Finding Your Venture


Length: 14 weeks

Instructor: Brian Hayden

Subjects: Other Technology: Business

Student Rating

Rating: 9.7/10 (view ratings)
129 students have taken this course


“Finding Your Venture” offers a uniquely practical framework for launching a new venture. It is especially good for students who know they want to start something, but don't know what or where to begin. The course helps you identify and validate an opportunity. We downplay the roles of ‘passion’ and ‘vision’, instead we rely on a tested framework used by successful entrepreneurs for identifying large, attractive business opportunities.

The course structure includes weekly sessions where students are taught the key concepts like customer selection, curiosity in interviewing, product pricing, and business launch fundamentals. Each week students are given a series of simple assignments that put them in close proximity to big opportunities. Most sessions include entrepreneurs as guests, who share real, honest insights from their entrepreneurial journey, and weigh in on student projects.

The most important learning objectives of this course include:

Students will:

Self-Paced Online Course

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. The course will not officially begin until the scheduled start date, but students are encouraged to work ahead when possible.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after enrollment. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Earn a Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our one-click LinkedIn integration.

This is one of the best entrepreneurship courses at the University of Michigan. Taking this class was one of the reasons that I'm starting a venture.

- Eric Aleman, Founder - Articulate Books


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Brian Hayden

Instructor, University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneruship

Founder at HeatSpring. Instructor at the University of Michigan's Center for Entrepreneurship.

Course Outline

Introduction to the Course

Let's take a minute to set the foundation for our semester-long adventure. In this module you can learn a bit more about me, your classmates, and how to get an 'A' in this class.

  • VIDEO: Why Entrepreneurship? For me, it's about authenticity (4:03) (Video)
  • Here's how the course will flow (1:45) (Video)
  • GRADING: How to Get an 'A' (Download .pdf)
  • Here's How This Class Works (Text)
  • Introduce Yourself! (Text)
Introduction to Customer Engagament + Guest

This week we'll introduce the single most important hard skill every entrepreneur must possess: the ability to engage with a customer. "What if I don't have an amazing idea?" This great question came up last semester and it got me excited because I think the 'idea' gets too much hype. Sometimes your idea doesn't matter as much as the customer's idea. So let's explore the process of customer engagement through Bob Caspe's 'Search Selling Exercise'.

  • Nothing to Something (4:56) (Video)
  • Watch Saras Sarasvathy's Interview (47 min) (Resource)
  • Customer Engagement Exercise Introduction (Read Only...You Don't Have to Do This Yet) (Download .pdf)
  • In Class Assignment (Don't worry about this until you get to class) (Text)
Homework #1 Due

This week each group will get up in front of the class and describe their customer engagement plan. This plan will be the foundation for the Capstone Project of this class: engaging a potential customer and doing the full exercise.

  • The Treasure's Buried in Toledo (1:04) (Video)
  • Good Projects v. Bad Projects (2:42) (Video)
  • Homework (post To The Discussion Board) (Text)
  • Here are the interview rules. (PDF) (Download .pdf)
How to Conduct a Great Customer Interview

This week we'll explore how to have a professional interview.

  • VIDEO EXPLANATION: How to conduct a good customer interview. (3:45) (Video)
  • "The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce" (Resource)
  • IN CLASS: Update me! (Download .docx)
Homework #2 Due

Homework #2 is the foundation for everything you will do in this class. Respect it. Give it some deep thought and get excited about exploring it.

  • HOMEWORK #2: Write up the lessons of your interview (Text)
Entrepreneurial Marketing

This week you will create real marketing materials to pitch your product or service. I know you don't have the product built! But it's not lying. You could make it happen if the market is there. You're just trying to answer the most important question: is there a treasure chest full of gold here or not?

  • HOMEWORK: Watch this video. Even the Muppets understand how to speak in terms of benefits to the customer! (Resource)
  • Here's What We'll Start Doing In Class (Text)
  • OPTIONAL TEMPLATE: Pages Flyer Template (there are a million of these) (Download .pages)
  • OPTIONAL TEMPLATE: Word Flyer Template (there are a million of these) (Download .docx)
  • OPTIONAL TEMPLATE: Free Website Builder (Resource)
  • Really quick way to build a landing page: Unbounce (Resource)
  • Free software to make a great video: Camtasia (Resource)
  • Example Flyer 1 (Download .pdf)
  • Example Flyer 2 (Download .pdf)
  • Example website from last semester (Resource)
Homework #3 Due (No class this week)

OK, you've got a few weeks to complete your final project: Complete the Customer Engagement exercise and do a presentation on what you found. This week we'll review those assignments so there's no question about what needs to be done.

  • GRADED HOMEWORK: Create a flyer or website to market and sell your product or service. (You are really going to use this to try to make a sale) Upload your file here (Submit File)
Media Ratio + Discussion about the Final Presentation

This week we'll drive home the lessons from the course and discuss the final assignment in detail so there's no confusion. We'll also learn what a 'marketing ratio' is and why it's an important concept.

  • Quick Hubspot tutorial on sales funnel metrics (Resource)
  • VIDEO HOMEWORK: Introduction to the 'Media Ratio' (2:44) (Video)
  • [in class exercise] Calculating Media Ratio & Using it to Make Decisions (Download .pdf)
Spring Break

Use this time to work on your final presentation, happening next week. It requires you to ask somebody to buy your product or service. Don't chicken out!

  • Start preparing for the final presentation of your project! (Text)
Guest Speaker - Andy Fowler, Founder - Nutshell

Final Presentations @ TechArb

During this Capstone Session each team will give their final presentations and we'll have little competition to identify which teams identified the most interesting problems and proposed the best solutions.

  • VIDEO EXPLANATION: Here are the presentation guidelines (Video)
  • GRADED HOMEWORK: Submit Your Final Presentation File (Submit File)
Really basic stuff you need to do if you start your business

What happens if you make a sale and decide to pursue this venture? There are probably a million things you can do, but this week we'll cover the very basic essentials. Consulting, Events, Middle Man: An examination of business models that can get you started and going.

  • HOMEWORK: Solve Problems for People Who Have Real Problems (Reading) (Resource)
  • HOMEWORK: Did you find your venture? (Text)
  • VIDEO: What if you find treasure and want to start a company? 8 Steps to Starting Your Venture (5:33) (Video)
  • PDF: Eight Steps to Launch Your Venture (Download .pdf)
Finding YOUR Venture + Final Reflections

Last class! Let's imagine we were going to start the class over again. What industry would you focus on? Who would you interview? How would you get access to them? This week we will share these plans in class and help push each persons ideas forward with suggestions and brainstorming. This is your chance to have 25 smart people help push your idea along.

  • Final Homework (Text)
  • VIDEO HOMEWORK: Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" (4:00) (Resource)
  • Course Evaluation: Please, please, please fill out the course evaluation form. I crave feedback, and I truly use it to make the course better. (Resource)

No Class This Week! The one optional assignment is to join the "Finding Your Venture" LinkedIn group. It's my best guess at how I could be useful for you down the road...but it's totally optional.

  • Totally Optional Homework: Join the "Finding Your Venture" alumni group on LinkedIn (Resource)
After The Course - Feedback and Additional Resources

In this module, you'll provide feedback on this lecture, request a certificate of completion, and learn about additional resources.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (1 minute) (Video)
  • Join the Alumni Network: Add education to your LinkedIn profile in one click (Resource)
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)

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