I&E499 – Innovation & Entrepreneurship Capstone – Spring 2019
The I&E Capstone course is the final class all seniors must complete at the end of the I&E program. In this class, we learn about a variety of topics related to starting an entrepreneurial venture, and we simulate creating a start up as well. For example, we learn about identifying unmet needs, testing hypothesizes, rapid prototyping, and pitching. My favorite element of this class is the guest speakers; every week a new guest speaker comes to lecture to discuss his/her experiences as an entrepreneur or innovator. As soon-to-graduate seniors, I found these discussions invaluable to learn from the experience of these successful Duke-affiliated speakers.
The Big Takeaways
My group and I decided to pursue “dirty white shoes” as an unmet need.
At first, this seems like a bit of a random problem to tackle. I had my doubts, but after diving into the market research and user interviews, I found that there is a lot of potential in this space.
The professors in the I&E department often advocate for us to pursue and address global issues that we are passionate about. Instead of making startup unicorns purely for financial reasons, we should try to use our education and skills to have an impact in the community.
Realizing that there is a problem in the world, or an unmet need in the market is easy, but bringing an idea to life is difficult. However, with a team of dedicated, passionate, and hard-working individuals, creating a venture that addresses these needs can be done.
Learning from the many speakers who came to our class was also hugely beneficial. Many of these successful entrepreneurs repeated the same bits of advice to us: Always do something you are passionate about. Be willing to rely on friends and mentors for help. Remember that life and your career is about the journey, not the destination. This is not something we talk about in my engineering classes! I really took these bits of advice to heart, and will try to keep this in mind as I graduate from the I&E program and begin to pursue a career after Duke.
(The artifact I would like to showcase is our final presentation on the market opportunity my group discovered. We have not yet finished the class, and I will post our final presentation at the end of the semester. As a placeholder, this is our midterm presentation where we presented the problem)