General Information

Course Title: The Lean LaunchPad (Twitter #leanlaunchpad)

Units of Credit: 2

Lead InstructorSteve Blank (@sgblank)

Co- Instructors: Jerry Engel, Jon Feiber, Jim Hornthal, Oren Jacob

TA: Bhavik Joshi (@joshi_bhavik)

Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

Days and TimesMondays, 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (1/23/12 to 4/9/12; No class on 3/26/12 for Spring Break)

Classroom C210, Haas School of Business

Office Hours: Schedule to be posted soon


  • Steven Blank, Four Steps to the Epiphany
  • Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur, Business Model Generation
  • Jessica Livingston, Founders at Work (Optional Reading)

Prerequisite: Interest/passion in discovering how an idea can become a real company.

Goal: provide an experiential learning opportunity showing how engineers, together with scientists and other professionals, really build companies.

How to Apply?

The Lean LaunchPad is a team-based course.  Any student wishing to take the course must apply as part of a group. Students are expected to exert significant effort in finding and forming a group before applying to the course, and in addition several information sessions will provide opportunities for meeting and connecting with other applicants.

Team Composition Rules

  • Teams of 4 preferred, teams of 3 accepted as an exception
  • At least 1 College of Engineering student per team
  • At least 2 members of the team should have some domain expertise (see advice here)
  • All members of team will receive the same grade

How to Apply

  • Fill out the application form and email it to by 1/13/2012 11:59:59 PM.

Course Description
This course provides real world, hands-on learning on what it’s like to actually start a high-tech company. This class is not about how to write a business plan. It’s not an exercise on how smart you are in a classroom, or how well you use the research library to size markets. And the end result is not a PowerPoint slide deck for a VC presentation.
And it is most definitely not an incubator where you come to build the “hot-idea” you have. 

Instead you will be getting your hands dirty talking to customers, partners, competitors, as you encounter the chaos and uncertainty of how a startup actually works.  You’ll work in teams learning how to turn a great idea into a great company. You’ll learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a company and customer development to get out of the classroom to see whether anyone other than you would want/use your product. Finally, based on the customer and market feedback you gathered, you’ll use agile development to rapidly iterate your product to build something customers would actually use and buy.  Each block will be new adventure outside the classroom as you test each part of your business model and then share the hard earned knowledge with the rest of the class.

See for a week-by-week narrative of a past class.

You will be admitted as a team. Teams must submit a proposal for entry before the class begins. Proposals can be software, physical product, or service of any kind. Projects are treated as real start-ups, so the workload will be intense.  Teams have reported up to 20 hours of work each per week. Do not take this class if you can’t spend the time.
  • Teams must form before the class.
  • Projects must be approved before the class.
  • Besides the instructors and TA’s, each team will be assigned a mentor (an experienced entrepreneur or VC) to provide assistance and support.

Team Organization: The teams will self-organize and establish individual roles on their own. There are no formal CEO/VP’s.  Just the constant parsing and allocating of the tasks that need to be done.

Suggested Projects:  While your first instinct may be a web-based startup we suggest that you consider a subject
in which you/a team member are a domain expert. In all cases, you should choose something for which you have passion, enthusiasm, and hopefully some expertise.  Teams that select a web-based product will have to build the website for the class. Teams that select a physical product must have a bill of material and a prototype.

Attendance and Participation

  • You cannot miss the first class without prior approval
  • If you anticipate missing more than one class, we recommend that you take another course and wait on this one. More than one unexcused absence may result in a full letter grade penalty.
  • If you expect to miss a class, please let the TA’s and your team members know ahead of time via email.
  • We cold call. However we don’t want to embarrass you — if you are not prepared, let one of us know before class and we will not call on you.
  • We expect your attention. If you’re getting bored, tired or inattentive step outside for some air. If we see your reading email or browsing the web we will ask you to leave the class.
  • We start and end on time. TA’s take attendance in the first five minutes of the class. Do not take this class if you are habitually late!
  • We ask that you use a name card during every session of the term.
Grading Criteria: this course is team-based and 85% of your grade will come from your team progress and final project.   The grading criteria are broken down as follows:

       15%    Individual participation in class. You will be giving feedback to your peers.

       40%    Out-of-the-building progress as measured by blog write-ups each week.

Team members must:
1) update business model canvas each block
2) identify which team member did which portion of the work.
3) detailed report on what the team did each week
4) weekly email of team member participation

       20%     Team “lesson learned” summaries (see appendix for format)

       25%     Team final report (see Dec 1st class for format)