Entrepreneurship faculty learn how to build a successful startup, and how to teach the method to students, at the Lean LaunchPad Educators Program.

Panelists present at the August Lean LaunchPad Educators Program. Photo by Victoria Fowler.

How do you build a successful startup? And how can you teach others to do the same? These are the questions that more than 60 entrepreneurship educators from around the country and the world explored at the Lean LaunchPad Educators Program, held Aug. 22-24 in Berkeley, Calif.

The program—hosted in conjunction with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), Epicenter and the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley—focused on how to use the customer development approach in teaching entrepreneurship to university students.

The intensive workshop was guided by entrepreneur and author Steve Blank, creator of the Lean LaunchPad and faculty member at UC Berkeley, Stanford University and Columbia University; and Silicon Valley veteran Jerry Engel, adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

The Lean LaunchPad teaching approach emphasizes experiential learning and feedback as a way to engage students with real-world entrepreneurship.

Blank created Lean LaunchPad after years of observations that business plans rarely survive first contact with customers. He proposed that entrepreneurs should be searching for business models before creating business plans. They should “get out of the building” to gather customer and marketplace feedback, and use that feedback to evolve their startup business models, improving the chances of success.

Blank eventually began teaching this method of business creation in university classes at engineering and business schools.

For the first time, at the August Lean LaunchPad Educators Program, Blank’s audience was a diverse group of university faculty and industry professionals who planned to teach the same method to students. At the hands-on event, participants learned the theory behind Lean LaunchPad and received practical instruction on how to implement the course, assess student projects, give feedback, identify teachable moments, deliver material and utilize the resources that Blank, Engel and their fellow presenters made available.

The next Lean LaunchPad Educators Program will be held at UC Berkeley Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2013. Learn more at nciia.org/LLP.

In addition to in-person workshops, Blank will be offering a free online Lean LaunchPad class on Sept. 14. Participants will learn key tools and steps to build a successful startup and receive an introduction to the basics of Blank’s customer development process. Sign up at udacity.com/overview/Course/ep245/CourseRev/1.

Blank has also taught a version of Lean LaunchPad to the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps, with the goal of teaching researchers how to move their technology from an academic lab into the commercial world. Read more about the methodology and results of the classes at steveblank.com/2012/06/11/making-a-dent-in-the-universe-results-from-the-nsf-i-corps.



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