Ten week startup accelerator starts Monday at the University of Oklahoma

This summer I’m working with five startup teams from the University of Oklahoma. The Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth teamed up to provide resources and space for the teams. I’ll be providing the overall structure of the accelerator as well as teaching all the programming.

Philosophy of classes

The basic underpinnings of the accelerator wil follow Steve Blank’s customer development methodology called Lean Launchpad. Each week the teams will be responsible for watching a 30 minute video to introduce them to that week’s topic. I found the videos to be a little slow but not much different than most online video lecture. I’m interested in talking to the students about the videos as we go through the course and potentially filming our own introductions to these important topics. By entrepreneur students, for entrepreneur students!

I am also bolting on the concept of prototyping to Steve’s curriculum. Steve relies heavily on customer interviews. I prefer to provide experiential prototypes to potential customers to get honest feedback. Lean Startup calls this MVPs. In short, we want to learn as much as possible every time we talk to a customer.  Cause in a nut shell, your customers are going to lie to you as you try to build something for them (see this fun, but unreasonably expensive, book). Not because they are malicious, it is just that people have the twin desires get away from the annoying customer interview as quickly as possible by saying what you want to hear and being bad judges of what they would actually buy if given the opportunity.

Therefore, in each week I will spend one three hour class period (Tuesday morning) working on the more theoretical aspects of customer development that Steve covers in his videos (related to the business model canvas) and the other class period (Thursdays, two per week) working on more practical skills. For example, interviewing without leading, digital marketing, storyboarding, lean startup iterative development, and so forth. I also plan on adapting the Thursday classes to my students’ needs as we go along – there is not already a pre-set curriculum that we will follow blindly. Outside of class times, students will be working on their product and talking with customers.

P.S. Here’s the teacher’s handbook I’m following for the course.  Lean Launchpad

Homework students will do for week 1

1) Watch lessons 0, 1, 1.5A and 1.5B on Udacity (~1 hour if you watch on double speed, which is my recommendation)
2) Read this article – http://www.fastcolabs.com/3015583/open-company/looking-for-customers-be-a-hunter-not-a-gatherer . This is the mindset we will be adopting.
3) Write a 1 page post on where your business is at going into day 1.
Each team will write a one page post per week that will get matched to the team’s business model canvas for that week. It will cover what experiments the team is running, what pivots they are making, which customers they are talking to, and how the team feels about their progress and learning. I will also be writing a post each week that I will put on my blog – ericmorrow.com/blog – that will cover how I feel about the accelerator’s progress and whether what I’m teaching is working. You’re reading the first post of the summer!
That’s it! It’s go time.


Posted in Education, Lean Startup, Startup, Testing ideas in the real world

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