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Recommended Tools for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Recommended Tools for Teaching Entrepreneurship

“What are the best tools to teach . . .?”

It’s a question we get all the time from entrepreneurship professors. So we thought we would share the tools we recommend to teach your students critical entrepreneurship skills like:

  • Customer Interviewing
  • Prototyping
  • Financial Projection
  • General Productivity

In entrepreneurship education there are always new tools, tips, and tricks to discover and incorporate into your classroom. It’s overwhelming trying to keep up-to-date and know what is useful for your students to practice critical entrepreneurship skills.

As we prototype and refine our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), we try hundreds of tools to determine what is useful as a learning opportunity, and what is a value for students on a very limited budget. Below are our choices for your students to learn critical skills they need to navigate the entrepreneurship landscape.

We sorted the list of tools we recommend below into categories so you can quickly learn what tools we recommend for different components of your course. We tested out hundreds of options to find the tools that provide the best value in terms of most engagement and provide a free option, at least for a short trial period.

If you have recommendations for tools your students love, please comment below with the tool and why they love it.

Customer Interviewing Tools

As we have discussed many times, customer interviews are the most critical element to validating a business model. Once your students have identified who to interview (early adopters), and where to find these people, motivating students to conduct real interviews can be challenging. As we heard from a professor who switched to using ExEC, students will often not get out of the building to interview customers each week because they are not comfortable interviewing real people.

Just like learning any skill, students need the proper tools to develop the confidence to interview customers so they can effectively validate their business model assumptions.

Here are our recommendations for customer interviewing tools you can incorporate into your classroom so your students feel confident conducting real interviews.

Otter.ai. Otter is a tool students can use to record (audio only), transcribe, and share interviews. With Otter, students can play, edit, organize, and share audio and notes from interviews from any device. This is a great tool for ensuring students do their interviews and enabling professors to review them and provide feedback very efficiently.

Interview Transcription Tools

Kahoot. As we practice what we preach, our ExEC team experiments with how exactly to teach students how to interview customers. This is a very difficult skill to effectively teach, but we think we finally nailed it!

customer interview tools

Our updated method of teaching customer interviews is using ExEC Customer Interviewing Playing Cards with an online collaborative quiz game to show students:

  • What their problem interviewing goals should and should not be, and
  • What questions they should and should not ask

Get familiar with Kahoot; watch this Kahoot demo video, and review the Kahoot questions here. Students love games, so take advantage of that and teach them interviewing through a gaming experience.

Lino. Like any good entrepreneurship professors, we are big fans of post-it notes. I mean, really big fans – we look for every way to use them to generate ideas and organize information. The problem we kept hearing from our professors with post-it notes is that it’s difficult (and expensive) for students to use them across many weeks of interviewing. So we discovered Lino, and we love it!

Think of Lino as an electronic post-it notes canvas. As students record and transcribe each customer interview, they can use Lino to map out their findings, to analyze their interview data, and to identify patterns in their qualitative data. Because it is all electronic, you can incorporate this into your LMS so you can monitor and assess your students’ progress.

Prototyping Tools

No matter what problem your students are working on solving, they need to know how to develop and iterate a prototype. This is such an important skill that in our most recent iteration of ExEC, we encourage our professors to start the semester off with students prototyping. In today’s digital world, and for most of us who do not have a maker space and staff at our disposal, prototyping is a digital affair. We found a variety of tools for prototyping websites and apps.

Website Prototyping Tools.

As we outline in our 60 Minute MVP exercise, building a functioning website with zero technical expertise is not as hard as it seems. With the following tools, any student can build a landing page (a simple, single-page website) that:

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

Landing Page Tools. To create a simple landing page, we recommend using Wix or Weebly. Both offer free options, and both require no technical expertise as they are drag-and-drop, template website builders. There are slight differences between the two, for instance Wix offers handy tools such as photo filters and animated texts.

With either option, your students will be engaging customers in no time.

Explainer Video Tools. To engage customers on their landing page, your students should include a quick video that hints how their solution will solve the problem. We found a few tools that make creating explainer videos a breeze. These tools allow students to create engaging animated videos that are professional-looking, with a large selection of media, templates, and animation effects from which to choose.

  • Powtoon. The slide-based format of Powtoon allows students control over how to present information. Here is a much more in-depth review of Powtoon.

teaching video explainer tools

  • Animaker. This tool has one of the largest animation libraries of any comparable platform out there. Here is a much more in-depth review of Animaker.
  • Moovly. This tool contains one of the largest stock media libraries online. Here is a much more in-depth review of Moovly.

App Prototyping Tools.

Our students love ideas for apps, because they are products students constantly use throughout the day. As with websites, tools to build apps seem to be endless. We identified a few tools that students can use to develop interactive app prototypes to test our customer demand and usability. We recommend two categories – low fidelity (wireframing) and high fidelity (polished).

Low Fidelity

High Fidelity

  • inVision  (interactive prototyping tool)
  • Adobe XD (wireframe & design tool)
  • Proto.io (interactive prototyping tool)
  • Sketch (digital design platform)

teaching prototyping tools

We also recommend a few User Interface (UI) Design and User Experience (UX) Design tools.

With all these tools, students can create mockups of what they want their app idea to look and feel like, so potential customers can view and interact with it on mobile devices. Generally speaking, students may find it more difficult to work with Origami and Sketch unless they have more technical expertise.

One other useful tool is Overflow.io, which is slightly different in that it is a design tool focused on enabling user flow diagrams. User flow is the path taken by a prototypical user. Your students can map out screen-by-screen a customer journey from the entry point through a set of steps towards a successful outcome and final action, such as purchasing a product.

Financial Projection Tools

One of the most difficult aspects of entrepreneurship to teach effectively and engagingly is financials. Because students often struggle with the application of financial concepts, professors need a tool that makes financial modeling approachable and creates confidence in students. We could not find such a tool, so we built the Financial Projection Simulator to solve our problem.

teaching finance tools in entrepreneurship

This tool allows students to quickly iterate and identify a potentially viable revenue model in a rigorous way that doesn’t overwhelm them. We incorporated default values in drop down menus and instructions for researching more detailed estimates to create a more approachable way for students to experiment with assumptions in their financial models.

General Productivity Tools

We are champions of experiential education, especially in entrepreneurship. In an experiential course where students must practice idea generation, customer interviewing, prototyping, financial and business modeling, pitching, and selling, students can easily be overwhelmed and lose focus.

As we practice what we preach in building ExEC, we discovered a variety of tools that can keep students organized and engaged.

Customer interviews are the lifeblood of an entrepreneurial endeavor.

It is critical students keep every nuance and nugget of information from their interviews. Reviewing notes is an important way for them to improve their interviewing skills. And past interviews are a treasure trove of validation and potential marketing copy, so being able to capture and transcribe them is essential.

Capturing Interviews. To enhance their learning, students can record video of interviews – or meetings with cofounders, partners, investors, and other stakeholders – using Zoom. Zoom integrates with Otter, so students can very easily create transcripts of any video recordings.

When students watch videos of their interviews, they learn how to decode nonverbal reactions from customers, and also become more self-aware regarding their own nonverbal reactions. This is important because their reactions may sometimes influence the customer’s reactions, so increasing their self-awareness is very important.

Taking Notes. Students should also take notes (or have a friend take notes) while interviewing, to record their thoughts and reactions real-time. We find that taking notes on a computer creates the chatter of typing, which is a big distraction. So, we recommend going (sort of!) old school and writing notes.

One great tool for taking and sharing notes is Rocketbook, which are reusable smart notebooks. These notebooks connect to all the students’ cloud services (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) so they can easily send and organize their notes (if you get the Wave version, you microwave it to reuse it – how cool is that?!?!?)

