Who will benefit from this course?

Anyone with an interest in scalable entrepreneurship

  • Considering entrepreneurship

    Individuals considering a career in entrepreneurship who would like to learn more about what it takes to become a successful, scalable entrepreneur.

  • Entrepreneurs

    Individual entrepreneurs or teams at the beginning of their start-up journey who want to develop their product-market fit, business plan and financial plan.

  • Early-stage start-ups

    Start-ups raising their first or second round of funding who want to improve their investor materials, accelerate their growth and pitch to investors.

What will I learn in this course?

How to create a successful, scalable company

Creating a new company is a challenging and complex task. The road to entrepreneurial success is long, winding and strewn with pitfalls, obstacles and blind turns. The risks of starting a new business are high, as illustrated by the high failure rates for new ventures. However, as is always the case, the rewards are commensurate with the risk. The purpose of this course is to: help students understand the process, challenges, risks and rewards of starting up a new business; equip them with the tools required to start their own business; and improve their chances of successfully starting their own business. The earning objectives are: ability to generate and assess business ideas; develop creative problem-solving skills required in entrepreneurial businesses; ability to create a business plan, including: ability to analyze market opportunities, develop a business model and strategy form and work successfully in a team, make a professional presentation.

What will I get from this course?

Learning will be through live sessions, experiential exercises, on-line videos and readings. The on-line materials and live sessions will facilitate the construction of the business plan. Relevant topics will be covered as the plans are developed and experiential exercises will be used at plan milestones. Live sessions and experiential exercises will include discussions with active participation. Students are expected to: make several in-class presentations; participate actively in class; engage in problem solving and group discussions; watch videos and read as part of preparation for class; meet with their project teams outside of class; work in a team to prepare a written business plan and investor presentation.

  • 39 hours of live interactive sessions with Expara CEO Douglas Abrams

  • 91 videos - 17.5 hours of viewing and 83 original articles for reading

  • Live presentation to a panel of venture investors

  • Expara's award-winning VC-Start-up negotiation exercise

  • Business plan development and written feedback - 2 rounds

  • Valuation development and feedback - 1 round

  • Investor slide deck development and feedback - 1 round

  • Pro-forma Valuation Excel Model for start-ups

  • Start-up evaluation checklist and term sheet template

  • Expara Academy Certificate of Course Completion

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to the course!

    • A message from the instructor

    • About the instructor

    • How to use this course

    • READ FIRST: Course outline and how to complete the course

    • Course schedule

    • Course syllabus

    • Milestones and deadlines

    • Reading list for entrepreneurs

    • Reading: Can entrepreneurship be taught?

    • About Expara

  • 2

    Understanding risk and return

    • What is the relationship between risk and return?

    • Risk and return

    • Reading: Risk and return

  • 3

    Welcome to start-up world

    • What is an entrepreneur?

    • What is an entreprenur?

    • Reading - Two types of entrepreneurs

    • What is a scalable business?

    • What is a scalable business?

    • How to build a scalable business?

    • Why become an entrepreneur?

    • Why become an enterpreneur?

    • Reading - What makes a successful entrepreneur?

    • Reading - Should I work first of just start a company?

    • Reading - Why entrepreneurship

    • Reading - How important is luck in entrepreneurial success?

    • Obstacles to entrepreneurship

  • 4

    This could be you

    • This could be you

    • This could be you

  • 5

    Let's fail

    • Let's fail

    • Overcoming the fear of failure

    • Reading - Innovation from failure at 3M

    • Reading - Fear and failure

    • Why is failing good for entrepreneurs

  • 6

    Success from failure

    • Success from failure

    • Success from failure

    • Reading - Success from failure

    • Reading - What percentage of start-ups really fail?

    • Reading - Why do so many start-ups fail?

    • Reading - Why is it good that so many start-ups fail

    • Reading - Do difficult things

    • Key elements of success

  • 7

    Assignment: Register on Expara Innovation Engine

    • How to register on Expara Innovation Engine

  • 8

    Why do start-ups raise money?

    • Why should companies raise investment?

    • Why should companies raise investment?

    • How to fund growth?

    • Cost, control, growth and risk

    • Reading - Why do start-ups raise money?

    • What is the best form of funding for a start up

    • Only a moron starts a business with a loan

    • What is the difference between debt and equity

  • 9

    Why do investors invest in VC?

    • Highest returning asset class

    • Highest returning asset class

    • VC improves both return and risk in portfolio

    • Reading - Why do investors invest in VC funds?

