Entrepreneurs often do know what they don’t know. This spring, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a solution for resource-strapped entrepreneurs hoping to fill their knowledge gaps. The 10-week Entrepreneurial Development Series covers topics ranging from legal issues to building a launch team to competitive analysis. Classes are two hours each on Friday afternoons at The University of Texas at Dallas campus. Cost for each class is about $17 for anyone in the community; less for UT Dallas alumni.
“We wanted this to be a way for startups to get high-quality information in a quick and easy format, where entrepreneurs can ask questions,” says Jeremy Vickers, IIE’s executive director. “The classes are designed so you sign up for just the ones you need. If your business partner is a lawyer — no problem — skip the week on legal issues. You already know how to do competitive analysis? Good for you. Skip that class and come to the one on improving your pitch, instead.”
For those who decide to attend all 10, the investment is less than $170. Vickers says the low cost reflects IIE’s purpose of helping innovators in the Dallas area get their ideas to market. “Our job is not to drain entrepreneurs’ resources,” Vickers says. “Our job is to help startups be the best they can be once they get to market. We at the institute are in this to help them and the community as a whole. There is no reason why Dallas shouldn’t be considered in the same vein as other hubs of innovation.”
In fact, no Texas city made The Atlantic’s recent list of 10 best cities for startups — Silicon Valley, New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and Tel Aviv are the first five with London, Chicago, Seattle, Berlin and Singapore rounding out the top 10. Austin ranks No. 14; Dallas is nowhere in the top 20.
Would Dallas stack up better with just U.S. cities? According to Inc. magazine, no. Its most recent top 10 list, published in 2014, was created using patent filing data over 10 years. The most innovative areas were, in order, Silicon Valley, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston. That’s right — Dallas ranks behind Detroit.
The Entrepreneurial Development Series is a non-credit class series with no prerequisites or homework. Classes meet 2-4 p.m. on Fridays at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Classes will be taught by UT Dallas faculty along with experts from the business community. Seating is limited and reservations are required.
Here’s a summary of each week’s topics:
Feb. 5 – Concept Feasibility: This class outlines a process to learn if an idea has market, technical and financial feasibility.
Feb. 12 – Customer Discovery: This class emphasizes lean startup principles by walking entrepreneurs through the customer discovery and customer development process.
Feb. 19 – Legal Issues for Startups: Topics to be covered include corporate structure and protecting intellectual property.
Feb. 26 – Business Model Canvas: Entrepreneurs will learn how to use this tool for developing a viable, scalable business model that connects customer needs to a product or service.
March 4 – Building an MVP: The classes on March th4 and 11th will cover the development process by focusing on building a minimum viable product (MVP) and developing a robust competitive analysis. These two facets are vital in order to develop a meaningful offering to customers.
March 11 – Competitive Analysis: This class focuses on building a deep understanding of the market through the lens of competition by evaluating offerings and customer needs. It is part of a two-week series with March 4. See above.
March 25 – Go To Market and Sales Strategy: The March 25th and April 1st classes will start preparing business ideas for launch. Lessons will emphasize go to market and sales strategy along with how to build a successful team to get the product out in the marketplace.
April 1 – Building the Launch Team: This class is designed to help the startup founder understand the skills needed to launch a business, and how to incentivize people to join in as mentors, advisors and board members. It is part of a two-week series with the previous week. See above.
April 8 – Projecting Cash Flow and Budgeting: This class is primarily designed to help startups looking for additional funds, whether it’s from investors, banks or other, nontraditional sources.
April 15 – The Pitch: If the pitch isn’t right, whether in an elevator, an office or a construction trailer, sales won’t happen. This how-to will aid entrepreneurs in fine-tuning what it is they plan to say.
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