Providing Context and/or Feedback. If your students (or you) need to provide feedback, Loom or Vidyard are a great way to record short video screen captures so the recipient can follow along, and can replay/revisit to fully digest the feedback. These tools is also great for students to provide context when asking for feedback.

In many situations, it is beneficial for students to be able to quickly set the stage for someone to provide feedback. For instance, when sharing documents, worksheets, notes, or assignments with professors, teammates, or customers, if a student can give some background and also make a clear and specific ask, it makes the feedback process much more efficient. A student can record a screen capture of a document, explain where they’d like feedback, why, and explain the context of the information. This context helps the reviewer provide very targeted and richer feedback.

Missed Our Recent Articles?

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

  • “The 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!
  • Textbooks Don’t Work. Textbooks are not an effective way to teach entrepreneurship. Experiences are. Students don’t want to read. They want to do. Engage students with the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.
  • Teaching Finance in Entrepreneurship. Finance is a difficult subject to teach in entrepreneurship. Our financial projection simulator is the best way to teach financial projections without overwhelming students.

Want More Tools To Engage Your Students?

We email new experiential entrepreneurship tools, techniques, and lesson plans regularly.

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

Join 4,800+ instructors. Get new lesson plans via email.

 

“The Best class I’ve taken”

“The Best class I’ve taken”

Kim Pichot, an entrepreneurship professor at Andrews University, watched a keenly intelligent student become disillusioned, before her eyes.

Kim Pichot
Assistant Professor of Marketing, Andrews University 

She’d taught him during his first year when he was eager to learn, quickly grasped complex topics, and had a perfect GPA. By the time Kim saw him again his senior year, everything had changed.

His demeanor had changed, he’d lost interest in learning, and he was on a quest to leave school, at one point asking her:

“What can I do to graduate? I just need out of here.”

Coincidentally, Kim had wanted to adopt a more experiential approach to her entrepreneurship class, so she decided to try the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC). Her disillusioned student reluctantly started working with ExEC’s structured, real-world experiences, and the result was nothing short of a Dead Poets Society moment:

Why Kim Adopted ExEC

Kim worked for the SBDC and SBI for over 20 years, helping guide and mentor over 300 founders and business owners. Along the way, she founded a consulting business. She brought that experience to entrepreneurship courses at Andrews University, where she was using a textbook, giving a midterm and a final exam, and using the Business Model Canvas, a strategic marketing plan and a business plan.

Kim knew the material wasn’t engaging her students. She wanted to improve her students’ takeaways, so she needed to update her course. Kim wanted to keep the Business Model Canvas and go much deeper with that kind of tool and approach. She doesn’t see the value in exams; they spread out the grading curve a bit, but she doesn’t believe they represent real learning. To her, experiential learning is the only effective method of education.

Kim met the TeachingEntrepreneurship.org team at the annual USASBE conference. She tried a few exercises with her students, and her classroom came alive! When she dug deeper into our award-winning curriculum, Kim thought to herself:

“I can have the type of classroom I really want without killing myself preparing for it.”

Kim was so happy with the experience she wanted to try the full ExEC curriculum on an elective course before using it in the university’s Interdisciplinary Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate (4 courses and a capstone ending with a demo day and real money). Next semester Kim will use ExEC in her elective course and in the Certificate!

This semester was Kim’s first using ExEC. She prepped before each class, barely staying ahead of the students. Her semester was a process of evaluating and responding based on how the students reacted to the curriculum, and the value they are getting from it. She saw students engaged in learning, developing personally meaningful concepts. At the end of each module, she thought “WOW!”

How Students Transformed

The class is a junior and senior elective, so Kim’s students are mostly taking a business minor, management major, or marketing major. The students took the course because they thought it would be an easy grade; as Kim related:

“The hardest part of this entrepreneurship class is that students are not coming in with a desire to start a business. It’s an elective.”

Students did not expect to spend time outside class working as a group, interviewing actual people, building real value. They expected the typical listen – learn – reflect/regurgitate routine. The students were in for a shock!

As Kim walked students through ExEC one step at a time, they understood the progression, the benefit they were gaining, and the skill set they were developing. Kim’s classroom became a hub of high energy every time they gathered. Music played, ideas flew around, experiments developed, feedback exchanged . . . the learning was real!

When the class got to the point of designing a landing page through the 60 Minute MVP exercise, students didn’t think they could do that in one class period. Yet at the end of the class, they all launched landing pages!

Students didn’t believe in themselves going in, and emerged having accomplished something amazing – building and launching an MVP in 60 minutes, with no technical expertise.

One group got 500 sign-ups for their concept. Another group made $300 the last week of class with a digital marketing consulting idea.

Another transformation related to financials. Kim’s previous students felt the financial lessons weren’t realistic. With ExEC, the students realized they could design pessimistic and optimistic projections based on fairly accurate assumptions. They saw how they could scale a product line or a business. Students understood how the number of clients or subscribers impacted real financial projections, and how to calculate the number of purchases necessary to cover costs given a certain percent margin.

The numbers became real! And now with our Financial Projection Simulator, we give professor’s a robust financial modeling tool that leads students through an experimentation process to find a financially sustainable business model.

Kim related that her students see how they can apply the set of entrepreneurial skills they developed in different situations. The physical therapy students commented that they can see pieces of ExEC they can use to introduce something new in the practice that will employ them. Overall, as Kim said:

“The students walk away with a much better, much deeper learning experience.”

How Kim Transformed

Kim began her journey with ExEC as an experiment. Compared to previous classes, Kim’s students using ExEC were more engaged. The business concepts her students developed were more complete, more accurately developed, and more powerfully presented. Her students walked away with more positive takeaways than previous semesters: a valuable skill set, a positive learning experience, an engaging class, and confidence in their abilities. Using ExEC, Kim provided a completely different learning experience to her students, and received a mountain of feedback about this being the best course ever!

“It’s exactly what I wanted this semester to be. I wanted it to be a higher engagement for the traditional student.”

Nothing is ever perfect, and Kim also encountered struggles. She adopted the curriculum at the last minute, so she did not have the luxury of planning in advance. (pssssst, now is the time to start planning for the fall – don’t wait, sign up now!) Many days, Kim arrived at work hours before class and used the time to familiarize herself with the lesson plan and concepts she delivered later that day. The structure of the lesson plans helped her prepare efficiently to deliver an engaging learning experience to her students:

“The way everything was laid out made it very easy for me to pick up and go.”

As with any good professor, Kim thought this group of students had endless potential. During the semester, she realized some were struggling to see the value of some experiences. To tackle this challenge, Kim began spending time each class session intentionally relating each assignment and activity to students’ career paths. This opened students to the possibility of the skills helping them create value in their specific career path, even if that path didn’t include entrepreneurship. As Kim related, students realized they mastered a lot of tools and skills they can use in their future to stand out.

“I don’t think there is a single student walking out of that classroom feeling like they wasted their time.”

Which brings us back to Kim’s intelligent, disillusioned student, and her Dead Poets moment.

When she adopted ExEC, Kim saw him perk up and get excited about learning again. At the end of the semester, she asked for written feedback, and this student asked Kim if he could provide his feedback orally (btw, tons teachers dream of a student doing this – we are all totally jealous!) He stood in front of the class and said:

“This one is by far the best class I’ve ever taken at this University!”

The rest of the class chimed in agreeing with the sentiment. Our goal is to ignite classrooms around the world with the same excitement and joy of learning!

