The Spirit of Entrepreneurship


Stanford School of Engineering


This course is a companion course to MS&E472 - Entrepreneurial Thought Leader (ETL) Seminar. The class teaches students how to look at a business and analyze its key components. We will use the speakers at the weekly Entrepreneurial Thought Leader seminar as the source of the companies we will explore.

Each week, using independent research, students will assess each company's business model, distribution channels, demand creation activities, and engineering. In addition they will discuss how the founders discovered their opportunity, built their team, and got funded. We will also discuss how each of these building blocks may differ depending on a company's market. Topics introduced in this course are relevant for future founders of companies, as well as the future engineer and scientist who participate in a startup.

There are two one-hour classes - one on Monday evening in advance of Wednesday's ETL, and then another session right after ETL to debrief about the lecture. In Monday's session students (using independent research) will present their analysis of the target company's business model, distribution channels, demand creation activities. The class will then summarize the questions for the speaker. In Wednesday's session students will review the talk and, taking all the information they learned, discuss the similarities and differences between this company and others. We then conclude with a "Lessons Learned" wrap up.

There are a total of 8 weekly ETL seminars, with none taking place during the first and last weeks of the term. During those weeks, we plan to introduce and summarize the course. We also plan to teach how to think about and extract a business model, channel strategy, and demand creation plan from publicly available material and the ETL talks.  


Corequisite: MS&E472 - Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Seminar


This course is designed for graduate students from all majors, particularly science, engineering, and humanities students, who seek to understand what the entrepreneurial process is about.

This course is available for letter grade only. There will be no final exam. Grading will be determined using the following weighting system:

  • 45% - Company analysis - weekly submission of business model, distribution channels, demand creation summary
  • 30% - Attendance at Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Seminar
  • 25% - Weekly submission of lessons learned from the ETL lecture. Extra credit may be earned for insightful questions at the ETL lecture.

No textbook is required. Readings will be assigned at the first class session.

This course has limited enrollment.