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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Entrepreneurship"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020

INSTRUCTOR: Silvia Pulino
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 9:55-11:15 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

This course examines the entrepreneurial process, from recognizing opportunity to planning, organizing and growing a new venture. We will highlight innovation and its methods and applications on business opportunity analysis. Topics covered also include significance, status, problems, and requirements of entrepreneurial businesses. Students will have the opportunity to identify a business opportunity and develop the idea to the point of being start-up ready.This course will serve as a foundation for students who might want to own a business, and it is meant to be accessible also for non-business majors.

This course emphasizes a hands-on approach, involving students in their learning through a variety of methods. Lectures are used only when necessary, for less than a third of the class encounters. In addition, some of the classes are dedicated to guest speakers, and several classes will require the use of computers to develop a full set of budgeted financial statements.

Highlight of the course: a strong emphasis is placed on learning through doing. Throughout the course students will work in groups on their own business ideas, starting with the creative process and going through each step of idea validation and business plan preparation; this will include the design of a survey and administration thereof to 50-200 potential customers, research potential suppliers, design a prototype and conduct market and industry research in order to determine a strategy. The completed project will be presented by each team to an audience representing investors, using the elevator pitch format. 

Topics Covered:

Thinking entrepreneurially: mindset, motivation and behavior. Creativity, Opportunity, and Feasibility. Research and Validation. Value Proposition. Business Model. Marketing Strategy. Testing Key Assumptions. Funding the Venture. Pitching the Idea. Building and Growing the Company.

Course content will include materials related to identifying and analyzing market opportunities, evaluating resources required to exploit market opportunities, and launching a new venture. This process will be assessed mainly from the perspective of an individual entrepreneur.



At macro level, after successful completion of the course the student will be able to identify new business opportunities and take the first steps towards implementing a business idea.

Specifically, students will apply their learning through a variety of activities designed to test their ability to:

·         Generate innovative business ideas

·         Systematically evaluate business ideas and feasibility studies

·         Understand key elements of a successful strategy

·         Conduct an industry analysis

·         Conduct a PEST analysis

·         Perform a competitive analysis

·         Recognize the importance of business plans and learn what the key building blocks are

·         Define a working business model

·         Strategically position a new venture

·         Formulate and deliver a persuasive elevator pitch

·         Understand the pillars of a good marketing strategy

·         Forecast sales

·         Preparing budgeted financial statements for the first three years of the venture

·         Identify the key legal aspects of starting a new business

·         Understand key aspects of human resource management in new ventures


Additionally, the course activities will help students perfect a selection of transferrable skills, including:

·         Business writing (industry analysis, competitive analysis)

·         IT skills: cloud computing and modeling using excel spreadsheets (Google docs, mandatory Computer Lab, preparation of forecast financial statements)

·         Oral presentation (brief presentations, elevator pitch)

·         Presentation tools (Powerpoint or Prezi for final presentation)

·         Project Management and team work (work in teams throughout the semester)

Research (research on industry and competitors)
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Disciplined EntrepreneurshipBill AuletWiley978-1-118-69228-8     
Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers WantOsterwalder Pigneur et aln/a978-1-118-96805-5 Available as e-book from JCU Library    
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Entrepreneurial Small BusinessKatz and GreenMcGraw Hill International Edition9780071220941  

Class attendance, preparation and participationThe class participation grade will reflect preparation, attendance and quality and frequency of participation. Class preparation will require students to read all the assigned material and to explore the guiding questions provided in Moodle. Class participation will help students understand the material better and build confidence in public speaking. In each class, I will ask a student to make a brief presentation of the material s/he prepared, but all students are encouraged to participate in almost every class at least once and if possible more than once, actively engaging in the debate. The instructor may also indicate university open lectures that are relevant to the course; students are expected to attend such lectures (unless there is a scheduling clash with another course) as part of their class participation activities. Participation to these activities will enhance the class participation grade. Students will be evaluated on preparation, participation and interaction with other students. In particular, students are expected to read all the assigned material, engage with the assigned questions, bring to class evidence of their study in the form of notes, and participate in the general class discussion.10%
Elevator Pitch CompetitionTowards the end of the semester you will make a formal, 1-minute elevator pitch for your business idea, participating in the university-wide Elevator Pitch Competition. You will present individually and will be graded on innovation, thoroughness, presentation and persuasiveness. The detailed Rules and Regulations of the competition can be found at http://www.johncabot.edu/academics/entrepreneurship-institute/elevator-pitch-registration.aspx. You may present the business idea you have been working on in class or a new idea altogether. If you are participating in the Elevator Pitch Competition for another class, you may use the same pitch. 5%
Start-up PortfolioBy the end of the second week students will organize themselves into groups (see section below) to develop their business idea in detail. Throughout the semester they will work on the individual pieces needed to develop a business plan; these pieces will be collected under the Start-up Portfolio, and they include: - Value Proposition - PEST analysis - 5-Force analysis - Competitive map - End user profile - End user persona - Business Model Canvas The portfolio will be graded on a stand-alone basis. The paper grade may be modified upwards or downwards for each student in the team depending on individual commitment and effort. A bonus will be given to papers that show consistency in quality and style, representing a homogeneous effort rather than the compilation of several individual components. 20%
Group PresentationIn lieu of a final exam, students will present their business idea to an (imaginary) group of potential investors. The assumption will be that investors have already seen the 2-minute pitch and want to hear more, in a 10-minute presentation. Performance will be judged on the basis of content, visual support, delivery and fielding of questions.30%
Marketing PlanIncludes value proposition, pricing, distribution, promotion20%
Financial PlanIncludes financial forecast and investment plan15%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Students are expected to come to class and to arrive on time.