If you have problems with students

  • Not engaging, just going through the motions of another class
  • Not understanding financial projections
  • Not believing in their potential to learn applicable skills

request a preview of our ExEC curriculum here.

teaching entrepreneurship

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:

  • Textbooks Don’t Work. Textbooks are not an effective way to teach entrepreneurship. Experiences are. Students don’t want to read. They want to do. Engage students with the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.
  • Teaching Finance in Entrepreneurship. Finance is a difficult subject to teach in entrepreneurship. Our financial projection simulator is the best way to teach financial projections without overwhelming students.
  • Student Engagement Workshop. In this hour-long session, you will learn 4 techniques to engage all your students – those who are there to learn, and those who are there to pass!

Want More Tools To Engage Your Students?

We email new experiential entrepreneurship tools, techniques, and lesson plans regularly.

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

Join 4,800+ instructors. Get new lesson plans via email.

 

Join the Revolution – Teach Entrepreneurship With ExEC This Fall

Join the Revolution – Teach Entrepreneurship With ExEC This Fall

You’re exhausted and looking forward to a break – it’s the end of the semester. We get that.

Before you turn to summer research and vacation plans, I urge you to think about your fall courses. Bookstores want to know what resources you’re using. Don’t wait until “later this summer” to plan them – you’ll keep delaying it and end up scrambling to tweak your courses a week or two before the semester starts. That’s not fair to you or your students.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, let ExEC take the stress out of your planning, while making your class even more engaging. Sign up now!  

teaching entrepreneurship

We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and faculty, and we have grown from no schools adopting ExEC to almost 50 schools adopting it in less than 2 years. Join the revolution!

Our professors get really excited:

Dr. Susan Cohen

Assistant Professor of Management, The University of Georgia

Today I fell in love. In love with the problem validation presentation and all of the hard work the students put into (in)validating their customers, channels and problem statements.”

Jonathan York

Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, Cal Poly State University

“I have to be careful with my compliments or you’ll get a big head, and I’m only one week in, but I am thoroughly impressed and enjoying the course. The structure of ExEC was ideal for allowing me to fill in all of the accumulated wisdom and approaches that I have been using over 10 years.

Our students also speak to their satisfaction with the curriculum, and also to the practicality of the experience:

“I think this course teaches more practical skills which are not available in other courses during college.” – Student, Georgia State University

I really enjoyed how involved the learning in this class was, instead of reading straight from a textbook.” – Student, Susquehanna University

I enjoyed the interactive class that we had as opposed to lecture. It gets everyone involved and awake and gets the juices flowing in your brain. Class was more enjoyable rather than something I had to attend.” – Student, Rowan University

Can You Engage More of your Students?

There is always room to improve our students’ experience. Just like Georgann Jouflas at Colorado Mesa University, now is your chance to rediscover the excitement of teaching entrepreneurship.

She was looking for a curriculum through which her students could learn the skills an entrepreneur uses to build something someone wants. She found that in our award-winning Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).

Fall is coming. Choose your curriculum now, then enjoy your summer. ExEC is the curriculum your students need.

We’ll explain more about ExEC, but first, remember that we are hosting a FREE virtual workshop to train you on how to engage ALL your students next semester. Head here for details and to register.

Why ExEC?

Last week we talked about why textbooks don’t work. If you’re looking for a structured way to make your class real from day one, that engage your students without using textbooks, try ExEC. We built a blend of digital (for resources and assignments) and real-life learning experiences, and practice what we preach by interviewing our faculty and students, so we are continuously improving the experience for you and for your students.

Learn more about our curriculum from this review in Academy of Management Learning & Education.

Our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum focuses on a few core topics that are essential to entrepreneurs:

Our founding team are entrepreneurs. We’ve spent years interviewing entrepreneurship faculty and students. This combined knowledge led us to build an evolving, award-winning entrepreneurship curriculum that probes topics in-depth that entrepreneurship textbooks gloss over.

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

When we cover a topic, such as financial modeling, we don’t stop at providing context and information. In this case, we lead students through an experimentation process so they can discover a financially sustainable business model. Along the way, they discover the most important elements of a rigorous financial projection.

We also include curated Resource Guides for dozens of topics we do not cover. We continuously update our Resource Guides just as we do the exercises and lesson plans. This is quite valuable for students, who have lifetime access to ExEC, as they navigate their entrepreneurial path post-college and find the need for this information. Professors and students can take a much deeper dive into a variety of topics such as:

  • Types of Entrepreneurship
  • Financials
  • Team Formation
  • Legal Issues

It’s important that students have this information at their fingertips. But this information should not be the core of any entrepreneurship course. The experience should be!

Structured Experiential Learning

Georgann Jouflas, one of our early adopter professors at Colorado Mesa University, mentions:

“I love the Teaching Entrepreneurship (ExEC) curriculum because it has that background reading information, easily accessible, easily assignable. But I love the experiential part of it.”

We engage students in practicing skills, actively. Class time should be spent learning by doing, with professors guiding students through an experience where they can see the material come to life in a way that is meaningful for them. We built that experience for you, for your students. ExEC enables professors to easily shift from the ineffective sage-on-the-stage model of education to the guide-on-the-side model, because the real teacher with the ExEC curriculum is the students’ experience.

As Mike Dominik, one of our early adopter professors at Rowan University, mentions, he values the practical nature of the curriculum, and that we keep it relevant:

We built ExEC as a progression of deep learning activities to encourage an understanding of information through active problem-solving and iterative skill development. This curriculum sits upon a strong foundation of the work of David Kolb and colleagues that shows that students learn best through experience. It also harkens way back to a timeless quote from Xun Kuang in the 3rd Century B.C.E.:

“Tell me and I forget,

teach me and I may remember,

engage me and I learn.”

As Georgann Jouflas explained, she wanted to teach her students how to discover their passion and how to solve problems, not just work with ideas. Her students needed to deeply engage with understanding the power of hidden assumptions, and how to prototype. A textbook didn’t address her need, but ExEC did!

Textbooks don’t work; they become outdated very quickly, so information students are learning can be irrelevant. Once students purchase a textbook, that is the resource they have – it doesn’t change. The ExEC curriculum is a living, breathing resource; once students purchase ExEC they have lifetime access, so as we update the curriculum to meet the current reality, the resource at students’ disposal stays current.

teaching entrepreneurship

 

ExEC is the entire learning experience, giving students meaningful content and the tools to turn that content into action.

Don’t worry about covering every topic in a particular niche of entrepreneurship. Invite students into an experience.  They will thank you. Don’t take our word for it – check out any of the almost 50 universities using our curriculum. Dr. Chris Welter, who has used ExEC with undergrads and MBAs at Xavier University, says:

“It’s the software I’ve been looking for for 3 or 4 years . . . I really appreciate the ability for students to get their hands dirty.”

Engage your Students this Fall

If you want your entrepreneurship classroom buzzing with the nervousness and excitement of active learning . . .

teaching entrepreneurship engage students

You are not alone.

There’s a community of entrepreneurial professors like you, and they’re using ExEC to bring entrepreneurship to life for their students. Request your preview today to get a jump on your fall courses.

Try the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Request a preview of ExEC today and make this Fall the most engaging semester of entrepreneurship yet! Our curriculum is full of experiential exercises that will make your students’ learning come alive.

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:

  • Textbooks Don’t Work. Textbooks are not an effective way to teach entrepreneurship. Experiences are. Students don’t want to read. They want to do. Engage students with the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.
  • Teaching Finance in Entrepreneurship. Finance is a difficult subject to teach in entrepreneurship. Our financial projection simulator is the best way to teach financial projections without overwhelming students.
  • Student Engagement Workshop. In this hour-long session, you will learn 4 techniques to engage all your students – those who are there to learn, and those who are there to pass!

