Short Courses and Seminars

Each of these courses are taught by professionals that have lived through the experience of starting and growing a company from beginning through exit.  These are all practical lessons that can be directly applied to startup businesses, university programs or goverment initiatives.  

Five Success Factors All Entrepreneurs Share

Having advised and worked with several thousand entrepreneurs we have been able to recognize five factors that we consistently see in entrepreneurs who succeed.  This talk boils down the five success factors that will help anyone achieve clarity and success with their own ventures.  This course will show how clarity of purpose, ability to network efficiently, ability to segment market, understanding scalability and leadership skills consistently reveal themselves as the traits of successful entrepreneurs. The talk will provide specific tips and examples based on working with and advising entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and all over the world.

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Half Day or Evening with Optional Workshops
  • Supporting Texts: How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie

7 Steps to a Successful Startup

Starting a business is an exhilarating yet overwhelming experience. Entrepreneurs don’t have the time to read a 400-page how-to guide, but they do need the fundamentals presented succinctly and directly. This workshop is the product of 20 years of experience in working with, teaching, and advising hundreds of entrepreneurs. Short and to the point, the workshop offers practical, powerful information for anyone thinking about starting a business.  

Perhaps you still have a day job and are contemplating launching your own company—or perhaps you have lots of ideas and are wondering which is most likely to succeed. The workshop’s simple but thorough seven-step method will answer your most essential questions—questions your investors will soon be asking you! Save yourself thousands of dollars and two years of your life by taking this seminar before you plunge into the startup process.

Among the many topics covered in the workshop, the instructor works with participants on their one-minute “elevator pitch,” fine-tuning idea presentation and explaining how best to seek customer feedback. An attention-grabbing, effective elevator pitch is a crucial first step in attracting investors and generating customer interest.

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Founder to a Successful CEO: Mastering the Transition

Most founders fail to make the crucial transition from developing a product or service into running a large organization.  There is no school that teaches you on how to learn to be an effective startup CEO, and a leader and a manager.  This talk by an experienced entrepreneur who did manage this transition on more than one occasion will enlighten on how you can master the role of a CEO.  The seminar covers crucial topics including:

  • What role should the founders play as your startup grows?  
  • What are the expectations for the CEO, CTO, CMO, Finance head and VP of sales.  
  • What kind of person should be in these roles as the startup goes through the growth period. 
  • How do these roles shift and evolve.  
  • What should be the job description and proper expectations?
  • Hiring the right team and executing on a plan that will make your startup thrive
  • What hats does a startup CEO needs to wear
  • Managing the Board of Directors
  • If the Board does force a change by replacing the founder from the CEO slot how does one deal with this transition

A very popular seminar

  • Primary Audience: Aspiring entrepreneurs, Incubators and Accelerators, Human Resource professionals
  • Course Length: Half Day or Evening Session
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Reaching Customers Globally: Leveraging Social Media at Low or No Cost

The current macroeconomic climate, together with advances in social media and new web 2.0 tools, present unparalleled opportunities for companies that can thrive on constrained resources. Despite daunting financial conditions, many startups are successfully using market research to blast through their previous marketing boundaries and sell worldwide.

This workshop presents the latest techniques and tools for pinpointing and reaching customers overseas. You will come away ready to: 

  • Identify a profitable business more swiftly and cheaply than your competitors. 
  • Understand what customers want to buy before growing your company or making follow-up investments in new features. 
  • Perform market research at little or no cost.
  • Build a company culture of decision-making based on facts, not opinions. 
  • Leverage social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for market research and find customers inexpensively.

A very timely talk

  • Primary Audience: Execs, Marketing and Sales professionals in early-stage companies
  • Course Length: Half Day with Optional Workshops extending into a full day
  • Supporting Texts: Market Research on a Shoestring, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

The Art of Building a Sales Process, Channels, & Customers

Two major issues that all companies face are: growing sales and making them predictable.  For startups, challenges often include accessing your first customers and finding the right people to start your sales organization. More established businesses face the issues of growth, stability, and predictability. In both cases, staffing and marketing channels are key components. How do you incentivize sales people and select the right channels for your product? 

Creating sales process predictability is a science. Designed for senior managers, sales VPs, and GMs, this workshop explains effective sales structures and best practices in the U.S. and around the world.  Let a seasoned executive who has built and managed sales channels on four continents—and grown sales by tens of millions of dollars—show you how to gain control of your sales channels, products, and profits.  You’ll learn about:

  •  Choosing the right channel for your product
  •  Screening and hiring the right sales team
  •  Creating demand
  •  Crafting a sales process
  •  Developing and managing your sales funnel 
  •  Sales compensation design 
  •  Social media’s role in sales
  •  Selling in international markets: What’s different about Europe, China, Japan, and the U.S.?

