Module One: The New Venture Strategy Primer

 Participants begin their journey with a rigorous, in-depth overview of new venture strategy. The module is designed to introduce you to the world of entrepreneurship and to give you a “repertoire” of tools for crafting and launching a new venture.  Specifically, you will learn a detailed framework for writing and assessing business plans.

  • Articles: a package of readings that include seminal articles about entrepreneurship, new venture strategy, and attention management.  (To be handed out at the first class)
  • Readings related to attention management including: “Overloaded Circuits” by Hallowel, “The Myth of Multi-tasking” by Rosen, “CNN Multi-tasking Study”, “Getting the Attention You Need” by Davenport and Beck, “Hooked on Gadgets,” (NY Times), “Into the Zone,” (US News)
  • Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (to be read prior to the first class)
  • Case: American Imports.  Assignment: what should they do?  Two pages.  To be completed prior to the first class
  • Assignment: one page summary of your business plan idea
  • Journal writing, research, and data gathering begins.

Practicum 1:

Session takes place in person, by phone or via Skype video.  The practicum is your private, 2-hour meeting with your mentor.  During our first in-person session we will accomplish the following:

  • Detailed discussion about your business plan and personal objectives for the program
  • Build out the Ananda Program framework for writing and assessing business plans
  • Discussion about time management, energy management, and the Attention Zone
  • Discussion of the American Imports case.  How do we analyze a new venture case? What is the role of facts versus judgments? How do you rate the founders? How do you rate the management team? How important are contracts for a new venture?  Introduction of data analysis. What is good data?  How important is it in a business plan? What is the most important line of projected financial statements? What shall we do with American imports?  How likely is this venture to succeed?  How to apply the learning from American Imports to your new venture?

Module 2: Customers and the Marketing Mix 

Effective new venture creation requires a customer-centric approach and a thorough understanding of marketing techniques. Sometimes, customers do not even realize what they need (unarticulated needs) – this module will teach you how to figure it out for them.

  • Books: Those new to marketing should read Marketing Management by Phil Kotler (Chapters 3,4, and 9).  For those that have been exposed to marketing strategy before, please undertake a close reading of Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, Chapters 1-4.
  • Articles: A collection of important articles on marketing techniques
  • Video lecture: “Persuasive Business Proposals” by Tom Sant.
  • Assignment: Answer the first of the 4 basic questions: Will customers accept/buy your product?  What do they buy now?  Why would they switch?  How do you get them/keep them?
  • Assignment: prepare perceptual maps
  • Journal writing, researching and data gathering in process

Practicum 2:

  • Discussion of the readings in Module 2
  • Presentation of marketing strategy and competitive strategy frameworks.
  • Preparation for the writing of the marketing section of the business plan

Module 3: Competitive Strategy

Having achieved a basic mastery of introductory topics in new venture strategy and marketing, we now conduct a comprehensive analysis of the competitive landscape for the new venture.

  • Articles: read the “classic” texts on competitive strategy by Michael Porter, Peter Drucker, Gary Hamel, CK Prahalad, Edward Wrapp, and Henry Mintzburg
  • Books: The Profit Zone by Adrian J. Slywotzky, et al. (Chapters 1-3.)  Also, Co-Opetition by Bradenburger and Nalebuff (Chapters 1-4.)
  • Assignment: Write business plan marketing strategy (3C/4P analysis).  Conduct rigorous competitive/collaborative analysis.  Write competitive analysis section of the business plan.
  • Journal writing, researching and data gathering in process.

Practicum 3:

  • Discussion about the readings in Module 3.
  • Review of business plan competitive analysis.
  • Session on “Porter’s 5 Forces” and “The Resource-Based View”
  • Review of business plan marketing strategy

Module 4: New Product Development

Entrepreneurs who wish to maximize their probability for commercial success must have a comprehensive and thorough understanding of how new products are designed, tested, and introduced to the marketplace.  We invite participants to skim the first few chapters of the classic text on this topic, Designing and Marketing New Products by Glen Urban and John Hauser. The module includes the following topics:

  • Opportunity Identification: market definition and idea generation
  • Design: perceptual mapping, product positioning, concept articulation
  • Forecasting, product engineering and the marketing mix
  • Testing: advertising and product testing
  • Pretest market forecasting
  • Test marketing
  • Product introduction: launch planning
  • Life cycle management
  • Assignment: Prepare strategy for customer surveys and/or focus group
  • Books: Designing and Marketing New Products (Chapters 3, 4, 7, and 8)
  • Video lecture: The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
  • Journal writing, researching and data gathering in process.

Practicum 4:

  • Review plan for customer surveys and focus groups

Module 5: Decision Making, Influence and Persuasion

In many business situations it is not possible to solve a decision-making problem analytically.  Because of data limitations and/or computational difficulties, an intuitive approach must be used.  In such situations, decision makers are subject to systematic biases and errors.  That is, their decisions predictably diverge from optimal solutions.  This Module is devoted to understanding the nature, causes, and implications of these human decision making limitations.  As well, we study the art and science of influence, persuasion and negotations.

  • Assignment: Conduct surveys and focus groups; analyze data.  Incorporate findings into the business plan.
  • Books: Winning Decisions by Russo and Shoemaker.. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  • Video lecture: Cialdini on persuasion and influence
  • Video lecture: High Stakes Negotiations by Victoria Medvec
  • Journal writing, researching and data gathering in process

Practicum 5:

  • Review results of focus groups and surveys
  • Discussion about the team
  • Dialogue about knowledge, virtue, and brilliant decision making

Module 6: Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Financial Projections

Readings describe the structure and governance of venture capital firms and introduce us to the world of venture capital and private equity.  During this module we will conduct financial projections and “build” the financial model for your business plan.

  • Articles: Readings that describe the structure and governance of venture capital firms, interviews with venture capitalists, technique for large company corporate venturing
  • Books: Information Rules by Hal Varian (Chapters 1-4.)
  • Assignment: Conduct financial projections.  Create pro-forma financial statement.
  • Journal writing in process

Practicum 6 and 7 are combined

  • Review financial projections
  • Discussion about QuickBooks and internal controls

Module 7: Building the Team 

Here we focus on the topics of hiring, talent management, and building the team.  During this module we will assess the team requirements, create interview questions, and actually recruit and begin interviewing employees, consultants, advisory board members, and the like.  We will also discuss relationship management and learning the Drama Triangle Technique.

  • Book: Who: the A Method for Hiring by Jeff Smart and 90 minute video lecture from Jeff Smart
  • Book: The Power of Ted by David Emerald
  • Assignment: team member profile, interview questions, and recruiting
  • Assignment: complete first draft of business plan
  • Journal writing in process

Practicum 6 And 7 Continued

  • Discuss legal issues and negotiation strategy
  • Review first draft of your business plan
  • Dress rehearsal: ten minute business plan presentation

Module 8: Strategy and Self Discovery

The Chicago Venture Research Program concludes with this powerful learning opportunity.  Participants read a number of important texts about leadership, strategy, and self-discovery.  Texts, readings, and learning approach are drawn largely from the award winning “Business Policy” course taught by Harry L. Davis at the University of Chicago.  The reading list includes:

  • Articles: Read articles for Module 8
  • Book: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (optional)
  • Book: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
  • Assignment: Final draft of business plan
  • Assignment: Final preparation for “venture capital” presentation
  • Assignment: Complete journal

Practicum 8:  Date and time TBD

  • Your final “performance” of your business plan presentation will be reviewed by your mentor.
  • Celebratory luncheon or dinner