Business Plan for Startups: Italian Case Studies

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
International Business
Entrepreneurship
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Contact Hours: 
45
Prerequisites: 

Background in business helpful but not required.

Additional student cost: 

None

Description: 

According to Schumpeter, entrepreneurship and innovation are tightly entangled, but this statement has never been so evident. Globalization, the convergence of technologies, and lifestyle evolution have created in enterprises, as in all economic and territorial institutions, the need for continuous innovation of products, processes, technology, or business models. The ability to produce, collect, interpret, and structure knowledge improves parallel to organizational and financial flexibility, and to the awareness of the interdependence with other actors of the ecosystem.

This course aims to reinforce creative skills in would-be entrepreneurs, promoting their entrepreneurial attitude, and giving them some basic tools to observe and understand society and markets, to design successful projects, and to operate. All the participants will gain the capability to think about a project in a comprehensive way, identifying all the major analysis and activities to be performed, in order to develop a new project, venture, or business from scratch.

The course introduces the students to the Italian startup environment, through a strong connection with Polihub (http://www.polihub.it). Polihub is the incubator, accelerator, and innovation district of Politecnico di Milano, the main technology university in Italy (engineering, design, architecture), with a strong connection with MIP-Politecnico di Milano (http://www.mip.polimi.it) one of the most renowned European business schools. At Polihub, students will have the introduction to the course with the presentation of the Italian startup environment done by Polihub staff. During the course, students work on a series of real business cases, some of them offered by startups incubated at Polihub.

The course is also based as the real experience of a startupper, sharing its entrepreneurial experience as business case. The professor is the founder of Wardroba (www.wardroba.com), a fashion social commerce, offering an e-commerce and digital market channel to emerging brands and designers.

The course has the format of a workshop. Students are divided into teams, formed by 3 to 5 members. Each of the team has to develop a business plan and discuss it in class through a presentation. The business ideas to be developed can be either proposed by students, or offered by startups incubated at Polihub.

Attendance policy: 

Regular class attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to attend classes each day, including course-related excursions.

IES Abroad Milano allows a maximum of TWO excused absences per semester. Each further absence will automatically result in a penalty of two points off (2/100) on the final grade. SEVEN absences per course (including 2 excused absences) will result in a failing grade for that course. Furthermore, an absence on the date of scheduled tests, presentations or quizzes does not entitle you to recover/reschedule such tests. Failure to attend your midterm and/or final exam will result in an F grade on that paper/exam.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Conceive and develop an entrepreneurial idea in a structured way, applying the frameworks presented in class
  • Create a business plan, with the following sections:
  • Business Description and Business Modeling
  • Strategic Analysis (Internal Analysis, External Analysis)
  • Market Description: size and characteristics of potential and available market
  • Segmentation, Target, and Positioning
  • Strategy
  • Operating Plan (divided by functional areas)
  • Marketing Plan
  • Economics (P&L, Cash Burn Rate, Return of the investment)
  • Create a presentation to describe the business model
  • Discuss and question the different sections of a business plan
  • Apply main managerial frameworks to extract business insights from articles, business reports, etc.
  • Form a team, coordinate with teammates, define priorities, respect deadlines
  • Propose and discuss business ideas
Method of presentation: 

Lectures, discussions, teamwork

Field study: 

Site Visit/Field Study in Business Design

  • The visit to a laboratory, a firm, an office, an enterprise in which the approach of business designers is applied to a real case or market. If possible, the visit could be related to Milano EXPO 2015.
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Participation - 10%
  • Midterm Exam - 20%
  • Team Project, Business Plan (10-20 pages document) - 40%
  • Final Team Project and Presentation (in class, of the Business Plan through a slideshow of 10 to 20 slides summing up the content of the business plan) - 30%

Participation
Class attendance and participation to discussions are essential to profit from the course. Some readings are mandatory and are the object of the midterm and final exam.

Midterm Exam
The midterm exam is an essay. Students are requested to analyze a business case, applying frameworks seen in class. 

Team Project, Business Plan
Each team presents the Business plan they developed. Each member is responsible for a part of the document and is evaluated on the consistency and the coherence of her or his part. (20 to 30 pages, Times New Roman, font: 12)

  • Business Plan – Team: 20% (team evaluation)
  • Business Plan – Members: 15% (individual evaluation based on answers during presentation)
  • Peer to Peer: 5% (team members evaluate each other’s)

Final Team Project and Presentation
The final team project is formed by a Business Plan of an entrepreneurial project developed by each team and presented in class through a slideshow. The business ideas can be either real business ideas offered by the startups incubated at Polihub, or entrepreneurial projects conceived by the students.

Each team will present and discuss their project in-class with 10 to 20 slides presentation. Each member presents a part of the plan. The final grade is the sum of the valuation of the presentation as a whole (the same for every team member) and the valuation of the single parts (everyone is evaluated on her/his part).