Want More Tools To Engage Your Students?

We email new experiential entrepreneurship tools, techniques, and lesson plans regularly.

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

Join 4,800+ instructors. Get new lesson plans via email.

 

Why Textbooks Don’t Work

Why Textbooks Don’t Work

It doesn’t matter what you do:

  • Switch to the newest entrepreneurship textbook
  • Quiz students to make sure they read the material before class
  • Incorporate popular industry books like Disciplined Entrepreneurship or Lean Startup

You’ll fall short of the engagement your students deserve.

Whether you compile a summary of resources from around the Web, or you use a structured experiential curriculum like ExEC . . .

whatever you do, don’t use a textbook to teach entrepreneurship! You’re short changing yourself and your students.

In this article, we’ll discuss the top 3 reasons why textbooks don’t teach entrepreneurship:

  1. Textbooks don’t teach skills.
  2. Learning by doing is more effective than reading and regurgitating.
  3. Students don’t read textbooks.

But first, remember that we are hosting a FREE virtual workshop to train you on how to engage ALL your students next semester. Head here for details and to register. This workshop will be very participatory, so please make sure your camera and microphone are working, and test your computer for Zoom here.

Textbooks Don’t Teach Skills

Students can’t learn entrepreneurship by reading about it. Entrepreneurship textbooks provide a general blanket of information about entrepreneurship, but don’t engage students in entrepreneurship. They cover 15, 16, 17 or more topics loosely related to entrepreneurship. This creates a density problem that inhibits effective learning and engagement.

Textbooks drown students in facts and figures, but don’t guide students to action.

Here is what a typical entrepreneurship textbook table of contents covers:

  • Perspective & Context
  • Ideation and Opportunity Identification/Recognition/Evaluation
  • Business Modeling and/or Business Planning
  • Funding
  • Launching a Venture
  • Growing/Scaling a Venture

Entrepreneurship textbooks are effective at overwhelming students with information. They are mostly ineffective at enabling students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and skill set through application and practice.

Textbooks are not ineffective because of the people who write them. I know and admire many of the authors, and I know they are dynamic teachers. Textbooks are ineffective because they try to do too much; if you want to give your students a general overview of what entrepreneurship is, then a textbook is for you.

If you want your students practicing the skills of entrepreneurship, then a textbook won’t work.

Research Shows That Learning By Doing is More Effective Than Reading

What does engage students is experience that build skills. Where textbooks fail and ExEC succeeds is in delivering experiential learning, defined as:

“learning from experience or learning by doing. Experiential education first immerses learners in an experience and then encourages reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking.”  (Lewis and Williams, 1994: 5)

Research shows that in a variety of disciplines, from sciences to humanities to business and especially in entrepreneurship, experiential learning leads to better student engagement and therefore outcomes.

student engagement

As David Goobler, author of Pedagogy Unbound, observes:

“We have to go beyond the idea that the perfect presentation of the relevant facts will be enough to help the majority of our students learn. Such pedagogy (whether or not we call it lecturing) will work for some students. But for most students, we need to shift our focus from what it is we say to what it is they do.”

Students Don’t Read Textbooks

What students don’t do is read textbooks; research shows that students assigned readings complete only 20-30% of them. A variety of factors contribute to students’ struggle with reading – school-life balance, lack of motivation, and more importantly, lack of comprehension. One study shows that only 46% of students in a particular course read assignments, and of those, only 55% demonstrated a basic comprehension of the reading.

Students don’t want to read. They want to do. Do you want to engage your students this fall?

Next year, no textbooks! Students don’t read the textbooks, they are not engaging, and they don’t teach the necessary skills. Whether you assemble your own collection of exercises from around the web, or you use a structured curriculum like ExEC, next year, get the most out of your students and your class by ditching the textbook and go experiential!

Try the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Request a preview of ExEC today and make this Fall the most engaging semester of entrepreneurship yet! Our curriculum is full of experiential exercises that will make your students’ learning come alive.

TeachingEntrepreneurship.org’s Greatest Hits

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 Finance in Entrepreneurship. Finance is a difficult subject to teach in entrepreneurship. Our financial projection simulator is the best way to teach financial projections without overwhelming students.
  • Our Top 5 Lesson Plans. Top teaching entrepreneurship lesson plans – covering idea generation, customer interviewing, prototyping, and problem validation.
  • Entrepreneurship Syllabus. Engaging entrepreneurship syllabi are difficult to build. We surveyed 4,000+ educators, and created five engaging entrepreneurship syllabus templates

Want More Tools To Engage Your Students?

We email new experiential entrepreneurship tools, techniques, and lesson plans regularly.

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

Join 4,800+ instructors. Get new lesson plans via email.

 

Student Engagement Workshop

Student Engagement Workshop

How do you reach all students, not just the ones who are eager to learn?

Learn how in our free Student Engagement Virtual Workshop on May 22.

We don’t want your students checked out, staring at their phones, or looking at your slides with blank stares.

We want them asking questions, sitting up straight, participating in activities.

After winning USASBE’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Exercises competition, a few professors asked how we approached student engagement.  We thought it was a good opportunity to share our “Show, Don’t Tell” approach to experiential learning that has entrepreneurship students engaged at universities around the world!

If you teach entrepreneurship and want to learn tips and techniques to engage all your students in a rich learning environment that excites and inspires them . . .

. . . then you want to register for the 4 Steps to Increase Student Engagement Virtual Workshop!

Our award-winning entrepreneurship educators will give you the tools to:

  1. Create discussion and competition opportunities your students will love
  2. Create experiences that will inspire deep curiosity
  3. Invite students into deeper discussions
  4. Make things real for your students with real stories of success and failure

Engage All Your Students!

After the positive impact of our ExEC entrepreneurship curriculum’s across dozens of universities, we’re so excited to share our approach to student engagement with you.

See you at our virtual workshop – be sure to register for free here! Remember, even if you can’t join us live we’ll have recordings available for those who register.

Teaching Finance in Entrepreneurship

Teaching Finance in Entrepreneurship

“When the P&L’s come out, students check out.” – Doan Winkel

We all face this problem when teaching the financial aspect of entrepreneurship. Students aren’t comfortable with the unknown, and often struggle with understanding the application of math or financial topics. This is a huge problem because financial modeling is such a crucial part of identifying and validating the business models students are working on.

So how do we balance creating a robust financial projection for a business model without overwhelming students?

Introducing the first version of ExEC’s Financial Projection Simulator (imagine fireworks going off in the background with AC/DC playing bagpipes and shooting flaming confetti!!!)

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

Incorporating feedback as we develop engaging lesson plans, we’ve added a fun way for students to experiment with their financial model to our comprehensive curriculum.

The Financial Projection Simulator leads students through an experimentation process so they can find a financially sustainable business model. Along the way, they discover the most important elements of a rigorous financial projection:

  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Cost of Customer Acquisition
  • Cost of employee salaries (including benefits & taxes)
  • Initial capital investments
  • Unit costs
  • Legal fees
  • Etc.

Here is a quick overview of the simulator in action:

With a combination of default values in drop down menus and instructions for researching more detailed estimates, pilot students have reported this is a more approachable way to experiment with assumptions in their financial models. The simulator, “feels more like a game than a spreadsheet”, where they can quickly see the impact of their assumptions on the success of their business.

At each step along the way, we provide short, easy-to-understand tutorial videos so students understand what to input.

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

The format invites them to more deeply engage in learning about financial models.

