The Center offers five interesting courses to help cultivate and actualize the ideas of  student entrepreneurs. Students receive practical, real-world lessons about launching digital media ventures. Classroom discussions not only focus on concept and business model generation but also customer development, scalability, and startup culture.

Trendspotting in Digital Media

Trendspotting in Digital Media identifies issues posed by the evolving new media sphere, answering questions about privacy, entrepreneurship, and emergent technologies and services. From overnight YouTube sensations to Twitter-inspired social revolutions, digital media plays an increasingly important role in how people connect to one another and understand the world.

This  course provides students with opportunities to identify and address new media trends; students also receive guest lectures from leaders and innovators in the digital media field.

New Media Entrepreneurship

New Media Entrepreneurship enables enterprising students to explore, validate, and prepare new business concepts to launch as start-up companies. Students work in teams to develop their ideas into new media products and services and learn the iterative process of growing a digital media business from the ground up.

The class is divided into three parts:

  • Part I: Ideation, idea pitching, team building – Class discussions and activities focus on principles of entrepreneurship, team development, and learning the basic types of startups and entrepreneurs.

  • Part II: Business model generation as teams – Lectures and class discussions focus on turning rough ideas into functional concepts and then into business models. Students learn about building a customer base, offer infrastructure, and finance elements.

  • Part III: Pitch preparation and coaching of teams – The last part of the course features mini-lectures about pitching business models to high-scale digital media startups. Students also will interact with guest lecturers from the digital startup community, including founders, entrepreneurs, and angel investors.

This class is recommended for students with digital media business ideas or an interest to launch a startup. It also is for students who hope to work or intern at digital media startups and other emerging companies.

Entrepreneurial Thinking

Most people believe that entrepreneurs are born and act as lone rangers with a vision for the future with unquantifiable skills and charms. The work of Saras Saravathy (professor at UVA) has debunked that myth and developed a model of entrepreneurial thinking that can be learned. Her work shows how successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and others act to achieve and create innovations in business and our world.

This class gives an overview of the five elements of Saravathy’s Effectuation and Entrepreneurial Thinking, focused on what media professionals need to know. The class will expose students to these concepts, give examples and conduct hands-on exercises (in class and outside) to help students develop skills in entrepreneurial thinking and effectuation. These are the skills that new business founders possess and that young growth companies, as well as established businesses, seek…especially in new employees. In the face of media changes and disruption, these skills have more interest than ever before.

New Ventures in Media

New businesses are being started all the time, but all startups are not all the same. Some grow fast, some slower; some stay smaller, while others grow large. Some of these ventures are lifestyle businesses that exist around the founder’s passion or interest. Most new ventures are officially defined as Small Businesses, and they are formed around an identified market need. Some new ventures are spin-outs from larger, established businesses and may take the form of a new business unit, subsidiary or separate entity. Plus, there are new kinds of “Social” ventures emerging: for-profit and not-for-profit organizations designed to fulfill a social mission. Only a few new businesses are high-tech, high-growth ventures – the ones we usually hear about in the popular culture, such as Twitter and Google.

This class will introduce students to each of the five types of startups and delve into examples and topics related to each. We will consider Lifestyle and Small Business media opportunities – especially ones made possible by pervasive digital media. We will look at why established companies seek entrepreneurially-minded employees who can help them break into new market, and what opportunities exist for new media spin-outs. The class will also consider Social Ventures in Media that open up new possibilities for sustainable operations, particularly in media that serve a public good.

Lean Digital Media Startups

Lean Digital Media Startups is a one-credit course on the “Lean Startups” movement–an emerging approach to launching new business ventures that applies especially well to digital media. The Lean approach is a rigorous way to develop and launch startups, to search for a repeatable and scalable business model, and to iterate and adapt to new and unknown markets.

Students will learn the basic components of Lean; be introduced to resources (online, print, in the community, and on-campus) and the process, and learn about how this process creates today’s “startup culture.”

This course is recommended for students who wish to be founders and management of digital media startup companies, as well as students who aim to be employees and interns for startups and emerging companies.