Steve Blank firstname.lastname@example.org (408) 605-9094
Ann Miura-Ko email@example.com (650) 269-9409
Daisy Chung firstname.lastname@example.org (716) 698-9768
David Hutton email@example.com (650) 823-8143
Mentor Meeting Tuesday Jan 5th 4pm
Welcome and thank you for volunteering as a mentor for E 145, the
Technology Entrepreneurship course at the Stanford School of Engineering.
This handbook is designed to help new mentors understand their roles in the course, and to update
returning mentors on new course projects, policies and process.
COURSE GOAL: AN INTRODUCTION TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
In ten very short weeks, the course aims to introduce students to the basics of Entrepreneurship.
We expose the students to where new ideas come from, the difference between an idea and a
business opportunity, how products are sold and marketed, how to build and manage a startup team,
and how to finance a company. This is a lot of stuff for undergraduates to comprehend and digest.
We teach with a combination of lectures by the teaching team, case studies, and guests.
OPPORTUNITY ANALYSIS AND EXECUTION PROJECTS
As important as the in-class lectures are, the most important part of the course is the hands-on, out-
of-the-building projects. We organize the class into five-person teams who have to deliver two team
projects; Opportunity Assessment and Opportunity Execution.
For the Opportunity Assessment project students will learn how to tell the difference between a good
idea in the dorm and a great scalable business opportunity. They have to identify and define a
market opportunity and pitch the opportunity to their classmates.
For the Opportunity Execution project students will explore how you actually assemble a company –
thinking through how they would sell, distribute, create demand, attract a team, build and fund their
While these two Opportunity Assessment and Execution projects are the core components of what
would be a business plan, students are not expected to write a full business plan.
E 145 COURSE ORGANIZATION
The course is organized into twenty Lectures and two major Team Deliverables.
Session 1 (1/5/10): Course Overview
Session 2 (1/7/10): Silicon Valley & Entrepreneurship
Session 3 (1/12/10): Team Effectiveness – Everest Simulation
Session 4 (1/14/10): Creativity and Improvisation
Session 5 (1/19/10): Business Models - Revenue, Expenses and Burn Rate - Numbers that
Session 6 (1/21/10): From Idea to Opportunity I – Customer Development
Session 7 (1/26/10): From Idea to Opportunity II – Demand Creation
Session 8 (1/28/10): Opportunity Analysis Presentations
Session 9 (2/2/10): Distribution Channels and Partnerships
Session 10 (2/4/10): Regulation and IP
Session 11 (2/9/10): Building the Startup Team
Session 12 (2/11/10): Company Building
Session 13 (2/16/10): Accounting Workshop
Session 14 (2/18/10): Multi-stage Venture Finance
Session 15 (2/23/10): The End Game –Stock Options and Liquidity Events
Session 16 (2/25/10): Social Entrepreneurship
Session 17 (3/2/10): OEP Prep – No Class
Session 18 (3/4/10): Opportunity Execution Presentations
Session 19 (3/9/10): Opportunity Execution Presentations
Session 20 (3/11/10): Course Summary
Classes meet in Thornton 110 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:15 – 3:05 p.m; further class details
can be found on the class website: http://www.stanford.edu/class/engr145
The class is limited to 60 undergraduate and co-terminal students, with a pool taken from ~ 80
applicants. Approximately half the class consists of Stanford engineering students, while the other
half consists of students from National University of Singapore's Silicon Valley College Program,
who are here to participate in a year-long work-study program.
YOUR ROLE AS MENTORS
As a mentor, you are the advisor for one team (each team has five students.) In ten very short weeks
your team has to deliver two projects:
Opportunity Assessment Project
(1) Discover a potential opportunity
(2) Analyze the trends, customers and competition
(3) Create a business model
(4) Assess the risk
Opportunity Execution Project
(5) Distribution Channel
(6) Demand Creation Strategy
(7) Team Required
(8) Financing Plan
(9) Research potential partners and allies
For each of the two projects the team writes all this up into an executive summary and then puts
together a presentation of their plan to the class, professors, and mentors.
For the Opportunity Assessment Project the biggest issue for most teams is understanding the
difference between a good idea or interesting technology and an idea that can scale to become a
large business. Finding and selecting a scalable opportunity becomes their biggest challenge.
