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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!

Pitching the Process

Pitching the Process

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.

Pitching the Process

When we shift away from a Shark Tank-style idea pitch to a process pitch, 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

The goal of this Process Pitch is for students to show they have learned a process for finding successful business models. This approach:

  • Emphasizes skill development
  • Values testing business models “outside the building”
  • Engages all students in the process

In process pitches, students demonstrate:

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

The reason this approach is so engaging is because it focuses students on skill acquisition: business modeling, testing business model assumptions, customer interviews, etc. Because you assess students on their process, they are incentivized to test their business model and report accurate results. The emphasis is on the students’ journey, not their outcome; the goal is not success or failure but what they learned during the process.

Learn more about Pitching the Process here.

Process Pitch Winners

We recently held a Process Pitch competition for the thousands of students using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum, and students from Cal Poly won with their idea Spruce.ly. Out of many great entries, this amazing team stood out because they:

  • Demonstrated they learned skills (proven by the number of assumptions they invalidated)
  • Conducted customer interviews in a way that changed their business model
  • Ran several experiments including multiple ads campaigns, and user click-mapping on their MVP

Cal Poly Wins Process Pitch Competition

Set Your Students Up For Success This Spring

Similar to how we redesigned the antiquated Shark Tank pitches, we created the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) as an engaging experience that accommodates in-person, online, and hybrid classes anywhere from 8 to 15 weeks long.

We weave a cohesive thread throughout the curriculum, with a combination of personally relevant exercises that cohesively teach a set of real-world entrepreneurial skills. Professors at more than 120 colleges and universities find their students highly engaged from the first exercise where students  discover their passions to the last experience where they pitch their process.

Semester Experiential entrepreneurship education schedule

We created course shells for all of the major learning management systems, so it takes less than 5 minutes to get your new course imported.

This spring, if you want to save time while engaging your students, use “the best entrepreneurship curriculum available” – structured, cohesive, interactive experiences that will engage your students in deep learning.

Engage Your Students This Spring

If you’re looking for classes that buzz with excitement and energy with games, competitions, and activities that engage students while teaching them real-world skills . . .

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

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo


What’s Next?

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

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

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

Last Call For ExEC This Spring

Last Call For ExEC This Spring

If you’re considering ExEC’s award-winning structured curriculum in Spring …

This is your last call!

We want your prep to be as easy as possible, so we’d like to get you set up by December _____.

Semester Experiential entrepreneurship education schedule

ExEC Engages Students

Whether you are teaching classes in-person, online, or hybrid, there’s a version of the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) that will engage and motivate your students.

For more details on this award-winning curriculum …

Preview ExEC Now

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

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

Engaging Students in Spring

Engaging Students in Spring

For those of us fortunate enough to be teaching again in person, it’s been wonderful to be back. Teaching via Zoom just isn’t the same.

That said, between the masks, and general uncertainty, and anxiety, it’s still more challenging to keep students engaged than it was pre-COVID. So as Spring approaches, we wanted to explore . . .

How do we engage our students even more this Spring?

Step 1: Get Relevant on Day #1

Think about the college classes you engaged with most as a student. Which classes had the most positive impact on your life? Which classes had the most positive impact on your career? Which classes do you remember most fondly?

Chances are, those classes all had something in common:

Those classes were personally relevant.

There was something about those classes that resonated with where you were in your life, on a personal level. Whether they tapped into your interests, piqued your curiosity, or aligned with your aspirations, those classes probably weren’t an introduction to a generic subject; those classes were about how that subject impacted you and your future.

Your students are looking for the same thing.

Students want to engage with subjects that are relevant to their lives right now. That’s why in every class there are a few students who automatically engage (i.e., those that see themselves as entrepreneurs) and those that have a harder time engaging (i.e., those that don’t).

And that’s why entrepreneurship can be a hard class to teach. While you and I know entrepreneurship skills will be relevant throughout their career, it’s hard for students to see how entrepreneurship will be relevant today.