 

Startup Fundraising

Starting a new company? Once you’ve validated your idea, you’ll need to raise money.  This workshop demystifies the fundraising process and answers your questions.  We discuss the options at your disposal and explain how investors think, then outline a proven method that addresses investors’ concerns.  You’ll get the answers to the following questions:

  • What are my funding options?
  • What are “angel investors”?  Why do they invest, and where do I find them?
  • Who are venture capitalists?  How should I approach them?  
  • What “trick questions” am I likely to be asked? How do I address them? 
  • How do I get SBIR grants, and how long does it take?
  • What is bootstrapping? Why do I need to do it before I find funding?
  • How much money do I need for my startup?  How do I determine this number?

This interactive workshop will prepare you to deal with investors and offer a broad view of your realistic options.

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Writing a Business Plan

Writing a business plan can be daunting for entrepreneurs.  The process seems complex, and many people have never seen a business plan before. This workshop demystifies the process by outlining a logical sequence for creating a business plan. You’ll learn how to think through each aspect of starting your business and compile them into a document that offers both clarity and vision to you and your investors. 

This workshop covers the following topics:

  • What is a business plan and when do I need one? 
  • How long should my business plan be and what topics must it cover? 
  • Who should write it and who will read it? 
  • How long will it take to write my business plan? 
  • Why do I need one? 
  • How do I provide a detailed outline of all the sections needed? 
  • What should I not include in my business plan?

Business Plans are not dead

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Lessons from Silicon Valley: Igniting Innovation

Today’s fiercely competitive global market means that companies must be pioneers, creating cultures that encourage innovation.  But how can a company demonstrate its commitment to innovation?  What makes a company innovative?  This workshop will answer these questions and more.  You will be examining why some companies are more innovative than others and what your company can do if it wants to encourage “intrapreneurship.”

We will examine the five key factors that make Silicon Valley a bastion of innovation.  Then workshop participants will have the chance to compare them with the way companies are run elsewhere.

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Ultra-Bootstrapping: Building a Startup with Less than $1,000

The cost of launching a startup has dropped dramatically in recent years. As a result, there’s a lot of advice floating around about launching a startup for "just" $500k or $100k.  But these amounts are still out of reach for many first-time entrepreneurs.  What if all you have to invest is $1,000?

This workshop teaches you how to create a new venture using the latest techniques—and virtually all the resources are free or almost free. We’ll share techniques, methods, and insights for finding the data, customers, and markets for your next big idea—all for less than a grand!

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Accelerating Your Career: Eight Essential Skills

School doesn’t teach you how to thrive in the job market. You may notice that some people seem to get all of the promotions and juicy projects, even if they’re no smarter than you. What do they know that you don’t? What will put your career on the fast track in your current job? What is your career path, and how can you reach your professional goals quickly? This three-hour workshop offers eight essential skills and techniques that will boost your career, presented by an instructor who distills his 25 successful years in corporate America and extensive entrepreneurial research into an effective strategy for your professional ascent.  

You’ll learn how to: 

  •  Garner recognition for your contributions
  •  Land the “right projects” 
  •  Earn your managers’ favor
  •  Get a raise 
  •  Chase—and seize—the next promotion 
  •  Chart a career path 
  •  Navigate a culturally diverse workforce 
  •  Work effectively and efficiently 
  •  Balance your career and personal life for maximum fulfillment

Best presented live

  • Primary Audience: Mid-level professionals looking to set a growth plan
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Understanding Companies’ Capitalization Structure

Statistics show that founders usually aim to end up owning 30% of their companies after raising two rounds of VC funding. Is achieving that goal possible? The key is in understanding company capitalization at various stages—the seed level, Series A, Series B, and so on. How does equity distribution occur among founders, investors, and company executives, as well as the various employees involved during these stages? This workshop explores these questions and more.

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Legal Issues Every Founder Should Understand

This workshop discusses the basic legal issues every entrepreneur needs to grasp. Led by a team of attorneys, the workshop opens with a discussion of company formation issues including incorporation, structuring options, and protecting yourself and your company. The workshop then addresses the issues surrounding the use of open-source software, including what to look for and what to avoid. The workshop also covers the issues surrounding patents and presents other ways of protecting your IP, as well as comparing international and U.S. patent law. Also covered are the fees involved in patents and an explanation of patents’ values and defensibility.

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: The Entrepreneurs Legal Guide to Starting Up, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Jumpstarting Customer Traction for Consumer-Facing Startups

This boot camp workshop focuses on entrepreneurs launching consumer-centric startups. Wondering how to jumpstart your customer traction? Do you know who your customer is? Do you know how to reach them, and how to use social media to pinpoint customers? Do you know the new rules of marketing and PR for creating a buzz and garnering needed traction? If not, you need to sign up for this workshop!

  • Primary Audience: CEOs and Marketing Professionals of seed-stage startups
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

The Art of Building Sales, Channels, & Customers

This session outlines the issues all B2B startups face. How do you pinpoint and contact your first customers, and how do you find the right people to launch your sales organization? How do you incentivize salespeople and select the right channels for your product?

