CSCI 4830/7000: 
Startup Essentials for Software Entrepreneurship

Spring 2013

Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado at Boulder


See the Moodle class Web page at

Purpose:  In this class, you will learn basic principles about software entrepreneurship and acquire skills to aid you in starting up a software company.  You will go through the process of building your own software IT startup, beginning with the creation of the core idea/vision behind your startup, followed by team formation, identifying the business model hypotheses behind your startup, validating these hypotheses, identifying the essential features in your minimum viable product, building your software prototype, and all the while obtaining feedback from customers and iterating and pivoting based on that feedback.  You will pitch your final startup conception and be evaluated on product/market fit.

Schedule & Location: Mon, Wed, Fri 3-3:50 pm, ATLAS 104
Course number: CSCI 4830/7000
.  See also the registrar's Web site.
Basic Computer Science programming and/or consent of the instructor.
Professor Rick Han,, and Zach Nies, CTO Rally.
Office (Prof. Han): ECCR 1B05F
Office Hours (Prof. Han): Tuesdays 2-3 pm and Wednesdays 4-5 pm either
in ECCR 1B09 (next door to my office) or in my office (knock on the door to systems lab or call Prof. Han's number below).  Additional appointments as needed.
Phone: 303-492-0914

Other very useful references: 

class Web site:
See the Moodle class Web page at  Assignments, lecture slides, and announcements can be found there.  The moodle has a variety of useful features, including a forum for posting questions.  Each student should establish an account on the moodle and then subscribe to our class on the moodle using the special enrollment key given out in class.

Approximate Timeline
see moodle for revised up-to-date timeline

Monday Wednesday Friday Theme
1/14/2013 Class Overview
What do the students want from the class? Core ideas/vision for startups.
Why be an entrepreneur?
CU Grad Entrepreneur Panel Background, Setup & Context
1/21/2013 No class (MLK) Demo: Pitch your best ideas Pitches, and Navigating Conflict
1/28/2013 Marshmallow Challenge & the importance of iterative learning
Idea and Team Formation & how to find cofounders.

Assignment: form teams by Monday and be prepared to demo your "Why" and rough idea(s)
Becoming a public speaker: Decker Grid & communicating with non-engineers (customers and prospects)
Assignment: on Friday and Monday 4 minute presentation on a technical founder and what we should learn from them (use Decker grid)

2/4/2013 Team Introductions - Demo your Why and idea(s) Technical Founder Presentations Technical Founder Presentations
2/11/2013 Intro to Geoffrey Moore's work (Crossing the Chasm & Technology Adoption Lifecycle)
Intro to Cust Dev, Lean Canvas, Business Model Thinking and Validation Boards
Intro to Agile Development
Customer Discovery
2/18/2013 Problem Discovery and Building Empathy
Hands-on with Design Thinking
Demo: What pain does your customer segment have
2/25/2013 Problem Validation, MVPs and Experiment Design
Hands-on with Problem Validation
Demo: What did you learn from your problem validation interviews
3/4/2013 Building a Profitable Business
Guest lecture: Understanding the Numbers from a CFO's Point of View - Demo: Show us how you can build a profitable business
3/11/2013 Positioning and Selling your MVP
Guest lecture: Selling Early Products - Demo: Show us resutls from selling your low fidelity MVP
3/18/2013 The Pivot
Get out of the building and pivot as many times as you can Demo: Show us your validation board, maximize your pivots CU New Venture Challenge
3/25/2013 No class (Spring Break) No class (Spring Break) No class (Spring Break)
4/1/2013 Guest Lecture: Founding a Company from a Legal Point of View - Guest Lecture: Raising Money for Your Company - Pitch Practice -
4/8/2013 Improve your Negotation Skills
Demo: High fidelity MVP Customer Validation

NVC Final Presentation Week
4/22/2013 IP Issues -

Scaling Up

Last class What's Next ...
5/6/2013 Finals


60% Demos in class
30% Final presentation on team venture's status and progress
10% Class participation

You will form teams based around your team's startup idea/vision and iterate through the various stages of customer development involved in startup formation, demo'ing along the way, and culminating in a final presentation to the class describing the progress made in forming your startup.

Plagiarism policy.

Additional Policies:

Disability Policy

Religious Observances Policy

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy

Classroom Behavior Policy