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Class Notes



Behind the scenes look into our class last semester by one of our students, Annahstasia. Featured on

Reading List

Week 1: Personal Growth

There’s no speed limit (lessons that changed my life) by Derek Sivers

The Fallacy of Money as a Means by Scott Britton

Are you pursuing your goals or just the prerequisites? by Erik Koester

Chris Hadfield on how to become the person you want to be

Week 2: Diving in & startup hustle

American Experience - Silicon Valley by PBS 

Relentless Resourceful by Paul Graham

Two years ago today by Tristan Walker

My favorite entrepreneur story by Mark Suster

Interviewing Come bearing gifts by Steve Schlafman

Week 3: Twitter Case Study

Twitter Case Study by Harvard Business School

Week 4: Lean Startup

Startup = Growth by Paul Graham

What is a startup? via Quora

A Tale of Two Bridges by Peter Hintjens

2000, The Year Formerly Known as the Future by David Bauer

The AirBnB Story by Joe Gebbia

Week 5: Field Trip to Boundless

$8M in Funding and a Lawsuit to Boot? Game on. by Boundless

The college textbook bubble and how the “open educational resources” movement is going up against the textbook cartel by AEI Ideas

Never Pay Sticker Price for a Textbook Again by Slate

Week 6: Innovator’s Dilemma/Product Lifecycle

Mark Zuckerberg Startup School Interview by Y-Combinator

What Clayton Christensen Got Wrong by Ben Thompson

How Ballmer Missed the Tidal Shifts in Tech by David Pogue

Postmortem of a Venture-backed Startup by Brett Martin

Week 7: Field Trip to One Mighty Roar

We Were Promised Refrigerators by Zach Dunn

Making Sense of the Internet of Things by Matt Turck

There’s always time to launch your dream by David Heinemeier Hansson

Week 8: Evaluating Startup Ideas

How To Get Startup Ideas by Paul Graham

What A Stupid Idea by Dustin Curtis

Got A Startup Idea? Ask These Questions First by Ryan Hoover

Schlep Blindness by Paul Graham

Week 9: Sales and Marketing

Market First, Code Later by Kyle Tibbitts

How to Launch a Startup Without Writing Code by Dharmesh Shah

You’re Selling It Wrong by Dan Shipper

"How Great Leaders Inspire Action" by Simon Sinek (TED Talk)

Week 10: Dropping in vs. Dropping out

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement video

“Should you pay $250K to go to college?” by Jason Calacanis

“Why I’m doing it all wrong” by Dan Shipper

Going All In by Ben Drucker

Week 11: Venture Capital

Elements of a Strong Business Plan by General Catalyst

Khan Academy’s Raising Money for a Startup by Sal Khan

Convertible Debt in Plain English by Barrett Sheridan

Convertible Notes Explained (quick video) by PandoDaily

Pitching a VC by Mark Suster

Week 12: The Last Class

"What I learned from teaching" - by Jack McDermott (co-teacher,

" An Introduction" - by Tom Wang (student,



What I learned from teaching


If you could teach anything to anyone, what would it be?

I was asked this question on a job interview recently. I could confidently say that I was acting on my answer: “I would teach college students about themselves through the big ideas that can change the world.”

This semester John and I taught We designed the class to be everything that we, as former freshmen, wanted from our own educational experiences: engaging discussions, varying perspectives, guest lecturers and field trips, well-designed slides, and teachers committed to taking a personal stake in a student’s learning.

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Class 12: The Last Class

This past week was our last class. Our students are now focused on final exams to cap off a fantastic first semester. On Tuesday evening, our students shared their final presentations based on weeks of research and writing. The topics ranged from the Internet of Things, security defense startups, venture capital, blogging, iOS vs. Android and more! It was simply incredible to watch the progress of our students each week, and our final class was no exception. After thirteen weeks of learning together, our class has ended. We would truly like to thank you for following along and for all your support during this semester. We set off to teach a course on startups, but we ended up learning so much more.

Recommended Reading: 

"What I learned from teaching" - by Jack McDermott (co-teacher,

" An Introduction" - by Tom Wang (student, - Semester In Review from Jack McDermott on Vimeo.

Seth Godin: Entrepreneurship => impact

"Innovation is something else entirely. Many entrepreneurs use an innovation to make an impact, but the hard part, the part that we’re rewarded for, is engaging with the user, the audience, the market. Bringing something to people who didn’t think they wanted it, know about it or initially welcome it, and make a difference.

One reason it’s so difficult to teach entrepreneurship is that we’re not teaching tactics or skills. We’re not teaching spreadsheets or finance or even marketing. No, when we encourage entrepreneurship, we’re actually trying to get people to the place where they care enough and where they are confident enough to stand up and try to make things change.

Don’t tell me what you invented. Tell me about who you changed.”


Dear Professor,

Here’s to hoping this is the case with our students someday soon :)



Attached is my business week paper summary.

As I mentioned in my note turned in when this paper was intended to be submitted, I have been very busy starting a company from the website I showed you in class. I am taking trips up to New York more than twice a…

Class 11: Venture Capital

In our final field trip of the semester, we visited Peter Boyce II (once again!) at General Catalyst Partners in Harvard Square. For some students, this was their first trip to Cambridge and, for everyone, a first look inside a venture capital firm. General Catalyst has invested in an impressive array of consumer, enterprise and commerce technology companies (HubSpot, KAYAK, Airbnb, Snapchat and many more). So our class sought to understand a few basic questions: what is venture capital? How do firms decide to invest? Why do companies fundraise at various stages? After enjoying some gourmet pizza from Otto, the students left General Catalyst with a better understanding of seed funding, Series A vs. Series C, convertible notes, discounts and caps, and valuations. As always, here’s to learning (we’ll let you know when our students raise their first $1MM)!

Weekly Readings

Elements of a Strong Business Plan by General Catalyst

Convertible Debt in Plain English by Barrett Sheridan

Convertible Notes Explained (quick video) by PandoDaily

Pitching a VC by Mark Suster

Class 10: Dropping Out vs. Dropping In

With only a couple classes remaining in the semester, we focused our attention on a classic startup debate: should founders drop out of college? You have heard the names—-Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others—but what are the real implications and choices involved with dropping out of school? We invited Thiel Fellow and Harvard Senior Zach Hamed to join our discussion, as well as David Oates and Ze’ev Klapow of (formerly of Northeastern University). This student-founder panel engaged the class in what it’s really like to drop out of college: initial conversations with parents, talking with investors, living independently. On the other hand, we examined “dropping in,” or maximizing your college experience as a founder while in school through internships, side projects, course credit for real world experience and more. Only two weeks left, stay tuned!

Weekly Readings

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement video

“Should you pay $250K to go to college?” by Jason Calacanis

“Why I’m doing it all wrong” by Dan Shipper

Going All In by Ben Drucker