No TAM-Based Estimates

ExEC’s financial simulator is also unique because it takes a strictly bottom-up approach to financial projections. Instead of largely inaccurate top-down/TAM estimates (e.g. “This industry is X billions of dollars and if we get Y% of it we’ll be rich”), which don’t take into account real-world difficulties and costs of customer acquisition, ExEC’s financial modeling is purely bottom-up (e.g. “Which channels will you use to acquire customers, what do you hypothesize your conversion rates will be, and how much will that cost?”) to give students a reality check on how viable their business model is.

Here’s more detail on how we approach this, and other areas of financial projections.

Revenue

As mentioned above, instead of wildly inaccurate revenue numbers based on a TAM / SAM approach, ExEC students estimate revenue based on the product price and how many times per year a customer will purchase that product. This leads to much more accurate evaluation of a business model, and an approachable way for students to get started. As we heard from a pilot  student:

“Even though it’s difficult to make our business profitable, this tool gave us ideas of concrete changes we could make in order to make it possible.” – UC Berkeley Student

Expenses

We offer an extensive set of expenses for students to consider, all of which have suggested default values, as well as instructions on how to calculate more detailed estimates to tailor those values to their business model. We’ve found this combination of default values, with pointers for more information, to make financial modeling much more approachable – allowing students to ease their way in and experiment with different combinations, without overwhelming them.

We’ve tried to make the simulator as comprehensive as possible without becoming anxiety-producing, so your students can feel confident their projections are sound.

Cost of Customer Acquisition

Students are often unsure the best channels to acquire customers, and how costly those channels are. They will want to default to social media channels, but they often do not understand the investment it requires to effectively leverage these platforms. We provide significant guidance so they understand what CAC is and the costs of various channels.

We have done extensive research to offer accurate estimates for CAC from the most likely channels students will choose. These drop-down menus offer students two benefits:

  • They don’t get overwhelmed having to calculate complicated customer acquisition costs
  • They work with realistic estimates so the conclusions about viability are more realistic

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

Of course students can also calculate and enter their own Cost of Customer acquisition estimates into the tool to get a more accurate sense of their marketing expenses.

Employee Salaries

Here we offer an expandable menu that includes accurate salary estimates for a wide variety of the most necessary jobs for a startup.

The tool also automatically calculates benefits and tax information, which are two very important aspects students often forget that have tremendous impact on a financial model.

Real Estate Costs

As with every section, the simulator  provides considerable guidance students can use to research particular markets and categories. Our goal is for students to understand the variety of financial inputs but also to understand where those estimates come from.

In every section of the simulator, we provide suggestions for ballpark costs, and also expandable menus with more detailed information and links to resources in case students want to dive deeper into a particular area.

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

The ExEC financial simulator gives students additional information in a variety of expandable menus, so they learn as they input their assumptions. One student mentioned:

“It makes it extremely easy to calculate various things. Helps you remember things that you may have forgotten.” – Northeastern Student

The power of this simulator is in the simplicity with which students interact with it, and the simplicity of the results. The ExEC Financial Simulator assesses the viability of a student’s business model as either red, yellow, or green. Students can very quickly see where they need to focus! In the example below, the simulator tells us the business model is not viable.

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

After working hard to provide what they think are accurate assumptions, most students will see red the first time they use this. Literally!

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

Students will feel disappointed that their business model is not viable.

How to WOW! Your Students

Bring a student up to the front of the class. Pull up his/her simulator on the projected screen. Walk through this example, live, in a couple minutes to turn a non-viable business model into a viable business model. Show your students in real-time how they can turn their business model from from red to green!

teaching finance in entrepreneurshipteaching finance in entrepreneurship

Students can quickly experiment by changing inputs to figure out how to achieve a viable business model. This leads to a powerful discussion in class about why they changed certain assumptions, and whether the assumptions are accurate.

Within minutes students understand how a variety of factors impact their financial, and therefore business, model! And it is fun!

This simulation lets students experiment with different revenue models very easily. This is important because it allows them to quickly iterate and identify a potentially viable revenue model in a rigorous way that doesn’t overwhelm them.

If you would like to play with the financial projection simulator, request a preview of our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) today!


You Told Us You Want More Student Engagement

We’ve been listening!

Join us for our “4 Ways to Increase Student Engagement” webinar, where you will learn tips and techniques to engage all your students in a rich learning environment that excites and inspires them.

Register now for this webinar on 4 tips to double student engagement in your class next fall!


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Pivoting the Wish Game: The Reality of Entrepreneurship

Pivoting the Wish Game: The Reality of Entrepreneurship

“Can I take this class again?”

The student wasn’t asking because she enjoyed the class so much. She was asking because she realized she missed the opportunity. This is confirmation that I am creating a powerful experience for my students. And confirmation that I need to do a better job introducing it.

As we near the end of the semester, I see changes in my Wish Game course experiment. It began as a grand vision, with a ton of anxious excitement from me and my students.

It is morphing into a transformational experience for students.

Let’s catch up on the wishes and experience over the past month. I learned a few valuable lessons over these weeks:

  • I can give student too much agency (I need to provide closer guidance)
  • Singular focus on granting wishes all semester is probably too much; balance is better
  • Students prefer safety
  • Maybe wishes for others would be a better learning experience than personal wishes

Granting Wishes

A few weeks back, as is our pattern, we were granting two wishes per week. This particular week the two wishes were:

  • Take the money that would be spent on a wish to a casino and let it ride on blackjack.
  • Be on stage with Skrillex and Marshmello at Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

The first was extremely straightforward. As students interviewed the grantee for this one, they tried to encourage her to pick a more challenging wish, but she stood her ground. She loves the energy and excitement of the casino. The group granting her wish handed her $150 cash the night of class and she and two classmates headed to the casino. She reported back that she taught her classmates about blackjack and roulette, and ended up winning a few bucks along the way.

Image result for blackjack creative commons

This wish presented no problem in terms of execution. It did, however, present problems within the group. There was some conflict about whether to grant the wish the grantee asked for, or to go bigger and get creative. I have been encouraging the students to think big, to take a risk. But in this case, because the grantee so adamantly stated she just wanted cash to go to the casino, the group delivered the wish. Through customer interviewing, the students understood the grantee’s desire for the emotional experience of a casino trip, and they granted it.

The other wish that week was for a student to be on stage with Skrillex and Marshmello at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. This wish was technically possible because that festival was happening in the future from the week they were granting this wish. The students got right to work interviewing the grantee to understand why he wanted this wish.

As I always do, I encouraged students to use their network to actually accomplish this wish.

I pointed out that one John Carroll alum, who was just on campus speaking not long ago, was a very successful DJ – Mick Batyske. I gave the students his cell number and encouraged them to reach out as he would likely have some connections to the festival organizers and/or Skrillex and Marshmello. They did not reach out!

The group decided pretty quickly it was too expensive – airfare, lodging, festival tickets, etc. As far as I could tell from conversations I overheard and from reflections I read, they did not consider or act on the possibility of asking for donations or hustling up some alternative solutions. They quickly moved from the big plan (deliver the actual wish) to a skeleton of the wish. This group ended up putting on a Marshmello “show” at one student’s house – they created some ambiance with music, lights, had pizza to eat. They also got the grantee a Marshmello hat.

Image result for marshmello creative commons

What Went Wrong

I pound at students that their network is much larger and easier to activate than they think. Coworkers, John Carroll alum, high school friends, family connections, hometown connections, and the list goes on. I get disappointed watching students spend 30 minutes in class brainstorming how to execute delivering a wish. They don’t spend much time strategizing how to activate their network.

This week I realized (duh!!) I should model that for them.

I committed that during the last group of wishes I would pick one wish and grant it myself, showing them how it could be done. I hope this lights a fire as they realize what could have been, and encourages them to take the risk, to dive in the next time an opportunity presents itself.

Next Wishes

The next wishes proved some interesting lessons for myself and the students.

