Welcome FBE: Tech Startups

Postscript: After the course was over we prepared a web site with summaries of all the projects that were developed in combination with the Entrepreneurship Capstone. Here is the 2013 FBE + E! Capstone Project Catalog

This is the 2013 edition of AHSE 1500, now specifically focused on how Engineers should approach and think about technology startups, hence the name. While there are lots of different kinds of startup – restaurants or airlines or banks – which we will not focus on. Our focus is on Technology startups. As my background is strongly in the computer science and software arena, there will be a bit of a software bias, but I will try to keep it under control.

At a high level I have three goals for you in this course:

  1. I want to convince you that entrepreneurship, in all it's forms, is very exciting. While starting a company or joining a startup is not something you've not necessarily thought of, it is one of the most exciting, fulfilling and remarkable paths you can pick. As you continue in your studies, discover your passion, work on projects, and also beyond, my hope is that you bring an entrepreneurial mindset to the work. 
  2. I believe you don't learn much by reading or listening, but that you really can learn something by actually 'playing the whole game' So we are going to try and put together a microcosm of the whole game – in a Startup Incubator At the very beginning we are going to spend a couple of hours brainstorming on product ideas. We will then form up in groups of 3 or 4 to develop those ideas to the point that we could try and raise money to actually build them. On the last day of classes we are inviting a panel of 5 experienced technology investors to look at what you produced, and hear your pitch.
  3. Finally, we will get into the 'how' of launching a successful technology startup. I admit, there is an ever changing body of knowledge, beliefs, techniques, processes, traditions and so on. This base of knowledge is ever evolving with new approaches being tested as traditional ones are confirmed or abandoned. There is no standard text on this topic, but we will explore an approach which has become the norm in technology startups, called "Lean Startup"
I hope this course is successful, challenging and rewarding for you!

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