Through the Keystone course, I learned a variety of specific techniques regarding entrepreneurial ventures. I learned about meeting customer and market needs, value propositions, financial statements and corporate valuation, marketing metrics, pricing, MVP and experimentation, as well as presentation skills. After analyzing case studies, I learned how to create a slide deck of a venture’s qualitative and quantitative properties, as well as make recommendations for moving their business forward as a whole.

The Keystone course taught me specific properties in running a venture, building on my knowledge learned from my Gateway course, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise (Duke in Silicon Valley). While the gateway course focused more on starting, building, and growing a venture from its initial phase, the Keystone  gave me more insight into specifics of continuing to run a business. Qualitatively, we focused on go-to-market strategies, technology and operations, customer value proposition, and profit formula. Quantitatively, we were learned how to create a balance sheet, income statement, pro forma, free cash flow, present value, and eventually the enterprise value for the firm. These skills are especially important to have in any form of business setting—whether or not you are an entrepreneur—to know practical skills in creating and sustaining a business and their product.

My biggest takeaway from the course is understanding how many diverse skills an entrepreneur needs to possess before starting a business. One can become an entrepreneur with just an idea, but must be taught many skills to be a successful one and to create a lasting and sustainable business. I also learned that I am very interested in customer value proposition and understanding customer empathy, and am, although skilled, less interested in the financial valuation or marketing metrics of a company. I’m glad that now I have these skills, but don’t intend on focusing most on those moving forward. I would rather focus on developing and testing a product that has value to customers, and conducting interviews, research, etc., to further create a useful product.

I also loved learning from my mentor, Becky, who started Ello Raw foods, a raw, healthy, food company that makes bite sized “donut holes” with no artificial processing and ingredients. I have always been interested in the world of food entrepreneurship and technology, and seeing her example as someone who has succeeded in this field was really inspirational. I was glad that I was able to learn from someone who had successfully, through failures and successes, perused her passion of creating better foods, and she really served as a great example and mentor for me moving forwards.

Here is an example of a case study slide deck my group created: