Teaching Entrepreneurship in Dubai – February 2014
So after an absence of 8 months I finally managed to make it back to the SP Jain campus in Dubai. Occasion? The entrepreneurship course for the Executive MBA batch at the Dubai Campus.
In my absence the campus has gone through a round of renovations and the bright yellow paint in the class room certainly brought back the cheery look. A new improved canteen and new faces on the class coordinator front. But the highlight of the trip remained my lovely group of students who managed to feed me a few slices of summery berry cake just before I headed out.
I love it when a class comes together. And with EMBA students is more fun because they have been dreaming, testing limits and stretching their wings for a dry run. All you have to do is to bring the threshold a little closer and give them a slight shove and they will fly.
It wasn’t a great beginning though. Emirates 601 and 607 were both delayed by 5 hours on account of fog in Dubai on day one. Which meant that I got to the class 30 minutes late directly from the airport looking like a freshly minted slob with no dress sense and all the fringe benefits of an unplanned 6 hour transit at the airport. And once you start with that impression there is no sense in dressing up for day two or three or four. There is only so much improvement you can bring to natural God given talent.
As always the approach this time started off with the now standard discussion on new venture failure. While some students feel that the first class is the most depressing of the week, especially since it spends a great deal of time on a few dark spots, in general getting the failure discussion out of the way allows us to make much better progress. Lesson learnt from previous classes – keep the truly dark spots hidden away.
The new topics covered this year included
a. A brand new clip from Collateral, the movie on fooling yourself and letting the dream get away.
b. A great discussion on why the course should or should not focus on pitching and if the big guys of the world (the P&G’s and IBM’s) don’t spend enough time on customer persona, why should we?
c. For the first time, four never presented before ideas from Sheena, Satish, Hitesh and Varun. My favorite one focused on marketing the unmentionable (Hey Varun).
We also tried a couple of new in class exercises including a timed story telling session around the pain of the customer, which went exceedingly well for a first round run.
Followed by an after class discussion on how to give life to your characters in the stories that you build around customers. I think with a little bit of work this session could easily become the most powerful exercise in the entire course.
Needless to say Advil and Excedrin were both very much in demand.
We also spent a fair bit of time on dissecting the business model discussion as well as understanding why venture capital funding is just a different form of high priced debt. For non capital intensive technology businesses, it makes a lot more sense to build up the business first and then seek funding.
And yes, it was followed by the historical, pre and post class picture in the canteen. I have now getting together a decent collection of these.
Great memories and many new friends from almost all of my batches at SP Jain.
And if you are interested in seeing the content covered in the class, check out the Startup Pitching Training resource which include follow on links to the pitching for startup lecture series as well as a link to the free PDF edition of Reboot, 3rd Edition.
If you would like to download the free iBook edition of Reboot for your iPad with the cleaned up lectured integrated in the iBook, follow the Reboot for iPad download instructions.
Thank you guys and gals for a lovely six days. Looking forward to seeing and grading your work Monday onwards.