Module 1: Entrepreneurship Fundamentals

Many first time entrepreneurs believe new venture creation starts with creating a Minimum Viable Product. That’s a common misconception. There are other steps you should take to know that you are starting a venture for the right reasons, and  frameworks to learn that will help you work effectively. In this module, we will cover two key topics:

  • Getting started: Why we should always start with “why”; ideating and selecting a market problem worth solving; and building a great founding team.
  • Common frameworks: Learn about the mainstream frameworks that will help you iterate your way to a financially sustainable new venture.

Start with “Why”

Starting a new venture is not easy. 90% of all startups fail. It takes years of hard work and grit. This is why an aspiring founder should not start with the the product they should build, but to answer this question: “why should I go into business?” What is it that you HAVE to do no matter what it takes? That is your “why”. Use the following resources to help you explore your own “why”.

Article: The power of starting with "why"

Ameet Ranadive has a great 2019 article that summarizes what Simon Sinek outlines in his book “Starting with Why”.

Read the article 

Video: "How great leaders inspire action" by Simon Sinek

Choosing a problem

First time entrepreneurs frequently make the mistake of building a solution before validating the problem. But how do we go from our “why” – which often involves broad social causes (such as “climate justice”), or passion about a technology (such as “AI”) to finding and defining a problem statement? Check out the following resources that will help you define an actionable problem statement.

Article: Identifying problems worth solving

Sean Harper has a great 2018 article published on Forbes.com about how to identify problems worth solving in the startup context.

Read the article 

Article: Problem Statement Canvas

Marius Ursache, a serial entrepreneur who maintains the d-eship.com site, has created a Problem Statement Canvas to help entrepreneurs define their venture’s problem statement in a structured mannner.

Read the article 

Article: How do I get started? Should I?

Bill Aulet, author of “Disciplined Entrepreneurship” and the “Disciplined Entrepreneurship Workbook”, provides free access to a workbook chapter about how to find an idea to start with via either a market-pull pathway or a technology-push pathway.

Read the article 

Building a cofounding team

Did you know that team problems are the #3 reasons why startups fail? Building a great team is key. [Hear from these cofounders on their story.] It starts with understanding yourself. Then you have to find cofounders who complement you in diverse ways. You will need to understand each other’s goals and expectations. Only then can you begin to build a strong team.

Self Assessment: The Four Tendencies

Gretchen Rubin has a very easy quiz that identifies your four tendencies.

Take the quiz 

Self Assessment: Working Styles

Take this working styles assessment to understand how you like to work – and look at how your teammates like to work, then co-create team processes based on who’s in the team.

Take the quiz 

Article: Hacker, Hustler, Hipster

Sergio Pereira has a great 2018 article on the “hacker, hipster, hustler” model of building a well rounded cofounding team on Hackernoon.

Read more

Article: 50 Questions to ask your cofounder

First Round Capital, an early stage venture capital firm, has compiled a fabulous list of questions for you to pose to a potential cofounder.

Read the article 

Design Thinking

Originally developed at the Stanford d.school and brought into the mainstream by the product design firm IDEO, Design Thinking is a framework that encourages us to solve problems by building empathy with the user / customer to understand their needs, wants and expectations. This helps us define the problem and rapidly prototype and test solutions. This human-centric approach is universally applicable whether you are creating a product, service or user experience.  Note that it is a solution-centric framework that does not typically include business/financial considerations.

Video: What is Design Thinking?
Article: The 5 stages of Design Thinking

Interactiondesign.org has a great article about the 5 stages of Design Thinking.

Read more

Lean Startup

The Lean Startup is a canonical framework that all entrepreneurs need to know. It was created by Eric Ries in his seminal book, “The Lean Startup”. The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup-how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere-and grow a business with maximum acceleration. Lean Startup helps entrepreneurs avoid perfectionism and analysis paralysis and provides a structured way to test and iterate your way to product-market fit.

Article: Lean Startup principles

Read about the principles behind the Lean Startup.

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Article: Why the Lean Startup changes everything

Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur turned Professor at Stanford University, has a great article on the impact of Lean Startup on Harvard Business Review.

Read more

Video: "The Lean Startup in 5 minutes or less"

Business Model Canvas and Lean Canvas

The Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a strategic tool for venture builders to develop new business models or document old ones. It was introduced by Alexander Osterwalder in his seminal book, “Business Model Creation“. It offers a one-page view including 9 building blocks that entrepreneurs need to think about. There are many variants of the BMC including the Lean Canvas, the Mission Model Canvas and more.

Video: "Business Model Canvas Explained"

Video: "Lean Canvas - Uber Example"

Disciplined Entrepreneurship

The Disciplined Entrepreneurship (DE) framework was introduced by Professor Bill Aulet of MIT in his book, “Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a successful startup” and subsequently elaborated on with his second book, the “Disciplined Entrepreneurship Workbook”. It provides a step-by-step guide to key steps in new venture creation. There is an official website as well as a toolbox that you can use to keep track of your progress.

Video: "Disciplined Entrepreneurship"

Official Disciplined Entrepreneurship website

Visit the official d-eship website.

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Disciplined Entrepreneurship Toolbox

The Disciplined Entrepreneurship Toolbox is a set of tools and checklists that will help you build a healthy and successful startup.

Read more

Educational Videos

View recorded Zoom videos from an entrepreneurial bootcamp held at DEC in 2021

Self-Guided Accelerator

Follow the structure of our 2022 10-week-long accelerator and make progress on your venture

Pitching resources

Learn to put forward your very best pitch