Absences: NO absences allowed, for whatever reason, including illness, fingerprinting and travel. Up to 5 absences can be made up through the participation in activities outside the classroom, as indicated in as indicated in Grade Enhancers below.  As the final is comprehensive, for students with perfect attendance the final grade may substitute the lower of the two mid-term grades if higher. 

Tardiness: students arriving more than 5 minutes late for class will be marked as absent (though they may stay and follow the lesson).

In any case, students are responsible for all material covered by the syllabus and/or discussed in class, whether or not they are actually present.  Participation in selected activities outside the course (see (1) above) may count as compensation for an absence.


Certain activities will count towards grade enhancement in the form of better class participation grade, enhancement of the overall grade (e.g. an A- becomes an A), or cancellation of an absence. Such activities include:

  1. Completion of the Bloomberg Certification.  This is valued by potential employers so it also counts as a CV/resume enhancer. For more information, ask Librarian Livia Piotto ([email protected]), or go directly to the Frohring Library in the Guarini Campus. 

  2. University open lectures that are relevant to the course, as indicated by the professor (as long as they do not clash with another course). Information regarding times and venues will be provided during the semester.

  3. Participation in one of the Library workshops on any of the following topics: 

  • Industry Research

  • Company Research

  • Business Citation Style


As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



NOTE: This table is merely indicative. The definitive schedule is the one on MOODLE.




Topic /

In-class activities


Introduction to the course. Entrepreneurship overview. 

Austin’s Butterfly

Icebreaker: Business Model Canvas and Lemonade Stand

Dynamic Capitalism Topology


Business Models. Opportunity and Creativity.


Discuss Lean Start Up

Discuss Google presentation

Discuss Aulet reading

Business Model Canvas

BMC - Nespresso case study


Last Judgement Workshop

(In Aula Magna, Guarini campus)


Applied creativity and design thinking


Discuss IDEO videos (see notes)

Student presentation - BMC


Value Proposition: customer/product fit


Discuss readings

Value Proposition Canvas

Amazon’s Dash Button


Opportunity identification and evaluation. 


Student presentations - Sources of inspiration

Problem trees


Selecting the idea: pitching session.


Student pitches

Idea selection


Environmental scan and industry analysis.


Student presentation - PESTEL

Class discussion


Lego Serious Play - Session 1


Lego Serious Play - Session 2


Group Projects. Application of industry analysis.  


Discussion of criticalities

Collect Group Composition

Collect Revised Value Proposition

Student presentation - 5-force analysis


Market segmentation. 


Collect PESTEL

Market segmentation discussion

Selecting the beachhead market


Selecting a beachhead market.


Present selected beachhead market

Collect Industry Analysis


GUEST SPEAKER: Armando de Lucia, Founding CEO, CRM Partners

(Critelli, C.2.1)


Elevator Pitch Workshop



End-user profile. Customer Decision-Making Unit. Total Addressable Market. 


Collect Beachhead market

End-user profile

Discuss persona


Full life-cycle use case. Use case application. 


Discuss TAM

Discuss DMU


Discuss Use Case

Collect TAM, End-user profile and DMU

Assignment of Mentors


Validation. High-level product specification. Defining the core. Quantifying the value proposition


Discuss validation and MVP

Focus on product visual representation and value quantification

Core competencies required



Pricing. Business Model. Lifetime Value of a Customer.


Discuss pricing

Revisit BMC

Importance of LTV



Lorenzo Ridente

Flamingo Animazione


The Marketing Plan


Marketing Plan lecture

Marketing Plan outline


 Marketing Communication. Promotion. Cost of Customer Acquisition


Overview of marketing communication

Discussion of promotional plans

Presentation of COCA


Distribution Channels. Business Model Canvas revisited. Key Assumptions and Testing Plan


Discussion of channels

Presentation of BMCs

Key assumptions

Collect BMCs


Introduction to Financial Statements and Budgeting


Present prototypes

Discuss financials



The Financial Plan – Sales forecast and COGS


The Financial Plan - Operating Expenses


GUEST SPEAKER: Valerio Rossi, CEO, Monugram

Bringing it all together

Students work on presentations and deliverables