Duke New Ventures Clinic, Management 490, Fall 2009

Course Overview

The Duke New Ventures Clinic ("DNVC") is part of a broadly coordinated, university-wide effort to provide institutional support for entrepreneurial activity within the university. The course provides students the opportunity to participate in an attempt to start a new venture out of intellectual property coming out of Duke or another university. The course is intended for students interested in becoming entrepreneurs, working in venture capital or other positions related to start-up and early-stage companies, or who are interested in understanding the process of entrepreneurship.

The goal is to assist in launching actual companies, including market identification, technology assessment, strategy development, team formation, financing strategy and securing seed capital for these projects.

Student teams will be formed to work with researchers on the commercialization of technologies developed at their university. Under the supervision of an experienced entrepreneur and venture capitalist, student teams will produce complete business assessments and plans. Each team will prepare a business idea for submission to the venture capital community. The plans will be expected to cover market analysis, go to market strategy, definition and protection of competitive advantage (including IP protection), organization design, operating plan and financial plan (including capitalization). Teams will be collectively responsible for all of the work.

The class will meet roughly weekly. In addition, teams will have regular meetings with the instructor. The course is completely focused on developing the business plans. There may be additional readings based on the needs of the teams. Students are expected to share ideas from their previous course work or work experience. Significant class discussion will be devoted to the critical issues of leadership and team building.

All DNVC projects will be undertaken in accordance with the University Intellectual Property and Patent Policies. Neither DNVC nor student participants will maintain any proprietary rights to the subject matter of the projects or the work product emanating from the program. Students may be asked to sign confidentiality agreements and other similar agreements in order to participate in these projects. Second year standing is required.

Requirements & grading

The focus of the course is the development of a business plan for the team’s project. Teams will create a business plan document and an hour long presentation which will be presented to a panel of venture capitalists and experienced entrepreneurs.

The grade will be primarily determined by the quality of the final plan document and presentation. However, so consideration will be given to the intermediate deliverables.


In order to have teams with the right balance and skill mix, all students must send to the instructor a brief (< 1 page) resume outlining previous work experience, education, focus of study at Fuqua (if any) and business interests.

In addition, the students are requested to send the instructor a brief statement of their personal goals for the course.

Course structure

The course is organized to allow teams to follow a structured process in building a business plan for their research projects.

Six milestones provide the structure for the class. The deliverable for milestone .5 is a 15 minute in class presentation. The deliverables for milestones 1-4 are the appropriate section of the business plan document itself and a 15 minute presentation of the material.

Milestone 0: Team assignments

Based on brief resumes supplied prior to class, a preliminary assignment of team members and projects will be made. These assignments may be adjusted in class.

Milestone .5: Understanding the technology

Before the teams proceed to an analysis of the market, it is very important that they have a clear understanding of their technology and its potential applications. A measure of how well they understand their technology is how well they can explain it to their peers.

Milestone 1: Market characterization

Absolutely critical to the success of any new venture is the existence of a suitable and addressable market. Each team will begin with a thorough piece of work on the potential market. The deliverable will cover:

•    Characterization of the need

•    Characterization of the buyer and the buying process

•    Sizing of the market opportunity

•    Discussion of inhibitors to adoption of the solution

The work presented at this stage should be based both on interviews with actual prospective customers as well as on secondary research.

Milestone 2: Go to market plan

Topics covered in this phase will include:

•    Product description

•    Pricing strategy

•    Distribution strategy

•    Overall marketing strategy

•    Partnering opportunities, if appropriate

At this stage, teams should present 2 or 3 alternative strategies that were considered and the rationale for the approach chosen.

Milestone 3: Competitive advantage

A key both for acquiring funding and for the success of the enterprise is that the firm have a clear and sustainable competitive advantage. The object of this phase is to articulate clearly the firm’s competitive advantage and how it can be protected. This will involve an analysis of:

•    Competition, actual and anticipated

•    Description of the firm’s positioning against competition

•    Strategies for enhancing, protecting and sustaining firm’s competitive advantage

Milestone 4: Overview of operating plan & projected financials

By this point, the teams will have understood who the customer is, what the product is and how it will be brought to the customer, and how the enterprise can compete effectively. The last step will be to create a high level overview of an operating plan and a financial plan. The level expected here is the level appropriate for asking for seed funding.

The operating plan will outline the execution steps required to make it all happen. It will include:

•    Organization, team building, management team

•    Sales execution plan

•    Marketing plan

•    Technical plan

•    Business development or any other critical activities

The financial plan is the place where all of the pieces of a plan come together – this is where the plan “closes.” Topics to be covered this include:

•    Projected financial statements for the firm (pro forma income statement, balance sheet, cash flow)

•    Capitalization table

•    Funding request and use of funds

•    Anticipated exit


Each team will deliver intermediate presentations according the course schedule (below), and will also submit drafts of the business plan document covering the topic of the relevant milestone according to the following schedule.


September 28                        Milestone 1


October 12                        Milestone 2


November 9                         Milestone 3


November 30                        Milestone 4


December 10                        Complete business plan document

Course schedule

Each team will deliver intermediate presentations according the course schedule (below), and will also submit drafts of the business plan document covering the topic of the relevant milestone according to the following schedule.


September 8                 CLASS: Organizing meeting

Guest lecture: Technology transfer at Duke: Robert Taber, Vice Chancellor of Corporate and Venture Development, Duke University


Milestone 0: Teams formed and projects assigned


September 10               TEAM: Meeting with researcher


September 14               CLASS:  Team presentations

Milestone .5: Presentation of technology


September 17              CLASS: Market analysis

Guest lecture: Suzanne Miglucci, SVP, Marketing & Strategic Alliances, SciQuest


September 21               TEAM: Meet with instructor


September 24               TEAM: Meet with instructor


September 28               CLASS:  Team presentations

Milestone 1: Market characterization


October 1                     CLASS: Market planning

Guest lecture: Jonathan Gindes, Founder Affinergy


October 5                     TEAM: Meet with instructor


October 8                     TEAM: Meet with instructor


October 12                   CLASS:  Team presentations

Milestone 2: Go to market plan


October 15                   TEAM: Meet with instructor


October 29                   TEAM: Meet with instructor


November 2                 CLASS: Competitive advantage

Guest lecture: Matthew Megaro, Founder, Quill Medical; Executive in Residence, Fuqua


November 5                 TEAM: Meet with instructor


November 9                 CLASS: Team presentations

Milestone 3: Competition and Competitive advantage


November 12               TEAM: Meet with instructor

            November 16               CLASS: Building an organization, an operating and financial plan.
                                              Guest lecture: Russell Johnsen, Chairman, Mercury Computer

November 19               TEAM: Meet with instructor


November 23               NO CLASS


November 30               CLASS: Team presentations

                        Milestone 4: Overview of operating & financial plans


December 3                 CLASS: Working session

20 minute presentation by each team


December 7                 TEAM: Meet with instructor


December 10               Final presentations to VCs

Jon Fjeld,
Sep 7, 2009, 8:39 AM
Jon Fjeld,
Oct 1, 2009, 8:53 AM
Jon Fjeld,
Nov 6, 2009, 2:59 PM
Jon Fjeld,
Sep 17, 2009, 12:52 PM