For a number of years, Greg Gottesman and his fellow Madrona Venture Group Managing Director Matt McIlwain have taught an entrepreneurship course in the Foster School of Business. During Winter 2014 they taught the course in Computer Science & Engineering, targeted to a technical audience that included CSE undergraduate and graduate students as well as Foster School MBA students. Greg offered a repeat of the course in Winter 2015 - an offering that added students from Interaction Design to the mix. In Winter 2016 - now a Venture Partner at Madrona and Managing Director and Co-Founder of Pioneer Square Labs - he offered it again. And now, in Winter 2017, Greg will again offer the course.

Greg is the very best. Madrona has funded more than 15 UW CSE startups - including Impinj, which IPOd this past summer, and Turi, which was acquired by Apple in the same month. They and the colleagues they will rope into providing guest lectures and student feedback have a wealth of experience to share. The course is, above all, practical - interdisciplinary teams will develop a pitch, product demo, and business plan.

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, students in Interaction Design, and students in the Master of Human-Computer Interaction Design program - all by permission of the instructors in order to ensure balance among the participants. 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.

The course will meet Wednesday evenings from 6:00-9:15, from January 4 through March 15 (that is, including Exam Week) in DEMPSEY 104. It will be a four credit, graded course. The CSE faculty contact (and the author of this web page - don't blame Greg!) is Ed Lazowska.

Course Syllabus, Reading Assignments, and Homework Assignments

Here is a detailed syllabus in Word and pdf that includes the content of each evening's presentation, the schedule of reading assignments, and the schedule of homework 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. Forty percent 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!

Course Email

Send email to course members by using the address multi_cse490a_wi17 at

The archive of email is available here.


The schedule of readings is noted on the syllabus (Word or pdf).

Prior to the first class, read Gideon Lewis-Kraus, “The Great A.I. Awakening,” The New York Times Magazine, 12/14/2016.

Texts - please be sure you have access to these!

Additional readings during the quarter - here's the lineup:


The schedule of homeworks is noted on the syllabus (Word or pdf).

Homeworks should be emailed to Cindy Petek at Madrona Venture Group - cindy at

Lecture Slides

Slides will be posted following most lectures ...

  • Class 1 (Introduction): Greg (Entrepreneurship Overview) pdf pptx
  • Class 3 (Customer Validation): Gaurav Oberoi (Surveying for Startups) Google Slides; Scott Jacobson (Amazon's Approach to Product Definition) pdf pptx
  • Class 4 (Designing a Great Product): Ben Gilbert (How to Design for Startups) pdf
  • Class 6 (Building a Great Culture): Greg (Fifteen Key Characteristics of a Great Startup Culture) pdf pptx
  • Class 7 (Financing Dynamics): Xiao Wang (Boundless) pdf; Greg (Term Sheet) pdf doc; Greg (The Only Five Terms That Matter) pdf pptx; Craig Sherman (The Legal Side of Things: Corporate Start-up Fundamentals) pdf ppt
  • Class 8 (Business Planning and Financial Modeling): Julie Sandler (Building a Great Board of Advisors) pdf pptx; Tim Porter (Constructing an Operating Plan and Financial Forecast) pdf pptx Tim's spreadsheet xlsx
  • Class 9 (Go-To-Market Plan): Robert Schulte (Aligning the Delivery and Capture of Value) pdf pptx
  • Patents 101 - supplementary presentation by Allison De Wispelaere: pdf

Final Presentations

Some time during exam week (March 13-17 - precise schedule TBD), there will be a 3-hour final pitch/demo session at Madrona Venture Group (999 Third Avenue, 34th Floor) and/or Pioneer Square Labs (111 S. Jackson Street). Now scheduled for 2:00-5:00 on Friday March 10 at Madrona Venture Group!

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