Course description and motivation:
This class is focused on entrepreneurship in the urban context. For example, how are start-ups intending to make cities safer while making a profit? Will the new iPod of apartments make downtown housing affordable? How is one entrepreneur generating revenue for municipalities by bringing the sharing economy to city government? How did disruptive entrepreneurs (with no prior expertise in recycling) generate a dramatic increase household recycling in Philadelphia within a matter of months, and then spread to other cities? How did another entrepreneur help to turn inner-city drop-outs to graduates? How is crowdsourcing van routes by a start-up in San Francisco enabling tailored commuting solutions?
This lab will engage students with entrepreneurs, urban VCs, and municipal officials to generate preliminary ideas (embedded in for-profit business models) for solving known challenges in city living and governance.
Why this course and why now?
- Urban challenges require new approaches and players.
- Entrepreneurs have an expanding and unprecedented opportunity to participate.
How will the course be structured?
This is a highly interactive lab class in which students will work in teams in and out of class.
Upon completion of the course students will have acquired:
- - insights into the expanding entrepreneurial role in the urban context
- - an understanding of 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
- - “starter ideas” for leveraging these enablers to tackle urban challenges in new ways (and the skills to create and evaluate additional ones)
- - the skills to present a business model in the Business Model Canvas (from Osterwelder and Pigneur) and a map of the associated ecosystem illustrating the parties involved, value derived, flows of currency, and product distribution, and to identify key business model assumptions and associated risks
- - familiarity with approaches used to test business model assumptions and the importance of doing so
- - an appreciation for the importance of learning and pivoting in the start-up process
Who will participate?
This course is being co-developed with entrepreneur and urban venture capitalist, Stonly Baptiste. Stonly is a Co-Founder and Principal 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 19 companies the firm has invested. The online community has over 900 members, including entrepreneurs, financiers, and other contributors. 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 previously founded Veddio Cloud Solutions, an enterprise software company, which was acquired after a year of self-funded growth. He 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.
Additional speakers, including municipal innovators, will also participate in the class. Please see syllabus for additional details.
Who should take this class?
The course, through its themes, participants, and lab format is intended to provoke innovative
ideas embedded in profitable business models for addressing urban challenges. 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.