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Stanford University rolls out free online start-up courses

Tuesday, 3 January 2012 | By Michelle Hammond
Australian start-ups have been given the chance to gain access to some of the sharpest business minds in the United States, with Stanford University offering free online courses on entrepreneurship.

 

The prestigious university will offer 16 courses free of charge this year, with course titles such as Technology Entrepreneurship and The Lean Launchpad.

 

There are also courses on computer security, machine learning, software-as-a-service, human-computer interaction, game theory, cryptology and making green buildings.

 

The Technology Entrepreneurship course, which starts this month, consists of lecture videos broken down into small chunks, usually between eight and 12 minutes long.

 

The videos may contain quiz questions, in addition to standalone quizzes that are separate to the lectures. There is approximately two hours of video content per week.

 

The class will be led by Professor Chuck Eesley, who has spent the past 10 years in and around start-ups, founding three of this own, including a biotech consulting firm.

 

The class will mix in-depth case studies and research on the entrepreneurial process.

 

“There is a process – there is a methodology that we can teach – that will increase your likelihood of success and decrease the chances of failure,” Eesley says.

 

“This class is open to people of all backgrounds, whether you’re interested in information technology, global applications, clean tech or life sciences.”

 

“You can see a preview of the class by searching the web for the Forbes video on Stanford’s newest start-ups.”

 

Meanwhile, The Lean Launchpad will be led by serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, who has been a founder or early employee at eight start-ups, four of which led to successful IPOs.

 

The course, starting in February, has a similar structure to Technology Entrepreneurship. It’s designed to teach start-ups how to test and commercialise an idea as quickly as possible.

 

“One of the key ideas that we now know, which we didn’t over the last decade, is that start-ups are not smaller versions of a large company,” Blank says.

 

“Large companies execute known business models but start-ups search for them. We’re going to teach you how to… turn your hypotheses into a profitable business.”

 

“It’s a class for scientists and engineers – in fact anyone who’s an entrepreneur – who wants to learn how to put together a start-up in a way that we just didn’t know how 10, 20, 30 years ago.”

 

“What we’re going to do is teach you the basics of how to put together a business model canvas and then get out of the building using customer development to discover and test all your hypotheses.”