NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Spring 2011

Instructor Details

Greenberg, Jason



Wednesdays 3:15-5pm or by appointment

Tisch 706


Course Meetings

MW, 2:00pm to 3:15pm

Tisch T-UC04

Final Exam:

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


Course Description and Learning Goals

There are few issues our political leaders can agree on these days. The importance of entrepreneurship and innovation are notable exceptions. Indeed, entrepreneurship has long been regarded as a cornerstone of the ―American Dream‖—an important means to economic and social advancement, especially for individuals facing discrimination. Entrepreneurship and innovation are also regarded as key drivers of macroeconomic and employment growth, as well as technological advancement that changes the way we live.

This course is designed to provide students with both a theoretical and practical understanding of entrepreneurship. Students will also be afforded a unique opportunity to put to practice the knowledge and skills they have acquired at NYU in developing a venture plan or even nascent venture. Students will leave this course with an understanding of the:
 Likelihood various types of individuals will pursue and succeeding in entrepreneurship;
 Process of identifying and evaluating entrepreneurial opportunities;
 Financial, human, and social resources required at different stages of founding a business, as well as the benefits and costs of accessing them;
 Challenging dilemmas entrepreneurs face as they make decisions with limited resources under conditions of risk, ambiguity, and uncertainty; and
 Micro, macroeconomic, and social implications of entrepreneurship.

To achieve these goals this course is organized into five modules:
1. The A-B-Cs of entrepreneurship. What is entrepreneurship? Who is most likely to become an entrepreneur? Why do people become entrepreneurs?
2. Whether (and when) to found. How can I identify entrepreneurial opportunities worthy of development? Do I really want to be an entrepreneur? If so, should I start a company right after I graduate or should I try to get experience first? Does it make more sense to get experience in a big company or a startup?
3. Assembling the founding team. Do I want to ―go it alone‖ or recruit cofounders, and if so, who (friends/family/coworkers)?
4. Costs and benefits of external resources. Venture planning: What resources do I need to start a business? How will I acquire them? What are the tradeoffs involved in attracting outside resources?
5. Creating a compelling business. How can I articulate and develop a compelling value proposition, business model, and business strategy based on the opportunity I’ve identified and the team I’ve assembled?

Distinguishing features of the course
This course has two distinguishing features relative to other courses offered at Stern (and other schools for that matter): (1) You are not required to work in teams; and (2) Students will have the opportunity to anonymously evaluate all of their peers and offer them constructive criticism. The rationale for each of these features of the course is discussed in turn.
(1) I do not require you to work in teams. If you do work in teams, the specific number of team members is not dictated in advance (although it is restricted to 5 or less). The reason for this is simple: I want to simulate the entrepreneurial process as faithfully as possible. As a consequence, the choice is yours whether to work individually, with one partner, two partners, three partners, etc. When making your decision do note, however, that there are advantages to working with others, especially if you have complementary skills; you may like to crunch numbers whereas your partners may be more adept working with PowerPoint and giving presentations. Working with a team thus allows you to draw on each individual’s skills and preferences. Ultimately, however, the choice to work alone or with others and its attendant consequences are yours. I will not adjust expectations based on team size. (When you use a business’s products/services you don’t adjust your expectations based on the founding team size—you want the highest quality/best deal for your money. The same logic will apply here.)
(2) Students will play an integral role in the evaluation process of each other’s projects and contribution to class discussion. The rationale for this strategy is based on two facts: Many innovations are a function of the interactions and suggestions users or customers offer businesses. No professor (or venture capitalist for that matter) is equally well versed in all product markets. Similarly, professors and venture capitalists may not constitute the target demographic of a specific venture, and may thus be less well situated to evaluate the value proposition it offers. Drawing on the collective wisdom of all members of the course helps ensure that each venture, and each student’s contribution to course discussion, is assessed by many sets of ―eyes‖—including peers who are potential customers, partners, and co-founders. As a consequence of this structure students enrolled in this course can expect to receive substantial feedback concerning their ideas from a variety of sources. The same applies for each student’s contribution to class discussion.


Course Outline

Note: (1) All surveys/polls must be submitted by or before 12:00 noon on the respective due dates above.
(2) All graded work should be submitted to Professor Greenberg by or before 11:59PM on due
Dates listed above.
(3) Memos and proposals should be e-mailed (return-receipt requested) in pdf. format to:
(4) Polls and surveys will be conducted using BlackBoard unless indicated otherwise.