  • Travel to Ireland.
  • Have Chipotle for life.

For the trip to Ireland, the group quickly learned that the grantee doesn’t have a passport, and is very anxious about flying (having never flown before). They quickly ruled out actually sending him to Ireland that week 🙂

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Through their interviews, they learned about his connection to Ireland, his dreams of what a trip there would entail, and highlights that would be meaningful to him. After a week of planning, they did their best to recreate the feel of Ireland in a room through decorations, music, and scenery. They also provided the grantee some gifts to commemorate his “trip” – a wool blanket, some Guinness, an Irish stone. The grantee was beaming as they showed a Photoshopped slideshow in class of his “trip” to the magical Irish destinations he dreamed of going.

The next wish was considerably more difficult – the student wanted Chipotle for life! Some students discussed what “for life” means – I can’t blame them for looking for the easy path. Eventually, the group coalesced around trying to actually grant the wish. They asked me about approaching the President of John Carroll to send a letter to the CEO of Chipotle. I advised them that would not be very realistic, especially within a week.

The students did reach out to another member of the leadership team at John Carroll to send a note to the Chipotle CEO. The response was a fantastic learning lesson for us all:

Thanks for reaching out.  I am not inclined to get involved in this activity as I don’t see any realistic role that I could play.  I don’t know the full context of your assignment but I would offer the following observations.
  1. The Ignatian characteristic of men and women with and for others, is meant to be directed at the poor and marginalized in our society, so not applicable in this context.
  2. Asking Chipotle executives for free food for an MBA student doesn’t appear to be a very compelling rationale on the face of it.  What is in it for them or their company?  If you are going to make this pitch, you’d better be creating value for them.  Would you make this a viral video, etc.?
During debrief, we had a rich discussion about Jesuit values, about privilege and philanthropy, about right and wrong, and many other related topics. It opened my eyes to the potential danger in this exercise, in terms of encouraging students to be very selfish and to expend resources on seemingly frivolous gifts.
We as a class decided after much discussion that the exercise was not about the selfishness of wishes, but about the generosity of granting wishes.

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I encouraged students to think small to go big with this wish. I often hold myself back from offering suggestions. As my frustration with their inability to go big grew, I couldn’t hold back this time.

I encouraged them to figure out the Chipotle meal the grantee likes (let’s say it costs $6), and how many weeks he will be alive (let’s say 2,500). I then suggested each member of the group ask 10 people to each buy one $6 Chipotle gift card, and to ask those people to each ask 10 people to buy one, and so on. If they each started with 10, that would immediately be 140, and if each of those got 10 more people, that would be 1,400, and so on. Ultimately, they reported it didn’t work because their friends didn’t want to contribute money. Ultimately, they didn’t sell it. Instead, they bought him a $150 Chipotle gift card.

This wish provided a great learning opportunity on a much deeper level, but also a reminder that the students are still struggling to get uncomfortable and really push their boundaries of what is possible.

Adjusting the Pace

Students brought up that if they had two weeks to do wishes, they could deliver more impactful experiences. In their minds, time was the most valuable resource, which they were lacking. After some very rich discussion about evaluating and leveraging resources, we decided that each of the two groups (14 students in each) would deliver wishes every other week. The caveat was that each group had to deliver two wishes every other week so that each student got a wish during the semester.

Fun Note: Students argues that since wishes were due every other week, they should only have to turn in reflection papers every other week. When I told them those papers every other week would be worth double (so the total course points stayed the same) they balked. I explained that everyone benefited under this because they had to write 1/2 as much for the same grade and I had to grade 1/2 as much. But they chose to keep writing the reflection papers each week.

A New Pace of Wishes

We jumped into this new pace of granting four wishes every other week. The next wishes were:

  • Dive with great white sharks
  • Meet Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns quarterback and 1st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft)
  • Play a round of golf at Augusta National Golf Club with Tiger Woods
  • Drive a Jaguar F-Type 2016

These wishes seemed to me to be quite challenging. The students seemed invigorated because they had more time to plan and execute – I hoped that meant they would be able to deliver a more impactful wish experience.

Each group of ~14 split into two groups of ~7 and started interviewing grantees and planning for wish granting. For the shark diving wish, the group found out that the grantee had a trip planned with her husband to Thailand in the summer. They found a company near where they would be in Thailand that offered swim-with-the-sharks package, although not with Great Whites.

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The group gave the grantee enough cash for her and her husband to purchase a package, and gave it to her in a bag that included suntan lotion, a snorkeling mask, and an underwater disposable camera. It was a very thoughtful presentation, and the grantee expressed sincere gratitude about their thoughtfulness to enhance her trip with her husband. She promised to send pictures with the sharks!

Meeting Baker Mayfield was going to be tough, because since it is the football off-season, he is not in Cleveland at the time. However, two students had connections to Baker through friends, so I was excited that they may be able to pull something off.

Image result for baker mayfield

I’m always doing what I can to create a safe space for them to go big. In this case, I would wander by the group brainstorming and say things like “he could use a private jet to come back” or “maybe the Browns will fly [the wish grantee] out as a PR stunt”. Ultimately, the students didn’t reach out to Baker, but just handed the grantee an authentic Baker Mayfield jersey. I was disappointed that they seemingly mailed it in.

During the debrief we discussed how they could have been more persistent with their network, and how it’s OK to do that as long as it’s respectful and transparent.

The next wish to be granted was to play round of golf at Augusta National Golf Club with Tiger Woods. This wish approached the realm of impossible more than any other, and the students quickly knew it. This is one of the biggest celebrities on the planet, and this is the most exclusive golf course in the world. And the Master’s was fast approaching.

Image result for amen corner augusta

The students quickly decided it wasn’t going to happen, so they set about with Plan B. In interviewing the grantee, they discovered his passion for playing golf, and for learning from people he plays with, from watching videos and live golf. They realized the two elements of this desire were to play an exclusive golf course and to play with someone who was really, really, really good.

Their Plan B wasn’t half bad. They purchased a framed picture of a famous hole at Augusta National Golf Club, and gave the grantee a t-shirt with Tiger Woods’ mugshot printed on it. They used their connections to get him and a friend a round of golf at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

The last wish from this batch was to drive a Jaguar F-Type 2016. The team tried contacting rental agencies, but could not find any in the area that had this particular car.

They next contacted Jaguar dealerships, but they won’t allow test drives of this car without a hefty fee. One student found this car for rent about an hour away on Turo.com (I never heard of this site, but it’s an incredible marketplace!). After much discussion with the owner, they realized he required at least a 2-day rental, and with all the fees it would have been close to $700. Additionally, they discovered the driver needed to be 25 (for insurance purposes) which the grantee wasn’t. One student offered to drive to rent it and chauffeur the grantee around, but the expense was just too high. When it came time to present the grantee’s wish in class, the group had nothing. They explained their process and apologized for failing. It was awkward, and a shame the grantee left without anything.

This experience enabled a deep discussion about failing. The students didn’t feel good about being the only group to not deliver some form of the wish. The grantee was gracious, but I could tell he was disappointed. We discussed how failure happens all the time, and is a learning opportunity. The group learned that part of their failure was waiting until the last minute; they iterated through many plans, but because they waited until the last minute, they ran out of time and were unable to do anything.

Another Batch of Wishes

The next batch of four wishes were

  • Visit the Amalfi coast in Italy
  • Get $3,000 for a Jeep for job in Uganda (this grantee had raised $6,000 already and needed $3,000 more to purchase the Jeep)
  • Play a round of golf with Charles Howell III
  • To learn to ski and own a cafè

The groups attacked the wishes with their usual gusto. They sat down to interview the grantees to understand the motivation for the wish. The class seemed energized – perhaps it was better to give them longer to grant the wish!

