Course Number 1932
Professor of Mgt Practice Joseph Lassiter
Fall, 20 Sessions
This course is aimed at students who expect to either found or take a job as a senior sales or product marketing professional in a technology-based, high-potential venture within the next five or so years. The core of the coursework and reading revolves around professionally-financed businesses that are defined by their use of technology to create breakthrough opportunity.
Typically, high-potential ventures are formed with the objective of either building $50 million per year of new business or doubling sales for an existing business in five or fewer years. This setting has been chosen because problems and opportunities tend to stand out clearly under the conflicts between the expectations of employees and investors as they confront the constraints of time and raising money.
- To study the people who market new products and sell to new customers, often from a new company.
- To expose you to marketing/ sales tools, usually TQM-based, for use in entrepreneurial settings.
- To allow you to apply these tools during case preparation and during completion of a 40 to 60 hour course project studying a specific entrepreneurial opportunity known either to you or to the instructor.
Course projects are used to promote application-based learning and field-based research as well as to gain support for the course and its graduates from the business community. The course projects are completed by teams of two to four delivering a report consisting of a 100 word abstract, a 20 page overhead presentation and project evaluations completed both by the customer and the student. There are fifty or so "company sponsored" projects available to students from friends of the school in the venture community as well as from participants in the Owner/ President Management (OPM) program. In addition, participants in the course are encouraged to enter the Harvard Business School Business Plan Contest.
Content and Organization
The course is organized around three major themes:
- How do you choose your products and your customers and your partners? Why? Because choices must be made quickly since the scarcest resource in any entrepreneurial situation is time. You must focus your effort on those products and customers that leverage the organization's time. Not only will you have to know how to play your part on the team you join, but also you may even have to know how to recruit an industry coalition to deliver the business.
- How do you apply sales/-marketing tools effectively in an entrepreneurial environment? Why? Because many people who have been successful in mature, stable companies fail when they transition to an entrepreneurial situation. They usually fail for one of two reasons: their team takes too long to make management decisions or they do not know how to make use of the resources that they do have to increase the odds of achieving the ends they desire. Skilled use of the right tools can really help give you a competitive edge.
- How do you transition from the products and customers you have to the products and customers you need? Why? Because while most companies can find at least some customers to buy their product or service, many fail to move from that small cadre of early adopters to the mainstream of customers that are critical for the long-term viability of a firm. Even in mature businesses, companies that have prospered for years falter as the world around them changes and, suddenly, reward awaits only those who have the skills to leap away from the world that they know towards totally new businesses.