After finishing 6-month Core Period, you tackle 5-week Lab Period, which is the centerpiece of the MBA curriculum .
At Lab Period, you can choose one of Business Impact Lab, Startup Lab, Social Impact Lab, Internship, Tech Lab and learn the field you want to work on in practice.
It features “ Learning by Doing “ and works on actual companies, NPOs, or their own entrepreneurial projects.
- 0. Overview of Startup Lab (SUL)
- 1. Idea and product development
- 2. Basic knowledge of startup
- 3. Techniques for expansion
- 4. Scale
0. Overview of Startup Lab (SUL)
Before SUL starts
SUL started 1–2 months before the Lab Period. This was because we had to form a team of 3–5 persons by ourselves as a participation requirement (any idea is OK).
First, someone who had an idea talked to the people around them, asked on WhatsApp, and shared their ideas on the SUL website to find someone to join.
I was wondering whether to do an education project with my own ideas or join with someone else’s ideas. Eventually I decided to join the idea of the Soft skill learning Platform .
The entire curriculum
There was one mentor for each team, who was decided by Bid after having some interviews with the candidates. Our mentor had educational experience.
Every Friday, we had pitch to raise money from investors.
Even if you are a beginner in entrepreneurship, when the lab is over, you will be in a state where you have acquired all the knowledge necessary for starting a business .
Monday: Round Table
This is a meeting where each team is given 15 minutes to share their worries and assignments, and other students give feedback to each other.
Here, by looking at other teams’ PJs, you can utilize them in your own PJs and learn from the perspective of investors.
It’s interesting because feedback to other people bounces back to us. It’s easy to say, hard to do.
Tue-Thu: Discussion with Mentor
We had online meetings with our mentor.
Moreover, anyone in IE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem (entrepreneurs, investors, professors, etc.), not just mentors, will meet you. They also introduce more and more acquaintances.
Every Friday, we had pitch + Q & A (5 + 5 minutes) . This is a pitch for those who are active as investors, and some amount of money is distributed to each team using virtual currency . Of course, some teams have zero investment (fear!).
We got feedback with detailed scores and comments, but some teams worked on new ideas from scratch every week.
Let’s take a look at the curriculum . It is roughly divided into four according to the startup phase.
1. Idea and product development
The first part is to find customer problems, develop ideas, and develop products in the initial stage . Learn the first steps while learning Lean Startup techniques .
1–1. Lean Start-up & Customer Discovery
This was a class to systematically learn the lean startup method. We proceeded with our project while actually filling in useful frameworks.
There are two purposes
- Learn the theory, methods and tools of Lean Start-up and Costumer Discovery
- Immediately use what you have learned above in your project
You create a prototype with a minimum of products and services and functions at little costs and efforts in a short period of time. Then you get precisely the reaction of customers and you can develop products and services that customers like. It is a management method .
Why lean? I personally understand that hypothesis and verification are repeated in order to avoid “there is no market need “, which is the biggest cause of Startups’ failure.The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (English Edition)
Once we learned the basic methodology of Lean Startup, we learned how to validate your customers and business models (Customer Development ).
Next, from the perspective of CPS (Customer, Problem, Solution) , we learned about the value we would bring to our customers using the “ Value Proposition Campus (VPC)”.
This is a framework for eliminating the gap between the value provided by our products and services and the issues and needs of our customers.
Next, Customer. Narrowing down customers (personas) is not enough , and we need to analyze customer behavior in detail. The framework for that is the Customer Journey Map.
We repeated hypothesis and verification using Lean’s method, but how should I verify it? Here, we learned how to “verify” and “reify” a “hypothesis” using Value hypothesis, Experiments, Interviews, Surveys, Prototype, and MVP .
A framework called a validation board is convenient.
Once you’ve validated to some extent , consider your business model . A useful framework for this is the “lean canvas“, Business Model Canvas for startups.
Business does not consist solely of one company, but it involves many stakeholders . By creating a stakeholder map , you can organize the roles of staff, customers, partner companies, and various other stakeholders.
In this class, the final task was to fill in all the frameworks introduced. By completing the framework, necessary studies can be done without leakage. I recommend you to try them out.
1–2. Design thinking
In the Lean class earlier, we learned how to use lean startup method. Here we focused on how to bring ideas to concrete products and how to test MVP .
In other words, the problem was found, the customer was surveyed or interviewed. Then what’s next? At that stage, we aim to make a prototype, test it in the real world, and make the first sales as soon as possible .
In design thinking class, we learned “ What our user think? User’s needs, feasibility of the technology”.
Specific flow of Design Thinking
There are two main categories, Problem and Solution , but of course Problem is definitely important.
Once you see some potential of the prototype, next thing is to make MVP . MVP is Minimum Viable Product, and is a method to check whether the minimum product can provide value to customers . In that sense, not only products but also videos and Landing Pages can be regarded as MVPs in a broad sense.
By using MVP, it is possible to build products and services based on customer needs and test hypotheses in a limited amount of time, leading to reduction of wasteful costs.
What you should pay attention to in MVP is the value that the product provides , not the function. Here is the difference between MVP and Prototype;
MVP = experiment + value provision, Prototype = experiment .
Now, in two classes, Lean Startup and Design Thinking, we learned startup methodologies. By learning this, we were able to acquire a common understanding (≒ language) in entrepreneurship world.