  • Primary Audience: CEOs and Marketing / Sales professionals of B2B startups
  • Course Length: Half Day with Optional Workshops 
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

When Does My Business Make Sense? Essential Finance for B2B Entrepreneurs

This session demystifies the process of building a sound financial model for B2B-centric startups. We outline how to make the right assumptions and show you how to build a profit-and-loss statement that tells you how much money to raise and how long will it last. You’ll also learn how to create a suitable financial model and run relevant what-if scenarios.

  • Primary Audience: Aspiring entrepreneurs and innovative executives
  • Course Length: Half Day or Evening  with Optional Workshops Supporting Texts: Finance Essentials for Entrepreneurs, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

When Does My Business Make Sense? Essential Finance for B2C Entrepreneurs

What makes investors take you seriously? This session demystifies the process of making key financial assumptions for consumer- and web-centric startups. We’ll outline the typical metrics you need to hit in order to attract investors. 

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

The Magic of an Entrepreneurial Team: How to Attract & Retain Talent

 Learn how to create a corporate culture that attracts top talent—as well as the issues you must face when dealing with entrepreneurial teams. How do you divide equity appropriately and compensate employees?   How do you create an advisory board? How do you develop function processes during the start-up phase?  This workshop answers these questions and more.

  • Primary Audience: University students and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Three Essential Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

Discover why every successful entrepreneur must acquire three essential skills as they seek success. The workshop offers real-life examples of these three skills:  

1) networking,
2) making presentations, and
3) deal making and negotiation.

You’ll come away armed with concrete examples, tips, tricks, and best practices in each of these areas

  • Primary Audience: Aspiring entrepreneurs and innovative executives
  • Course Length: Full Day with Optional Workshops extending into Day 2
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Understanding Business Models

How do companies make money and how do they create a profitable business?  There are dozens of different business models and ways to make money for a company but engineers do often not understand basic financial concepts.  This workshop examines several of these business models and helps students understand the basic concepts such as the operating margin, customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value and gross profit.  These concepts are explained from an engineer’s point of view and for non-financial managers and engineers.   The instructor utilizes several examples of companies and explains pros and cons of various business models

  • Primary Audience: Aspiring entrepreneurs and innovative executives
  • Course Length: Half Day or Evening.   Optional Workshops.
  • Supporting Texts: Financial Essentials for Entrepreneurs, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Networking for Engineers – the Art of Connecting

Let’s admit it; engineers are not the most social of animals.  They are sometimes uncomfortable in social situations and it is hard for them to make small talk and connect with strangers.  But as one progresses in his or her career these skills become increasingly important.  Or if they want to expand into a marketing or customer-facing role the transition can be especially hard.  

 This workshop is taught by an ex-engineer who went through this transition over his career.  This is an interactive workshop where we will provide specific techniques to connect with strangers and make meaningful contacts and leverage social media tools to broaden networks.  The mini-practice sessions will simulate various social settings and mock-conversations will be tried.  Students will be given specific tip-sheet to remind them what they learnt in this workshop.

  • Primary Audience: Aspiring entrepreneurs and innovative executives
  • Course Length: Half Day or Evening  with Optional Workshops 
  • Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Thinking & Articulating Clearly

To be able to get your point across succinctly and make an impact is a crucial skill in a professional career. Yet it is almost never taught. This workshop will examine these issues and provide an interactive environment where students will perform exercises to articulate and express their thoughts..  This will include verbal conversations, emails and tweets.  As an aspiring manager or senior engineer, students will find these lessons invaluable throughout their lives.

  • Primary Audience: Aspiring entrepreneurs and innovative executives
  • Course Length: Half Day or Evening with Optional Workshops Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Rules of Mentorship

How does one accelerate their careers and gain valuable knowledge about technology as well as the political landscape in a company?  Some companies have formal programs but most do not.  Ask any senior executive and they will tell you that they benefited from a mentor-mentee relationship in their career. Sometimes it is formal and often it is not.  

 What are the rules of finding a mentor or being a mentor to someone? What are the etiquettes and how to maximize these relationships? When and how to end these relationships?  This workshop examines all of these questions and provides a framework that can help any individual accelerate their career within a company.  A Harvard Business School case will be used to stimulate the class discussion.

  • Primary Audience: Angel Investors, Entrepreneurs in Residence, Retired executives
  • Course Length: Half Day or Evening  with Optional Workshops Supporting Texts: Seven Steps to a Successful Startup, Naeem Zafar
  • Case materials to be provided by instructor

 

Igniting Innovation & Entrepreneurship within Your Organization

Why startups innovation and large companies usually do not?  What are the factors that contribute of a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation?  This course is aimed at senior executives in progressive companies who want to understand and create a positive change within their own organizations. The aim is to understand the underpinnings of how entrepreneurs think and the role of culture in innovation.   We will create a personal action plan that can generate positive change within an organization.  The course is be a combination of lectures, case discussions and class projects.

  • Primary Audience: Fortune 1000 Executives and Managers
  • Course Length: Full Day or Evening with Optional Workshops
  • Supporting Texts: Open Innovation, Henry Chesbrough
  • Case Studies to be provided by instructors