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MAN 631 Creativity and Entrepreneurship in Practice (Fall 2017)

MAN 631 Creativity and Entrepreneurship in Practice (Fall 2017)

Course Syllabus

Creativity and Entrepreneurship in Practice introduces students to the more practical elements of innovation and entrepreneurship. In this class, you will design your own product or service and ideally have an early stage startup by the end of the term. You will also reach out to potential customers and provide a pitch presentation in front of investors and an expert jury by the end of the semester. Please note that developing your business idea is a team effort, lots of fun and quite a thrill but also requires lots of dedication, commitment and long nights of work with your team outside of the classroom. For the winning teams of the final pitches, there are interesting options to obtain real seed financing. Are you ready for a challenge and do you want to change the world? So are you ready for the real Startup journey? Join us! By the way: The course will start on Friday, September 15, 2017. In addition to the rooms mentioned in our course schedule below, you can book our DesignLAB throughout the course. Our DesignLAB offers you lots of space to be creative, Design Thinking materials, a 3D printer and much more :-). 


The course `Creativity and Entrepreneurship in Practice´ introduces concepts of creativity and entrepreneurship and tools to develop business designs and eventually business models. Whereas MAN 633 Entrepreneurial Spirit starts with already advanced projects, MAN 631 starts at the very grassroots of building a business – with team building, ideation and design thinking. By the end of the course, all student teams will have turned their idea into a pitch deck that will be presented in a real startup pitch setting with a jury including experts from the private equity, legal, consulting and academic world. Thus, all the projects that will be developed in this class are taken seriously and will be developed into real ventures by the end of class – no showcases, simple write-ups whatsoever. You can expect tremendous opportunities for your personal and entrepreneurial development in this class – including growing your network into the German startup scene and beyond. Beware of the following upsides and downsides: The course is tons of fun and highly rewarding but challenging and highly demanding in terms of the team settings and the workload required to build a great venture. If you want the real startup experience with its real ups and downs, MAN 631 is your perfect choice. Please beware that once the team building has been conducted, you cannot leave this class without failing it – just like in a real startup setting when you let your team down (see information on Registration 2017 & Final Course Decision below).

What you can expect from us is dedicated and continuous feedback to advance your projects, intros to MCEI partners who can help you grow and a fun and rewarding atmosphere to create something new in class. Do not miss out on our Startup Lounges and Founder Talks throughout the semester to maximize your Startup experience. 

This course focuses on five main steps:

  • encouraging students to investigate and experience creative processes to generate and assess entrepreneurial ideas (including team building)
  • preparing students to turn innovative ideas into business models
  • testing innovative ideas and business models in the real world
  • enabling students to develop their own startup including a business plan (15-20 pages) + pitch presentation
  • having an early stage business by the end of this course that will be evaluated by an expert jury

Side note on choosing MAN 631 vs. alternatives (i.e., when not to choose MAN 631):

By the end of this module, students will have...

  • explored and developed their own entrepreneurial creativity.
  • their own startup team.
  • an advanced startup idea that tackles a real customer need.
  • a pitch deck and business plan on their startup idea for following up on the project.
  • presented and defended the concept of their project in front of an expert jury.
  • gained financing opportunities to pursue their venture (depending on performance).
  • gained lots of feedback on their personal and professional development in real life settings.
  • developed skills and abilities that can be applied to improve their effectiveness in the rest of their studies and in their lives – including team building skills. 

Registration 2017 & Final Course Decision:

Please register via the Student Portal during the central registration period (August 28 - September 7). Students with various backgrounds are essential to this class! Everybody is welcome to sign up and apply! In case there is a conflict with your faculty/area of study, please let us know (you have to make this request to your area of study if not listed in the module catalog) and we will try to sort things out and get you on board! In case of excess demand for a class, there will be a central lottery/ spot allocation conducted by the Dean's Office of the Business School of the University of Mannheim. We cannot influence the outcome of this student allocation. Please do not ask us for exceptions or waiting list positions before the course allocation has been completed. Students signing up for this class should also be aware that they are expected to found a business as a result of their team effort by the end of this class. Participation is thus binding as of Session 1.  This means: Course decisions are final by September 11 (Dean's Office deadline to de-register).  If you got a spot in this class and are intending to drop it in favor of other classes you might get in, this is not possible beyond the September 11 deadline. All students who are still in the class as of September 11 will be graded and no shows in Session 1 will lead to a failing grade. We will work with teams as of Session 1 and experience has shown that this simply does not work if we allow students to shop around classes without committment - this will otherwise put abnormal strain on their teams (i.e., letting your team down is not an option). If we are below max. capacity by September 11, we will fill the class with students that were excluded in the Dean's Office Lottery by sending an e-mail/ open call on who wants to apply for the potetial openings. By the first day of class on September 16 course decisions are absolutely final - no shows or leaving after team building will lead to a failing grade (see also module catalog). Good luck with your course application! We're looking forward to having you in class! 

Recommended Readings & Resources

Readings (not tested on an exam but nevertheless highly recommended to read):

  • Ash Maurya (2016). Scaling Lean: Mastering the Key Metrics for Startup Growth (about 20 copies in library)
  • Business Model Generation (BMG), Osterwalder and Pigneur
  • The Lean Startup (Portfolio Penguin), Eric Ries
  • The Startup Owner’s Manual (SOM), Blank and Dorf
  • If You Really Want to Change The World (HBR), Kressel and Winarsky

Additional Resources

Assessment: 40% business plan on team startup project; 40% project pitch presentation in front of expert jury; 20% regular attendance & participation in lecture discussions


Language: English 

Lecturers & Coaches: Dr. Jan Zybura & Nora Zybura + guest speakers

Student Recommendations

Our students are encouraged to join our Startup Lounges and Founder Talks on a regular basis - it is part of your entrepreneruial experience. Transferring insights from class to the real world by learning from your potential customers, other startups and their challenges forms a substantial part of your learning. Remember that networking is an enabler of amazing opportunities. In general, the course is intensive. It requires students to carefully prepare their business models (team effort), to test their business models and to reiterate them several times (which can be frustrating). Besides, you have to pick up the necessary tools and understand a lot of material, while participating actively in this class. Your active participation will benefit yourself and your team significantly. Please try to solve problems in your team (such as work load inbalances, etc.), make this a true continues team effort and feel free to approach us anytime in class, at the Startup Lounges or schedule an appointment when you need to discuss things with us. For mentoring, please schedule appointments at team level.


Schedule "Creativity & Entrepreneurship in Practice" Fall term 2017

Session 1

15.09. (Friday) | 8.30-12.00 | 001 (L9, 1-2)

Topic: Introduction and Team building

Session 2

25.09. (Monday) | 15.30-19.00 | O048 (Castle)

Topic: Design Thinking Introduction

Session 3

06.10. (Friday) | 12.00-15.30 | 001 (L9, 1-2)

Topic: Group work - application of Design Thinking, idea generation & rapid prototyping

Session 4

20.10. (Friday) | 13.00-16.30 | 001 (L9, 1-2)

Topic: Market Research and Entrepreneurial Marketing (including team session)

Session 5

03.11. (Friday) | 12.00-15.30 | 001 (L9, 1-2)

Topic: Business Modeling, Business Planning and Entrepreneurial Finance

Mid-term pitches & Feedback

02.11. (Thursday) | 19.00-21.30 | Café L3

Session 6

17.11. (Friday) | 12.00-15.30 | 001 (L9, 1-2)

Topic: Investor Pitching (including team session and Q&A)

Session 7

24.11. (Friday) | 12.00-17.00 | 001 (L9, 1-2)

Topic: Preparation of product showcase/ pitch presentation; classroom will be available.

Session 8

01.12. (Friday) | 17.00-20.00 | 001 (L9, 1-2) or O138 (Castle)

Topic: Final Presentations and Real Pitch (open to public)


20.00-23.00 | Café L3

As of 20.00: Party and winner's ceremony in Café L3 (open to public - bring your friends)

*Note on time and rooms: Please do not blame us for varying dates and rooms - we have to request the rooms and this is what we got.


We are looking forward to having you in class!



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  • University of Mannheim
  • Institut für Mittelstandsforschung
  • Gründerverbund
  • ESF
  • Europäische Union
  • Baden-Württemberg - Ministerium für Finanzen und Wirtschaft
  • Absolventum