Jason Davis, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise
Period 4| September-October 2018|
Using Software Technologies to Start New Ventures and Transform Established Enterprises
We are living in an era of digital disruption. Companies like Amazon, Airbnb, Zillow, and Uber and are upending traditional industries like retail, hotels, real estate, and taxis and creating new opportunities for value creation and investment. Capitalizing on these opportunities involves creating new ventures or corporate ventures that leverage digital technologies to create and exploit new markets. This process is called Digital Entrepreneurship (DE).
What’s Unique About This Course?
This Digital Entrepreneurship course provides a series of frameworks for innovating and managing ventures founded around digital technologies. A central idea of this course is that although DE shares some features of traditional new venture management – forming founding teams, business model analysis, board management – it also differs in important ways because of the accelerated growth potential of these technologies.
A key insight is that DE involves less capital, more flexibility, leaner organization, and more illusive strategic objectives than regular entrepreneurship, but also a more detailed understanding of various digital technologies and the opportunities they generate for creating markets, disrupting competitors, and creating value and growth.
This course is ideal for students interested in founding new ventures, joining corporate ventures in established companies, or taking on analyst or investor roles in venture capital or private equity.
The course mixes fundamental lessons of venture management and innovation strategy grounded in entrepreneurship research with emerging practical wisdom from entrepreneurial clusters like Silicon Valley, Seattle, Seoul, and Singapore with which every digital entrepreneur must have familiarity. These include key lessons on digital disruption, minimum viability, experimentation, network effects, bootstrapping, leveraging web services, foundries & crowdsourcing, and strategies for increasing ecosystem impact with platform-owners and other big partners.
Course Structure and Process
Another important part of this course are discussions of digital opportunities that come from specific emerging technologies. This year will focus on AI, deep learning, augmented reality, social media, geo-location, blockchain, mobile apps, automation, and cloud analytics. The professor makes no claim of expertise in all these emerging technological areas – instead, a framework is offered for identifying opportunities there, and the class and professor will make collective sense of the entrepreneurial opportunities these new areas of digital technology are generating. The topics are bound to change each year.
A final element of the course is a focus on learning-by-doing. There is no single product idea or business model that will create value for all time. But a process for identifying high-growth venture opportunities in the digital domain can be learned. In-class discussion will focus around identifying, evaluating, and capturing new opportunities for venture formation in the digital domain. Students will gain experience in developing their own new business opportunity ideas, and should be prepared to pitch these ideas every week. Eventually, pitching will become routine.
Digital entrepreneurship has become the central driver of wealth, growth, and job creation in the new millennium and this course seeks to provide an opportunity for INSEAD students to participate more fully in this digital revolution. The course outline is below.
Potential Course Outline
(Topics Subject to Change Each Year)
Session 1: Digital Disruption and New Market Creation
Case: Google Car
Technologies: Technologies Automation and Machine Learning
Session 2: Experimentation and Minimum Viability
Case: Airbnb, Etsy, and Uber
Technologies: Mobile, Geo, and Cloud
Session 3: Prizes, Contests, and Crowd Sourcing
Case: Netflix Prize and Havas Advertising
Technologies: Algorithms and Long-tail search
Session 4: Intermediaries, Services, and Enablers
Case: Aspiring Minds and Amazon AWS
Technologies: Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning
Session 5: Network Effects and Platform-Based Ecosystems
Case: Qihoo and HTC in Virtual Reality
Technologies: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Session 6: Bootstrapping and Crowdfunding
Case: Angel List and Wealthfront
Technologies: Blockchain, Distributed Ledgers, Robo-Finance
Session 7: Image, Identity, and Reputation
Case: Facebook and Zynga
Technologies: Social Media
Session 8: Business Model Innovations and Data-Dependence
Case: TSG Hoffenheim
Technologies: Big Data Analytics