Course Detail

Entrepreneurship: Urban Opportunities and Solutions (42703)

Course Description by Faculty

  • Smith, Abbie
  • Content
    Course description and motivation:

    This is a lab class focused on entrepreneurship in the urban context. Urban challenges require new approaches and players. Entrepreneurs have an expanding and unprecedented opportunity to participate by addressing challenges in city living and governance with new profitable business models. For example, recent start-ups are devoted to making cities safer while earning a profit, making downtown housing affordable by offering a new “iPhone of apartments” and by a matching platform for finding roommates, saving municipalities money by bringing the sharing economy to city government, producing dramatic increases in recycling behavior in urban households, turning inner-city drop-outs to graduates, and providing tailored urban commuting solutions by crowdsourcing routes.

    The course was co-developed with entrepreneur and urban venture capitalist, Stonly Baptiste. Stonly is a Co-Founder and Partner of Urban.Us, a venture fund investing in seed and early stage startups that make cities better. He leads investment research, community management, technology platform development and advises the founders of the 21 companies in which the firm has invested. He was recently included in CNN Money’s 2015 Upstart 30: a list of game-changing companies, entrepreneurs and investors under the age of 40. Stonly has spent the last 10 years as a serial entrepreneur, building five ventures spanning different sectors and international markets, including Brazil and Canada. He has taught workshops and classes in software development and entrepreneurship.

    The class will be highly interactive. Students will work in teams and engage during the lab with entrepreneurs, VCs, and municipal officials. The readings, lab and homework exercises, and final team project are designed to provide students with an understanding of:

    • the expanding entrepreneurial role in the urban context
    • how entrepreneurs are combining and leveraging new “enablers” to address urban challenges with innovative business models that create value for the firm and the public
    • techniques for gaining deep insights into urban problems
    • methods for generating “starter ideas” that tackle urban challenges in new ways
    • how to design and illustrate a business model in one page
    • how to identify and test key business model assumptions and assess associated risks
    • how to build and test a minimum viable product
    • how to assess potential public benefits and market size
    • how to work with local Governments (e.g. as supporters, partners, or customers)
    • how to build support (e.g. early customers, advisors, corporate partners, other stakeholders)
    • how to deliver an effective pitch.

    Who should take this class?

    Students interested in entrepreneurship or corporate intrapreneurship are encouraged to consider this course. The course also may be of interest to students planning to work for municipalities.

    • Discussion

    • Case Studies

    • Group Projects

    • Group Presentations

  • Materials
    To be determined.
    • Canvas Site Available

  • Grades
    Grades will be based on individual and team assignments, class participation, and a final team project. No auditors. No pass/fail grades.

    The course grade will be computed as follows:

    • 25% attendance and class participation (including online feedback to other teams)
    • 25% team evaluation
    • 20% homeworks and mini-presentations
    • 30% final team project and presentation

    • Graded attendance/participation

    • No auditors

    • No pass/fail grades

  • Syllabus
  • Winter 2017Section: 42703-01M 1:30PM-4:30PMHarper CenterC09
  • Winter 2017Section: 42703-81M 6:00PM-9:00PMGleacher Center304
Description and/or course criteria last updated: July 1 2016