NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Fall 2010

Instructor Details

Obstfeld, David


Monday/Wednesday: 2:30 – 3:30 pm and by app

KMC 7-50


Course Meetings

MW, 11:00am to 12:15pm

KMC 5-140

Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on:
    Class will meet on:


Course Description and Learning Goals

This course is about starting, building, running, and growing a new organization or initiative. It is therefore also about mobilizing action and the skills involved in making that happen, whether in a for-profit, not-for-profit, artistic, or social entrepreneurial arena.

Because technology and globalization are transforming the business landscape – opening markets, transforming industries, and erasing boundaries – we aim to prepare you to mobilize action in a 1.0/2.0 world – that is, to develop skills in traditional forms of entrepreneurial action and innovation, as well as in leveraging such action with new technologies and digital tools.

Specifically, this course has three central themes: (1) Thinking analytically about how to design and create new organizations and projects; (2) Identifying and developing the entrepreneurial and leadership skills that shape new organizations; (3) Exploring a newly emerging set of “Web 2.0” skills and realities that are increasingly important to entrepreneurial efforts. This is not a traditional survey course in entrepreneurship, but aims to explore and enable a broader range of entrepreneurial understanding and action that underpins firm creation, social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship within the firm.

Organizations and the roles of individuals within them are undergoing a radical transformation. Mobilizing action—whether in the form of internal innovation, new business formation, interorganizational networks, or emerging web-based network communities—is critical in the evolving 1.0/2.0 world. This transforming context, reshaped by technology and globalization, involves connecting, coordinating, communicating, and persuasion. While these factors have
been important in the past, they are now crucial.

In this course we will develop approaches to analysis, planning and action in entrepreneurial contexts, without assuming that these activities occur in any pre-ordained order or hierarchy of importance. We view entrepreneurial planning as an iterative process that is continually driven by a stream of strategic choices made in dynamic and imperfectly-knowable market, competitive, and regulatory environments. Assuming this context, we develop and apply ideas about social networks, organizational structure and culture, opportunity creation, discovery and evaluation, firm growth and change, intellectual property, employment practices and incentives, innovation, financing, and entrepreneurial improvisation.

Primary activities include: a group project involving the creation of fully operational Web 2.0 businesses through Amazon.com’s WebStore function, case discussions and analysis, and relentless attempts to improve our abilities to write and speak in an informative and persuasive manner to important stakeholders. This course is most useful for those who want to join and make substantial contributions to young growth businesses, for those who want to create the new firms that hire those in the first category, and finally, for those who want to better understand how to initiate new action and innovation in any professional context they find themselves.

We will also host a cutting edge set of speakers involved in both traditional and 2.0 forms of entrepreneurship to engage you in an ongoing dialogue around issues covered in class. This course is also supported by a custom website integrated with Socialcast (www.socialcast.com), to facilitate student exchanges of ideas, videos, and other links. Your engagement in dialogue on Socialcast will be a key input, along with class discussions, into your participation grade (see below.)


Course Outline

Patterns of Entrepreneurship – Course Schedule

Jan 19
Course Overview It’s a Flat World, After All, Friedman, NYT, April 3, 2005 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/magazine/03DOMINANCE.html.
The World is Spiky, Florida, http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic30774.files/2-2_Florida.pdf

Jan 21
The Entrepreneurial Process: Startup.com
CI!: Chapters 1 & 2
The Questions Every Entrepreneur Must Answer, Bhide, HBR, Nov. 1996
1. Enroll on Socialcast, post photo, follow all of your classmates
2. Post a brief (one- or two sentence) statement re: one of your entrepreneurial or creative interests on Socialcast
3. Complete Social Media survey on SurveyMonkey.com; link to be supplied through Socialcast

Jan 26
WebStore Introduction
Scott Pulsipher (Director of Onboarding and Seller Success Amazon, WebStore Division)
Scan Amazon.com WebStore FAQ http://webstore.amazon.com/Online-Store-FAQ/
Scan last semester’s student WebStores at http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~dobstfel/
CI!: Chapters 3 & 4
1. Submit “entrepreneurship” profile (template to be provided)
2. Post a brief observation/question about Startup.com
3. Begin considering possible WebStore projects teammates Overview: Preparing for 2.0 Entrepreneurship

Jan 28
Pitch Day (oneminute pitches)
Opportunity Discovery & Recognition
Identifying Venture Opportunities (CP)
CI!: Chapters 5 & 6
1. Continue to consider possible WebStore projects and potential WebStore teammates
2. Complete web-based Social Network Diagnostic (information on how to access will be provided)

