For a number of years, Greg Gottesman and Matt McIlwain - both Managing Directors at Madrona Venture Group, have taught an entrepreneurship course in the Foster School. During Winter 2014 they will teach it in CSE, targeted to a technical audience.

Madrona has funded more than a dozen UW CSE startups. Greg and Matt are the very best. They have a wealth of experience to share.

This course is open to CSE undergraduates, combined BS/MS students, Professional Masters Program students, and Ph.D. students, as well as to Foster School MBA students - all by permission of the instructors in order to ensure balance among the participants.

The course will meet Wednesday evenings from 6:00-9:15 in CSE 305, from January 8 through March 19 (except that we will re-schedule the final class, March 19, due to a conflict). It will be a four credit, graded course. The CSE faculty contact (and the author of this web page - don't blame Greg and Matt!) is Ed Lazowska.

Course Syllabus

Here is a detailed syllabus that includes the content of each evening's presentation and the schedule of reading assignments. The two sections below are quoted from the syllabus:

Course Objective

The course objectives are two-fold: (1) to develop an awareness and understanding of the range, scope, and complexity of issues involved in starting a technology business; and (2) to gain insight into how entrepreneurs conceive, adapt, and execute strategies to create new, successful businesses.

Course Overview

This course is about entrepreneurship and specifically about starting, growing, managing, leading, and ultimately exiting a new venture. Of all the courses you take at the University of Washington, this one will likely be the most hands-on. One-third of your grade will be based on a pitch, product demo and business plan that you develop with your team. The course sessions will follow the natural order of starting a new business: choosing your idea and your team, validating that idea with customers, honing your initial pitch, dealing with the legal issues of starting a business, building a great product, deciding among financing strategies, developing a go-to-market and operating plan, and exiting successfully. We will spend part of nearly every three-hour block giving you feedback on your actual pitch, your product, and your business generally. To ensure that this course is practical, we will invite numerous guests who are currently working in the venture ecosystem: CEOs, venture capitalists, lawyers, journalists, etc.

It should be a fun ride. We hope you enjoy it!


The schedule of readings is noted on the syllabus.

Text - please purchase this!

Readings - here's the lineup:

Lecture Slides

  • Class 1 (Introduction): Greg pdf pptx
  • Class 3 (Customer Validation): Greg (pitching) pdf ppt / Dan Shapiro (using MTurk, Adwords, Excel) pdf pptx / Scott Jacobson (Amazon's approach) pdf pptx
  • Class 5 (Marketing): Greg ( pdf pptx
  • Class 6 (Team Building): Robin Andrulevich pdf pptx
  • Class 7 (Fundraising): David Wickwire (WSGR) pdf pptx / example term sheet xlsx
  • Class 8 (Financial Modeling and Term Sheets): Greg ("Constructing a Business Plan") pdf pptx / Greg ("The Only Five Terms That Matter") pdf pptx
  • Class 9 (Execution): Greg ("Thirteen Key Characteristics of a Great Startup Culture") pdf pptx / Mike Fridgen (Farecast/ - "GTM: Startup Style") pdf
  • Class 10 (Exits): Matt pdf pptx

Course Email

Send email to course members by using the address lazowska_wi14 at

The archive of email is available here.

Obtaining an Entry Code

As noted above, permission of the instructors is required in order to ensure balance among the participants.

Because this is a team project course and has limited capacity of 40 students, there will be no auditing - everyone needs to be all-in. And teams will form early - if you hang on for a while and then bail, you'll be letting others down, so please don't do this.

If you're ready to commit, complete this Catalyst survey - it requests your name, student number, email address, degree program, and a brief statement of your motivation for taking the course and any relevant experience. If you complete the survey, we'll assume that you'll enroll in the course if it's possible to accommodate you. CSE undergraduates will enroll in CSE490A. CSE graduate students will enroll in CSE599A1. CSE Professional Masters Students will enroll in CSEP590. Foster School MBA students will enroll in ENTRE532.

Thanks for your interest!

Dept or Curriculum: 
Greg Gottesman and Matt McIwain, Madrona Venture Group
Wednesdays, 6:00-9:15 p.m., CSE 305