Week 1: Reframing the Mindset - Clearing away misconceptions and understanding personal boundaries

The class opens with five pre-recorded videos delivered in advance. These videos are critical in setting the mental foundation for generating feasible and profitable ideas. Each video is accompanied with a very short assignment that helps drive the point home in a personal context. Our first online group session will be a course kickoff as well as a discussion around these five videos.

Video 1: Everything is a remix- no idea is completely original. Ideas are copied, combined, and transformed just like movies, music, and inventions. It’s ok to be skeptical, I’ll prove it to you!
Video 2: Invention vs. Innovation-Understand that inventions are best left for inventors and scientists, while we focus on business model based innovation. I’ll show you precisely what I mean by this with several vivid examples. Secondly, certain levels of innovation will be associated with certain risk & reward levels, so each person will reflect on where they belong in the innovation spectrum based on their personal life goals.
Video 3: Get Ready to Compete- all good ideas are immediately ‘stolen’. Facebook, Google, Wikileafs… these are all pre-existing products. If its not already existing, that’s when you should be worried. “I can’t tell you my idea because I don’t want it stolen” shall never be muttered again.
Video 4: Market Sliver Mentality- Everybody is fixated on coming up with the next world dominating idea like Airbnb and Uber. Let’s think in terms of market size and how much money you need to be happy!
Video 5: Personal constraints- If you are an automation engineer, should you only focus on automation based startups? Understand your opportunity boundaries based on skill set, tech network, personal finances, and more. I’ll give you a quick survey that will help narrow or broaden your focus accordingly so you don’t waste energy on ideas not worth pursuing.

Week 2: Copy Cat Method - If it's not broken, don't fix it

Copy someone else’s idea! On the surface this method is too simple to be a 1.5 hr class, right? Yet this class is a personal favorite as I will share my unique and well thoughtout tips and considerations for implementing this strategy effectively. I’ll show you right where to look and give you a copy cat method specific checklist to ensuring a great idea is found uniquely for your abilities and interests.

This class will hook you in right from the very beginning as I prove to you the method’s legitimacy with a very inspirational tale regarding a German company who took this approach to an unprecendented level back in 1997. As I layout the 4 key advantages this approach has over all other methods, I will use my own life experiences in the startup world to prove each benefit holds true and to showcase how easy it can be. I’ll provide you with a checklist and an explicit 2 step process for conducting this method. This is the only class that is not highly workshop oriented, but I make sure to compensate by spending dozens of hours to customize an example of the method being applied for each student in the class. This means I will spoon feed you your potentially first pursuable idea right off the bat! As always, the homework is related to applying the method and identifying an opportunity on your own that we will review at the beginning of the next class. I will end the class with giving you my ultimate example of a feasible and profitable startup idea perfect for me that I discovered using this method.

This method is the most robust as it always generates pursuable ideas. It is also the foundation for being highly successful in the rest of the course.

Week 3: Business Model Method - 'We are the Delivery Hero for XYZ!"

Copy a business model, combine it with an application, and transform it accordingly. This strategy can best be summarzied by the familar startup descriptions that go, “We are the Netflix for books”, “We are the Uber for restaurant reservations”, or “We are the Priceline for marijuana dispenceries”. The conept as always is quite simple, but the method and skill have insights unforseeable to the amature entrepreneur.

After the inspirational story of how a graduate from my tiny university created a 24 million dollar company in two years using this exact method, I will show you the method step by step in full and we will workshop 3 examples as a group with each example aimed at perfecting one of the key steps. As a group, we will create several great startup opportunities in class (as well as several shitty ones) and as always finish with my best of my best application of this method in relation to the post class assignment.

This method often generates the most innovative ideas and tends to be the most preferred method used in the final competition.

Week 4: Market Segment Method - A shortcut for doubling value without doubling costs

Did you know there is an Airbnb exclusively for cannabis users? How about a Tinder for users into kinky stuff? This class is about understanding market segments and provides four seperate idea generation methods step by step, complete with tips and considerations for each method. The concepts are simple, but the magic in the class is in the countless brain boggling fun real world examples and the hilarious group exercises where we will generate ideas live!

1) Combination method – How to combine 2 unrelated value propositions into 1 business model. Not the easiest task for the less imaginative student, but apply this correctly and you are sure to have ground breaking ideas with huge potential!
2) Behavior and demographic niche method – Let’s take a look at some of the most popular disruptive businesses of our time and see how many successful spin-off ideas came after them customized for narrow market segments. When the next big thing hits the market, you will be equiped to identify multi-million dollar spin offs before everyone else!
3) Specialization – Become an expert in your practice. This one is extremely straight forward and well known, but by making the case crystal clear, students will never forget the need to specialize and it will help round out other idea leads.
4) Gap method – Somewhat of a scientific approach and can be time intensive, but do the due diligence on a product’s key dimensions and one can identify gaps in the existing market with opportunities just sitting there waiting to be exploited.

This class is 4 methods in 1 class so hard to generalize the key benefits. It has proven to trigger ideas, but also is always always used in rounding out ideas generated from other methods.

Week 5: Value Lever Method - "Ever hear of 8 minute abs? This is going to blow it out of the water... 7. minute. abs"

One tiny litle twist can be the difference between going bust or earning billions as we’ll observe in today’s most successful startups. This class is about adjusting 3 key value levers that are at the core of a business model that will help differentiate you from the competition. It often goes hand in hand with market segment method as one can use the value lever method to create business solutions that can populate market opportunities identified in the previous class.

