Entrepreneurship: Planning a Startup in Central Asia

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What does it take to turn an idea into a business in Central Asia? In recent years there has been a revolution in thinking about how to prepare students to be entrepreneurs. Startups are no longer seen as small versions of large corporations. The ability to write a good business plan is no longer seen as a marker of success. Startups are different. Startups break old, established business models. Startups now launch with just a few features, then evolve, pivot, grow, and adapt as they learn what works and what doesn’t. Founders wait to hire staff until they really, really understand how they can deliver what the customer really wants.

It isn’t hard to come up with a good business idea. The hard part is building a successful company on that idea. MBAs are trained and skilled in analysis and execution, but startups need founders who are skilled in searching out new business models, and finding and understanding customers.

In this very short course we are going build on what you know about executing a business plan to learn about what comes before execution – planning the business model.

We will use Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur as our text. We will also take advantage of on-line video lectures that are based on the text and a set of lectures on “Starting a Startup” taught in the engineering school at Stanford University.

Local entrepreneurs will share their experiences with their startups. They are being asked to focus their remarks on different elements of the Business Model Generation Canvas. They will also share their insights into business opportunities in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia.

Students will form teams of two or three people to use the Business Model Generation canvas to develop one new business idea for presentation at the final class. With a bit of luck, there will be two prizes, one for the best analysis using the canvas, the other for highest probability of success.

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