A Hybrid Distance Learning and Classroom-Based Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program, offered in partnership by UC Berkeley and FICE

The “Learn2Launch” Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program is an integrated program that provides students with an intensive, immersive and hands-on approach to the study of innovation, entrepreneurship and startups. The program involves online instruction from top UC Berkeley faculty along with select presentations and discussions with guest speakers that include entrepreneurs, investors, product designers, and key professional advisors from the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem. The instructors and speakers provide insights into the most current and effective theory and practice of entrepreneurship, and also insights into the business culture of the SF Bay Area which is the global epicenter for the creation of disruptive startups, many of them technology-based. The UC Berkeley faculty partner with local India-based faculty, teaching assistants, and mentors who provide hands-on classroom instruction, regular review of student work, local mentoring, and ongoing accountability, encouragement, and grading. This hybrid US – India program is based on the highly-regarded UC Berkeley-based Learn2Launch program that has hosted numerous cohorts of students from the US and around the world. It also incorporates elements of instruction from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and College of Engineering, and numerous executive education programs taught at UC Berkeley and around the world. The lead instructors have held key faculty and faculty director roles in entrepreneurship programs at UC Berkeley and other top US universities.

This program incorporates:
  • Distance-learning and classroom education in the form of lectures, case studies and exercises from top faculty in entrepreneurship, innovation and related disciplines, drawing upon expertise in business, technology, design, leadership, finance, and law;
  • Guest lectures and speakers via video or online from UC Berkeley and potentially in person in India - including entrepreneurs, investors and venture capitalists, attorneys, investment bankers, marketers and branding experts, social media experts, and more - who share their entrepreneurship, innovation and startup–building expertise with students, demonstrating and teaching "how it is done" in launching and growing innovative, high-growth and high-value ventures in the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley and around the world;
  • Introduction to and description of the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley ecosystem and companies, which have helped redefine the way much of the world interacts with and does business in the 21st century;
  • A core "new venture startup project" where students form small startup teams and undertake many of the steps necessary to create and launch a new venture. These startup projects serve as customized case studies for the teams and each of the participants to enable them to experience the process and issues relating to launching a company in real-time.

  • The “Learn2Launch” Framework

    The many topics, skills and activities that are included in this curriculum are integrated in our “Learn2Launch” framework. Here are the four major stages of this framework:

    Define -
    where the opportunity and concept, vision, values, and founding team are developed

    Learn -
    where basic prototypes are created and early customer discovery activities take place

    Launch -
    where the startup takes on more structure, products are defined, and initial customers/clients are created and revenues generated

    where the team undertakes activities needed to scale the company from a small startup to a growth stage venture to a major enterprise

    Curriculum Components and Activities

    The foundation and structure for this program is laid in the classroom. That said, and building upon the classroom education, much of the activity and learning takes place outside of the classroom as students and teams build demos and prototypes, interact with customers, evaluate funding alternatives, experience team dynamics, investigate partnerships, and develop and test various go to market strategies. In fact, “getting outside the classroom” as early and often as possible is one of the key objectives of this program. More specifically, during this program students will experience and perform a broad variety of activities related to launching an entrepreneurial venture, in a very hands-on manner, including:

  • identify and screen promising opportunities
  • experiment with "design thinking" and rapid prototyping,o create a minimum viable product and/or demo to share with the marketplace, o undertake early "customer discovery" activities,
  • learn about recruiting a team, team dynamics and culture setting,
  • understand the role of "failure” in developing products, customers, and new ventures in general, and how best learn from and build upon failures to attain long-term success,
  • learn core principles of effective branding and how to apply them,
  • develop an understanding of competitive positioning of products and companies,
  • develop an understanding of how and when “value” - as defined by the market in funding and M&A activities - is created over the life of an early-stage venture and implications for entrepreneurs in creating and evolving their strategies and tactics for funding and liquidity,
  • o develop an understanding of how to "pitch" a new venture to investors and other stakeholders, including the development of key communication and selling tools and skills,
  • gain insights, tools and skills essential to effective leadership and communication in early-stage ventures and as companies grow,
  • develop an understanding of marketing and go-to-market strategies and tactics,
  • learn about financial models and business models and how these models interact, along with the implications on building and funding new ventures,
  • develop an understanding of intellectual property protection of various types ranging from patents to copyrights to trade secrets
  • gain knowledge of broader legal issues ranging from entity formation and types to strategies to limit the liabilities of organizations and entrepreneurs,
  • gain a deeper understanding of the many ways that startup ventures can succeed and fail, including identification of early warning signs, the implications of such signals, and options for corrective action.
  • At the conclusion of this program each team will formally present their venture in-person to a panel comprised of instructors and members from the local business/investor/startup communities in India, including entrepreneurs and investors, replicating the real world process that startup ventures and entrepreneurs undertake in Silicon Valley and elsewhere around the world to launch their company and obtain funding for growth. In previous offerings of this and similar programs at UC Berkeley some of the student teams have gone on to obtain angel and venture funding, matriculate to prestigious incubator accelerator programs such as Y Combinatory and 500 Startups, launch successful products and services, and build scalable and sustainable enterprises.