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Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship:
The Entrepreneurial Mindset

Let's change the way we think...
and act

As you begin your journey at NYU Stern, this course will help you foster an entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurship is much more than starting a new business. Entrepreneurship is way of thinking and action that can be learned, practiced, and applied. ​

What you'll learn

Entrepreneurial Mindset

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the various definitions and perspectives of entrepreneurship

  • Describe the difference between uncertainty and risk and how an entrepreneurial mindset is different than an managerial approach

  • Describe an example of how an entrepreneur might have used an effectual or allocative approach to entrepreneurship

  • Apply appropriate Discovery or Creation strategies in order to identify a new opportunity

  • Analyze the various dilemmas entrepreneurs face with forming teams, selecting a customer segment, and procuring resources

  • Summarize the various steps in the venture development process and the various components of a business model

  • Reflect on where entrepreneurship plays a role for you and your own motivations.

  • Describe potential resources where you might get started on your next entrepreneurial act


Design Thinking 

By the end of this module, students will be able to:

  • Practice iterative learning by demonstrating an ability to breakdown key components of an ambiguous problem

  • Describe the role of empathy in the design-thinking process.

  • Articulate how to interview customers and observe users to understand their needs.

  • Distinguish between Observations and Insights.

  • Apply divergent and convergent thinking in their ideation process.

  • Define the key phases of the design-thinking process.

Assignments & Grading Overview

Assignments Overview

  1. HW & Class Surveys 5%

  2. Entrepreneurship Journals 25%

  3. Entrepreneur Interview 10%

  4. Design Thinking​

  5. Hackathon Project - 15%


  1. Attendance and Participation



HW, Journal Entries, Class Surveys


HW & Journal Entries: Every strong thinker, innovator, and creator should own a notebook or journal of some kind. Whether you use a Tablet, Google Doc, or Moleskin, it doesn’t matter. But each week, you will have small assignments that will require you to reflect, take action, or consider something. Find a system that works for you and bring it to class so that you are prepared for each session’s activity. This isn’t homework, it’s your initiative and self-leadership that fuels your creativity as an entrepreneur in this program. From time to time, I will ask you to submit these entries, so be prepared to share your responses at any time. 


Post-Class Memos: At the end of many class sessions, you will write down your own brief take-home message from that day. The research on adult learning is clear that this kind of reflection, connection, and integration can double your retention and knowledge of the material. The memos also allow me to see where your interests and experiences align with the course topics so that I can better meet your needs. I read every memo.


Entrepreneurship Journal Assignments


A big aspect of this course is immersing yourself in the activity of entrepreneurship. This means taking action and also understanding what entrepreneurship means for you beyond--analytical knowledge. Through various exercises and our design thinking project, you will engage in experiential learning. To fully benefit from these experience it is critical for you to regularly reflect on them to develop more conceptual knowledge that can be applied in new and other situations (Kolb, 2014) .Furthermore, one way to develop your intuitive thinking around entrepreneurship is through reflective journaling (Sadler-Smith & Burke, 2009). 


Therefore, throughout the semester you will be required to submit six 1-2 page journal entries through the semester. These journal entries will be assessed on the degree to which your reflection (1) shows engagement in the activity or process that goes beyond simply “going through the steps” and (2) demonstrates personal reflective thought. Examples of strong reflections are posted on Brightspace


Read this for more inspiration on how this process works


“A central strength of learning journals is that they allow students to tap into intelligences other than just the cognitive (Gardner, 1999). In seeking to bring self-awareness into our education system, these journals encourage students to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences toward the classroom content and processes. As the quote at the beginning of this article claims, bringing feeling into the education process allows head and heart to be connected and thus reduces the separation that currently occurs through the externalization of knowledge as something that happens outside of oneself” 

Pavlovich, K., Collins, E., & Jones, G. (2009)


Journal Entry Questions

Due Date

Perspectives on Entrepreneurship - What is it, What is exciting about it, What is challenging about it, and whether I consider myself one or could be one and why



Something on Discovery vs Creation approaches to new Opportunities


2 Bird-in-hand - Who do I know, What do I know, What am I interested in/Who am I?  (MAKE THIS LATER in NOVEMBER)


3 Obs+Intv - What did you learn about the observation and interviewing process, and why? (Reflect on what was new to you, that came natural, or didn’t)


4 Insight - How do YOU define an insight? How did it feel to come to an insight? What came easy/hard? 


5 Feedback - How did it feel to receive feedback on your ideas? What might you do differently or the same going forward when seeking feedback?