In the next phase, we learned how to proceed toward expansion based on ideas and products .
2. Basic knowledge of startup
Learn three important points that startups should keep in mind. PDCA, Technology, and Pitch . Let’s look at them in order.
2–1. Analytics for creators
The purpose of the class is to learn how startups set and measure appropriate indicators (KPIs) and grow using data.
The reason for setting and measuring indicators is to “avoid assumptions”, “learn more”, and “clarify what customers want / do not want” .
We will mainly set the index according to 6 steps .
- Does the customer know the product? (Universal Truth)
- Did the customer try the product? (Engagement)
- Did the customer like the product? (Sales process)
- Will the customer use the product again? (Usage)
- Will customers pay for products? (Revenue and Cashflow)
- Will customers recommend the product to others? (Loyalty)
Differences before and after product launch
The six indicators I introduced earlier are important after launch, but what should you think about before launch ?
Two perspectives, “ Customer Discovery “ and “ Market Research, “ are important.
In this class, we learned to grow while selecting appropriate indicators and measuring them.
2–2. Tech-primer for non-tech creators
This is a course that gives you a broad learning of all the technologies necessary for startups . For those who are not in the TECH background, it will explain in an easy-to-understand manner. It was a compact version of the Technology class of Period1.
2–3. Pitching Bootcamp
This is a practical lesson to learn about pitch composition and methods. This is a big picture of pitch.
- Flow: Preparation / Delivery / Defense (Q & A)
- Composition：Opening／Main Part／Closing
These seven points are to include in the initial startup pitch. The problem comes first.
- Topic (problem)
- Market size
- Unique insights
- Business model
I was taught a lot of techniques, but I will introduce the one that was the most helpful.
10/20/30 rule : Advocated by former Apple investor Guy Kawasaki, 10 slides, 20 minutes time, 30 points or more to keep the audience from getting bored.
Finally, we demonstrated the pitch and got feedback.
3. Techniques for expansion
Now, we leaned how to expand our business. At that time, we learned the legal perspective required for startups and the marketing method of how to make the product widely known (buzz) .
3–1. Critical legal instruments
Learn what startups need to keep in mind from a legal perspective .
(1) Legal Basics : Company structure and obligations, necessity of intellectual property protection
(2) Legal documents such as NDA (nondisclosure agreement), Investors Agreement, Shareholders Agreement, LOI (statement of intention), MOU (basic agreement), etc.
(3)Regulation : Principles of law, legal investigation, etc.
3–2. Going viral
This class focused on Social media marketing, especially video. We need to remember “Software is eating the world” and “Contents is King, Distribution is Queen” that were recited during the class. We learned how to make our videos go viral.
Next, we had the task of making two videos in my project. One was a video for Youtube of over 30 seconds, and the other was a video for Instagram or Tiktok within 30 seconds.
Some startups expands steadily and enters ScaleUp phase. We should lean how to strengthen the business process, and increase market traction, governance and fund-raising.
4–1. Ramping up
Ramp up means “strengthen”, and in this class we learned how to design business processes. The content was focused on startups, with a professor of operations management.
I learned mainly in three processes .
(1) Operational Process : A core business process which provides value, including taking orders from customers and assembling products. We will analyze while using the framework.
(2) Management Process : Includes corporate governance, budget management, employee management, etc.
(3) Supporting Process : Includes accounting, recruitment, call center, technical support, etc.
The point of this lesson was to visualize the flow by plotting the whole process . We created some process flows. I felt that such steady work would lead to the “Ramp up” of startups.
4–2. Generating market traction
In this class, we learned about “Market Traction“. Market Traction is defined as “ quantitative evidence of demand in the market .” For example, how many people have visited a website, how many people have attended seminars, how many clicks have been made, and how much sales have been made.
In this lesson, we leaned the differences between the 19 Traction channels and learn how to choose and implement the right channel for us.
It is necessary to obtain more Traction while using these 19 channels properly.Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth (English Edition)
4–3. New company governance
Purpose of the class
Learn what you need to do to move from Bootstrap (100% self-funded) to business (with investors) .
- Understand the governance system required by investors
- Understand why a governance system is needed as your organization grows
- Apply a governance system to our own PJ
- Preparing for difficult problems after welcoming investors
We focused on the phase just before Series A.
Investors required three things to startups.
- Business model, passion, skills, etc.
- Governance (reporting, oversight, management, contracts, etc.)
- Financial return
Specifically, after giving an overview of governance, we read the startup case just before Series A and what would you do if you were yourself?
- Will you continue the startup? Are you quitting?
- What to do with shareholding, division of roles, and commitment between founders?
- What are the contents of financing and contracts (Term Sheet) with investors?
4–4. Funding your start-up
This also dealt with the timing just before Series A. Specifically, we made “ Financial Statement and Valuation“.
Financial Statements are PL, BS, and CF.
Valuation: we learned methods of Valuation, such as IRR.
Finally, we learned about negotiations with investors. The professor said “ If you have any questions about documents, ask everything until you understand them”.
I learned a lot during Startup Lab. This was not lessons, but a real project .
As soon as the SUL is over, the Elective Period begins, and the program continues until graduation, called Venture Lab or Knowledge Incubator over a three-month period.