Therefore, one of your greatest contributions can be to help the students extract ideas from their
engineering and relevant backgrounds.
For the Opportunity Execution Project the two biggest issues for most teams is understanding
how products fit the right distribution channel and how a company creates demand for a product.
For both of these projects it’s just fine if the team’s analysis results show that the idea is not worth
pursuing. The purpose of the project is not to come up with a marketable and fundable opportunity.
It’s to teach them how to think about analyzing an opportunity. Additionally, the idea pursued in the
Opportunity Execution Project need not be the same as in the Opportunity Assessment Project. If
it becomes clear that the initial idea is not scalable, you should encourage the team to head in a new
direction for the Opportunity Execution Project.
As you work with your team remember it’s your experience and wisdom in guiding your team and
pointing them in the right direction is what mentoring is about. Guide them and challenge them. Make
them think through the “what if’s,” share with them your experience of businesses that tried various
Getting Out of the Building
One of the lasting skills we teach the students is that their presentations are simply hypothesis until
they actually validate them with customers and partners; and since there are “no facts inside the
building, they need to get outside.” This means as part of this class for their Opportunity
Assessment and Execution presentations they need to talk to actually talk to customers, channel
partners, and domain experts and gather real-world data – and given the limited time they have, to
do so quickly.
For engineers talking to potential customers or channel partners can be a daunting and formidable
task. To the best of your ability, help them network, teach them how to send email and make phone
calls and run customer surveys. Open your rolodex to whatever level you feel comfortable with.
Every once in awhile a team gets stuck and cannot find an idea or has personality clashes severe
enough to stop progress. Let the teaching team know ASAP. This allows us to help them during
If your team has not contacted you by January 14th please let us know ASAP.
MENTOR TIME COMMITMENT
The wisdom and advice you give these students are invaluable. We’ve found that successful
mentor/team interactions look like this:
- Meeting with your assigned team at least three times during the quarter prior to the major
deadlines for the project
- Additional communication as needed by phone or email
- You are invited to attend your team’s presentations. The Opportunity Analysis presentations on
January 28th are a brief 10-minutes but the Opportunity Execution Presentations on March 4th or
9th are 15 minutes with a Q&A session at the end.
- And of course you are more than welcome to attend any or all of the classes we teach
The teams form after the second class meeting. This is when they organize the team and begin
brainstorming about the opportunity they wish to analyze for their project.
We allow the teams to put down preferences for mentors, but the teaching team will make final
You can mentor by yourself, or with another mentor that you team up with for the project. There
are almost twice as many mentors as team. If you are not selected as a mentor, please stay
connected – E145 will be held several times during the 2009-2010 academic year.
We’ve found that keeping the mentors, teaching team and teaching assistants in sync is the best way
to ensure both a great outcome for the students and a satisfying experience for you.
1. We will hold a one-hour Mentor orientation session held Tuesday January 5 th at 4pm.
Even if you’ve done this before we ask you to attend. We update the process yearly as you
give us additional feedback.
2. At the end of the semester we will provide you with the feedback on your team (if you didn’t
attend their presentation) and solicit your feedback on how we can make the mentor
program and class better.
Individual (35%) Team (65%)
• Participation in class (20%) • Written case analyses (25%)
• Personal Business Plan Executive • Opportunity Analysis Team
Summary (15%) Presentation (15%)
• Opportunity Execution Team
To help the students maximize their learning in this compressed schedule, we’ve developed
milestones for them to reach to ensure their plan and presentation contains all the elements of a
successful analysis. These milestones are due in the form of written submissions to the teaching
team and presentations to the class.
Milestone 1 (1/22 @ 1:15pm) – Positioning Statement
Milestone 2 (1/29 @ 1:15pm) – Opportunity Analysis Presentations
Milestone 3 (2/24) – Opportunity Execution Presentation Rehearsals with Mentors
All mentors are welcome to attend the Milestone presentations. The first two Milestones will occur
in the Thornton 110 classroom near the Terman Engineering Building. The third milestone can be
completed whenever and wherever you and the team decide, prior to the final presentations on
March 9th and 11th 2010. A private location is best so that you can give them constructive feedback
and have a lively debate without disturbing others or publicly humiliating the team.
Thanks once again for your support and participation,
Steve and Ann