  • Presentation - Team: 20% (team evaluation)
  • Presentation - Members: 10% (individual evaluation)
content: 

 

Unit

Topic

Content

Readings

PART I: The Descriptive Part of a Business Plan

 

1

Introduction to entrepreneurship and innovation

  • Course introduction
  • Team Work Presentation
  • Class exchange on goals and expectations

Introduction to the themes treated throughout the course. The goal is to give tools and methods to present an entrepreneurial project, in the form of a written business plan and to discuss it through a presentation in class. Entrepreneurial ideas are developed in teams formed by 3 to 5 people. During this first lesson, the class shares goals and expectations.

(Part I: Canvas, pages 1-50)

Required Readings:

  • Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2010

2

Teamwork: Team building and idea generation

  • Idea Scouting
  • Idea Selection
  • Team Building

Students are invited to share their business ideas with the class. Other business ideas of existing Italian startups are provided by startups incubated in Polihub. Students can select the idea to develop even among them. Each idea is questioned and the most promising ones are selected. Teams (3 to 5 members) are formed around the ideas selected.

Required Readings:

  • The Definitive Business Plan. The fast track to intelligent business planning
for executives and entrepreneurs - Richard Stutely, FT – Pearsons (Chapter 1-What it’s all about? and 2-A winning presentation)

3

Field Study

Italian Startup Environment

Field study at Polihub (www.polihub.it), the incubator and innovation district of Politecnico di Milano, where the responsible of the incubator and accelerator district introduce the students to the Italian startup environment.

 

4

Business plan structure: Descriptive and quantitative parts

Unit 4 introduces the concept and the structure of a business plan, and its importance as a document to develop, manage, and control a business. Even startuppers have to know basic concepts in order to develop and present their projects to potential collaborators and investors.

Required Readings:

  • The Definitive Business Plan. The fast track to intelligent business planning for executives and entrepreneurs - Richard Stutely, FT – Pearsons (Chapter 3 – Getting down to it)

5

Introduction to Business Modeling

What a business model is and why it is so relevant? Unit 5 introduces the concept of business modeling, and its growing importance, proved  by  the  growth  of  businesses  whose  business  models  are  by  far  more complicated than the simple producing and selling a product. In digital economy this is particularly true, and it’s questioned in class through real cases and examples.

Required Readings:

  • Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2010
    (Part II: Patterns, pages 51-121)

6

Business Modeling II

Discussions and teamwork on business modeling cases.

Required Readings:

  • Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2010 (Part IV: Strategy; pages: 196-240)

7

Business Description

Business Plan Review: Business and Product / Service Description

Required Readings:

  • How to Design a Winning Business Model – Ramon Casadeus-Masanell, Joan E. Ricart. HBR, January, February 2011 (9 pages)

8

Strategic Analysis: External Analysis

External Analysis

  • PEST Analysis
  • 5 Competitive Forces
  • Key Success Factors

Unit 8 presents a solid approach to perform the external analysis, offering a framework to deal with main trends and forces acting in markets and society.

How to recognize and leverage existing opportunities? How to mitigate risks? What is the structure of a market? Which forces interact? What is the result of their combined action?

Required Readings:

  • The Definitive Business Plan. The fast track to intelligent business planning
for executives and entrepreneurs - Richard Stutely, FT – Pearsons (Chapter 5 – Know the world)
  • Ten IT-enabled Business Trends for the Decade Ahead – Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, James Manyika. McKinsey Quarterly, May 2013 (13 pages)
  • Global Media and Entertainment Media Outlook – PWC

9

Strategic Analysis

Business Plan Review: Strategic Analysis. External Analysis.

 

10

Midterm Exam

Essay over business modeling and strategy.

During the exam, students are invited to analyze a business, and its opportunities using the framework presented in class.

 

11

Strategic Analysis: Internal Analysis

Internal Analysis

  • Vision, Mission, Values
  • Core Competences
  • Competitive Advantage

Required Readings:

  • The Definitive Business Plan. The fast track to intelligent business planning
for executives and entrepreneurs - Richard Stutely, FT – Pearsons (Chapter 4 – Know yourself)
  • The Core Competences of the Corporation – C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel, HBR (16 pages)
  • What is Organizational Culture? And Why Should We Care? – Michael Watkins, HBR (2 pages)

12

Strategic Analysis: Internal Analysis

Business Plan Review: Strategic Analysis. Internal Analysis

 

13

Strategic Analysis:

SWOT Analysis

The output of Strategic Analysis is a SWOT, a reasoned list of points of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and an indication of possible measures to mitigate risks and leverage opportunities.

