2017/18 Graduating Class



Startup UNC (formerly Launch the Venture) is a new ventures course designed to help students, faculty, staff, and alumni take a business idea or scientific innovation to market. The course starts by assessing the nascent ideas and technologies from the perspective of customer need, product-market fit, competition, and value proposition. Using a lean startup approach, teams get to a go/no-go decision by the end of Mod 2 (December). Teams moving ahead will develop a strategic roadmap and financial plans for launching the business in Mods 3 and 4. 

Typically we take about 15 teams that start in Mod 1 and somewhere around half of them will complete the entire 4 sections and be ready to launch.  Although not common, we do enroll some teams in Mod 3 or Mod 4 if they they demonstrated sufficient understanding the customer problems and validated both the customer needs and product fit through in-depth market research. 

Course Descriptions

MBA 848A: Startup UNC–Feasibility I (Mod 1)

Mondays 5-8

Instructors: Dave Neal and Don Rose

Feasibility I covers the initial development of an innovative product or service idea. Students will use Lean Canvas to validate the customer need and asses the product-market fit. The process involves the following: 

  • Preparing a first draft of the lean canvas with emphasis on customer problems.
  • Develop interview questions to better understand to the customer problems.
  • Conduct customer interviews to validate and/or modify assumptions about the customer needs.
  • Develop a product profile with customer features and benefits
  • Identify a feature set for a minimal viable product (MVP).
  • Develop interview questions to probe need for the product.
  • Conduct customer interviews to get feedback on the product and assess the product-market fit.
  • Synthesize findings from customer interviews and make adjustments as necessary to create a better product-market fit.

Teams will provide weekly updates on their progress and make a final presentation of their findings. 

MBA 848B: Startup UNC–Feasibility II (Mod 2)

Mondays 5-8

Instructors: Randy Myers and Don Rose

Feasibility II continues to develop and refine the product or service idea explored in Mod 1. Additional students will be added to the teams, bringing complementary skills. Mod II will include continued effort to understand the product and offering that will solve a real customer problem. The activities in Mod II will include:

  • The reduction of product risk by developing and conducting MVP interviews
  • The design/creation of an MVP
  • The analysis of your key competitors – how they create value and derive value from customers
  • The development of a strategy to exploit weaknesses in the competitors strategies
  • Understanding common errors in pricing your product
  • Learning how much value your product/service creates
  • Determining how much of the value you create can be harvested by your company”

At the end of the Feasibility phase, teams will present their case for proceeding to the next two phases: Strategy and Finance.

MBA 848C: Startup UNC–Strategy (Mod 3)

Mondays 5-8

Instructors: Dave Neal and Scott Albert

Strategy phase of the course assumes that any pivots in the product, customer segment and pricing model have been made and the value proposition and market characteristics have been defined.  In this phase the teams will flush out the entire plan for executing their vision. The business case will evolve into a business plan and/or pitch deck that defines the go to market strategy. Elements will include:

  • Business model, unit economics,  and cost of customer acquisition and lifetime value of the customer
  • Revenue assumptions and projections
  • Go to market sales and/or marketing plan
  • Product development and milestone metrics
  • Operations or strategic partnership plans
  • Management team and board roles and hiring plans

Teams will be presenting the plans each week to outside advisors and the professors with the goal of refining and deepening their specific strategies.  

MBA 848D: Startup UNC–Financing (Mod 4)

Mondays 5-8

Instructor: Scott Albert

The objective of this final phase of Startup UNC is to develop a refined business plan that is ready to expose to sources of capital and to the market. This course will initially focus on the gaps in the draft business plan that was submitted in Mod 3 for MBA 848C.  The class is designed to provide an understanding of how funding sources evaluate startups and expose the teams to qualified experts in the world of startup funding.

The Financing Phase builds cumulatively upon the market content and financial models presented in the Feasibility and Strategy phases.  It prepares students for the process of forming the legal structure for their venture and launching their business idea. There will be a combination of lectures and coaching sessions.  The first lectures will begin with an overview of the major gaps in teams’ venture pitches and business plans, as well as discussions of Financial Models, simple company Valuation analyses and Exit options.  For most companies, the class will require a deeper evaluation of the customers and competitors. For some companies, it will be a time to search for and expand their Advisory Board. And for almost all teams it will be mean more time with financial pro-formas to assure a solid foundation of assumptions that will be credible to outside investors and reviewers. More advanced financial modeling and financing strategies will be one of the primary thrusts of this phase.  

Course Modules and Goals

  • Financial Modeling
  • Exit Strategy/Valuation
  • Grants
  • Angel Investing
  • Venture Capital
  • Legal Issues/Due Diligence Process

As a final deliverable for the class, teams will produce and submit a final venture pitch, including complete financials and market research.  It will be due and presented at the final class session.

About the UNC Kenan-Flagler Entrepreneurship Center

The Entrepreneurship Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler delivers the most comprehensive, hands-on and enduring entrepreneurial education anywhere through our unique Learn, Launch, Lead (L3) framework.

“Learn” describes the entrepreneurial courses offered in the most sought-after MBA concentration at Kenan-Flagler. Our curriculum, clubs and competitions help students develop a foundation in entrepreneurship as founders, funders and growth executives.

“Launch” encompasses the full-stack venture development ecosystem from idea generation and problem solving at BLUE Innovation Community to acceleration at our global award-winning Launch Chapel Hill.

“Lead” embodies the leadership characteristics of the students and hundreds of entrepreneurial mentors in our national network, primarily in our one-of-a-kind Adams Apprenticeship program.