Keep your startup thinking going this semester with an independent study course: EEE490

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EEE490, Venture Acceleration, is a course offered at the Blackstone LaunchPad through the Whitman School of Management’s Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprise program.  The three-credit course can fulfill an elective for a EEE major or minor.

Learn what it takes to become a high growth potential venture that is better positioned for seed or corporate accelerators, and the process of becoming investment ready to approach investors for early stage funding.  Working independently, students will learn the processes of rapid iteration, customer discovery, building cross-functional teams, and rigorous business model development for scaled up deployment.  The class will include reading two books, along with select reading packets for academic material.  The process will merge startup thinking and the Socratic method, with the rigor of best acceleration practices, including establishing metrics.

There is no syllabus for the course, however students will be expected to work independently using the Blackstone LaunchPad Syracuse University “LaunchPad Toolkit,” a resource packet / road map designed to help get ventures accelerator or investment ready.

This class does not meet as a cohort. There are no class meetings.  Students are expected to be self-directed and meet major milestones on the “Investment Ready” checklist contained in the Toolkit.  Grades will be based on both the self-directed effort to achieve these milestones, as well as final deliverables with include a pitch competition slide deck, supporting materials, an application to an accelerator program, and pitches to qualified investors.  It is expected that students will demonstrate significant independent customer discovery through primary and secondary research.  Students will be be expected to build a working advisory board comprised of subject matter experts, with whom they work regularly.  Other significant milestones that demonstrate acceleration include business formation/incorporation, IP research and first steps toward IP filing, fabrication of a working beta prototype or development of a working beta tech platform, meetings with industry experts or others in the value chain/supply chain, to understand cost of goods, and working with professional service providers (such as volunteer LaunchPad accountants) to create a realistic three-year set of pro formas based on research and tested assumptions.

It is expected that at the conclusion of this course, working independently, students will have addressed key product development and business model issues, and achieved milestones that will make them competitive for an accelerator application, angel investment, secure a beta demonstration project, or to close first sales.  These outcomes will be considered measurements of course mastery.  Winning funding in a competitive business plan pitch contest will also be an indicator of success.

While students do not need to have an incorporated business in place before taking the course, this course will be most useful for students who are seriously pursuing an entrepreneurial idea that they plan to launch and scale.  They should be actively exploring admission to accelerator programs such as Y Combinator, TechStars, AngelPad, MuckerLab, AlphaLab, Capital Innovators, Tech Wildcatters, Surge Accelerator, The Brandery, Betaspring, BoomStartup, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, JumpStart Foundry or DreamIt Ventures – or comparable accelerators such as those listed here that are industry applicable (i.e., food and beverage, arts, digital media, music, film, sports, automotive, clean tech, medtech, etc.)  A sample list can be found at

This independent study course allows students to pursue a topic that doesn’t necessarily fit into a traditional academic curriculum. Similarly, it does not follow a standard curriculum.  There are not group class sessions, or a one-size fits all syllabus.  It will operate like an accelerator program, and students will be expected to participate in individual weekly milestone meetings.  Each week, they will be expected to work independently to pursue the roadmap and “Investment Ready” milestones outlined in the LaunchPad Toolkit.  They will be expected to identify subject matter experts, form a team of “advisors” and work indedpendently with those advistors – similar to real world accelerators.  They will be expected to do extensive customer discovery work, and conduct in-depth primary and secondary resource that can be quantified and measurable.

Working on an independent path, students will gain research experience in their field of interest and delve deeper into a specialized topic.  By the end of this course, they will be expected to become subject matter experts, and demonstrate mastery of the industry, target market, path to market, and cost structures (revenue/cost drivers).  They will be able to explain with proficiency how their venture works from a product development/technology point of view, as well as from a business model.  In short, they will have independently achieved “Launch Ready” status.

Students registering for individualized independent study or experience credit must make arrangements with a faculty sponsor prior to registration. The Independent Study Proposal form must be signed by the faculty sponsor, and the department chairperson in which the student is taking the course.

Students should have taken EEE370 as a necessary foundation.  The course is open to students from all major.

If interested, please e-mail for the course application.