The summer school on developing (skills for) entrepreneurship is taking place in one of the most challenging environments of Western Europe. The University of Antwerp, Antwerp University Association and the City of Antwerp jointly organise this intensive introduction to entrepreneurship. Students with a keen interest in entrepreneurship, but without any concrete previous experience, will be able to discover entrepreneurship during this hands-on summer school.
First the students will be introduced in the theoretical framework of a business idea through eight sessions focusing on different aspects of entrepreneurship.
Prior to the course students will be provided with several preparatory packages, in order for all the participants to have an equal minimum understanding of these topics to maximise the knowledge and skills transfer during the summer school itself. Right before the start of the summer school, participants will have to complete an online test. This test is mandatory for all participants.
All these (basic) theoretical insights will be immediately linked to some practical example sessions.
The topics include:
• Ideation and problem statement;
The first session will deal with the idea itself, combined with the problem. Together with specialists the causality problem-product will be assessed and where necessary improved or modified. In this session some basic theoretical aspects of product development will be treated and put into practice. During the workshop the expert will deal with a practical ideation example and during the group work, each of the teams can focus on its subject.
• Fit of technology and intellectual property;
A second session considers the technology and the accompanying IP-issues. The technology assessment will be again performed with an expert. The IP part will cover the freedom to operate, as well in the way of being able to patent the foregoing innovation or to assess the needs of third party patents for enabling the product market entry. Besides the theoretical framework of how, where, at what cost and when to patent, an effective patent search will be performed. In the workshop session every group will do the job for its specific case. A next subject of this section will deal with the legal aspects of the product-market combination e.g., the certification needed for entering a specific market.
• Market research;
A third session will look closer into the potential market. A large part of the market research will be spent on competitor and competing technology analysis. Competitors are a blessing as they prove that the product market combination is working; at least when they are doing well and we will deal with a short assessment technique to see if they do well or not. An important focus will be given on the sales process, sales volumes, sales prices, sales rebate systems, sales discount systems etc.. How, when, how much, at what price and where to sell the product is indeed one of the major concerns and Achilles Heel of many startups. A lot of information can - again - be deduced from competitors.
• Product definition, added value and pricing;
The fourth session concerns product definition, added value and pricing. By knowing pure competitors and the product-market positioning of competitive products, we will develop the appropriate product definition, determine its added value and price. Besides the technical feasibility addressed in the second session, and the economic feasibility of the product assessed in the beginning of this session, the last section will also address items related to the user-centered approach such as Feasibility, Desirability, Usability, Utility, and Allowance.
• Business modelling and marketing;
The fifth session will help - based on the added value concept - to identify, segment and prioritize markets and define the ideal business model(s) to go to those market segments. Using multiple tools such as the Klofsten Cornerstone Model, the Osterwalder Canvas and the Pimento Map, all the elements of the business model will be addressed and marketing and sales concepts will be identified. This part is of extreme importance to guarantee the effectiveness of the marketing and sales process. Once the business model defined, the choice can be made between internal and external support for the production.
• Teams and partners;
The sixth session will develop a strategy for building a team and outsource to partners. Once again based on the added value stack and the list of necessary skills and task to execute, the optimal division between in house and outsourced activities will be assessed, keeping in mind the important independence and avoiding monopolistic situation from suppliers. Team and partner selection are at stake and thanks to the expertise of the tutors in place, the best partners and team members will be identified for each of the cases. As a last section of this session, composing board of direction and composing the advisory board will be addressed.
• Financial plan and budgeting;
The seventh session will deal with the more financial issues such as budgeting, cost-benefit analysis and eventually the financial plan. Some financing options will be dealt with. All previous sessions will have indeed identified cost centres and income statement that will be modeled into a budgeting canvas. This budgeting canvas will eventually result in a full financial plan. Financing will be addressed as the last section of this session.
• Valuation and what’s next.
The eight and last session will be a resuming session where all aspects of business planning will be reviewed and a “what’s next” part will deal will the eventual continuation (or not) of the project. A short part of the session will be dedicated to the valuation process. Some entrepreneurial elements will be addressed at the level of choice of the appropriate company legal form, insurance, liability, contracting, etc.
Next to these theoretical sessions, students will engage in a real-life based group work that will let the teams apply effectively the knowledge and skills taught during the theoretical sessions. Students will be asked to choose their preferred case prior to the summer school after which interdisciplinary and international groups will be composed. Topics will cover a wide array of products and services, both profit and non-profit as to enable all participants to find an appropriate match. At the end of the summer school, groups will need to present their working process and business plan to a professional jury.
Ultimately, some industrial visits and social activities will keep the minds relaxed and focused.