That’s why in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), we use exercises like “Pilot your Purpose” to help students discover their passions, and “Fears and Curiosities” where they use those passions to design what they’d like to learn.

The first page of the “Pilot Your Purpose” exercise for ExEC students.

Leveraging these exercises in the first week of class, and strategically revisiting them throughout the course, make entrepreneurship skills personally relevant to students, regardless of their desire to “become an entrepreneur.”

Whether you use a curriculum like ExEC, or your own combination of resources, in order for your class to be as engaging as your most memorable classes, you’ll want your students to see how entrepreneurship is personally relevant to them from day one.

 

Step 2: Get Organized

If you’ve ever tried to increase engagement by incorporating exercises from disparate sources (e.g. journals, conferences, etc.)., you know that’s not the answer.

Activities alone don’t make a class engaging.

Individual exercises can be interesting, but without a cohesive thread linking them together, students check out because it’s not clear how what they’re learning can improve their lives.

Semester Experiential entrepreneurship education schedule

Structuring your course from the beginning with a combination of:

  1. Personally relevant exercises
  2. That cohesively teach a set of
  3. Real-world entrepreneurial skills

Has been the formula we’ve found that keeps students engaged at 120+ colleges and universities:

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Faculty Testimonial

LMS Integration

Since the pandemic began, virtually every element of your course needs to be reflected in your Learning Management System (LMS) so that students know what’s due when, regardless of how they attend class.

To assist our ExEC instructors, we’ve created course shells for all of the major LMSs so it takes less than 5 minutes to get a new course imported.

student engagement in any LMS

Flexible Schedules

And despite our best efforts, scheduling issues inevitably show up. Whether due to holidays, weather events, or COVID outbreaks, you need to make sure your schedule can withstand unexpected disruptions.

For ExEC instructors, we produce a wide range of schedules to accomodate in-person, online, and hybrid classes anywhere from 8 to 15 weeks long:

All of which can be customized to include a combination of award-winning lessons and your own.

not every classsince the pandemic began, virtually every element of your course needs to be reflected in your Learning Management System (LMS).

Fair and Transparent Grading

All that said, no amount of engaging activities and structure will make a difference if students feel like they aren’t be graded fairly.

To that end, structured rubrics go a long way toward making assessment transparent.

For ExEC courses, we produce rubrics for each assignment which makes grading more objective – something both students an instructors appreciate.

student engagement with rubrics & syllabi

This spring, if you want to save time while engaging your students, use “the best entrepreneurship curriculum available” – structured, cohesive, interactive experiences that will engage your students in deep learning.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Student Testimonial

Step 3: Have Fun

Teaching should be enjoyable – for you and your students. In fact . . .

The more fun you have, the more fun your students will have.

For ExEC classes, we try to create environments that buzzes with excitement and energy with games, competitions, and activities that engage students while teaching them real-world skills.

Engage Your Students This Spring

If you haven’t already . . .

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

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Even if ExEC isn’t a fit for you, we hope you’re able to:

  1. Make your class relevant from day #1
  2. Get organized
  3. Have fun

This combination should help your students get, and stay engaged, throughout your course.


What’s Next?

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

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

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

Teach the Business Model Canvas: Part 3 – Test

Teach the Business Model Canvas: Part 3 – Test

Dr. Alex Osterwalder, one of the creators of the Business Model Canvas (BMC), uses a 3-step process to teach it to students. This article outlines his third step:

How to test a business model canvas.

In the first step of his process, Alex introduces students to the different components of the BMC by having them match the business model hypotheses to the appropriate boxes of the canvas. In the second step, Alex helps students learn to write their hypotheses by asking students to complete partially finished BMCs.

In this third step, Alex helps students learn how to use the Business Model Canvas as a tool to prioritize their business models’ riskiest assumptions so they can design tests to validate them.

Prioritization Exercise

It’s critical to teach this prioritization step because it’s one of the major benefits of teaching the BMC over traditional business plans. Once entrepreneurs have a prioritized list of their riskiest assumptions, they can design experiments to test each of those assumptions in order of their prioritized risk.