Required Course Materials

1. Professor Greenberg’s XanEdu CoursePack (CP) Digital access with desktop printing.
Purchase at the XanEdu website (www.xanedu.com). Please see instructions on Blackboard.
2. 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 thus check the site on a regular basis.

How to submit assignment via blackboard
1. Click on Assignments
2. Click on the appropriate assignment (e.g., Venture Concept)
3. Next to ―Attach local file,‖ click Browse to locate the file on your computer and click Submit
4. Take note of the confirmation: ―The assignment has been updated.

Group collaboration
Each group can request to have a private group space that provides a discussion board, file exchange area, and chat room on Blackboard. Only the members of the group and the professor will be able to enter the group space and view your files and discussions.

E-Mail Issues
Clean-out your Stern inbox
If you have your Stern e-mail forwarded to another e-mail address, make sure to periodically clean out your Stern e-mail inbox. After a short while, e-mail messages will continue to pile up in your inbox, and anyone sending you an e-mail will receive a ―User Quota Exceeded‖ message in return.

Check your forwarding address
Log in at http://simon.stern.nyu.edu to forward your Stern e-mail to another e-mail address. If you have ever forwarded your Stern e-mail in the past, log in to SIMON to verify that your forwarding e-mail address is still valid. If it is no longer valid, remove it. Otherwise, anyone sending you an e-mail will receive an ―Undeliverable‖ message in return

Obtaining Help with Blackboard
Student help guides and FAQs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/faculty/citl/blackboard.cfm?doc_id=3295
Contact the CITL for assistance with Blackboard at: citl@stern.nyu.edu
For other technical assistance, contact the Stern IT helpdesk at (212) 998-0180 or helpdesk@stern.nyu.edu


Assessment Components

45% - I. Final project (can be either an individual or group project)
30% - II. Contribution to case discussion/attendance
15% - III. Responses to surveys and polls
10% - IV. Opportunity recognition memo

The primary component of your grade is a venture proposal or the creation of an actual venture (e.g., iPhone® App; eBay® etsy®, or Amazon webstore® business). The purpose of the final project is to give you an opportunity to put to practice your ingenuity, training at Stern, work experience, and passion to develop an actionable venture plan that can potentially be submitted to a plan competition (e.g., http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/berkley/bpc.cfm?doc_id=6306) or, ideally, can serve as the basis of an actual venture.
For some students (or teams of students) interested in creating Apps or engaging in online commerce, you may choose to actually start the business in the course of the semester as opposed to creating a formal venture plan. For example, you may choose to create a specific iPhone® App or create a storefront on eBay®, etsy®, Amazon webstore®, or another site (or a proprietary site of your own creation).1 In the event that you choose this option, you will be expected to outline (albeit in a shorter format than a full-fledged venture plan) all the factors typically included in a plan.
1 For information about starting a business on these specific sites see: (eBay) http://reviews.ebay.com/STARTING-AN-EBAY-BUSINESS_W0QQugidZ10000000005676821; (etsy) http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/a-beginners-guide-to-starting-a-shop-on-etsy-1721/; and (Amazon webstore) http://webstore.amazon.com/info/about_you

Lunch meeting with entire team and instructor to discuss final project
After you have an idea about what you want to do for your final project, and have assembled a team if applicable (likely in mid to late February), please schedule a meeting with me to discuss your project. Lunch is on me!

Description of the final project
The venture plan should be no longer than fifteen (15) double-spaced pages of text written in 12-point font with 1-inch margins throughout. You may include up to fifteen (15) additional pages of graphics, charts, pictures, or tables as appendices. Those students opting to start a venture (e.g., creating an App) can also submit a venture plan with the aforesaid specifications. Alternatively, they can submit a document of no less than five (5) pages with the same format, structure, and content as a venture proposal that briefly summarizes the same content.

Due date and time for final project
As noted in the table above, your final project is due by or before 11:59 PM on Monday, May 9th. Submit the document and all appendices as a pdf. to my attention, return-receipt requested: jgreenbe@stern.nyu.edu. Projects received after this date and time will receive a grade one (1) letter grade lower than the merit of the paper (e.g., an “A” paper will receive a “B”).

