Startup university: Free online courses on tech entrepreneurship
September 10, 2012 by Terence LEE
Higher education, particularly in the United States, is being disrupted. As university fees soar and incomes contract, people are calling into question the value of a college degree. Against this backdrop, websites like Udacity, edX, and Coursera have emerged to do something once unthinkable: Offer up quality courses from top universities to millions of students — free-of-charge.
Entrepreneurs in Asia who don’t have access to these universities are poised to benefit. Some of these websites offer lectures that are relevant to tech startups. Universities are also putting courses up directly on YouTube, which too has become a great resource for entrepreneurial education.
The downside to these courses is that many of them are customized for American audiences. Asian entrepreneurs will find that face vastly different challenges from their American counterparts. Therefore, besides ‘attending’ these lectures, they’ll need to contextualize the lessons for themselves and obtain firsthand information on their startup environment.
Here are some highlights that are available for free online:
Available on Udacity, this course aims to cover from a lean startup perspective all the concepts entrepreneurs need to know to run a successful technology business. It is taught by Steve Blank, a well-known retired Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and thought leader. The syllabus is covered in 9 lectures and the first lesson begins on 14th September 2012.
Stanford University, the lifeblood of Silicon Valley, is closely associated with many of the world’s top startups. Its alumni has founded companies like Google, Instagram, LinkedIn and Netflix. It also happened to have uploaded its entire series about tech entrepreneurship on YouTube. The course features guest lecturers from Silicon Valley’s top tech companies and venture capital firms.
Whether you are a hustler or programmer, understanding computer science and the thinking that goes into creating great software solutions is critical to make a tech startup work. This course introduces students to a programming language called Python. The instructors promise that students will be able to build a search engine within 7 weeks.
Gamification, which is the application of digital game mechanics to solve non-gaming problems, is a useful tool for motivating behavior. It plays a key role in customer retention for some of SiliconValley’s top startups like FourSquare and Dropbox. This series of lectures, which has already started, touches on key aspects of gamification and how it is applied in businesses. Each short lecture contains an integrated quiz and homework assignment.
This series at Coursera (start date unannounced) gives a comprehensive overview of entrepreneurship from a healthcare innovation perspective. It covers the innovation process, design thinking, intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship, six sigma principles of process improvement and so on. Healthcare systems in Asia are poised for disruption, so aspiring tech entrepreneurs here might want to give this course a go.
Image: Sean MacEntee
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE