This course is the first in a series of courses to develop one's entrepreneurial mindset and be on a path to building a startup. This course creates an entrepreneurial experience with all of the pressures and demands of the real world in an early-stage startup. It exposes students to the key concepts of “searching” a value proposition and a business model. The class is designed to give students the experience of generating an idea, discovering customer needs, generating value propositions, and conceptualizing a business model. 


The course is hands-on, immersing students in experiential learning by engaging with prospective users outside of the classroom to discover their actual needs, applying creativity to transform an idea into an opportunity. Students can work in teams, use design and discovery thinking, combined with ideation, the customer discovery process, and inputs from experts to develop the value proposition and a business model for delivering a creative product or service. It can be for a for-profit enterprise or a non-profit organization so long as it generates financial returns and creates cultural, social, or environmental value. It is a self-paced course with the opportunity to meet with the instructors and peers virtually every two weeks for an hour.  The course is organized into the following four modules.

  1. Idea generation
  2. Planning for problem or opportunity finding
  3. Conducting fieldwork for customer discovery
  4. Progressing from an idea to an opportunity 


•Coming up with entrepreneurial ideas

•Shaping an opportunity from a raw idea

•Applying research methods to shape an opportunity

•Building the habits of creativity and discovering needs


Key Benefits

At the end of this course, you will have a start-up idea that has undergone its first stage of "knowing" customers' needs. The course will leave you with a repeatable method to generate new ideas and take the first step towards uncovering the needs. Repeated cycles of plan-act-reflect will help in developing your entrepreneurial mindset.   


  • Developing your entrepreneurial mindset
  • Increasing your comfort level in ambiguous and uncertain situations
  • Being open to and learning from failures
  • Improving your self-directed learning capabilities
For further information, contact Dr. Aparna Katre at aukatre@d.umn.edu.
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