EECS 498:  High-Tech Entrepreneurship

Instructor:  Professor Mohammed N. Islam (647-9700,, 2417B EECS)

Lectures:  xxx (3 Hours per week)

Recitations:  xxx (1 Hour per week)   [4 Credit Course]

Prerequisites:  Senior or Graduate Standing (Juniors or Sophomores will also be permitted, depending on available slots in the class)


Class Participation and Attendance                               15% 
Homework                                                                   20%
Book Review and Case Studies                                    20%
Elevator Pitch, Project Presentation                               15%
Executive Summary, Business Plan                                30%


Technology Ventures:  From Ideas to Enterprise, 2nd Ed., 2007
Course Pack (selected articles on business plans, emotional intelligence, etc.)

Supplemental Reading Material (on loan in library):

New Venture Creation:  Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century (7th Ed., 2007)
Entrepreneurial Small Business (2007)
The Entrepreneurial Venture (2nd Ed., 1999)

Summary of Course:

            The technology sector represents a significant portion of the economy of every industrialized nation.  In the U.S., more than one third of the gross national product and about half of private-sector spending on capital goods are related to technology.  Therefore, particularly in the U.S. economic growth depends on the health and contributions of technology businesses.

            This course is about “Technology Entrepreneurship,” which is a style of business leadership that involves identifying high-potential, technology-intensive commercial opportunities, gathering resources such as talent and capital, and managing rapid growth and significant risks using principled decision-making skills.  Technology ventures exploit break-through advancements in science and engineering to develop better products and services for customers.  The leaders of technology ventures demonstrate focus, passion, and an unrelenting will to succeed.

            The course consists of three major parts.  First, lectures on technology ventures twice a week will be supported by textbook reading and homework assignments.  In addition, four of five guest lecturers will augment the lectures to give “real world” advice on certain aspects of small businesses.  Second, recitations will be lead by student teams that review selected books on entrepreneurial traits, leadership style, and the life cycle and challenges of start-up businesses.  Also, the student teams will lead discussions on seven case studies illustrating some of the concepts covered in the lectures.  Finally, the last few classes will have team presentations of business plans, where local entrepreneurs, angels, and VC’s may be invited to critique.

The lectures will cover four major topic areas. 

I.                    Opportunity and Strategy

This section focuses on core issues involved in deciding to pursue an entrepreneurial vision and the characteristics of the venture and entrepreneurs that are vital to success from the very beginning.  The outcomes from this section are opportunity, concept, business model and strategy.

II.                 Creating New Ventures

This section examines the major strategic decisions that any group of entrepreneurs must deal with:  how to balance risk and return, what entrepreneurial structure to pursue, how to find and cultivate the best employees and help make them productive, and the critical issues of intellectual property.  The outcome from this section is an outline of a plan for a new technology venture.

III.               Functional Development

This section discusses the operational and organizational challenges that entrepreneurs must tackle.  Although good technology with a sustainable advantage is important, many of the operational and organizational issues will actually determine the success of the enterprise.  The outcome from this section is a detailed functional plan for the new enterprise. 

IV.              Growth and Financing

This section is about putting together a solid financial plan for the company, including exit and funding strategies.  The outcome of this section is financing and building an important enterprise.

Guest Lecturers will be sprinkled in with lectures during the term (primarily between the 4th and 10th weeks) to complement or reinforce some of the concepts being covered in the lectures and homework.  Potential Guest Lecturers for this term include: (will be different semester to semester)

1)      Local Entrepreneur:  Dwight Carlson

2)      Local VC:  Tony Grover, Marc Weiser

3)      Local Small Business Lawyer:  Fred Steingold

4)      Local CPA:  Patsy Aiken

5)      Local Banker:  Mike Cole

The course is designed for upper-class undergraduates and graduate students in engineering who seek to learn the essentials of technology entrepreneurship.  No prerequisite knowledge is assumed.  Beyond just the textbook learning that engineering students are familiar with, there will be a strong team orientation in the course.  Student teams will review books and case studies and develop a business plan, elevator pitch, and executive summary.  Several oral presentations will be provided by each team throughout the semester.

For students interested in someday starting their own businesses or working in start-ups, this course should give valuable insights and a flavor of what is to come.  Also, there is a companion course on “Patent Fundamentals for Engineers,” which covers how to create the barrier to entry, so that start-up enterprises can be funded.

Tentative Schedule

Section 1:  Opportunity and Strategy

Outcomes:  Opportunity, concept, business model and strategy

Week#1:          Introduction, Organization, Teaming
                        Capitalism and the Technology Entrepreneuer
                        Emotional Intelligence

Week #2:         Opportunity and the Business Summary
                        Building a Competitive Advantage

Week #3:         Creating a Strategy
                        Technology, Innovation and Timing

Section 2:  Creating New Ventures

Outcome:  Outline of a plan for a new technology venture

Week #4:         Risk, Return and Product Design
                        Corporate Technology Ventures

Week # 5:        Creating New Ventures and the Business Plan
                        Elements of the Business Plan

Week # 6:        Building Knowledge and Learning in a New Enterprise
                        Legal Formation and Intellectual Property

Section 3:  Functional Development

Outcome:  Detailed functional plan for the new enterprise

Week #7:         The Marketing and Sales Plan
                        The New Enterprise Organization

Week # 8:        Acquiring, Organizing and Managing Resources
                        Acquisitions, Mergers, and Global Business

Week # 9:        The Management of Operations

Section 4:  Growth and Financing

Outcome:  Financing and building an important enterprise

Week # 10:      The Profit and Harvest Plan
                        The Financial Plan

Week # 11:      Sources of Capital
                        SBIR/STTR Funding
                        Presenting the Plan and Negotiating the Deal
                        Leading a Technology Venture to Success

Week # 12:      Ethics in Business:  Avoiding the “Crooked-E” in Enron

Weeks # 12,13:    Presentations of Business Plans

Books or Articles for Review:  (each group must provide a ~30 minutes, 15+ power point slide presentation reviewing the concepts and teachings in one of the following.  If you pick the short books marked by *, then you must review two of the * books):

  1. The Monk and the Riddle
  2. Crossing the Chasm
  3. The Gorilla Game
  4. Inside the Tornado
  5. Living on the Fault Line
  6. The Innovator’s Dilemma
  7. Working with Emotional Intelligence
  8. On Becoming a Leader
  9. How to Win Friends and Influence People
  10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  11. First Things First
  12. The One Minute Manager (*)
  13. Gung Ho (*)
  14. Whale Done (*)
  15. High Five (*)

Case Studies for Review:

1.Danger, Inc.
2.Biodiesel Incorporated
4.Global Wireless Ventures
5.Jon Hirschtick’s New Venture
6.Artemis Images
7.RADCO Electronics