Once an opportunity has been identified and validated, students learn the skill of designing the business. But to the surprise of many, generating an idea for a new product or service is only part of the design process. Students also need to ask—and answer—four key questions: Who is the customer? What product / service is being offered? Why will customers buy it? And how will it make money?
To figure it out, students are encouraged to gather more information about the competing solutions, the supply chain and the potential monetary payoffs. This needs to be done with the current business environment in mind in order to realistically understand how their proposed business fits into it.
In the classroom, students learn how to transition an idea arising from technological breakthroughs and scientific discoveries into the design of a business in multidisciplinary courses. Professor David Brophy’s Financing Research Commercialization course is a prime example, as it often examines different aspects of business design. One of the students’ favorite is Innovative New Business Design, which teaches MBAs and engineers to work through the questions outlined above together.
For real-world perspective, panelists at the annual Entrepalooza entrepreneurship symposium and guest speakers in Finance The College of Engineering’s Distinguished Speakers and Innovators Seminar showcases relate their own experiences in designing and launching companies. This skill is also emphasized during the Dare to Dream “venture shaping” phase, which requires each student entrepreneur or team to finalize a business construct.
Once design is complete, the next step is to assess the business.