Starting Lean

The Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship has launched a new course called Starting Lean at Dalhousie University to get students out of the classroom and into real-world customer discovery. The startup product development program focuses attention on finding out what customers want before creating the product. The Lean Startup methodology revolves not around the question “Can this product be built?” but instead, the questions “Should this product be built?” and “Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?”

Starting Lean Course

If you are interested in either starting your own for-profit business or social enterprise – or working on a startup team – this is the course for you!

 An Innovative Campus-Wide Course in Entrepreneurship*

“A Journey in Customer Discovery and Business Model Validation”

This course provides real-world, hands-on learning on what it’s like to actually start a scalable company or enterprise. This class is not about how to write a business plan. It’s not an exercise on how smart you are in a classroom, or how well you use the research library to size markets. And the end result is not a PowerPoint slide deck for a venture capital (VC) presentation.

This is a practical class – essentially a lab, not a theory class. Our goal, within the constraints of a limited amount of time, is to create an entrepreneurial experience for you with all of the pressures and demands of the real world in an early stage start up.

You will be getting “out of the building” talking to customers, partners, competitors, as you encounter the chaos and uncertainty of how a startup actually works. You’ll work in teams learning how to turn a great idea into a great company. You’ll learn how to use a business model canvas to brainstorm each part of a company and customer development to see whether anyone other than you would want/use your product. Each day will be a new adventure outside the classroom as you test each part of your business model and then share your hard-earned knowledge with the rest of the class.

This course is targeted at undergraduate students in their third year of study (20 credit hours) or higher, as well as graduate students, and is open to all disciplines. Previous courses in management, commerce, computer science, or design theory are not required.

  • Course Number: MGMT 3902 and BUSI 5902
  • Location: Room 2600, 2nd Floor, Killam Library
  • Pre-requisites: No pre-requisites (open to graduate students and third-year undergraduate students and above)
  • For instructor’s approval to enroll or for more information please contact: Dr. Mary Kilfoil

* This unique course was developed at Dalhousie University by Dr. Mary Kilfoil and Ed Leach. The course uses the Lean Launchpad model developed by Steve Blank and Gerry Engle at the University of California (Berkeley). The classes include students from engineering, neuroscience, computer science, science and business. The course is designed to teach students and young researchers about commercialization and entrepreneurship.

Innovation Course

This is an exciting new, experiential, elective course on innovation. It is designed to be interdisciplinary and assist students to expand their perception, employ creative skills, develop ideas in a team-based setting, sustain a creative climate and cultivate innovation. It is a pilot project of the DalVison-Academic Innovation Initiative and is housed at Dalhousie Universit's Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship in the Faculty of Management.

The Innovation Course is highly interactive and thought provoking, involving team exercises to reinforce creativity and innovation techniques taught. The aim of the course is to create a process that develops and promotes imaginative, flexible and practical thought and action by:

  • Understanding creative problem solving theory and developing a more creative attitude;
  • Improving student’s ability to respond practically and creatively to problems and opportunities;
  • Learning a variety of approaches designed to develop ideas, cultivate innovation and apply the knowledge and skills learned;
  • Understanding design theory, and integrating the elements of design theory as it applies to developing and implementing innovative solutions and processes.

Course Design

The class is organized around four main components:

  • Foundation building: Class presentations, lectures, and exercises on the foundations of creativity, creative problem solving, design thinking and innovation theory.
  • Observation: During the observation phase, students listen to inspirational guest speakers and TED talks – some of the most interesting and proven innovators.
  • Sense-making: After the observational phase, students describe to one another what was learned. Reflecting on their experiences, students identify problems they would like to address and change projects they would like to implement over the remaining weeks of the class.
  • Creating and innovating: Students conceive and develop innovation projects. They apply the principles of creative problem-solving and design thinking to better understand the problem they are addressing, the end users and their environment as they continue to innovate, pivot, iterate and translate this knowledge to develop innovative solutions. Each team presents its project accomplishments on the final day of the course.

Dalhousie Halifax Campus students use course number: CSCI 4190

  • This course is open to all interested undergraduate students (3rd year and above) across all faculties at Dalhousie.
  • Prior course experience in innovation or computer science not required.

Dalhousie Agricultural Campus: (Coming Soon)

  • This course is an eligible elective across programs at the Agricultural campus.

This course is open to third-year students and above in a Dalhousie program (or by permission of Instructor).