    • Reading - Top VC fund managers can consistently outperform

  • 10

    Why VC now?

    • Why VC now

    • Why venture capital now

    • Reading - Is moores law over?

    • Reading - Amaras law

  • 11

    How do VCs make money?

    • How do VCs generate returns?

    • What kind of comapny does VC invest in

  • 12

    What kind of companies generate high returns?

    • What kind of companies generate high returns?

    • Which one is more scalable- product or service?

    • Reading - What do VCs invest in?

    • Reading - Which scales better?

    • Reading - Good business vs good investment

  • 13

    How do VCs evaluate start-ups?

    • The investor’s decision tree

    • The investor’s decision tree

    • Key elements for success

    • Key elements for success

    • Reading - Three most important factors

    • Reading - Product market fit or team

  • 14

    Communicating with investors

    • Communicating with investors

    • Communicating with investors

    • Reading - How to connect with investors

  • 15

    Innovation and value proposition

    • What is innovation?

    • Defining innovation

    • Value proposition

    • Innovation and value proposition questions to ask

    • Innovation and value proposition questions

    • Why invest in innovators

    • Innovation and value proposition

    • Reading - Innovators, imitators and idiots

    • Reading - Is Grab an innovator or an imitator?

    • Pain and demand (How does pain drive demand)

  • 16

    Business model innovation

    • Business model innovation

    • Business model innovations

    • Reading - What is the Gillette business model

    • Reading - Disruptive business models

  • 17

    Assignment: Upload idea to Expara Innovation Engine

    • How to upload your idea to Expara Innovation Engine

    • What to include in your idea slide

  • 18

    Idea presentations

    • Identifying favorable markets for start-ups

    • Market life cycles and structures

    • Reading - What is the optimal time to enter a market?

  • 19

    Assignment: Vote for ideas in Expara Innovation Engine

    • How to vote for ideas on Expara Innovation Engine

  • 20

    Idea marketplace

    • Sizing the market

    • Top-down and bottom-up market sizing

    • Reading - Sizing the market for a start-up

  • 21

    Market identification and analysis

    • Market identification and analysis

    • Market identification and analysis

    • Market identification and analysis questions

    • Who is your customer?

  • 22

    Marketing strategy

    • What are the elements of marketing strategy?

    • Product differentiation

    • Market positioning

    • Market positioning

    • Elements of the 4Ps

    • 4 Ps

    • Choose the right segment to enter the market

    • Developing a tagline

    • Marketing strategy questions

  • 23

    Value innovation

    • Value innovation

    • Blue ocean strategy

  • 24

    Customer segmentation and analysis

    • Customer analysis

    • Customer segmentation analysis

  • 25

    Sales and distribution

    • Sales and distribution

    • Sales and distribution

    • Reading - What are unit economics?

    • Customer, sales and distribution questions

  • 26

    Submission: Business plan draft 1

    • Business plan draft 1 submission

  • 27

    Sustainable competitive advantage

    • First mover disadvantage; last mover advantage

    • Sustainable competitive advantage

    • First mover advantage & last mover advantage

    • First mover disadvantage last mover advantage

    • Reading - Why are you using Whatsapp?

    • Reading - Why are there only two ride sharing companies in each market?

    • Competing with large companies

    • How startups beat established companies?

    • Competing with large companies

    • Sustainable Competitive Advantage (Market Leaders, Dinosaurs, and Small Mammals)

    • Market leaders dinosaurs small mammals and asteroids

    • SCA case study - who was the first mover in personal computers

    • Sustainable competitive advantage questions

  • 28

    IP strategy

    • IP strategy

    • IP strategy

    • Reading - Is it possible for someone to steal your start-up idea?

    • Reading - What are the elements of an IP strategy for start-ups?

  • 29

    Legal issues

    • Forms of organization

    • Key legal agreements

    • Capital and legal structure of a firm

    • 5 key agreements in venture capital deals

    • Reading - Key agreements in VC investment

  • 30

    Financial plan

    • In the financial section of the business plan

    • Why do we need a financial plan?

    • Financial projections - financial section of the business plan (2)

    • Valuation - financial section of the business plan (3)

  • 31

    Business model

    • Business model - how will you make money?

    • Business Model - The financial section of the business plan (1)

    • Key revenue model issues

    • Reading - What is a business model?

  • 32

    Submission: Business plan draft 2

    • Business plan draft submission 2

  • 33

    Financial projections and model

    • Pro-forma Financial Model

    • Create financial projections

    • Why forecast 5 years?

