Entrepreneurship class set for winter

Nov. 4, 2011, 2:25 a.m.

“The Startup Workshop: Entrepreneurship through the Lens of Venture Capital” is a course which will be featured for the first time this winter quarter. The course, which is currently accepting applications, will bring in 10 prominent investors from Silicon Valley to serve as guest lecturers and is currently offered through the Department of Management Science and Engineering and the School of Engineering.

Ernestine Fu ‘13 spearheaded the course, working with faculty to design the curriculum and inviting business leaders to participate.

Forbes Magazine featured Fu, an associate at San Francisco venture capital firm Alsop Louie Partners, on one of its August covers.

“I have realized that there are several startup essentials that are often never discussed at school,” Fu said. “I personally discovered this untold story when I began working at the venture capital firm Alsop Louie Partners in March of this past year. Not every student is provided with the opportunity to work at a venture capital firm or startup while attending school, and I want to share the invaluable lessons I have acquired with other students.”

Seeing that there was no class at Stanford to give students the opportunity to learn about the cycle of a startup, Fu met with Bill Coleman, a partner at Alsop Louie Partners, David Hornik, a partner at August Capital and Tom Kosnik, a professor in School of Engineering, to organize the course. James Plummer, dean of the School of Engineering, also played an important role in designing the course and will be leading the first class.

“This course proceeds through the stages of growth and challenges experienced by startups,” Fu said. “Although there is no set formula for building a successful company, basic principles and general patterns are manifested in the most successful startups.”

The course will give a small group of 20 students an inside look at customer value equations, board management, market strategy, company culture and hyper growth. Among the venture capitalists volunteering as guest lecturers are Bill Draper, one of the West Coast’s first venture capitalists; Ann Winblad, one of the first female venture capitalists in Silicon Valley; David Sze ‘93, an investor of Facebook, Digg, Oodle, LinkedIn and Pandora and Howard Hartenbaum, the founding investor of Skype.

In addition, experienced entrepreneurs such as Mark Leslie, the founding CEO of Veritas Software and Evan Williams, creator of two of the Internet’s top 10 websites, Blogger.com and Twitter.com, will be sharing their insights with students.

“We want them to be able to interact with each other and the experienced folks who are there,” said Coleman, a member of the teaching team. “So they can get a better understanding of how a team addresses the challenges that they will face whether they decide to become entrepreneurs or start small businesses.”

To make this material available to other students and budding entrepreneurs, Stanford Technology Venture Program’s ECorner and Stanford’s iTunes channel will feature the series online. Organizations like Silicon Valley Bank and Cooley LLP have also stepped in to support the course.

“A lot of really great ideas for companies are coming out of undergraduates now, and this will give them a great basis of understanding and contact,” Coleman said. “If you think about it, with only 20 students, they will be able to really interact with the best and most experienced leaders in the valley.”

More than 100 students have already applied for the course.

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