For the Amalfi coast the group discovered the grantee was going to be in Italy this summer with family. Taking a creative approach, they planned out a few days in the Amalfi coast region for the grantee and a guest and presented her with a detailed agenda and enough cash to cover the cost of all the activities.

They planned all the details based on the information they gathered from interviewing the grantee – job well done!

The group granting the wish to get $3,000 for a Jeep for the grantee’s job in Uganda faced an uphill battle. $3,000 in two weeks isn’t easy. They immediately decided on doing a GoFundMe campaign – check it out here. They interviewed the grantee, but realized as they started building the campaign that they needed more information and a video. The group struggled with communication issues – they couldn’t get all the information they needed, and had difficulty producing a high quality video. Eventually they launched the campaign, but not until right before the class when they were to present it. They explained that they started the GoFundMe, and would keep it open through the semester, hoping to generate $3,000.

I did not hear much about promotion. The group focused on execution and getting the campaign live, but neglected planning promotion efforts to drive interest in and traffic to the campaign. They could have utilized campus media to spread the opportunity to students, faculty and staff. Social media provides another valuable outlet to share the goal with their network, as well as with JCU alum and other parties who might be interested in supporting. The group shared how surprised they were at how complicated this effort was. We discussed how people see the “skin” of an effort – the website, the landing page, etc. but we don’t realize the work it takes to create that “skin”. The students now understand how much effort goes into designing, launching, and promoting a crowdfunding campaign. Lesson learned!

The next wish was to play a round of golf with golf professional Charles Howell III. Another golf wish! One student in the group working on this wish had a few contacts that he thought could help make introductions to Charles. I did not hear much in the way of interviewing this grantee, as I think this group focused almost immediately on executing actually getting a round of golf set up with Charles.

Image result for charles howell iiiUnfortunately, the group didn’t pull this off – instead, they gave the grantee two rounds of golf at a local exclusive club. I was disappointed in this effort, or lack thereof, and at this group honing in on one idea almost instantly and not being willing to budge from that idea, or developing alternative plans.

I need to do a better job of motivating students to challenge themselves.

For the last wish of this bunch, the group granting the wish wanted to try to grant two. The first was the grantee (who is from the Middle East) wanted to learn to ski. Since the weather turned to spring, this wish wasn’t physically possible at the time, so the group wanted to add a second wish to the docket. The group purchased two passes to ski lessons at a local ski resort for next season and checked off that wish. The second wish was the grantee wanted to own a cafè. The day they granted the wish, in a room next to our classroom, they set up a mock cafe for the grantee to provide coffee and pastries to the students in class. In this way, the grantee got to “run” a cafe for an evening. The grantee was overwhelmed at the generosity of receiving two wishes – this feeling is what the experience is all about!

Last Batch of Wishes

As we near the end of the semester, we have one last batch of wishes to be granted:

  • Visit New York City
  • Do goat yoga
  • Get a Brooks Brothers custom suit
  • Be a billionaire

I am personally taking the wish of visiting New York City, and have challenged the class to outdo me this time! I want to show them how I, as one person who is nobody special, can use creativity and my network to actually grant the reality of a wish.

Image result for new york city

I acknowledge that traveling to New York City from Cleveland is easier to manage than traveling to Ireland or the Amalfi coast of Italy. But the lesson here is the process of ideation, leveraging resources, and iterating. I’m already off and running with activating my network to make this dream come true – this student is from Tanzania and has some very personal and deep reasons for wanting to visit some places in New York City. While interviewing this grantee, I became so motivated to create this impact for her – I can’t wait to report back on how it all went. And on whether the class took my challenge!

Want To Follow Doan’s Journey?

We will run one last blog post wrapping up Doan’s journey through his semester-long Wish Game Course this Spring.

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2019’s Top 5 Free Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

2019’s Top 5 Free Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

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

Based on the popularity of our 2018 Top 5 Lesson Plans article, we’ve update our list based on feedback from our fast growing community of now 4,600-strong entrepreneurship instructors.

The following are all lesson plans we’ve designed to transform your students’ experience as they learn how to generate ideas, interview customers, prototype and validate solutions.

5. Idea Generation vs. Problem Generation

Many of our students believe an idea is the heart of entrepreneurship. In this lesson, we shatter that assumption, and replace it with an appropriate focus on customer problems.

We want your students to develop ideas that are more feasible, impactful, and creative.

This is the toughest challenges entrepreneurship professors face. Student ideas tend to be a repetition of low-impact or infeasible mediocrity. You want more from them. We can help! We focus your students on problems in this lesson, because the best business ideas come from problems.entrepreneurship, teaching, problem, solution, idea

After this lesson, your students’ ideas will be:

  • More feasible because they’re focusing on serving people they care about.
  • More impactful because they’re paying more attention to problems than they are products.
  • More creative because they’ll use those problems as inspiration.

View Idea Generation vs. Problem Generation Lesson Plan

4. Personal Business Plan

In this exercise, shared with us by Rebeca Hwang from Stanford University, students create a business plan about themselves. Students approach themselves as a company, and apply the tools they learned during their entrepreneurship course to understand how they add value to the world.

Students answer questions about their future vision and about their present plans and passions. One of our professor’s favorite components of this exercise is that students choose who grades their personal business plan (and that our colleagues at Stanford provide a very robust rubric)!

teaching entrepreneurship personal business plan

Through this exercise, students:

  • Learn to see themselves as a company,
  • Learn they must continuously invest in and develop a plan for their future,
  • Embrace the tools and methodologies they learned in the course because they are applying them to their future,
  • Understand learning is meaningful when applied to a personal context

View Why Business Plans Fail Lesson Plan

3. Teaching Customer Interviewing

We consistently hear from faculty that teaching customer interviewing is their biggest challenge. In this lesson plan students use a combination of ExEC Customer Interviewing Playing Cards, with an online collaborative quiz game (Kahoot), to learn:

  • What their problem interviewing goals should be and should not be
  • What questions they should and should not ask

customer interviewing teaching entrepreneurship

Students then get an interview script template they can use as the basis for their problem discovery interviews.

This exercise teaches your students:

  • What objectives they should and should not attempt to accomplish during a problem discovery interview and why,
  • What questions they should and shouldn’t ask during a customer discovery interview and why,
  • What a comprehensive interview script book looks like

View Customer Interviewing Cards Lesson Plan

2. 60 Minute MVP

One of our most popular lesson plans is the 60 Minute MVP. During this class, students launch an MVP website, with an animated video and a way to take pre-orders, in an hour with no prior coding experience. One of our professors told us after running this exercise:

“One student described it as like a Navy Seal mental training exercise. Not sure it was that intense, but they were amazed and proud that they got it done.”

Your students will love this class period; they progress from the anxiety of the challenge confronting them (build a website in 60 minutes) to the elation of their journey (launching a website they built in 60 minutes). This exercise creates tremendous energy in your classroom. Students create something real.

On the lesson plan page you can view an example video students created in about 20 minutes, built around actual customer problem interviews:

You can also view a great example of a website built in just 60 minutes:

Your students will create landing pages like thisUpscale dining at its finest!

Some critical learnings for your students are the true meaning of Minimum Viable Product (MVP), that it’s easier to launch a product than they thought, and that the easiest thing about building a business is launching that product.

View 60 Minute MVP Lesson Plan

1. Teaching Customer Observations

During our years of research on what topics entrepreneurship professors struggle to teach, we heard “customer interviewing” over and over again. Our ExEC curriculum includes a robust method of customer interviewing, but customer observation is another great way to gather customer information. So we developed our Teaching Customer Observations lesson plan to help students learn learn the value of seeing how their customers experience problems, as opposed to imagining their customers’ problems.

