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Entrepreneurship & New Ventures

Spring 2000


Professor Zach Zacharakis (email:


The course objective is to investigate the concepts, tools, and practices of entrepreneurship. Specifically, we will concentrate on the following areas: (1) identifying new venture opportunities (versus ideas), (2) understanding which skills are necessary for success and building a team that possess those attributes, (3) evaluating the viability of the new venture, and (4) financing, starting and operating the business. 

The study of entrepreneurship requires an interactive learning environment.  Students are expected to actively contribute and participate in class discussions and exercises.  As such, we will use a combination of cases, exercises, lectures, guest speakers and videos to engage students in a simulated entrepreneurial process. In addition to helping students understand the area of entrepreneurship, assignments are designed to develop the student's written and oral skills.  The ďcruxĒ of the will be a business plan.



Timmons, J.A. (1999) New Venture Creation.

Case Packet:

Jim Nahill (Babson)
InterZine (HBS)
Internet Fashion Mall (Babson)
The Knot (HBS)
John Roughneen (Babson)
Streamline (Babson)
Jon Hirschtickís New Venture (Babson)
Solidworks (Babson)
Mike Bellebuonoís New Venture (Babson)


Bygrave, William (1997) The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship, 2nd Edition.
Baty, Gordon (1990) Entrepreneurship for the Nineties.




Individual/ Group


Due Date

Internet Company evaluation



Feb. 23

Interview with entrepreneur



Mar. 1

Critique of another teamís business plan



March 27

Financial Comparables Exercise



April 3

Self Assessment



Final Exam Period

Business Plan



May 1





Total Available Points







The nature of this course does not lend itself to objective questions; there is no "right" or "wrong" answer per se.  However, there are different levels of quality.  Just as a venture capitalist ranks the attractiveness of proposals, I will subjectively rank your work against that of your peers and assign an appropriate grade.  To ensure that my grading is as unbiased as possible, all individual assignments should be turned in without your name.  Please identify yourself with only your student number.  Exempt from this requirement are group projects.


Strong written and oral skills greatly facilitate one's success in the business world.  Those individuals that can effectively communicate their ideas will have an advantage over those that cannot.  As such, the assignments center on written and oral presentations.

Internet Company Evaluation (5%): Each student will choose an e*comerce company from a list posted on my door (one student per company).  The objective is to analyze recent start-ups and determine how they fit the Timmons model. Students will hand in a maximum 3 page double-spaced paper summarizing the evaluation of the company. The paper is due February 23 at the beginning of class. Late papers will lose 5 percentage points a day.  Topics that should be included in the paper include:

Is this an opportunity (quantify based upon 3Ms)?
Is this the right entrepreneur/team?
Would you invest in this company?  Work for it?
Will the company be successful?


Entrepreneur Interview (15%): Each student will conduct an interview with an entrepreneur of his/her choice.  This assignment exposes the student to an individual who is or has been actively engaged in an entrepreneurial activity.  Such interaction will provide the student insight that cannot be obtained from classroom experience alone. Students will hand in a maximum 5 page double-spaced paper summarizing the interview.  The paper is due March 1 at the beginning of class.  Topics that should be included in the paper include:

Who is the entrepreneur?  
What is their business?
What process did the entrepreneur use to develop the business?
Was the process successful?
By what criteria can the venture be viewed as successful?
What have you learned from speaking with the entrepreneur

Chose an entrepreneur within an industry that is personally interesting to you.  Use this experience to start obtaining "50,000 chunks" of necessary information that you will need when you launch your own enterprise sometime in the future.  Some other guidelines:

The interview should be conducted in person (appropriate attire is encouraged). 
Do not interview family members or close friends
Note the critical milestones that the entrepreneur reached
Specific connections to class concepts and material enhances your work
Donít just report the interview, but also critique the entrepreneurís process (e.g., do you agree with the way the entrepreneur launched the business?  What should (s)he have done differently?)
Including direct quotes makes for more interesting reading
Schedule your interview early (although entrepreneurs are happy to talk with students, they face incredible time constraints)

The evaluation of this project will be based upon the clarity and quality of the presentation.  Again, the ability to write well is critical in the business world.  Late papers will lose 5 percentage points a day.


