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  • 10 Best Entrepreneurship Courses for 2011

    University courses in entrepreneurship are more useful, more real, more likely to produce actual companies than they have ever been.

    Upstart: Startup/Entrepreneur

    University courses in entrepreneurship are better—more useful, more real, more likely to produce actual companies—than they have ever been. Here are 10 we’d love to take.

    Stanford‘s new entrepreneurship class is not for the faint of heart. Launchpad is designed around a series of hurdles: the elevator pitch, the functional prototype, week after week of sales results. After each hurdle, students are force-ranked, so someone always lands on the bottom. Midway through the semester, the class stages a trade show at which venture capitalists stroll around writing fictitious checks. Some students make out like bandits, while others are publicly stiffed. For the lesson on presentation skills, a television news crew is invited to record three-minute segments about the aspiring entrepreneurs’ companies. Students feverishly practice and polish. Then the reporter shows up. “Sorry,” she says, “I can only give you each 30 seconds.” Panic, mad cutting, and humiliating performances ensue.

    Oh, and all the companies are real, because students incorporate within the first two weeks. So failure is never just academic.

    “It’s all about building up your tolerance for risk,” says Perry Klebahn, an associate consulting professor who, together with professor Michael Dearing, designed and teaches Launchpad. “Entrepreneurship does not require an IQ. You just need to be able to fail, learn, compost, and move forward.”

    The ubiquitous assertion “You can’t teach entrepreneurship” was probably accurate back when schools fielded chiefly sterile exercises in business-plan writing. But increasingly, universities are devising innovative classes that emphasize experience over study and seek teaching moments in misery, messiness, and unpredictability. Academic concepts like effectuation—which emphasizes entrepreneurial ingenuity and improvisation—and a new, dynamic approach to business modeling are among the ideas drawing professors toward a fluid style of pedagogy that feels more like life. Often it is life; students may emerge with embryonic companies in addition to their grades.

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    Filed Under: Startup/Entrepreneur


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