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2016 dates to be announced soon!

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An information session for the 2016 program will be held on Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 5:30pm in Jacobs Hall - Henry Booker Room/EBU1. You will receive a $50 discount on the program fee by attending. Pizza and beverages will be provided.


This course focuses on the development of innovation and taking it to market for PhD and post graduate students. The course deals with the competencies needed to become an innovative, opportunity-driven, market-ready and entrepreneurial manager.

Startups routinely generate ideas for new business opportunities. Few of them however, really evaluate the complexities associated with bringing a new idea into the market. Through the process of developing a business model canvas, you will have the chance to evaluate and deal with a wide range of issues entrepreneurs face while seeking to capitalize on market opportunities. This hands-on course covers the techniques and methods for the generation of new venture ideas, assessment of these ideas to qualify them as viable opportunities, and development of an analytical framework for validating ideas. We are specifically focused on learning how to identify innovative scalable new venture ideas that fulfill a market need, state customer value propositions and add social and economic value.

During this course, you will form a group and choose a business plan project to work on. Hopefully, some of you will use this class to launch your own business. Class discussions will focus on practical ways to design and develop a business plan. Your group will be expected to spend time outside of class “in the field” to gather the necessary data to incorporate into the plan. Throughout this process you will have a chance to acquire and utilize a wide range of skills necessary to evaluate and plan for an entrepreneurial business opportunity. Given new ideas are often a dime a dozen, the real challenge lies in translating innovative ideas into viable and valuable market opportunities.


This program will focus around one preliminary deliverable:  Business Plan Presentation. For this assignment, students will work in groups to develop a business plan and involve interviewing prospective customers. Presentations are scheduled for the last day of class.

At the beginning of the program you will organize into a group of no more than 5 people to work on a business plan project. Each student will be asked to identify a potential business idea that could evolve into a class project. During the class, each student will present their individual business idea. During the course, you will assemble a business plan based upon research, course hand-out material and extensive field work. At the end of the course, your group will be asked to do a formal in-class presentation of your business plan.


SESSION 1— 9/1/16

Introductions (Professor and Students)

Course Overview

Class Goals and Teaching Philosophy

Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Opportunity identification - TedTalk

Individual idea kick-off (Brainstorm)

Break out session- work on ideas

Small Group Exercise

SESSION 2— 9/15/16

Business Plan overview for Startups

Attractive growth opportunity criteria


Individual ideas Presentations 2 to 3 minutes

Group Formation

Vote on favorite ideas (basis of group formation)

Assessing a Deal

Guest Speaker

SESSION 3— 9/22/16

Market Sizing

Lean Startups/Customer Development

Business Model Canvas

Business Plan template overview

Class Exercise – Wallet exercise

Dropbox Case

SESSION 4- 10/6/16

Value Proposition

Business Models/Customers

Problem Solution Fit

Lab Assignment (small group):

Market Size

Type of Business

Customer Segments

Guest Speaker

SESSION 5— 10/27/16

Marketing and Branding

Disruption Strategy

Team Presentations  – 5 to 10 minute Value Proposition

Class exercise – Marshmallow experiment

SESSION 6— 11/3/16

Distribution Channels/Partnering

Customer Relationships

Demand Creation

Lab Assignment (small group) – Lean Stack Canvas

Customer interviews discussions

Start your Customer Discovery narratives in your journals (project diary)

Draft of your business model Canvas

Proposed experiments to test

SESSION 7— 11/17/16

Financial Resources

Venture Capital, Angel funding and Crowdfunding

TedTalk Pitching to VCs

Stanford Video: “US Angel Investing Video”

SESSION 8— 12/1/16

Management Team/Corporate Structure

Intellectual Property Guest Speaker


Discussion Your plans for completing the project

SESSION 9— 12/8/16

Discussion – Competition

Art of the Pitch

Art of Bootstrapping

Preparation for team Powerpoint presentations

Working Session in class

SESSION 10— 12/15/16

Team Presentations and Critique


All UCSD PhDs, Postdocs and graduate students interested in business are eligible. A selective application process will be used to enroll a cohort of 36 participants.  This course is primarily for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows at UCSD and affiliated institutions. Micro-MBA graduates will be given priority.




In accordance with the school’s mission, the Center for Executive Development educates highly skilled, ethical leaders for innovation-driven organizations. We offer a comprehensive portfolio of course topics by tapping into the entrepreneurial hotbed of Southern California and harnessing the intellectual capital of UC San Diego, a leading research institution. Our popular offerings in the areas of leadership, team building and interpersonal skills refine the soft skills that facilitate both professional and personal success.

For a list of all courses offered by the Center for Executive Development, visit