CAS 4EN3: Software Entrepreneurship - Fall 2011
First class, Tuesday, September 13, ETB/227. Note the permanent room.
Contact me if Solar will not let you register.
Issues in starting up a new software enterprise, with the focus on independent start-ups. This course will cover the technical, financial, legal and operational issues encountered by software startups. Small groups of students will take an idea and turn it into a prototype, a business plan, and a sales pitch. Lectures will cover issues from team formation to appropriate software development processes to patent protection to venture capital.
This is not a course on entrepreneurship for a general audience. We will gloss over or omit issues which are not germane to software entrepreneurship, although they are very important to entrepreneurship in general. We will assume basic knowledge and experience with software technologies and software development methodologies.
In this course you will learn how to turn an idea into a new software business. You will learn about all aspects of starting a new software venture, and be evaluated according to your ability to relate this knowledge to a business idea chosen by your team. You will get to talk to experienced software entrepreneurs who will serve as both guest speakers, and as judges. We will adjust the order of presentation to take advantage of available guest speakers.
(1) Problem Identification
(a) Idea Generation - Where do good ideas come from?
(b) Market/Monetization - Will anyone pay for a solution to this problem? Is it a general solution?
(c) Can I solve this problem with software? in what time? with how many people?
(d) Novelty - Is this solution or the presentation new? Can we solve it better than other people?
(2) Team Formation
(a) Identifying Required Skills
(a) Elevator Pitch
(b) Company Website
(c) Social Networks
(e) Local communities/organizations (e.g. IF, Communitech)
(f) Trade Shows, Events
(4) Monetization - How do we make money?
(a) Software as a product.
(i) Bespoke software.
(ii) Shrinkwrap software.
(iii) Agency model (e.g., iTunes).
(iv) Platform model (e.g., Facebook).
(b) Software as a service.
(c) Software as a vehicle for advertising.
(d) Service enhanced by software.
(5) Financing - How can we afford to get started?
(a) Self-financing / Bootstrapping -
(b) Angel Financing -
(c) Venture Capital -
(d) Bank Loan -
(e) Government loans/programs.
(6) Intellectual Property
(i) ours - Can we keep others from copying our idea?
(ii) theirs - Can others prevent us from running our business, or make us pay royalties?
(b) Trade Secrets - Can we protect our idea by not telling anyone?
(c) Ownership of IP (corporate vs. personal, i.e. who has the rights to it if someone leaves the company/team?)
(a) What expertise do you need and how do you get it?
(b) Do you share - a vision, - a strategy, and
(a) Legal requirements.
(b) Handling financial data.
(9) Closed / Open Source
(a) Can you charge people for services related to software you open source?
(b) Licenses: Does using Open Source software force you to work for free?
(iii) Limited Licenses.
(iv) Dual or multiple license scenarios (e.g. game companies sometimes open source the engine, but retain IP to assets for a particular game. Redhat has some closed-source code, and maintains open and closed source Linux distributions for example.)
(10) Software Development Practices in a Startup Environment
(i) Software Product Families
(ii) The Waterfall
(iii) Agile Software Development
(iv) Live Testing
(11) Network Effects
(12) Platform Effects
(a) When should you share an idea and when should you keep it secret?
(b) Is half a revenue stream better than no revenue stream?
(14) Other legal issues.
References to articles.
Christopher Anand, ITB-213, x24895. anandc (circled a) (name of university) (country). Make an appointment by email.
Proposed Schedule and Evaluation
April - Information meeting and initial brainstorming.
Links useful in preparting pitch for next week: how to do presentations and win-worth.
Sept - Identify team and project
Sept - Elevator Pitch
Sept - Business Plan
Oct - First Prototype
Nov - Design
Nov - Screencast
Dec - VC Pitch
Different projects will interpret Prototype in different ways. Some groups may be able to develop a working prototype, other groups will only have a UI shell capable enough to do some usability testing.
Although entrepreneurs may be invited to act as judges, course evaluation is the responsibility of the instructor, who will answer questions about how each deliverable will be evaluated in advance, and who will ensure that marking is consistent across the course.
If in doubt, ask the instructor how this applies to your work.