Required Readings:

  • The Global Stock Image Market Survey – University of Heidelberg (paper 1-2-3)

14

Strategic Analysis: SWOT and Industry structure

Business Plan Review: The Output of the Strategic Analysis

Required Readings

15

The Market and the Competitive Analysis

Analysis of the potential, available, and target market. Definition of direct and indirect competitors. Benchmark with competitors

Required Readings

  • Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google – John DeightonLeora Kornfeld, HBR, Jan.2013
  • Technological Leapfrogging. Lessons from the U.S. Video Game Console Industry – Melissa A. Shilling, 2003

16

The Strategy

What is strategy and why it is so important for a company?

Here the strategy is presented as the bridge between the observation and the analysis of the environment and the activities to perform, the skills to acquire or cultivate, the people to assign, the organization of the processes.

The output of this phase contains main strategic objectives.

Business Plan Review: The Output of the Strategic Analysis

Required Readings:

  • The Definitive Business Plan. The fast track to intelligent business planning
for executives and entrepreneurs - Richard Stutely, FT – Pearsons (Chapter 6 – The core of your plan)
  • What is Strategy? – Michael Porter. HBR, 2000 (21 pages)

17

Operational plan

The operational plan starts from the strategic objectives and defines, business area by business area, function by function, the sequence of activities to be performed in order to realize the goals of the enterprise or the project.

Business Plan Review: The Strategy

Required Readings:

  • How to Write a Great Business Plan – William A. Sahlman.  HBR, 1997 (12 pages)

18

Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan development.

How to reach an audience? How to create brand awareness? What is the proper marketing mix for your business? What are the main indicators for digital marketing? How to work with social media, newsletter, SEO of website?

The marketing plan has a strong focus on digital marketing.

Business Plan Review: The Operational Plan

Required Readings:

  • The Definitive Business Plan. The fast track to intelligent business planning
for executives and entrepreneurs - Richard Stutely, FT – Pearsons (Chapter 7 – About these numbers)

19

Profit & Loss

Profit and Loss.

How to create a simple Profit and Loss Statement, to control the profitability of a business.

Business Plan Review: The Marketing Plan

Required Readings:

  • The Definitive Business Plan. The fast track to intelligent business planning
for executives and entrepreneurs - Richard Stutely, FT – Pearsons (Chapter 8 – Getting to Gross Profit and 9 – Getting to net profit)

20

Cash Burn Rate

Cash Burn Rate and why it’s so important for startups. How to create a simple model to control your monthly cash outflow.

Business Plan Review: The P&L Statement

 

21

Indexes and return of the investment

How to measure your performances in the different areas?

What’s the return of the investment?

What’s the cost of client acquisition?

What’s the customer lifetime value?

Main practical indexes are introduced, questioned, and applied to real cases

Business Plan Review: The overall business plan

 

22

Final Exam

The final exam is the presentation in class of the business plans through a speech supported by a slideshow, plus the submission of a written business plan.

 

 

Required readings: 

Mandatory handbooks
Students are requested to follow Business Model Generation by Alex Osterwalder, for the phase of business design, and Stutely’s handbook for the phase of business plan.

If you are interested in startup peculiarities, consider Steven Blank’s Manual

  • Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2010
  • The Definitive Business Plan. The fast track to intelligent business planning
for executives and entrepreneurs - Richard Stutely, FT – Pearsons

Optional handbook
Startup Focus (optional)

  • The Startup Owner’s Manual. The Step – by - Step Guide for Building a Great Company – Steven Blank and Bob Dorf; K&S Ranch Inc, 2012

Business Modeling & Planning

Required Readings:

  • How to Design a Winning Business Model – Ramon Casadeus-Masanell, Joan E. Ricart. HBR, January, February 2011 (9 pages)
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan – William A. Sahlman.  HBR, 1997 (12 pages)

Strategy, Organization, and Corporate Culture

Required Readings:

  • What is Strategy? – Michael Porter. HBR, 2000 (21 pages)
  • The Core Competences of the Corporation – C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel, HBR (16 pages)
  • What is Organizational Culture? And Why Should We Care? – Michael Watkins, HBR (2 pages)

Scenario Analysis and Business Cases

Required Readings:

  • Ten IT-enabled Business Trends for the Decade Ahead – Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, James Manyika. McKinsey Quarterly, May 2013 (13 pages)
  • Technological Leapfrogging. Lessons from the U.S. Video Game Console Industry – Melissa A. Shilling, 2003
  • Apple in 2013: how to sustain a competitive advantage? – Frank Rothaermel; HBR, Jan. 2014
  • The Rise and Fall of Nokia – Juan Alcacer, Tarun Khanna, Christine Snively, HBR, Jan. 2014
  • Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google – John Deighton, Leora Kornfeld, HBR, Jan.2013
  • The Global Stock Image Market Survey – University of Heidelberg (paper 1-2-3)
  • Global Media and Entertainment Media Outlook – PWC