To introduce prioritization, Alex presents an example from one of Steve Blank‘s classes that you’re welcome to use as well. Steve’s students were working on a company called Ceres, where they wanted to fly drones over farmland to capture images and generate data to help farmers fight drought, disease, and pests.
To help your students visualize what that means in practical terms, you can show them this video:

Step 1: Technical Hypotheses

Show your students the following BMC for Ceres and ask them to brainstorm what technological challenges have to be addressed for the business model to work.
Ceres drone business model canvas
Your students might share similar thoughts as Steve’s students had, such as:
  • Demonstrate they can build drones
  • Develop software to extract data from images the drones collect
  • Present data to farmers in a way they could use it

As with the previous exercises in this series, we recommend using the Think. Pair. Share. technique where students first reflect on the question individually, then share their thoughts with a partner, and finally, you facilitate a discussion with the entire class. This approach enables a lot more interaction and discussion than immediately starting with a class-wide discussion.

Step 2: Business Hypotheses

Next up, have your students brainstorm the non-technical challenges Ceres will have to tackle for their business model to be successful.

Your students may come up with challenges like:

  • Farmers want data to treat their fields
  • Farmers want to forecast their production
  • Farmers have a budget for our value proposition
  • Farmers are willing to pay for data
  • Farmers struggle with diseases and drought
  • Local water utilities and fertilizer/pesticide producers are interested in partnering

Step 3: Prioritizing Hypotheses

Now ask “which of these hypotheses should Ceres test first?” In other words, when there are so many assumptions about a business model, how do you prioritize which ones to test first?

Ask your students which 3 of the 9 hypotheses listed above would they test first.  This is another great opportunity to utilize the Think. Pair. Share. technique.

After sharing, tell students that when we talk about the riskiest hypothesis of a business model, we say…

The riskiest assumption of a business model is the one that is most likely to kill the business.

With that in mind, it might make sense that the Ceres students chose the following as their riskiest assumptions:
  1. Demonstrate they can build drones
  2. Develop software to extract data from images the drones collect
  3. Present data to farmers in a way they could use it

Ceres business model hypotheses

You could imagine the Ceres students saying, “Without drones and the data they collect, we have no business!” What they and most entrepreneurs don’t realize is, as Alex puts it, “Desirability” hypotheses are almost universally riskier than “Feasibility” hypotheses.

Desirability, feasibility, and viability hypotheses of a business model canvas

It turns out that “Feasibility” hypotheses (i.e., “Can we build it?”) are nowhere near as difficult to validate as “Desirability” hypotheses. That’s because…

A problem without a solution is a matter of time. A solution without a problem is a waste of time.

Put another way, if you find out someone has a problem, there are a myriad of ways you can try and solve that problem. But, if you have a solution to a problem, but no one actually has or cares about solving that problem, the solution is useless and all the time spent building it was wasted.

So Ceres’ riskiest assumption isn’t that they can build a drone; their riskiest assumption is that farmers have problems that can be solved with drones.

Their actual riskiest assumptions all fall under the “Desirability” category:

  1. Farmers struggle with diseases and drought
  2. Farmers are willing to pay for data
  3. Local water utilities and fertilizer/pesticide producers are interested in partnering

Once the desirability and viability hypotheses have been validated, the riskiest assumptions fall within the feasibility category.

To demonstrate this point, tell your students about the…

Step 4: Ceres Case Study Update

What happened, in reality, is that Ceres students started interviewing farmers, and farmers asked:

Why would you build drones to take pictures when we already fly planes over our fields to spray for fertilizers and pesticides?

Farmers told students they could just attach a camera to the planes that are already flying over the fields to capture images. If students had built their drones first and talked to customers second, they would have invested millions of dollars building unnecessary technology.

Instead, because the Ceres team validated their desirability hypotheses before their feasibility hypotheses, they were able to simplify their business model and lower costs for themselves and their customers by eliminating the need for developing drones entirely.

