Start an entrepreneurship program at your High School and Middle School.

Part 1 of 3

Three years ago I came across Steve Blank’s Four Steps To The Epiphany and his innovative curriculum the Lean LaunchPad. I was in the middle of my first year teaching at Dunn School and exploring ways to combine my passion for education and entrepreneurship. The more I learned about customer development and lean startup methodologies, the more I realized it could and should be taught at the high school and middle school level. I ran three experiments to prove my hypothesis while building our program at the same time.

Here is my first experiment

Dunn is a place where students can share their ideas. They reach out to faculty when they are searching for a way to make their idea a reality. More often than not, students would end up in my class room asking where to start. In the beginning this was very informal. A student might come by during a free period or break, and I would share the idea of customer development with them. Soon I realized I had an opportunity to test my hypothesis and teach entrepreneurship to high school students. I printed out a few large sheets of Alexander Osterwalder’sBusiness Model Canvas and found three passionate student entrepreneurs who were willing to give up a free period to learn how to develop their BIG IDEA.

I walked them through the best practices for using the BMC and had them watch Steve’s first lecture on Udacity. Then they got out of the building and conducted ten interviews focusing on searching for customer pain. All of this took about two 45 minute sessions with the students taking one day to “get out of the building” for interviews. Most of their ideas focused on products that other High Schoolers might want, so finding customers wasn’t that difficult on campus.

Finally, went over what they learned. In just one session of interviews they realized many of the flaws in their original hypotheses. The excitement and learning was clear. (Dollars spent = 0, Time Spent 1 hr 30 minutes)

My next post will be about my second experiment. A crash course in customer development using the Lean Launchpad at Dunn Middle School over a 7 day period with a single 55 minute session each day.

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