Keystone – Innovation & Entrepreneurship

I&E352 Innovation and Entreprenuership – Fall 2016

This keystone course was actually my first I&E class,  and it was the perfect introduction to the field of innovation and entrepreneurship. We covered so much material that I found fascinating to learn about and relevant to future experiences. We covered company evaluations, investing, customer propositions, go-to-market planning, tech/operations management, marketing analysis, and applications of these topics in several case studies of startups and established companies.

Readings and lectures from top business school programs

The Big Takeaways

I’ll start with the “technical stuff.” I used to have no idea how a company was valuated – who decides why Google is worth billions while No-Name-Startup isn’t worth a dime? Spreadsheets decide. Plug in a company’s revenue, COGS, gross margin, SG&A, expenses, depreciation over time, CAPEX for a free cash flow. Use growth rate and discount rates to find terminal values. Find the present value of all of it, and ta-da! I’ll be ready the next time some businessman tries to hustle me with a confusing spreadsheet.

My basic How-To Excel guide for company valuations

Next I wanted to talk a bit about the case studies we worked on in this class. As part of the class, we examined a different case study every week of a startup or company that ran into problems.

Example case studies include: Rent the Runway, Dropbox, Better World Books, etc

Each situation was unique, but they all emphasized a few key ideas: You need a strong customer value proposition of the product offered; the product better help the customer or else your company will fail. The team you work with needs to be cohesive and passionate about the company. And most importantly, you should know when to push through tough times, and know when to cut your losses.


Case study for Dr. John’s Spinbrush

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Our assignment for these case studies would always be the same: read and evaluate the case. Then prepare a 3 page slide-deck with recommendations for what the company should do. In reading through these case studies and preparing these slide decks, I’ve come to enjoy thinking of solutions for these case studies – thinking outside the box and solving problems.

The basic business framework we used to evaluate new ventures

Finally, regarding my educational path, I feel like my interest in innovation and entrepreneurship is starting to pivot. I don’t want to pursue a personal venture just yet, but I know that I want to stay involved in innovative, cutting edge technologies. In addition, because I enjoyed this class so much, business school is starting to look a lot more appealing. The I&E Keystone was structured much like business school classes: we have class discussions to learn from each other, and we examine case studies to learn from others’ experiences. (Our classroom was even in the Fuqua Business School!) Maybe I could graduate from undergrad, work for a few years, then return to school for an MBA? Just some thoughts I wanted to write down.

That’s most of everything I wanted to say! In summary: it was a great class!