    • Starting with revenue forecast

    • Top-down market sizing example - Plant-based meat

    • Top-down market sizing example - Sesame milk

    • Bottom up market sizing

    • Introduction to Revenue forecast in Excel

    • Why is the top-down forecast different from bottom-up forecast?

    • Mistakes startup CEOs make

    • Reading - Why will financial forecasts always be wrong?

    • Financial model explained 1

    • Financial model explained 2

    • Financial model explained 3

    • Balance sheet

    • Income statement 1

    • Income statements 2

    • Cash flow budget

    • DCF valuation model

    • Financials and DCF Valuation

    • Weighted average cost of capital

    • Valuation in financial modelling

    • Dilution schedule and investor ROI

    • Reading - How can unprofitable startups be so highly valued?

    • Reading - How is a model different from reality

  • 34


    • Why do most valuation methods fail for start-ups?

    • Why do most valuation methods fail for start-ups?

    • Reading - Why do traditional valuation methods fail?

    • Company valuation methods

    • Comparables

    • Methods of valuation - comparables

    • Discounted cash flow valuation

    • Methods of valuation - discounted cash flow

    • VC method

    • Methods of valuation - VC method

    • Valuation methods

    • Pre-money and post-money valuation

    • VC method valuation explained

    • Where do the numbers in VC method valuation come from?

    • Reading - What drives VC fund returns

    • VC return distribution

    • Key valuation issues

    • Reading - Epidemic of overvaluation

    • Reading - Why don't startups pay dividends?

    • Reading - What is cost of capital and why is it important?

  • 35

    Exit strategy and ROI

    • Exit strategy and ROI

    • Exit strategy and ROI

    • ROI and dilution

    • Calculate investor's ROI including dilution

    • What two numbers do investors need to calculate their ROI

    • What is an exit strategy

    • Why every start-up needs an exit strategy

    • What is the best exit strategy

    • Calculating exit valuation

    • Never sell less than 100 percent

    • Reading - How do VCs make money

  • 36

    Fundraising process

    • Fundraising process

    • Why is the VC funding process so important?

    • Reading - VC funding process enables innovation

    • VC investment process

    • The start-up fundraising journey

    • Reading - Smart money or dumb money

    • How much funding to raise?

    • How much funding to raise?

    • Reading - What are burn rate and runway?

    • Reading - How much to raise?

    • How much equity to give up?

    • Equity offered

    • Reading - How much equity to give up?

    • Reading - How should founders split equity?

    • Reading - Choose your investor as carefully as you choose a spouse

    • Reading - VC or Angel or CVC which is best

    • How to use funds raised?

    • Use of proceeds

    • Reading - Who are venture investors?

    • Reading - Is dilution a good thing or a bad thing?

    • Reading - Use of funds - do founders salaries drive growth?

    • Reading - What is FF and F?

    • Reading - What is OM and how much of it do you need?

    • Reading - The best and worst times to raise money

    • Reading - Why not give up the minimum equity

  • 37

    Submission: Financial plan draft

    • Financial plan draft submission

  • 38

    Key deal terms and term sheets

    • Key elements of the deal

    • Economic terms in term sheets: Part I

    • Economic terms in term sheets: Part II

    • Control terms in term sheets

    • Reading - Key terms in VC term sheets

    • Reading - Liquidation preference as valuation insurance

    • Cap tables

    • What is a clean cap table?

    • Reading: The 7 deadly sins of messy cap tables

    • Reading - What is founder vesting?

    • Download: Term sheet template and term sheet alternatives

  • 39

    Investor presentation materials

    • Investor presentation materials

    • Investor pitch deck

  • 40

    Investor presentations

    • First impressions

    • You can't judge a book by its cover: Part II

    • You can't judge a book by its cover: Part II (Susan Boyle singing)

    • You can't judge a book by its cover: Part III

    • You can’t judge a book by its cover

    • Getting past gatekeepers

    • How to get past gatekeepers?

    • How to stand out?

    • Effective presentation delivery

    • What causes presentation choking?

    • Presentation tips

    • Reading - What is a gatekeeper and why are they important

    • Reading - Understanding gatekeepers incentives

    • Reading - How to get to gatekeepers

    • Reading - Getting past gatekeepers

  • 41

    Submission: Presentation slide draft

    • Presentation slide draft submission

  • 42

    VC-Start-up negotiations

    • VC-start-up negotiations

    • VC startup negotiations

    • VC - startup negotiation game

  • 43

    Submission: Final submissions

    • Business plan final submission

    • Financial plan final submission

    • Presentation slide final submission

    • Contact Information

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