Elements of a venture plan
The elements of the venture plan and attendant evaluation criteria for the class are as follows:
 Executive summary: This is the first section of your venture plan. It should be written in a punchy manner that grabs the reader’s attention. Tell a story. Explain why your business is an exceptional opportunity worthy of investment. Describe the basic needs your products/services meet, as well as why it is better than other products/services that address the same needs. Articulate why you or your team is capable of making the business a success. Finally, come out and say what you’re looking for (e.g., $100,000 in financing).
 Value proposition: Explain in jargon-free terms what basic human need your business addresses, how it does so, and why someone would be willing to pay to use it. Ask (and answer) why others have not fully taken advantage of the opportunity and, if applicable, what specific competitive advantages you envision your business having that may serve as potential barriers to entry.
 Business model: You must articulate how you plan on capturing value generally defined in your business. This involves considering how you generate or acquire resources and the costs you face in converting resources into output that adds value. Even if you propose a non-profit venture you still need to consider how you will acquire and utilize resources en route to creating value for some customer base.
 Market & competition: Analyze and define the likely market potential (e.g., size, profitability) for your business. Also identify and assess both direct competitors—those other businesses that are (or potentially could) offer products or services that are perfect substitutes for yours—as well as businesses that can satisfy the same basic needs your business address with a different product. Wherever possible use real data to articulate the current and potential market size, as well as the resource endowments of your potential competitors.
 Management team, key advisors, and human capital strategy. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Many good business ideas never result in viable businesses. It is thus important to articulate why you and your team are well suited to make the business idea a reality. Do more than just describe your respective skills: tell a compelling story, drawing on your education, skills, and experiences, why you will make this business a success. To this end also identify key advisors that will help your startup team become successful. This can include faculty, lawyers, accountants, consultants, bankers, and so forth. It is likely that your initial management team will not have all the requisite skills to grow the company. As such, critically assess your management team’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to your plans and objectives. You may also want to use this section to discuss compensation and equity splits, if applicable. Consider also what roles in the company you imagine recruiting for in the near, medium, and long-run (e.g., sales personnel).
 Risks & uncertainty: Analyze key challenges and risks associated with your venture at the firm, industry, and macroeconomic levels of analysis. Where applicable, articulate the ways your team might address those challenges.
 Financial prospects: Present a pro-forma discovery driven plan and statement of likely financial capital needs and sources.
 Research: When/if possible, do not just make assumptions about your market, your margins, or how you might implement a venture plan – talk to potential suppliers, survey customers, or engage in other research efforts that might give you insight into how your plan will work in the real world.

Basis of evaluation
This assignment is 45% of your overall grade= 35/45 Professor’s assessment; and 10/45 peer assessment. Peer evaluations will consider the quality and persuasiveness of the material outlined above in the oral presentations. (Professor will also evaluate the quality of the report as it relates to the factors outlined above.)

Case discussion, lectures, and peer-to-peer learning all require your engagement. As a consequence, 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 participation grade (which accounts for 30% of your overall course grade). Attendance will be taken each class. Two points will be deducted from your overall grade (based on a 100% point scale) for each unexcused absence.

Excusable absences and make-up assignments for missed classes (write-up of a case discussed the day of the absence). If you cannot attend a class, please email me in advance. Absences may be excused only in the case of: documented serious illness, family emergency, religious observance, or on campus interviews that cannot be scheduled at an alternative time. For the latter two categories of excusable absences, please inform me of your expected absence from class no less than twenty-four (24) hours before class. If you miss two (2) classes for any of the aforesaid excusable reasons you are required to make-up for missed work by providing an analytical write-up of one of the two cases discussed in the classes you missed. You must do this individually and email it to me by 5:00 PM the day before the second case is to be discussed. The write-ups should be no more than two (2) double-spaced pages, 1 inch margins throughout with text in 12-point font. The write-up should clearly identify the business challenge(s) facing the protagonist(s), his/her/their objectives, the relative costs/benefits of different courses of action, and your recommendation—supported by relevant data—how the protagonist(s) should proceed. This is not a book report. Critically analyze the case.

Several teaching methods will be used in this class. However, an 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 includes, among other things: (1) sound, rigorous, insightful diagnosis of key issues, underlying assumptions, and contingencies in the case; (2) drawing on your own experience without over-generalizing from what you have seen; and (3) willingness to expound unpopular points of view—backed up by logic and evidence—to provide the class with alternative ways of considering topics of discussion.

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.

I expect you to be civil and respectful of your fellow students and me at all times (in class, online, etc.). 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. This means, among other things: listening when others speak, not interrupting, and never disparaging others in any way. 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.

You are expected to arrive in class by or before the listed start time. Every three (3) late arrivals will be treated as an absence for the purpose of calculating the class participation component of your grade.

Please bring and display your name cards in class at all times.

