New BBA course shows undergrads the ropes of lean startups

This past spring semester saw a new class crop up on the Goizueta undergraduate course catalogue: Applied Lean Startup, taught by alumnus and adjunct professor Ed Rieker 04MEMBA. Rieker, a serial entrepreneur who has started and sold four different tech companies, says the course is based on a fairly new process, “lean startup,” which aims to diminish the risk of a startup by decreasing product development cycles and using fewer resources to find a product’s market fit. “The lean process offers a framework to work directly with customers to discover, test, measure, and iterate ideas to uncover authentic demand,” says Rieker. “This process will increase the startup’s opportunity for success.”

The course includes many hands-on simulation elements, with students forming their own startup companies in teams and working through the process of testing, including going out to talk to real target customers every week. “Ed definitely challenged us to get outside our comfort zones,” says Justin Charbonneau 16BBA. “Every team’s progress was defined by how effectively, and frequently, they were able to get in front of actual potential customers. That in-person customer discovery was an incredibly eye-opening experience; you begin with an idea and create all these assumptions about how it will be received by customers, only to have an actual would-be customer say something that rips your business model to shreds, sending you back to the drawing board.”—BW

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