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Brandeis' Virtual Incubator offers budding Brandeis entrepreneurs lots of encouragement, introductions and good advice.

In addition, the Brandeis Sprout Grant Program offers Brandeis scientists, fellows and faculty a little financial help for that "next experiment" to prove their technologies real commercial worth.

Key Learning Modules

The Master of Arts in IT Entrepreneurship’s program curriculum is divided into three key learning modules that are designed to provide computer scientists, technologists and aspiring technology-based entrepreneurs with practical knowledge of the product and business creation cycle. The learning modules in the curriculum are as follows:

Module I: From Idea to Product

Creativity and Innovation When the Goal Is a Successful Product/Business

The goal of this module is to shift the mindset of the technologist from idea generation to the creation of successful products/businesses. Ken Olsen, founder and chief executive officer of Digital Equipment Corp. (a company which, at its peak, had revenues of $16 billion and was second only to IBM in the computer field), once commented, “Ideas are a dime a dozen, but ideas that get transformed into successful products are very rare.

“The difference between an idea and/or technology and a successful product,” he added, “is a lot of hard work and a relentless emphasis on the customer.” Successful entrepreneurs have an intuitive understanding of what the idea/technology does for that customer. He called this the “utility factor.”

Course Structure: In this module, students engage in the formal discovery of the utility factor through a set of lectures by successful entrepreneurs in the software industry, case studies and project work. Students engage in one to three projects that will illustrate the differences between ideas and customer-centric solutions. The projects are short-term — one to three weeks in length — and are carried out in a group-project format where two to four students share the responsibility for the successful outcome of the project.

Module II: The Product-Development Process in a Sea of Innovation

So, you have an idea, you have built a prototype and now you have to deliver the product to the marketplace on time and on budget.

Perhaps you are an engineering manager in a Web-based company. The company has bet its survival on the new social-network technology based on the theory of the “wisdom of crowds.” The product is behind schedule and the previous manager just got fired. On your first meeting with your technical staff, the key architect tells you in an unequivocal way that “creativity and invention” cannot be managed, and worse yet, she presents you with the dire news that the project has just slipped three weeks on a six-month schedule. She also believes that a three-week slip is a “good thing” when you are managing such a complex creative process. What do you do?

This module provides students and entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to manage the product-development process in the presence of innovations and the “unknown.” Many have argued that managing innovation is not possible. This could not be further from the truth. The tools, case studies and project work provide you with practical examples on how to create the necessary mechanisms for success.

Module III: The Key to a Successful Business — the Plan

Most successful IT-based companies go through three stages, where different levels of investment and discipline are required. 

Typically these three stages are:

Stage I – “The Idea Stage”
Stage II – Product Introduction Stage
Stage III – Market Growth Stage

Each one of these stages requires a different emphasis by the entrepreneur, as well as different investment needs. In the following table, the characteristics of each stage, together with the required level of funding, is presented.

Stage Description Capital Requirements
Stage 1: The Idea Transformation of an idea to the prototype Low Friends and family; contract work and consulting; government
Stage 2: The Product Product introduction, reaching the marketplace Seed funding: Low ($100K to $1M) Angel investment, seed-funding firms
Stage 3: Marketplace Penetration Market growth: "Pedal to the Medal" Venture capital funding: Medium ($1M to $10M) Venture capital funding firms

Critical to a successful IT entrepreneurship venture is the ability to attract investors. In this module, the fundamentals of successful business plans are presented through the use of case studies, lectures and class discussion. At the end of this module, you will be familiar with the three key characteristics of a successful business plan, the so called “three P’s”:

  • Problem: What is the problem customers have that you are attempting to solve?
  • Product: What is the compelling solution that you have created (“compelling” as compared to all other available solutions and the several ways in which your solution is superior) to the problem?
  • Protection: How will you protect your product / business from current and future competitors? Students will also have the opportunity to collaborate through the creation and analysis of several business plans.

Within these three modules, our three semester program incorporates four required classes and a palette of electives that emphasize cutting-edge research, of which students take eight.

For a full listing of computer science and International Business School electives, as well as for our most updated Course Bulletin with course descriptions and degree requirements, please visit the registrar’s Web site.