Feb 2
Amazon Tutorial: WebStore Set Up
Ashish Gupta
CI!: Chapters 7 – 10
Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody: http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html (video: 16 minutes)
(OPTIONAL: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/interactive/events/2008/02/shirky video: 42 minutes)
MILESTONE I: Before class, email Professor/TA of team composition
Sit with your team in class

Feb 4
Speaker Postings from CV’s blog: TO BE ANNOUNCED

Feb 9
Speaker CI!: Chapters 11 – end MILESTONE II: Initial
WebStore Plan Due
Refined One-minute pitches to GV (in class)

Feb 11
Speaker The Long Tail, Anderson, Wired Magazine
Entrepreneurship: The Traditional View

Feb 16
Entrepreneur #1: The Social Entrepreneur Networks & Entrepreneurship Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg
Informal Networks: The company behind the chart. Krackhardt & Hansen, HBR 1993
The Social Capital of the Entrepreneurial Manager, Burt. http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/ronald.burt/research/SC.pdf
WebStore Proposal Due (hard copy to class, uploaded to BB.)

Feb 18
Entrepreneur #2: Social Entrepreneur Mobilizing Action in a 1.0/2.0 World
Jerry Sanders
How to build your network: Uzzi & Dunlap, HBR Dec. 2005, Reprint R0512B http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/uzzi/ftp/uzzi%27s_research_papers/uzzi_dunlap%20hbr.pdf
Harnessing the science of persuasion
MILESTONE IV: All WebStores up and running with preliminary product portfolio.
Cialdini, HBR Oct. 2001

Feb 23
Speaker How Entrepreneurs Craft Strategies That Work, Bhide. HBR, Mar. 1994 Rep. 97409
Are you sticky? (Time)
Making it stick (U.S. News)
MILESTONE V: Send logo to TA

Feb 25
Ideas & Innovation; Opportunity Identification and Evaluation; Business Planning
Room For Dessert (CP)
How to Write a Great Business Plan, Sahlman, HBR, July 1997 http://svpri.org/files/How%20to%20Write%20A%20Great%20Business%20Plan.pdf)

Mar 2
Speaker Blue Ocean Strategy, Mauborgne & Kim, HBR Oct. 2004
MILESTONE VI: WebStore Status Update I (hard copy to class, uploaded to BB.)

Mar 9
Business Models/Business Strategy
Zipcar: Refining the Business Model (CP)
Why business models matter, Magretta, HBR, May 2002 http://teaching.ust.hk/~ismt302/busmod.pdf

Mar 11
Business Strategy/Managing Growth
eHarmony (CP) Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave, Bower & Christensen, HBR, January/February 1995
Individual Network Analysis Due

SPRING BREAK March 15 – March 20

Mar 23
Speaker Bootstrap finance: the art of startups, by Amar Bhide, HBR, November/December, 1992.

Mar 25
Managing Growth Appex, HBS: 9-491-082 (CP)
A Note on Organizational Structure, Nohria, HBS: 9-491-083(CP)

Mar 30
Anticipating Growth Body Shop International, HBS: 9-392-032 (CP)
What is an Organization’s Culture?, by Christensen and Shu, HBS 9-399-104 (CP)

Apr 1
Entrepreneurial Growth I
Friendster (A), HBS: 9-707-409
MILESTONE VII: Final WebStore Status Update (hard copy to class, uploaded to BB.)

Apr 6
New Venture Finance How Venture Capital Works, by Zider HBR, Nov. / Dec. 1998 http://web.mit.edu/peso/Pes1/HBS,%20Zider%20-%20How%20VC%20works.pdf

Apr 8
Speaker New Venture Financing (CP)
How Venture Capitalists Evaluate Potential Venture Opportunities, Roberts & Barley (CP)

Apr 13
Entrepreneurial Growth II
Crunch! HBS: 9-899-233

Apr 15

Apr 20
Going Public or Staying Private
Nantucket Nectars (CP)
Note on the IPO Process (CP)

Apr 22
Final Presentations Presentation Slides Due On Day of Presentation

Apr 27
Final Presentations

Apr 29
Final Presentations

May 3
Final Group Reports Due


Required Course Materials

  1. Professor Obstfeld’s C50.0085 XanEdu CoursePack (CP)
    Digital access with desktop printing after online purchase at the XanEdu website (www.xanedu.com). Please see instructions on Blackboard.
    Note: All HBR articles are available through NYU digital resources. (See Appendix A for how to access.)
  2. Crush It!, by Gary Vaynerchuk, HarperCollins (2009) (CI)
    To be purchased on line.
  3. Course Blackboard site (BB): http://sternnewclasses.nyu.edu
    Additional course materials will be posted on Blackboard throughout the course. The BB site will also be used for assignments, class announcements, and group discussions. You should check the site on a regular basis, and are expected to upload deliverables to the site.