How could 2 guys in a garage take down a 140 billion dollar company in 3 years? How does a French hotel offer 5 star quality service for a 2 star quality price? There are 19,500 mens apparel e-commerce stores, do you think there’s room for one more? Along with answering these questions with examples, in depth analysis, and group exercises, we will deepen our understanding of value creation, explore over 20 startup and corporate examples for each component of the value lever, and do several group exercises practicing the 5 step method. As always, class will end with my best application of the method as I present an innovative idea regarding Las Vegas vacation packages.

This class is guarunteed to generates ideas, but how good they are really depend on investing the time in the process. This class has tremendous value because it not only can generate idea leads, but it is always applied in perfecting and rounding out a business idea.

Week 6: PESTEL Method - Opportunties are found in change

More than ever before, our world is changing at a faster and faster rate, whether it’s protectionist politics, the environment, or a massive movement towards local craft beer. Whether the change is good or heart dropping, opportunities are found in change. Since change is constant, opportunities are infinite, but also dynamic. One thing is for sure- after this class, you wil no longer mutter the words, “all the good ideas are already taken.”

One of the most interactive classes in the course, this class will practice the method before teaching the more detailed steps and insights. I will show you where to look for change, 2 different methods for strategically discovering change, and 3 channels of thought on how one exploits change into a profit driven business. I’ll capture some changes that occurred the week of the class and the group will generate business ideas around it. The last section of class is dedicated to up and coming technology on the ‘Garner Hype Cycle’. As always, the class will open with a gripping inspirational story (related to cannabis regulation of course…) and end with my best application of the method regarding the fast food minimum wage strikes and a breakthrough technology.

Especially students who have never been exposed to the PESTEL concept absolutely love this class. It’s one of the best methods for generating ideas that tap into a fresh, new, trendy space, and benefit from relatively low competition. Personally, my best idea that I am currently pursuing was created practicing this method for creating this class.

Week 7: Problem Method - 'If you got a problem, yo, I'll solve it...' with a business model

The most intuitive method is saved for last. Yea, yea, I know that everybody knows that business opportunities are discovered by identifying problems and solving them. Why would you need to take a 90 minute class on this? The 5 steps that make up this method could be categorized by problem identification and solution generation. Identifying the right problems is the first common mis-step as people tend to identify problems that have been identified by a million other entrepreneurs 9 years ago. Secondly, generating solutions is a skill and generating solutions that are profit driven is an advanced skill.

Class will start with an inspirational story and pitch of my own- ‘GetMeHome’ which was created using this 5 step method and went on to win a couple startup competitions. After some brief insights and tips about each step of the method, you will learn the 5 different strategies for identifying problems and 3 key elements of solution generation. As a group we are going to solve some age old problems like standing in line to get into a bar as well as some extremely challenging and complex problems like how to curb south side Chicago’s 82 shootings a week.

Essentially every startup pitch opens with the problem, so this method is at the core of developing a strong value proposition. Although the method is often used passively, it is an excellent method of choice for those that want to start a business in something they are intensely passionate about.

Week 8: The Wrap Up - Tying it all together and securing this knowledge for years to come

This class is much much more than a review! These methods are not exclusive from each other when creating a comprehensive solution by any means. Nearly every complete business idea is influenced by minimum 5 methods and I will demonstrate this by showing you how each one of my personal business ideas leverages at least one component from every single class taught. We will study the relationships between methods and what methods are best for the challenges you might face when coming up with the winning idea.

This class includes a game throughout where student’s guess what method was used for a given startup and answer questions based on the course review. There is no winner announced, but rather only a designated loser just to prove a point. Tips on diversifying the set of ideas you generate are offered and I’ll show you how to go from 23 great startup ideas to selecting the 3-5 best ideas suited for the next phase of the statup process.

This class brings everything we learned the last 7 weeks together and you can see the magic of all the methods working together to create masterful business ideas. Not only will it properly prepare you to have a killer idea for the final competition in 2 weeks, but it will secure your ability to recognize opportunities the rest of your life!

Week 9: The M.F.'n Final Competition - Present our ultimate startup ideas (+ Bonus)

Eight weeks of class are leading up to this action packed competition! The great magic of this course is we don’t just practice what we learned on some hypothetical project, essay, or simulation. This is real life and we are identifying real opportunities with real business models behind them that are actually pursuable! This competition might just be the extra push you needed to get real serious about your entrepreneurial potential and the journey that ensues.

For this reason, I don’t end class after the group votes on the winners of the competition. In my true form, I will hit you with numerous remarkable examples of when people’s ideas were laughed at only for them to go on and make millions. Then I will show you what other topics are included in entrepreneurial studies and why you DON’T need to become an expert on each as you did on idea generation. I’ll show you the general path forward between validating an idea and doing a full launch complete with personal examples of each step of the process. I’ll also give you some optimistic insights to what makes a great entrepreneur and a great team, complete with a breakdown of education backgrounds of the most successful startups. In this way, I’m positive you will leave this class with not only a great opportunity recognized, but a highlevel understanding of the path forward on how to evaluate and capitalize on your brilliant idea.

This class is just the shit. Don’t miss it.