Everyone has a “big idea.” Some treat it as a passion, a higher calling to shape a better world. Others regard their idea as a means of escape or a way to make a name. Either way, that idea is always there, a lodestar that offers hope and purpose as it draws other inspirations into its orbit.
For most, that “big idea” is just idle exercise. People tinker with it, even drafting specs or plans. In the end, the epiphany is the easy part. To breath life into an idea, you need more than unwavering commitment and a fearless embrace of the uncertain. Beating the odds also requires an understanding of the process every ideation goes through on the way to market.
NEW STARTUP MOOCS FROM WHARTON, VIRGINIA AND MICHIGAN STATE
You can learn these lessons by trial-and-error – or you can follow a less painful path: Taking advice from some of the best minds in entrepreneurship. In March, you’ll find many of the top MOOCs take their cue from the startup world, with an emphasis on creating, planning, scaling, innovating, and launching.
And it starts with “Entrepreneurship 2: Launching Your Startup.” Taught by some of Wharton’s most distinguished MBA professors, this MOOC introduces students to some of the key areas of building an organization, such as honing your model and strategy, building the right team, and executing the legal minutiae. Taking one step back, Michigan State’s “The Search for Great Ideas: Harnessing Creativity to Empower Innovation” amplifies Wharton’s lessons by exploring how prospective entrepreneurs come up with ideas in the first place. The course provides not only a process for forming ideas, but testing them early in the process.
Looking for a 30,000 foot on entrepreneurship? You can start with the University of Virginia’s “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship.” One of the most recommended MOOCs for aspiring entrepreneurs, this course starts by helping students understand the entrepreneurial mindset before transitioning into bread-and-butter topics like researching, modeling, positioning, and pricing. The University of Maryland and Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) take a similar broad view, featuring a start-to-finish walk through the entire entrepreneurial process, covering everything from writing a business plan to benchmarking success to establishing partnerships. At the same time, the University of Rochester zeroes in on technology commercialization, an intensive development process that requires more time and resources than your standard bootstrap operation. Of course, no series of startup courses would be complete without a dose of “New Venture Finance,” the University of Maryland’s how-to for courting investors.
PRICING STRATEGY AND STRATEGIC PLANNING AMONG OTHER NEW RELEASES
You’ll also find several noteworthy topics covered this month. IE Business School addresses “Pricing Strategy,” documenting options to help maximize revenue without turning off customers. The University of Minnesota has introduced a new series on how to recruit and onboard employees just in time for upcoming graduations. The University of Virginia covers “Strategic Planning and Execution.” And the University of Illinois continues to reinforce its leadership role in business operations, with courses offered in organizational design and process improvement.
For students looking to build their financial acumen, the University of Geneva will be unveiling its “Meeting Investors Goals,” a MOOC offered in partnership with UBS that provides best practices for managing portfolios. The University of Michigan concludes its “Introduction to Finance: Valuation and Investing” specialization with a “Valuing Projects and Companies” MOOCs that pulls together the lessons from time value of money, risk and return, and alternative methodologies. For real back to basics instruction, Wharton is offering “Introduction to Spreadsheets and Models” to expose students to the full range of modeling and forecasting options available through spreadsheets.
To learn more about these courses – and register for them – click on the links below.
Marketing and Management
Finance, Technology and Operations