For a number of years, Greg Gottesman and his fellow Madrona Venture Group Managing Director Matt McIlwain taught an entrepreneurship course in the Foster School of Business. During Winter 2014 they taught the course in the Paul G. Allen School of 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 and MHCI+D to the mix. In Winter 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, Greg - now Managing Director and Co-Founder of Pioneer Square Labs - offered it again. And now, in Winter 2021, Greg will again offer the course, with an assist, as in past years, from Allen School professor Ed Lazowska.

Greg is the very best. He has invested in over 100 companies as a venture capitalist, played a founding role in more than a dozen startups, and helped fund more than 15 UW CSE spinouts. He and the colleagues he 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, business plan, and product demo.

This course is open to Allen School undergraduates, combined BS/MS students, Professional Masters Program students, and Ph.D. students, as well as to Foster School MBA and EMBA students, students in Interaction Design, graduate students in Human Centered Design & Engineering, and students in the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and 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 project teams will form early - if you hang on for a week or two 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 6 through March 10. This quarter, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be online.

This is a four credit, graded course. The UW faculty contact (and the author of this web page - don't blame Greg!) is Ed Lazowska.

Course Application

Course application is closed - we are wildly over-subscribed. But we'll be back next year!

Course Staff

Greg Gottesman, greg at
Ed Lazowska, lazowska at
Adam Towers (TA),

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 Objectives

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. Sixty 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 pitches, 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, and others involved in the startup community.


You should expect and demand to be treated by your classmates and the course staff with respect. You belong here, and we are here to help you learn and enjoy this course. If any incident occurs that challenges this commitment to a supportive and inclusive environment, please let the instructors know so that the issue can be addressed. We are personally committed to this, and subscribe to the Allen School Inclusiveness Statement.

Course Email

Send email to course members by using the address multi_csep590a_wi21 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 Some Thoughts on Business Plans (HBS Case #9-897-101).

Background reading - please be sure you have access to these, all are worth your time!

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 Athena Duran at Pioneer Square Labs - athena at

Lecture Slides

Slides will be posted following most lectures ...

  • Class 1 (Introduction): Greg (Entrepreneurship Overview) pdf pptx
  • Class 3 (Customer Validation): Peter Denton (Validating Market Demand through Digital Marketing) pdf; Bill Carr and Colin Bryar (Working Backwards) pdf (see also "PR FAQ template" and "Amazon Kindle Press Release" under "Additional readings" above)
  • Class 4 (Building Product): David Zager and Ben Gilbert (How to Design for Startups) pdf
  • Class 5 (Marketing Your Business): Joe Heitzeberg (Startup Marketing: Aim, validate & grow) pdf
  • Class 6 (Go-to-Market & Sales): Dan Lewis (What Are The Best Ways To Think Of Ideas For A Startup?) link to Forbes; (Convoy) pdf pptx (large embedded video); Kelly Wright (10 Secrets of Sales) pdf
  • Class 7 (Financial Modeling & Scaling a Business): Selina Farrand (Financial Modeling for Your Startup) pdf; Selina's model xlsx; Tim Porter (Constructing an Operating Plan and Financial Forecast) pdf; Tim Porter's model xlsx
  • Class 8 (Financing Dynamics): Craig Sherman (The Legal Side of Things: Corporate Start-up Funding) pdf; Annotated legal term sheet for venture capital financing pdf; docx

Final Presentations

During the tenth and final class session - Wednesday March 10, 6:00-9:15 - each team will have eight minutes to present its business to a panel of top venture capital and angel investors and then take five minutes of Q&A.

2021 Team Projects

  • AUXIN - Enables social media content creators to repurpose and deploy on a range of social media platforms to grow exposure and audience
  • CodeFair - Enables users of open source software to add monetary tips to their issues, incentivizing maintainers
  • Copia - Makes buying fresh local produce convenient and affordable; includes a “group order” feature that provides a discount
  • InFact - Browser extension and cloud service enabling users to verify the validity and bias of an article; combines crowd-sourced reviews with machine learning
  • Minerva - SaaS solution that makes hiring international remote workers seamless and easy
  • Mote - A FinTech company that facilitates fractional share ownership by Gen-Z in brands they love, cementing loyalty
  • ProManage - Material management and price monitoring software for small to medium contractors
  • VerbalEyes - Automated audio captioning of video content to meet ADA requirements

2020 Team Projects

  • Footprint - Enables sustainable food choices through a carbon footprint scoring system of food products
  • Career Compass - AI-enabled personalized career guidance for women
  • Crumbs - A marketplace for excess food from small and mid-sized cafes, diners and bakeries
  • Discover Art - A marketplace connecting local artists with buyers interested in affordable art
  • MoreLife.AI - A data platform enabling AI healthcare companies to acquire, clean, and label medical training data
  • Classy - Insightful and personalized course data that enables efficient course planning
  • StreamLocal - Enables any business, on any budget, to advertise with streaming video
  • Vivid 3D - Allows 3D product teams to quickly and easily collaborate on their work
  • - Dietary control of bowel disorders via microbiome analysis

2019 Team Projects

  • OverEasy - Effortless excellence in food safety for restaurants
  • - Digital assistant for improving public speaking skills
  • Stylit - Wardrobe styling for young male professionals
  • The U - Student and alumni Reddit-like network - anonymous honest answers
  • SafeMode - Waze-like app for personal safety in LatAm
  • S I A - Expert-driven library of audio summaries of bestsellers and self-help books
  • Finulate - Automated financial modeling for startups
  • ReelFish - CrowdCow for seafood
  • Bottomline - Accurate comparison of compensation packages

2018 Team Projects

  • Podessa - Business intelligence for podcast advertising
  • CodeLok - Storage where you need it
  • InstaUp - AI-powered content assistant for Instagram
  • Kache - Virtual goecaching
  • EdgeSports - Taking the heartburn out of sports scheduling
  • Gambit - Maximizing credit card rewards with ease
  • Roamed - Travel + healthcare
  • TechBuddies - Make technology your friend
  • Dining Pass - Restaurant subscription service
Dept or Curriculum: 
Greg Gottesman and Matt McIwain, Madrona Venture Group
Wednesdays, 6:00-9:15 p.m., CSE 305