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The Design of a Graduate-Level Course in Entrepreneurship: Ownership Issues

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Programs and Courses Session 5

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1193.1 - 24.1193.8



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Paper Authors


Perry Samson University of Michigan

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Perry Samson is Professor of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences and Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. He holds an Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship at the University of Michigan in recognition of “outstanding contributions to undergraduate education” and is the recipient of the 2009 Teaching Innovation Award at the University of Michigan and a past recipient of the College of Engineering Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2010 Perry was named Distinguished Professor of the Year by the President’s Council of Universities in the State of Michigan.

Perry is also an entrepreneur and has successfully launched two companies. The first, The Weather Underground, grew to be one of the top 100 most popular web sites in the world and was acquired in 2012 by The Weather Channel. The second, LectureTools, provides new tools to make large classrooms better learning environments by enabling increased student participation. LectureTools Inc. was acquired in 2012 by Echo360 Inc.

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The Design of a Graduate Level Course inEntrepreneurial OwnershipThe IssueDuring the past two decades, small businesses provided 60-80% of the net new jobs in the UnitedStates economy and were responsible for the commercialization of radical new technologies thatare transforming the way we live. The University of Michigan Master of Entrepreneurship (MsE)gives students the ability to create new technology-focused ventures, either as standalone entitiesor within established innovative organizations.In the Entrepreneurial Ownership course students formulate skills to become effectiveentrepreneurial managers, including how to appreciate and act on the difference betweenleadership and management, understand and develop ethical principles of entrepreneurialleadership, and recognize various entrepreneurial strategies and apply them as appropriate.MethodsThis course provides an analytical framework to improve understanding of individual and sharedownership models in entrepreneurial organizations, and the way alternative ownership decisionsaffect organizational dynamics. It also looks at the mechanisms that entrepreneurs can use tocreate specific ownership structures and organizational cultures.This course is a half-semester long (7 weeks) covering: 1. Introductions a. Present current state of equity for your project b. Introduction to the pluses and minuses of equity dilution for founders c. Value of addressing equity issues for founders d. Step needed to address equity issues for founders 2. Bootstrapping a. Micropreneur vs. bootstrapper b. The value of “treading water” c. The tension between avoiding debt and need for growth. d. How others have done it. 3. Valuation a. Framework for estimating contribution of each founder to success. b. Models for valuing a start-up 4. Lifecycle of Ownership a. Investment options b. A conversation with Steve Case, Revolution Group 5. Art of the Exit a. Analysis of startup case studies b. Start up CEO/Board relationships 6. Tale of Two Startups a. Study of case studies b. The realities of “down rounds.”This course, focused on engineering students, emphasized he value of clarifying ownership andthe opportunities and challenges presented when bootstrapping a business. Students werechallenged to define and defend ownership positions both from case studies of other businesses aswell as start-ups they were creating as part of the Master’s program.This presentation will include a review of lessons learned and how the course will be redesignedfor 2014 in light of these lessons.

Samson, P. (2014, June), The Design of a Graduate-Level Course in Entrepreneurship: Ownership Issues Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23126

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