Critique of another groupís business plan (5%):  Each group will write a 5 page double spaced critique of another teamís business plan.  Consider your group as an advisory board who is assisting the team in final preparations to seek capital.  Your team will need to conduct some due diligence.  That means interviewing the other team in some detail, conducting your own research on their business and offering constructive suggestions on how to better shape their business to meet the opportunity based upon your findings.  Provide the team with the citations of where you found that research so that they can use it.  Thus, your document should be a tool for the other team to improve their plan.  Make sure to incorporate many of the concepts we have studied to date.  The critique is due March 27.

Financial Comparables Exercise (5%): Each group will develop a draft financial section for their business plan project.  Specifically, each group will submit:

  1. Five years of financials (Income Sheet, Balance Statement, Cash Flow).  The first two years for the Income Sheet and Cash Flow should be monthly and the last three years should be yearly.  The Balance Sheet can be yearly for all five years. 
  2. A description of your assumptions and how they compare/contrast with one or two similarly operating public companies (e.g., if you do an on-line book seller, your comparable company might be  I donít expect your financials to perfectly mirror the comparable company, however I do expect you to be able to clearly articulate differences.
  3. Copies of your comparable companiesí financial statements and explanations of those statements.

The exercise is due at the beginning of class on April 3.

Self-Assessment (5%):  For this 3 page double space paper, please assess your fit for an entrepreneurial career.  It is perfectly okay to conclude that you may not be suited for an entrepreneurial career (at least in the foreseeable future).  Although its often hard to think about oneís future, its been found that those who visualize and plan for the future (and write it down) are more successful than those who donít.  The paper should include the following topics:

self assessment (rigorous analysis using self assessment instruments, comparisons/connections to your  entrepreneur interview, etc.)
long term goals for the future (both professional and personal)
skills you currently possess or need to acquire to achieve goals
brief action plan of crucial milestones

As always, specific connections to class material enhances your work.  This assignment is due at the beginning of the Final Exam period.  Late papers will lose 5 percentage points a day.

Business Plan (35%):   teams of 5 students each will complete this group project.  Teams will complete a business plan no longer than 40 pages including exhibits.  In addition to the final write-up (which will be of venture capital quality), each team will make two oral presentations and turn in some preliminary drafts of their venture.  When presenting, assume that you are meeting with a potential investor.  Therefore, focus on why the investment is a good opportunity.  More will be said about professionalism in the presentations later is the class.

Evaluation of the project will be comprised of a review of the written and oral presentation, along with a peer appraisal.  The peer appraisal will concentrate on evaluating whether each team member did her/his share of the work conscientiously on a timely basis and with a positive outlook.  IF A GROUP DECIDES DURING THE COURSE THAT ONE OF ITS MEMBERS IS NOT PULLING HIS/HER WEIGHT, THEY MAY, AFTER CONSULTING WITH THE INSTRUCTOR, RECOMMEND "FIRING" THAT MEMBER.  IF A MEMBER IS FIRED, S/HE WILL HAVE TO COMPLETE THE PAPER ON HER/HIS OWN.  However, the ability to work with others is important, as we shall see in the readings for the course.  Success requires cooperation with others.  As such, the inability to work with a team may negatively impact a student's grade.  The paper is due at the beginning of class on May 1.  Late papers will lose 5 percentage points a day.

Participation (30%):  Each student is expected to participate in class.  Students are expected to adequately prepare for all cases (the syllabus has some questions to assist your preparation).  That means that well prepared students will bring written notes about a case to class.  If, for some reason, you are unable to attend a class, please fax a one-page write-up of what you would have participated during that class (i.e., written notes on case questions, or comment on assigned readings).  I also encourage participation on I-campus.  This will be a peer-to-peer discussion about the case.  I will pose a general question and then students can respond to that question, any other fact that the student believes relevant to the case, or to other student comments.  Comments registered before the class meets to discuss the case will contribute towards your participation grade.  Finally, those students who miss too many classes cannot participate effectively.  Thus, excessive absences will have a large, negative impact on one's participation grade. 



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