If you are interested in a supplementary text, the best general textbook on entrepreneurship is perhaps: New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century, by Jeffry A. Timmons and Stephen Spinelli, McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2007.

Please note: Entrepreneurship involves improvisation. I will occasionally add readings – and make other changes to the course structure and content as required – to accommodate the emerging demands of the course, our visitors, and your WebStore projects. This may include, on occasion, the reduction or elimination of a case discussion – to provide more time in class for project development.


Assessment Components

Group Project: 45%
Network Analysis: 10%
Pop Quizes: 10%
Class and Socialcast Participation: 35% of grade

Final Group Project: Amazon WebStore: “Engaging in 2.0 entrepreneurship” (50%)
Your group project will involve your team’s performance and learning while creating a viable Web 2.0 business. As you gain first-hand experience with interactive online tools such as social networking sites, RSS feeds, Twitter, and blogging, student teams will set up and drive web traffic toward their Amazon WebStores. The Amazon WebStore will be a central platform on which your teams will incorporate lessons about Web 2.0 commerce and mobilizing action. Teams will first be asked to use their marketing savvy to set up a unique retail WebStore profile based exclusively on existing Amazon products. For the remainder of the semester, student teams will be tasked with creatively applying a variety of Web 2.0 tools (e.g., YouTube video, social networking software, and e-mail campaigns) to drive traffic and business to their WebStore. You will draw on course materials, course speakers, and their own unfolding experience to experiment with a variety of digital campaigns while keeping a record of their efforts and their impact on web traffic. Each team will be asked to document and reflect on their Web 2.0 retail experience as part of their group project.

Teams will be evaluated on the success of their WebStores, based on their creativity and success in driving traffic to their site. Product sales will be one measure, but teams will also be evaluated on how well they applied lessons from the course on how to mobilize action, reach long-tail markets, generate buzz, and trigger a viral marketing response. Also of considerable importance will be evidence of new, creative approaches to generating WebStore success. (See http://webstore.amazon.com/Online-Store-FAQ/).

The WebStore group project will consist of five deliverables, in chronological order, which are summarized below.
Deliverable 1 (no grade): Submit team composition via e-mail to Professor Obstfeld and Ritesh Batra. Due February 2.

Deliverable 2 (10%): WebStore Business Plan and Status Updates. Due February 9 and 16, March 2, and April 1. Each team will be asked to provide a brief two-page plan for your WebStore. More information to be provided.

Deliverables 3 & 4: Final Team Report and Presentation (35%). At the end of the course, each team will write up their WebStore experiences in a final report and present the results to the class.

Team Formation: To get a good jump on developing your WebStore project, group teams should be identified to the Professor and Ritesh Batra by February 2. Each team should have 4 to 5 members. The team should select a name and should appoint one member as Team Representative. The Team Rep is not intended to be a captain but rather simply serve as my contact for coordinating the presentation schedules and any other needed communications outside of class. (It would be good to choose someone who is reachable.) It is suggested that each student come to the first team meeting ready to propose to your teammates at least one new WebStore idea you are excited about. The goal of your first team meeting should be to sift through those ideas and identify the best WebStore opportunity.

Peer Evaluation: Everyone in the class is required to submit a group peer evaluation on every member of the group. A sample of a peer evaluation, which has been used in this class in the past, is attached as Appendix B. The final evaluation form will be distributed throughout the class and may differ from the sample. Each individual group members’ grade for the project is based on a combination of the group’s project grade and the individual’s peer evaluation as evaluated by all other group members. The written project will receive a straight 75% weighting, with 25% of an individual’s group score weighted according to a ratio of an individual’s peer evaluation to the average peer evaluation. The deadline for submission of the peer evaluation is May 3.

Network Analysis Project (Individual-10%) Due March 11
You will conduct an analysis that examines your own networks of relationships and how they can help you in achieving your career aspirations. A network analysis instrument will be provided to help you diagnose your network. You will hand in a spreadsheet (I will provide the template) that provides your results from the analysis tool, as well as a report that discusses your short- and long-term career objectives, the strengths and weaknesses of your current network relative to these objectives, your preferred approaches in establishing your network, and an action plan describing how you can enhance your network going forward in order to help you accomplish your objectives. Five pages maximum (not including the network graph), double spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point times roman font. You may also include up to two additional figures or tables, if you wish.

