground their design decisions

Get the “Design the Ideal Wallet [Online Version]” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Design the Ideal Wallet [Online Version]” 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.

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


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share tools to enable efficient communications with students so you don’t have to pull your hair out over LMS discussion boards anymore!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 12,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Creativity and Innovation Sample Syllabus

Creativity and Innovation Sample Syllabus

Building an engaging undergraduate Creativity and Innovation course can be challenging. We wanted to share a few tips and tricks we learned from surveying our community of nearly 10,000 entrepreneurship educators:

  • Invite your students to practice the skills necessary to identify and develop with creative ideas – like observation, problem-solving, customer interviewing, and prototyping.
  • Show your students how the concepts apply to their current existence.
  • Bring guest speakers and judges into the conversation so students learn from other perspectives.

This sample syllabus provides a way to help students develop the mindset and skillset to be confidently creative entrepreneurs!

Creativity Skills

Students taking a creativity and innovation course should gain transferable skills they can use to create significant value in any workplace! Students pursuing any career path will benefit from honing these skills – any organization constantly needs new and better ideas. This syllabus lays out a course that helps students recognize, develop, and act upon their creativity and innovative spirit.

Specifically, this course is structured as a journey that enables students to first find a problem worth solving, and then find a solution worth building. During the first phase as they find a problem worth solving, students develop a growth mindset, leverage failure, discover ideas that bring them meaning using the creative process, interview customers and validate problems they identify.

During the second phase of the course, once students identify a problem they find to solve, they turn their attention to finding a solution worth building. In this phase, students develop their creativity and design thinking skills as they develop solutions based on customers’ problems. They also learn to monetize solutions through financial modeling, learn to prototype solutions to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort, and run business model experiments. Finally, students share the story of the process they went through (in)validating their business model. In this end, they demonstrate they have acquired the entrepreneurial skills to find and test new opportunities.

Experiencing Creativity and Innovation

In this course, your students actively experience creating and capturing value. Through a variety of validated experiential learning techniques, students remain engaged and excited from day one until the last day of the course.

One example of our approach to experiential learning is our award-winning Lottery Ticket Dilemma exercise, during which students discover how important emotions are in the decision-making process and the importance of understanding and fulfilling other people’s emotional needs. Learning how to tap into and apply creativity and innovation is a very difficult journey.

We developed this creativity and innovation syllabus to help you enable your students to learn and practice the skills necessary to be a force of creativity and innovation in their chosen career path.


Get the Creativity & Innovation Sample Syllabus

We’ve created a detailed Creativity & Innovation sample syllabus that details the components of a full semester course.

Get the Sample Syllabus

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


Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

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

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

Use the “Best Entrepreneurship Curriculum Available”

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