Basis of evaluation
This component of the class accounts for 30% of your overall grade= 10/30 is based on your attendance record; 15/30 is based on the professor’s assessment of your contribution to class discussion; and 5/30 is based on your peers’ assessment of your contribution to class discussion. As noted above, evaluations will consider the quality and to a slightly lesser degree the quantity of your contribution to class discussion.

At various stages in the course you will be asked to respond to surveys or polls. The table on page 2 above provides a listing of the most important surveys and polls. The first survey should be completed before the first class. That is, students should complete the survey via BlackBoard by 12:00 noon on either Monday, January 24th or Tuesday, January 25th depending on which section they are enrolled in. This first survey will include questions concerning social networks, as well as your perceptions of entrepreneurship. There are no ―right‖ answers to this survey. You will not be graded. If you complete the survey you will get full credit.

A second survey is due by or before April 22nd. This survey will ask questions regarding your experiences developing a venture plan/nascent venture and, if applicable, working in a team. Once again you will not be graded on this survey. You will get credit for completing it.
Finally, venture proposal presentations will be conducted from April 25th – May 5th. As noted above, you will provide constructive feedback and help evaluate your peers. Thus, shortly after each presentation you should submit your evaluations of the proposals via BlackBoard while relevant information is still fresh in your mind.

Your evaluations will be anonymous. Only I will know what grade you assigned to which project or student (and I will never disclose said information). Your responses will then be aggregated with all others scores. Thus, individuals in the class will know their median peer-assessed scores. However, they will never be informed what score other specific students gave them.

Due date and time for surveys polls.
Pre-class survey: As noted in the table above, you should respond to the pre-class survey no later than 12:00 noon on Monday, January 24th (the first day of spring classes). The survey will be on BlackBoard.
Online survey of venture/proposal process: Please respond to the venture/proposal process survey by 12:00 noon on April 22nd.
Peer Evaluations of proposals: Venture proposal presentations will be conducted from April 25th – May 5th. Please upload your evaluations of the proposals after each presentation when relevant information concerning the proposal is fresh in your mind.

Basis of evaluation
Surveys and polls account for 15% of your overall grade. You get full credit for submitting the polls. Conversely, you lose five (5) points for not responding to a survey/poll. Five (5) points will likely be ½ a letter grade, so please complete all surveys/polls.

You will be required to write a memo outlining a business opportunity you believe is worthy of pursuit. The memo should be no longer than two double-spaced pages with 1-inch margins throughout and 12-point font (≈500 words). The memo should clearly articulate what the business opportunity entails, its potential market, direct and indirect competitors, and feasibility. Basically, this is like the executive summary section of a venture plan.

You will be asked to present your memo in class. Each student will have no more than five (5) minutes to discuss his/her idea. This presentation will allow you to ―advertise‖ your idea to your classmates who, in turn, may be interested in working with you in developing the idea further as your final project.

Due date and time for opportunity recognition memo
As noted in the table above, your opportunity recognition memo is due by or before 11:59 PM on Monday, February 7th. Submit the document and all appendices as a pdf. to my attention, return-receipt requested: jgreenbe@stern.nyu.edu. Projects received after this date and time will receive a grade one letter grade lower than the merit of the paper (e.g., an “A” paper will receive a “B”).

Basis of evaluation
This assignment accounts for 10% of your overall grade.

Laptop computers, iPads®, iPhones®, BlackBerrys®, and any and all other technology may only be used in class for class-related matters such as the display of class-related notes, cases, or readings.

Students must refrain from using any and all technological devices during class time for non-class-related activities, including, but not limited to: web surfing; or sending or responding to e-mails, instant messages or text.

Simply put, do not use your computer, iPad®, smartphone, cell phone, or other electronic device during class unless it is for taking notes or reading course-related material that pertains to the specific course being taught.

When entering the classroom, please ensure that any device you have that includes a ringer, alarm, or audible notification system is set to ―silent.


Group Projects

Guidelines for Group Projects

Business activities involve group effort. Consequently, learning how to work effectively in a group is a critical part of your business education.

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. As such, it is in your interest to be involved in all aspects of the project. Even if you divide the work rather than work on each piece together, you are still responsible for each part. The group project will be graded as a whole:   its different components will not be graded separately. Your exams may contain questions that are based on aspects of your group projects.

It is recommended that each group establish ground rules early in the process to facilitate your joint work including a problem-solving process for handling conflicts. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to permit problems to develop to a point where they become serious. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to my attention and I will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, I will consider this feedback during grading.



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.



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.


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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