TL;DR Interdisciplinary teams will develop a pitch, business plan, and product demo. In order to achieve an appropriate mix of student backgrounds and a manageable class size, a course application and permission of the instructors is required to obtain an entry code.


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 in collaboration with Allen School professor Ed Lazowska, adding a technical audience that included Allen School undergraduate and graduate students to the Foster School MBA students. Greg and Ed offered a repeat of the course in Winter 2015, adding design-oriented students from Interaction Design, HCDE, and MHCI+D to the mix. In Winter 2016-2022 Ed and Greg - now Managing Director and Co-Founder of Pioneer Square Labs - repeated the course. And now, in Winter 2023, they will be joined by Oren Etzioni - serial entrepreneur, CEO of the Allen Institute for AI from its inception through September 2022, technical director of the AI2 Incubator, Venture Partner at Madrona Venture Group, and Professor Emeritus in the Allen School.

Greg and Oren are the very best. Greg 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 Allen School spinouts. Oren has founded multiple companies including Netbot (folded into Jango), Jango (acquired by Excite), ClearForest (acquired by Reuters), and Farecast (acquired by Microsoft), written over 200 technical papers as well as commentary on AI for The New York Times, Wired, and Nature, and helped to pioneer meta-search, online comparison shopping, machine reading, and Open Information Extraction.

Greg, Oren, 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, 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 4 through March 8 in PACCAR 291. (Office hours will be held virtually - we first did this in 2021 due to the pandemic, but it has proven to be more convenient for everyone.) Project teams will spend a great deal of time working together outside of class.

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


Course Application

Course application is closed - we are fully enrolled for Winter 2023. But we'll be back next year!


Course Staff

Greg Gottesman, greg at psl.com (instructor)
Ed Lazowska, lazowska at cs.washington.edu (instructor)
Oren Etzioni, orene at allenai.org (instructor)
Ayan Gupta, ayangupt at cs.washington.edu (TA)
Andrey Risukhin, risuka at cs.washington.edu (TA)
Andrea Leach, andrea at psl.com (PSL support)
Matt Wang, matt at psl.com (PSL support)

Course Syllabus, Reading Assignments, and Homework Assignments

Here is a detailed syllabus 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.

Inclusiveness

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.

Feedback

The course staff welcomes your feedback! Should you have issues or concerns that you are not comfortable raising directly with the course staff, there are a number of mechanisms available to you. They're listed here.

No recording! No social media!

Our guests must be able to speak candidly. No recording! No social media! What our guests tell us remains among us.

Covid Protocol

Masking is no longer required at UW, but we certainly encourage it. It's especially worthwhile during the first few weeks of the quarter, when folks are returning from holiday travel and social events.

As the quarter unfolds, if you do not feel healthy, or if you believe you may have been exposed, or if you test positive, please stay home! (Send Ed email explaining your absence.) Missing one class session or team project work session is not the end of the world! Your health, and the health of your classmates and project teammates, is paramount!

UW's Covid information page is here.

Course Email

Send email to course members by using the address multi_cse599a1_wi23 at uw.edu.

The archive of email is available here.

Office Hours

Contact any of us by email at any time if you want to schedule a time to talk! Official office hours:

  • Greg and Ed: Saturdays (and Sundays if needed), 10:00-noon, by appointment, on Zoom - schedule with Andrea, andrea at psl.com
  • Ayan: Mondays 9:00-10:00, Thursdays 10:00-11:00, by appointment, on Zoom - schedule with Ayan ayangupt at cs.washington.edu
  • Andrey: Tuesdays 4:00-5:30, Thursdays 3:00-4:00, by appointment, on Zoom - schedule with Andrey risuka at cs.washington.edu
Don't be shy! We are committed to making this class a great learning experience for you!

Readings

The schedule of readings is noted on the syllabus.

Prior to the first class, read Some Thoughts on Business Plans (HBS Case #9-897-101).

Background reading - All of these are worth your time!

A podcast that you should follow

  • Acquired (Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal)

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

Homeworks

The schedule of homeworks is noted on the syllabus.

Homeworks should be emailed to Matt Wang at Pioneer Square Labs - matt at psl.com.

Lecture Slides

Slides will be posted following most classes. (These slides are for your personal use in connection with this course, and are absolutely not for sharing. All quantitative information is strictly confidential.)

  • Week 1 (Introduction): Greg (Entrepreneurship Overview) pdf pptx; Mitchell Hashimoto & Armon Dadgar (Lessons from Scaling HashiCorp) pdf
  • Week 3 (Customer Validation): Peter Denton (Finding 'Product Market Pull' through Digital Marketing) pdf; Colin Bryar and Bill Carr (Working Backwards: How Amazon built an invention machine) pdf (see also "PR FAQs for Product Documents," "Working Backwards PR FAQ Template," and "Amazon Kindle Press Release" under "Additional readings" above)
  • Week 4 (Building Product): David Zager and Ben Gilbert (Accelerate learnings with design & no-code tools) Pitch; Devin Ajimine and Marisa Chentakul (LifeAt) pdf

Final Presentations

During the tenth and final class session - Wednesday March 8, 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.

2022 Team Projects

  • Bloom - A platform for managers that increases team engagement by providing information about employee attitudes and preferences
  • Deadwood - Climate impact assessment for small and medium companies
  • entertain.ai - AI-assisted music composition for videogames and more
  • Gizmo - A market place for drone services, initially focused on real estate
  • Goodbot - Kadence: a multi-calendar browser extension to reduce the pain of scheduling multi-person meetings
  • Hera Adventures - Connecting female athletes to their fans
  • IngrediSense - For individuals with dietary restrictions: know what’s in your food, fast & easy
  • Reli - Building an in-depth dermatology experience through images and data
  • TriSimpli - Clinical trial matching, made easy

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
  • Bio.me - Dietary control of bowel disorders via microbiome analysis

2019 Team Projects

  • OverEasy - Effortless excellence in food safety for restaurants
  • Pitch.ai - 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: 
CSE
Number: 
599A1
URL: 
http://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/cse590ent
Instructor: 
Greg Gottesman and Matt McIwain, Madrona Venture Group
Place/time: 
Wednesdays, 6:00-9:15 p.m., CSE 305