As a result, the Ceres team was able to scale its business model to secure significant funding and recognition for its innovativeness.

The lesson for your students:

Always test desirability before feasibility.

Step 5: Homework

At this point, students have experience with the Business Model Canvas that they’re ready to apply what they’ve learned.

For homework, assign students to fill in the BMC for a venture they’d like to validate, as well as identify the 3 riskiest hypotheses of their business model.


The Business Model Canvas and variations of it (e.g. Lean Canvas, Mission Model Canvas, etc.) are some of the most popular and ubiquitous tools in use. Dr. Alex Osterwalder’s use of matching, fill-in-the-blank, and prioritization exercises is intentional, and helps educators avoid some of the common pitfalls when teaching the BMC, namely: 

  • disengaging learners with lectured-based instruction, 
  • overwhelming learners with insufficient structure, and 
  • not adequately addressing how to use the BMC as a hypothesis prioritization and validation tool

In this 3-article series, we shared the steps Alex uses to teach this important tool for entrepreneurship educators.

  • In the first step, Alex introduces students to the different components of the BMC by having them match the business model hypotheses to the appropriate boxes of the canvas.
  • In the second step, Alex helps students learn to write their hypotheses by asking students to complete partially finished BMCs.
  • In this third step, Alex helps students learn how to use the BMC to prioritize the riskiest assumptions so they can design tests to validate them.

Want More from Dr. Osterwalder?

If you like this exercise, Alex also has two new books that are great resources for the classroom:

Find more about Alex’s work at Strategyzer.com.

Watch Alex Teach

If you’d like to see Alex teach the Business Model Canvas himself, just enter your email below to watch his full workshop on Teaching the BMC:

Get the Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 3 Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 3” 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 so share it with another instructor you know.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students and more tips and tricks to improve your evaluations.

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:

  • Prototyping and Pitching. Storytelling is an important entrepreneurship skill. In this experiential exercise, students learn they must inspire others to take action.
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Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 2 – Apply

Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 2 – Apply

Dr. Alex Osterwalder, one of the creators of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) uses a 3-step process to teach it to students. The article outlines his second step:

Fill-in-the-blank exercises to help students develop their own hypotheses.

In the first step of his process, Alex introduces students to the different components of the BMC by having them match the business model hypotheses to the appropriate boxes of the canvas. In this second step, Alex helps students learn to write their hypotheses by asking students to complete partially finished BMCs.

Fill-in-the-Blank BMCs

In this exercise, you’ll give students some of the business model components for well-known companies and ask them to fill in the rest.

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Alex uses fill-in-the-blank exercises intentionally. By providing students with some components of the BMC and asking them to write in the rest, students are able to start practicing using the BMC without the risk of them getting overwhelmed.

He repeats this process several times for different companies, each time providing students fewer components filled in until ultimately, students are completing the canvas entirely on their own.

Like in the first exercise, we recommend using a Think. Pair. Share. model with this lesson to make this activity more interactive and engaging. Details on how to complete all of the above are below.

Step 1: Think

Show students this Dollar Shave Club commercial:

Next, you’ll ask your students to fill in a BMC for the Dollar Shave Club, but you’ll want to give them a couple of hints first. Tell your students that Dollar Shave Club:

  1. Started selling online, with no physical stores
  2. They acquired customers through viral videos
  3. And that these two approaches were novel at the time and instrumental to their success

Give your students this partially filled out BMC for Dollar Shave Club’s business model (link to the worksheets are in the lesson plan below). Give students a few minutes to individually fill in their assumptions for the following boxes:

  • Channel
  • Revenue Streams

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Step 2: Pair

Next, ask students to pair up (or create breakout rooms for virtual students), and compare their answers. If there’s anything they disagree on, ask them to try to discuss and come to a consensus.

Note: this is an important part of the Think. Pair. Share. process. Talking with a peer helps them organize their thoughts better and practice vocalizing them. If your students are reluctant to speak in class, pairing students up like this before asking for a class-wide discussion can help inspire more interaction.

