The Lean Launchpad: How to Build a Scalable Startup

This 3-credit, graduate level course provides real world, hands-on learning on what it’s like to actually start a high-tech new venture. 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. This is a practical class—essentially a lab, not a theory or “book” class.

Our goal, within the constraints of a classroom and a limited amount of time, is to create an entrepreneurial experience for students with all the pressures and demands of the real world in an early stage startup.

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    What's the class like?

    Students will get their hands dirty talking to customers, partners, and competitors, as they encounter the chaos and uncertainty of how a startup actually works. Students are expected to conduct in several in-person customer/partner interviews each week. Each week will be a new adventure outside the classroom as you test each part of your business model and then share the hard earned knowledge with the other teams and instructors.

    What will you learn?

    You’ll work in teams learning how to turn a great idea or invention into a great business. 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 or service. Finally, based on the feedback gathered, you will use agile development to rapidly iterate your product to build something your customers would use and buy. Draft syllabus available here.

    Who's it for?

    Any NYU graduate student who is interested in learning how to bring new products and services to market. Whether you have an idea for a startup, are already working on one, want to see if the startup life is for you, or are planning to work in an innovation capacity at an established company or consulting firm, this class is for you.

    Who's teaching it?

    Frank Rimalovski & Lindsey Gray. Frank is the executive director of the Entrepreneurial Institute, where he leads a university-wide initiative to promote, support & facilitate entrepreneurship across NYU. Frank has been a venture capitalist and startup investor for nearly 20 years, investing in dozens of early stage startups. Lindsey runs the platforms team at Two Sigma Ventures, was previously the senior director at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute and was an innovation consultant at Clayton Christensen's Innosight before that. Frank and Lindsey have taught this class together several times at NYU's Tandon School of Engineering (with Steve Blank), for the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program, among other forums.