Virginia Cha, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship
Period 5| November-December 2018|
Objectives & Course Design:
INSEAD alumni and MBA students often observe that the kinds of businesses that venture capitalists invest in are leveraging advanced technology, either by inventing something or by applying technology to create a new value proposition. You are interested in starting or being part of a fast-growing entrepreneurial venture, but how can you become a key part of a technology venture if you haven’t created something innovative yourself?
Many technological innovations are pioneered by small teams of technical experts who do not understand business the way INSEAD MBA’s do. Therefore, one way to become a key part of a new venture team that can attract top-quality venture capital is to create an entrepreneurial team with both business and technical team members to work on an interesting invention or new application, help them validate this opportunity and convert it into an exciting investable business. This is what the Technology Venturing Practicum – Digital Entrepreneurship is designed to teach you to do.
This course is based on learning by doing and learning by coaching. During the course, you will form a TVP team with Ngee-Ann Polytechnic (NP) students from the School of InfoComm Technology to ideate a new venture opportunity in the digital space, and to build a working prototype (Minimum-Viable-Product or MVP) with initial market validation using the Lean Start-Up methodology. The 8 sessions will be conducted over 8 days where the team will undergo intense, hackathon-like sessions to build the prototype for initial customer discovery validation. The teams are expected to have a demonstrable working digital prototype of their web/mobile app and to “DEMO” the app to a panel of investors at the end of the one week. INSEAD MBAs are expected to be the business leads in the team, while the NP students are expected to design/build the MVP.
Each team is anchored around an app (mobile or web) which would be jointly developed by you and your NP team mates, and targeted towards an initial business opportunity. Your job is to validate the market opportunity and technology-solution fit. As part of your opportunity validation, you are to propose a go-to-market model for acquiring the first 1000 (for B2C) or 10 (for B2B) customers. With the validation and go-to-market plan, you will help accelerate the project’s progress to the point where it can attract high-quality professional investors. Your team’s primary graded task is to validate the market opportunity targeted by the app, and create a go-to-market plan so to create maximum value. You will be given an opportunity to pitch the app to a panel of seed-round investors at session #8.
TVP class structure is unique and different than the pedagogy of lectures, case studies, and/or simulation. In TVP, you work on your idea, as a team, and bringing the idea live with the development of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You will learn the thought‐process of how to evaluate a digital opportunity, how to design the UXD, and how to put together, using commercially available digital tools, a quick MVP to test your idea. You will need to validate customer usage of your MVP, and work shoulder to shoulder with the technical team members to uncover whether you have product‐market‐fit with your app. Each team will receive personal and intense coaching by Professor Cha. Key areas of learning will be covered by a mix of instruction, insights and experiences by guest experts, and classroom sharing and brainstorming. Due to the high level of active engagement and the project focus of this class, auditing is not allowed. Capacity is limited. While the class encourages ideation of a new digital venture opportunity, every MBA student must be assigned to a team of 4‐6 students; you are not guaranteed to be able to work on your own idea, as this is a team decision.
Prerequisites and Other Considerations:
- MBA Students are expected to have some exposure to entrepreneurship either with completion of any coursework in the entrepreneurship and family enterprise area or prior/current association with a new enterprise.
- MBA Students are expected to conduct market validation activities ‘out of the building’ and are required to engage in conversations with potential customers and may require cold‐calls and other contact activities.
- MBA Students are expected to be able to use digital tools to acquire customers as part of the course deliverable.
- Blank and Dorf, 2012, The Startup Owner’s Manual, K&S Ranch Publishers
- Osterwalder and Pigneur, Business Model Generation
- Bill Aulet, 2013, Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup, Wiley