About the Class
In order to be successful, an entrepreneur and their founding team must not only be able to create and deliver value to a segment of customers, but also must be able to build an effective organization in order to sustainably do so. The course centers on the key organizational and strategic decisions in founding and building a new venture. It aims to inform students on the trade-offs and consequences of these early decisions on the founders, their team, and the venture’s performance and to equip them with tools to navigate these complex organizational challenges more effectively. Though the primary decision maker in the course will be a member of the founding team, the perspective of early-hires and investors will also be taken to understand the broader implications of the founder’s decisions on the venture. The course is a complement to New Enterprises (15.390) and Entrepreneurial Strategy (15.911), as well as the entrepreneurship courses and activities in the broader MIT Sloan and Trust Center ecosystem. This course is designed to be particularly appropriate for those considering: • Founding a new venture • Joining an early-stage start-up • Evaluating start-ups (and founding teams) The course is highly interactive. It combines lectures, case analyses, activities, and direct engagement with start-up founders and their teams. The course is divided into three parts: 1) Co-Founding a Venture: What is it actually like to be a founder? How should you choose a co-founder? How do you decide on roles? Is there a correct way to split equity and craft a founders’ agreement? 2) Establishing an Early Team: How should an early-stage venture approach sequencing early hires? How do you determine if a startup is a good fit for you to join? How do you have the difficult conversations necessary to manage a startup team? How do you effectively build out an organization? How do you coach your employees? And, when necessary, fire them? 3) Growing Your Venture: How should your entrepreneurial identity and motivations affect the investment choices you make? Who should you choose (and not choose) as your investors? How do you work productively with your board? When and how will you leave your company?