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Dear Students
Welcome to the NSF iCorps AU Site Cohort!

We congratulate you on your acceptance into the cohort and are excited to have you participate. This cohort is not about science and technology; it is about finding a way to turn smart ideas from science and technology into entrepreneurial startup companies. Thus, the roots of this course are about a unique approach to business that is being practiced and used by scientists and engineers around the world. As you immerse yourself in this experiential learning program for the next five weeks, you will begin to learn the process of building a startup company around your technology. That should seem familiar in some ways, because this program applies the Scientific Method to business.

We are going to apply techniques known as Flipped Classroom to be sure we achieve as much progress as possible in the time we have. A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy that reverses the traditional classroom by delivering instructional content, outside of the classroom. We will meet as a cohort to kick off and close the course. In between, you will need to aggressively pursue a disciplined weekly schedule that consist of:

Getting Started

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You need to start by registering for How to Build a Startup a free online course from Udacity. All of the Udacity material has been prepared by Steve Blank, often called the Father of Modern Entrepreneurship. It is the identical course and program that he teaches at the Stanford School of Engineering and that has been applied by universities, startup accelerator programs around the globe, government agencies like the Department of Defense and, most importantly for this course, the National Science Foundation iCorps. If you wish to read Steve's free blog that adds depth and specific examples to many of the things you learn, you can access it here.

Now, let's get started on the assignments you need to prepare before the kickoff meeting.

Business Model Canvas

The key to using Blank's method is a repeatable process built around a nine-section illustration called the Business Model Canvas, pictured below. In each of the nine sections, you will state your hypotheses for that area. Then, you will learn about them through the video lectures and test them through a series of experiments that involve interviewing people using a technique called open-ended interviewing. We call this Primary Research. More formally, it is a process of Social Anthropology called Ethnography. When you get positive feedback through your weekly experiment, it validates your hypotheses and you retain it. Negative feedback suggests a change in direction, or what we call a pivot.

As you prepare for your first class, it is important to understand the Business Model Canvas. Take a look at the visual below and refer back to it any time. You will see it represented in a one-dimensional image throughout most of this course, as it is intended for your to populate it. You will use an online tool to complete your initial canvas with your hypotheses and then capture and present updates from your field research.
Click here, to access your free online version of the canvas. When you are ready to start preparing for Week One, click on the red button at the bottom of the page.
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