In addition to our community thinking this is a powerful experience in the classroom, this exercise also won first place in the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Exercises Awards at the USASBE 2019 Annual Conference!

This exercise positions your students to observe customers in their natural settings. This allows them to discover new business opportunities and increase their empathy and behavioral analysis skills.

Our goal with this exercise is to teach students to have an empathy picture/analysis that frames the problem they are trying to solve before they jump to a solution. Having this clear picture will allow them to come up with better creative solutions.

During this two-class exercise, your students will experience customer empathy and how to plan and translate an observation experience into ideas for products and services. This will provide the following benefits:

  • Introduce students to a powerful tool to gather information on customer experience in real life situations. This allows students to avoid predicting customer behavior by actually observing it.
  • Students practice how to listen with their eyes in order to understand what people value and care about, & what they don’t.
  • Provide a common reference experience for expanding on topics later in the course.

View Teaching Customer Observations Lesson Plan

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

We’ve done the work for you.

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Changing How You Teach Entrepreneurship: Georgann Jouflas

Changing How You Teach Entrepreneurship: Georgann Jouflas

It’s hard to engage students who are simply taking a class.

Like hundreds of educators, Georgann Jouflas was trained to teach entrepreneurship in Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad methodology.

 

Like hundreds of educators, she struggled to adapt that curriculum from Stanford University and University of Berkeley MBA students to teach her students.

 

Georgann teaches at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado. The views are spectacular.

So are the students! Georgann eventually came to understand that Stanford and Berkeley MBA students are trying to launch actual companies, whereas her students are taking a class. One or two every so often might want to try starting a business. Because of the different motivations and contexts, she struggled to adapt the Lean Launchpad approach to teach her course.

Georgann struggled to create meaningful learning experiences for her students.

Teaching A Typical Entrepreneurship Course

At Colorado Mesa University, like many other campuses around the world, Georgeann is teaching an entrepreneurship course, not an accelerator cohort. She needed a curriculum that was a better fit for students taking an entrepreneurship course.

She wanted to teach her students how to discover their passion and how to solve problems, not just work with ideas.

Georgann’s students needed to deeply engage with understanding the power of hidden assumptions, and how to prototype.

teach entrepreneurship

She wanted her students to understand the importance of customer interviewing, but more importantly, she wanted them to learn how to interview customers.

She knew gathering information from customers was critical, and that her students weren’t really learning that under her current course structure.

Georgann found her students faking validation; they would not get out of the building to interview customers each week because they were not comfortable interviewing people. She felt like a failure because she couldn’t get her students to get out of the building and conduct their interviews.

So, she decided to switch to teach with a new, fully experiential curriculum:

teaching entrepreneurship

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

15 weeks of structured plug-n-play experiential modules covering idea generation, problem validation, customer interviewing, prototyping, financial projections, and more!

The main value to Georgann is that ExEC coaches students into a comfort zone with interviewing customers so they actually do it, learn from it, and gain confidence.

“[I tell my students] if they get good at talking to people . . . listening to their clients, and asking questions, that’s a tremendous skill. So I’m really happy with that. Before they were doing that but they weren’t really doing it, and now we’re validating that they’re doing it.”

Why Teach with the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum?

At the end of each semester using the Lean Launchpad, she was really frustrated with the experience of teaching the course. She didn’t believe her students were learning as much as they could or should, and weren’t very engaged in the learning process. A colleague of hers was sharing her excitement with Georgann about this new way she was teaching her entrepreneurship course. Her colleague was talking about a buzz of activity, about a classroom filled with engagement and excitement, about students deeply learning core entrepreneurial skills. Her colleague shared that she was using ExEC. Georgann got excited about creating this learning environment for her students.

We asked Georgann to share what she likes about using ExEC in her entrepreneurship course:

“The main thing I love is that it really gets [the students] out interviewing people. It gets them comfortable with the process.”

Georgann also shared that she enjoys working with the plug-and-play modules, because they are very easy to follow and to use. She feels empowered because she gets plenty of background material and then the applied exercise with each lesson plan. Perhaps more than anything, Georgann reports that she enjoys the experiential nature of the curriculum, because she isn’t left having to think up what exercises to use to engage the students in the learning.

“Interviewing customers is so far out of their comfort zone, but the interview script generator is tremendous. Before they didn’t know what to ask, so they just didn’t do it. Now they feel more comfortable.”

Georgann rediscovered the excitement of teaching entrepreneurship. Her students enjoyed learning the skills an entrepreneur uses to build something someone wants.

Here is the full interview with Georgann that digs much deeper into her experience searching for a new curriculum and adopting ExEC.

If you have problems with students

  • Not engaging
  • Lacking confidence doing their interviews
  • Faking their interviews

request a preview of our ExEC curriculum here.


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Entrepreneurship Syllabus: Experiential Learning Across the Curriculum

Entrepreneurship Syllabus: Experiential Learning Across the Curriculum

The nerve center of any entrepreneurship course is the syllabus.

The syllabus creates a student’s first impression. It sets a tone for the course, and for the relationship between professor and student. A syllabus conveys information about expectations. It is a contract between professor and student.

We would love to see your syllabus built in an entrepreneurial way. But we know that’s not always possible. We asked our community of over 4,000 entrepreneurship educators to share their syllabi, and based on the common courses we saw, we developed a few syllabus templates you can use. Each syllabus injects experiential learning into your course from the first day until the last.

Your students will be engaged from the first experience in your classroom!

Each sample syllabus outlined below focuses on a variety of readings, examples, discussions, and experiential exercises students can use to explore and apply the principles of entrepreneurship in a variety of courses. 

Creativity & Innovation Sample Syllabus

Creativity is one foundation of successful businesses. Whether in the for-profit, not-for-profit, or public sector, organizations need employees who are creative thinkers and can thrive in an organizational climate that fosters innovation.

DOWNLOAD YOUR SAMPLE SYLLABUS

Introduction to Entrepreneurship Sample Syllabus

Entrepreneurship can be considered a process of economic or social value creation, rather than the single event of opening a business. This course focuses on opportunity recognition, assembly of the financial and human resources needed to develop the idea, and launching the new venture.

DOWNLOAD YOUR SAMPLE SYLLABUS

New Venture Creation Sample Syllabus

Creating a venture is one manifestation of entrepreneurship. Students in this course will have the opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial toolkit that allows them to successfully innovate in whatever professional life they choose to lead. This course focuses on problem identification and solving, customer interviewing, and prototyping.

DOWNLOAD YOUR SAMPLE SYLLABUS

Social Entrepreneurship Sample Syllabus

Social entrepreneurship can be explained as the practice of identifying, starting and growing successful mission-driven for-profit and nonprofit ventures. These organizations strive to advance social change through developing innovative solutions to problems that plague communities, cities, countries, and systems.

Through experiential exercises, guest speakers, and classroom dialogue, students will learn to think and act opportunistically with a socially-conscious business mindset. Topics will include problem identification, customer interviewing, prototyping, financial projections, business modeling, and storytelling.

DOWNLOAD YOUR SAMPLE SYLLABUS

MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation Sample Syllabus

In this experiential, hands-on course, students will learn the customer-development approach to building products and services. More specifically, students will learn how to systematically identify and test assumptions to make decisions to pivot, proceed, or restart based on customer insights and evidence gathered.

DOWNLOAD YOUR SAMPLE SYLLABUS


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we talk about our evolving experiential curriculum, how to teach students about financial projections, and how to enable your students to tell a story people will remember!

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