Step 3: Share

Finally, reconvene the class and ask students to share the assumptions they filled in. Progress around the room asking for students’ assumptions for the Channel, Revenue Streams boxes, and discuss any discrepancies or disagreements.

Start filling in the boxes:

  • The first Channel you gave them – online store. The second Channel is viral videos (Youtube).
  • The Revenue Stream is a customized subscription.

Step 4: Second Think-Pair-Share

This is a good opportunity to point out to students that they cannot utilize the channel that provided lots of visibility (YouTube) without incurring significant costs. In the case of Dollar Shave Club, replacing traditional marketing with viral videos requires costly activities & resources. Give students a few minutes to individually fill in their assumptions for the following boxes:

  • Cost Structure
  • Key Activities
  • Key Resources
  • Key Partners

Next, ask students to pair up and compare their answers. If there’s anything they disagree on, ask them to try to discuss and come to a consensus. Finally, reconvene the class and ask students to share the assumptions they filled in. Progress around the room asking for students’ assumptions for the Key Activities, Key Resources, and Cost Structure boxes, and discuss any discrepancies or disagreements.

Start filling in the boxes:

  • Key Activities are viral videos.
  • Key Resources are an e-commerce store and a brand.
  • Costs are for viral videos and marketing.
  • Key Partners are manufacturers and e-commerce platform providers.

Using viral videos is Dollar Shave Club’s way to keep the online store flowing with customers.

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Fill-in-the-Blank Exercise: B2B

For a B2B business model canvas, we suggest using Salesforce. Provide students the following context:

Salesforce was founded with the goal of “making enterprise software as easy to use as a website like amazon.com.” They pioneered the software-as-a-service (Saas) model for customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and was visionary in predicting the potential of online software.

Step 5: Revenue & Relationships

Repeat the Think. Pair. Share. process from above, this time with a partially-completed BMC worksheet (links to worksheets are in the lesson plan below) asking students to fill in the following boxes for Salesforce:

  • Revenue Streams
  • Customer Relationship

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Step 6: Complete the Canvas

Repeating the same process as before, ask students to complete the rest of Salesforce’s BMC:

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder

Step 7: Design Your Own Canvas

By this point, your students will have completed several BMCs and they’ll be ready to start creating their own. Using the included BMC template in the worksheets (linked in the lesson plan), ask your students to individually start designing the business model for the company they want to create.

Step 8: Get Feedback

After filling in their canvas, ask students to share their business model’s design with one other student in the class and see if that person has any feedback (i.e., did the designer use each of the boxes appropriately?). Then switch roles so both students get a chance to present and get feedback.


Next Exercise: Prioritization

The BMC is great for helping students develop their business model hypotheses, but that’s only half the value of the tool. The other half is…

Using the Business Model Canvas to test your hypotheses.

In our next article, we will outline a lesson plan for Alex uses to demonstrate how the BMC helps entrepreneurs prioritize their business models’ riskiest assumptions.

It’s critical to teach this step because it’s one of the major benefits of teaching the BMC over traditional business plans. Once entrepreneurs have a prioritized list of riskiest assumptions, they can design experiments to test each of those assumptions and validate their business model!


Want More from Dr. Osterwalder?

If you like this exercise, Alex also has two new books that are great resources for the classroom:

Find more about Alex’s work at Strategyzer.com.

Watch Alex Teach

If you’d like to see Alex teach the Business Model Canvas himself, just enter your email below to watch his full workshop on Teaching the BMC:

Get the Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 2 Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 2” 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 so share it with another instructor you know.


What’s Next?

In part 3 of this series, we explain how Dr. Osterwalder uses the BMC to teach students how to prioritize their business models’ riskiest assumptions.

Subscribe here to be the first to get this 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:

  • Teaching the Business Model Canvas: Part 1. Check out the first post in this series, where we learn Dr. Osterwalder’s process of using matching to help students understand the Business Model Canvas.
  • 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.