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Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management


Instructor Prof. Carlo Salvato

Course description

This course provides real world, experience-based learning on what it’s like to actually start and develop a new venture, either within an existing company, or as a new startup company (the essential elements and the underlying logic are the same). The main objective is to allow you to directly experience the earliest phases of an entrepreneurial startup process. Focus will thus be on building and testing a novel business idea. In this course you will be asked to actively engage in developing the initial business idea, but also in talking to potential customers, suppliers, partners, and competitors, as you confront the chaos and uncertainty of how a real new venture actually emerges from the entrepreneurs’ efforts.

Specific learning objectives:

  • You will identify or create one or more potential innovative opportunities for an existing company or a startup
  • You will learn from the experience of real startuppers and help them address and solve real entrepreneurial problems they’re currently facing
  • You will learn, and directly experience, how to present your entrepreneurial ideas to an audience of potential partners
  • You will practice the process of customer development (getting out of the building—physically or virtually—to see whether anyone other than you would want/use your product)
  • You will learn and experience how to attract the attention and contributions of potential partners such as entrepreneurial team members, other managers, investors, and suppliers
  • You will work in small teams with the aim of learning how to turn your own ideas into a functioning company or business unit within an existing company
  • You will encounter issues on how to build and work with a team and be guided in understanding how to effectively build and lead the startup team
  • You will learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a new company
  • You will see how agile development can help you rapidly iterate your product to build something customers will use and buy

Each session will be a new adventure as you and your team test each part of a business model and then share the hard-earned knowledge with the rest of the class. The goal is to test different parts of a business model in practice, understand which of your assumptions were wrong, and figure out what you need to fix them. Your objective is to develop practical solutions to practical problems by the end of the course. You will learn to use the tools that help managers and entrepreneurs test their hypotheses and make adjustments when they learn that their original assumptions about their innovative ideas were wrong. You will thus experience wrong assumptions not as a crisis, but as a learning event called pivot—an opportunity to change the business model.

Besides learning how innovative businesses and startups are created in real life, you will thus develop skills in creativity, proactiveness, public speaking, teamwork, leadership, and working online. This course may also be seen as a springboard to prepare for more advanced entrepreneurship courses at the Master of Science level.


Participation: This is a highly interactive course which requires your active and committed participation.

Class Organization: This class is primarily team-based. Working and studying will be mostly done in teams. Teams will be formed around ideas and tasks proposed by the students or by real entrepreneurs (not by the instructor). Proposals can be software, physical products, or services of any kind, including social and not-for-profit ventures. Projects are treated as real business innovations, so the workload will be intense.

Assessment Methods

  • 80% Teamwork: Group assignment
  • 10% Individual business idea (upload on BlackBoard - present following instructions)
  • 10% Active class participation

(1) Teamwork: Group assignment. Participants will work in teams on tasks proposed by real entrepreneurs, or on their own business ideas. As a team, participants will be asked to work on their project and deliver (for the exam session) a (maximum) 15 minutes presentation of their teamwork (the exact length of the presentation will be determined depending on the actual number of teams that will formed), followed by a Q&A session. This final presentation (and the related set of slides), will determine the evaluation of the group assignment. Participants will self-organize both individual roles and group activities to be carried out within the team.

Teams should be composed of about 5 members. The instructor will determine the minimum and maximum number of participants per team, depending on the actual number of attending students and on the number of tasks presented by real entrepreneurs, or business ideas advanced by participants. The instructor will assign or re-assign team members: if teams of the proper size are not autonomously formed by participants; if some participants could not join any of the autonomously formed teams; if too many participants are interested in a specific task/idea.

Final presentations: Each team will have to submit a set of slides for evaluation on BlackBoard. The file will have to be PowerPoint or pdf (no other software is allowed). The set of slides will have to include (in the same file): (a) the slides presented in class; (b) maximum 15 additional optional slides (ALL inclusive) reporting additional data, analyses, information, references etc.

The set of slides will have to be uploaded on Bboard (following the instructions provided) by the specified deadline. Teams will have to use the uploaded set of slides for their final presentation. NOT all team members have to present the slides in the final class presentation (effective presentations are typically done be 1-3 participants). Presenting in the final session does not count as “individual class participation”.

Projects: Participants will have the opportunity to work on specific tasks presented by real entrepreneurs. As an alternative, participants may also advance their own business idea. In this latter case, while your first instinct may be a web-based startup, you should consider a subject in which you are an expert for some reason (e.g., hobby, sport, family business etc.). In all cases, you should choose something for which you have passion, enthusiasm, and hopefully some expertise. Teams that select a web-based product (app, website etc.) will have to build a prototype for the class. Not-for-profit projects are perfectly suitable for this course.

Before selecting the task or business idea you want to work on in this course, please keep in mind that you will be required to actually contact real potential customers, suppliers, partners, providers, influencers etc. Therefore, given the limited length of the course (3 weeks) and difficulties in contacting real potential customers or partners, you may want to work on business ideas that have as clients: other students (including Summer School); people who live in your neighborhood; people you can easily access through online tools and social media; other people you can easily access, in person or virtually, over the three weeks of the course.

(2) Individual business idea. A short individual assignment – posted on Blackboard – will be designed around the development of individual entrepreneurial ideas. Detailed instructions will be provided in class and on the web-learning platform.

(3) Active class participation. Please, consider that “active” class participation means offering to the class insightful answers, comments, examples, which significantly advance class discussion. Merely attending classes and/or providing a large number of irrelevant comments does not count as “active” class participation.

Course materials:

  • Cases studies and other materials (slides, readings) provided by the instructor through Bboard.
  • Information and materials to develop the team assignment will be autonomously collected by team members.

Want to know more? (suggested readings)

  • Blank, S. (2013). The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Quad Graphics.
  • Eisenmann, T., Ries, E., Dillard,S. (2013). Hypothesis-Driven Entrepreneurship: The Lean Startup. Harvard Business School.
  • Keeley, L., Walters, H., Pikkel, R., & Quinn, B. (2013). Ten types of innovation: The discipline of building breakthroughs. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Kuratko, D.F. (2014) Introduction to entrepreneurship. South-Western, CENGAGE Learning, 9th Edition.
  • Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Y., In Clark, T., & Smith, A. (2010). Business model generation: A handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Ries, E. (2011) The lean startup. New York: Crown Business

Credits: The course is modeled in part after Steve Blank’s lean startup approach. Part of the structure and some of the contents of this syllabus are thus drawn from materials available on his website, which is an invaluable source of learning for students interested in this approach (https://steveblank.com/).

Plagiarism. In accordance with Bocconi University Honor Code (http://www.unibocconi.eu/honorcode), students must write their essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea or a passage of text from another author or source, they must acknowledge their debt both by using quotation marks where appropriate and by proper referencing such as footnotes or citations. Plagiarism is a major academic offence. Bocconi University uses software for plagiarism checking. Students are required to submit their written work in electronic form for plagiarism checking.

Last modified 10/12/2023 - 12:08:12