6 Closing Reflection - Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? How have your perspectives changed during this course if at all? What might give you purpose or motivation to pursue something?



Design Thinking Project

Over the course of the semester you will work on as part of a team to identify and solve a compelling problem. For the final assignment you must submit an 8-10 page powerpoint/google slide presentation outlining your process, what you learned, and the ultimate solution. In the last two class sessions you will be asked to present on your final project and you are able to present your solution in any format that makes sense (providing a real prototype, using video, powerpoint presentation, etc). You will be assessed as a team and be provided a team grade for this project.


Attendance and Participation

Class discussion, workshops, lectures, and peer-to-peer learning all require your engagement. Consequently, your active participation is expected in every class, and your course grade depends in large part on your punctual attendance (in both mind and body) to every class session. Failure to attend class will significantly impact your class contribution (which accounts for 30% of your overall course grade). 

Absences will be excused only in the case of documented serious illness, family emergency, religious observance, or civic obligation. If you will miss class for religious observance or civic obligation, you must inform your instructor no later than the first week of class.  You are all busy adults with competing demands on your time (e.g., work, interviews). Hence, I expect that you can  make good decisions if and when deciding between time conflicts and setting expectations among your team members and me.


Punctuality: You are expected to arrive in class by or before the listed start time. Arriving late will impact your contribution to class, which, in turn, will have a significant bearing on your overall grade.

On dates that we have guest speakers it is especially important that you arrive on time. This follows because our guest speakers can be prominent members of the business community, and make inferences about the entire university based on their experience in our classroom. When you arrive late you represent yourself poorly, as well as the class, university, and professor.


Preparation: Several teaching methods will be used in this class. However, a unique emphasis will be placed on cases. The case-discussion format is excellent preparation for much of how you will spend a significant percentage of your professional career: in meetings debating the merits and drawbacks of different courses of action. The ability to contribute constructively and move a group towards a decision is thus a critical skill. Those who come to meetings late or unprepared often become stalled in their careers. Thus you can consider each class meeting an executive staff meeting of the startup we are discussing that day. And your ability to provide insightful recommendations by drawing on case-specific details and your training at Stern helps contribute to your standing in the class (and, by implication, your grade)!


Your participation grade will reflect our collective assessment of your total contribution to the class discussion, with the most important factor being the quality of your in-class contributions. The relative quality of your contribution will be evaluated in terms of level and quality. High-quality comments and questions typically possess at least some of the following attributes: (1) improve the understanding of the material (2) move the discussion forward with new insights (3) ties classroom discussion to relevant class readings (e.g., theory, empirics), prior cases, current events (4) constructively critique others’ arguments, and (5) incorporate previous experiences (e.g., career or other courses) to the topics being discussed. Students are encouraged to bring their diverse set of views on the topics being discussed and to think critically and constructively about each other’s perspectives.


Although quality matters most, quantity is also important. I expect to hear from you in nearly every class and will cold call frequently. Passing on a cold call counts heavily against your participation grade. You should never hesitate to comment because you are concerned that you are wrong or unsure of your opinion. Everyone is wrong sometimes and I’d like to encourage you to take risks. To quantify class participation grades, after each class I grade participation on the following 4-point scale:

(0) Not in class

(1.0) In class, but minimal participation

(2.5) Demonstrates good understanding of case/reading issues

(4.0) Significant contribution to class discussion

Professional decorum and Productive Classroom: I expect you to be civil and respectful of your fellow students and me at all times (in class, online, etc.). The goal is for us to have a productive and inclusive classroom where we can take risks, give each other the benefit of the doubt, and foster deep learning. You do not necessarily have to agree with the comments and views of others. You must, however, be courteous and respectful of all in our classroom without exception. This means, among other things: listening when others speak, not interrupting, and never disparaging others in any way for any reason. My role as professor is somewhat different with respect to interrupting. I will listen and be courteous. However, I may sometimes be forced to interrupt a discussion or statement for the sake of moving the discussion along based on the structure and sequence of the class.

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