Pop Quizes (Individual-10%)
Pop quizzes (4 to 6 multiple choice questions pertaining to readings). These questions are not intended to test your memorization but to reward those that have an understanding of the main points of the readings. The level of detail will be such that if you have done the readings, you should be able to ace the quizzes. You are encouraged to send potential questions to the professor by 5pm the day before the day for which the readings are assigned.

Participation (Individual-35%)
Roughly speaking, your 30% participation grade will reflect your contributions to the course website through in-class discussion and exercises and Socialcast. The goal of participation is to stretch your understanding of the material, as well as your classmates’ understanding. Whether in-class or online, we are looking for your participation to be one of quality, not quantity. For example, you might ask pertinent questions of our speakers or post examples to the course
website as to how Web 2.0 is shaping business and social networks. Ideally, your participation would be distributed—half in class and half online. We will evaluate the sum total of your engagement in class and Socialcast website at the end of the quarter.

In-class participation: You are required to come to class every week, well prepared and ready to participate. Name cards are mandatory for every class. If you don’t engage the conversation, you can’t make things happen … and you also will have trouble doing well in this class. Please be aware that I do frequently “cold call” students, and might – for example – ask students to take the class systematically through the case analyses they have prepared for discussion. I may also ask one or more students to come to the front of the class and make an impromptu presentation.

My approach is based on a firm belief that unmanaged shyness and passivity are detrimental to entrepreneurial and managerial performance, and that every student can make valuable contributions to class discussion. Nonetheless, class participation is generally the hardest component of this course for some students. Please note: a good class participation grade requires that you speak in class; “being prepared” and “showing up” are not enough. Please also note the opportunity to contribute to your participation grade with quality Socialcast postings.

Entrepreneurs often spend comparatively little time reading, or writing reports. The vast majority of their interactions with others are verbal. For this reason, the development of verbal skills is given a high priority in the course. The classroom should be considered a laboratory in which you can test and develop these skills. Some of the behaviors that contribute to effective class participation are captured in the questions that follow:

Some Suggestions on Case Preparation
There is generally no “optimal” method of tackling a case. I would, however, recommend reading the case twice, the first time from start to finish without substantial reflection on the details. Your second read should focus on the details and you should have in mind the questions posed for the case. In most of the cases there is both valuable and extraneous information for the questions at hand. Sorting through the information in order to conduct your analyses and craft your recommendations is one of the skills to be developed in this course. Remember, skills develop over-time and improve with repeated practice. In order to maximize your learning in this course, I encourage you to analyze and discuss the case in advance of class with your fellow classmates.

On-line participation via Socialcast: The ability to engage an online community is increasingly becoming essential to many forms or entrepreneurial success. Your on-line participation will consist of your postings on Socialcast in several domains:

These areas give you ample opportunity to engage in and help us to create a lively ongoing conversation about entrepreneurship and Web 2.0 issues.

Other ways to augment your participation grade: When you engage, you participate. Because class discussion is a critical component of the course, participation is essential, both for your own learning and that of other students.
Additional ways to contribute that count toward your participation grade:

Guest Speakers
Guest speakers are a crucial part of the course because of the multiple ways that entrepreneurial success is achieved. We are fortunate to have a diverse group of highly visible, highly accomplished experts to visit our class, many of national reputation, in several cases flying in to visit the class. You are an important part of the visit, by being prepared to engage our guest speakers with probing and thoughtful questions. Please make our guests feel welcome! Please do not used guest speakers as an occasion for catching up on e-mail, etc.

Attendance Policy
Each student is expected to attend every class. Name cards for each class are mandatory. Many of the benefits of the class will be obtained in the classroom discussions that take place. A student’s absence not only deprives them of the benefits of class discussion, but it also deprives the rest of the class of their participation. Failure to attend class will significantly impact your class participation grade. Attendance will be taken at each class by passing around an attendance sheet that must be signed. If you cannot attend a class, please e-mail me and the TA in advance. This is not a substitute for attendance. Absences may 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 me no later than the first week of class. Recruiting activities are not acceptable reasons for class absence. Late arrivals disrupt the flow of the class. Please arrive on time and notify me in advance of anticipated absences, late arrivals, or early departures.

Laptops, etc.
Laptops and other technology in the classroom should only be used as relevant to the material being discussed. Please refrain from using your laptop during class time to engage in non-classrelated activities. Translation: I’m happy when you are using your laptops to research issues in class, e.g., Google searches on various issues, but do not want class time used for general e-mail and personal business. Also, please set your cell phones and iPhone/BlackBerry devices to “silent” before class begins.



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges  as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well  you actually perform in this course.


Professional Responsibilities For This Course




In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:




Classroom Norms


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


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