Last year a spur of online courses was announced among which featured the Technology Entrepreneurship course offered by the Stanford University. I jumped on this as soon as I found out about it and started counting the days to launch like a kid counts the days to Christmas. The course got delayed twice, but has finally started almost two weeks ago and the first assignment is in progress.
You might know engineers that over the years have moved away from everyday engineering and toward startups and business. That's what I've done and I really enjoyed this new adventure. It's been a blast, but also full of difficulties and problems I was not equipped to solve. Most sysadmins don't have any formal training or even experience developing a product, which is far more involved than just hacking on some code as one might think at first. Sales and marketing are as far as something could ever be from that world and yet so crucial in the early stages as one wouldn't suspect.
If in spite of everything you still embarked in that adventure you probably ended up reading a lot of books and a lot of blogs on business and startups. And you probably tried a lot of stuff on the ground, which taught you some invaluable lessons. But while patterns emerged and some things became obvious, I kept having this feeling that I was missing a more coherent picture, an invisible script that tied all those experiences together.
This is what I'm hoping the course will provide.
The course is taught by professor Chuck Eesley, a professor in Stanford University's Management Science & Engineering group. If you want to know more about the content of the course you can check the outline on his blog along with other updates describing ongoing assignments and other related subjects. According to the info disclosed in one of his videos so far 78K students signed up from all over the world, which should make for a pretty interesting conversation.
The most interesting thing about the course is that for a change it won't be the classic follow-along-by-yourself video series. Instead this is gonna be a collaborative experience and the whole course is supposed to resemble a startup experience, from team creation through product design, marketing and so on, the whole adventure.
Based on forum and blog posts the group seems to be having mixed experiences and some did not get a chance to participate in the team assignment. Others that I spoke to would have loved to join, but did not have enough cycles at this time. As a result I've set out to compile the top 5 lessons for each assignment in the hope that they will be useful as an additional resource of learning and retention.
The first assignment is due this coming saturday and it's already been an interesting two weeks with lots of lessons on team building and brainstorming. Don't miss out on the upcoming top 5 lessons learned posts, follow me on twitter where I'll link updates or subscribe to the RSS feed.