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BUS 78 — Building and Scaling Subscription Businesses

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Sep 23—Nov 11
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 6
Unit: 1
Tuition: $545
Instructor(s): Ajay Arora
7:00—8:50 pm
Sep 23—Nov 11
8 weeks
Drop By
Oct 6
1 Unit
Ajay Arora
Once upon a time, the only subscription services were newspapers and public utilities. Today, our world has been transformed by the subscription economy. Across commerce, digital media, and software, subscription services are thriving and businesses everywhere are contemplating the shift from transactional to subscription-based models.

This course dives into starting and optimizing a subscription business. We will begin by examining the elements that set subscription businesses apart for providers and consumers (hint: it’s the power of membership). Next, we will explore subscription economics—the role of acquisition (paid versus earned), trials (freemium versus discounted), and the most important metrics—retention and lifetime value. Students will build pitch decks for hypothetical subscription businesses with their classmates helping to improve the concept based on both professional experience and knowledge gained in the course. We also will study business cases and discuss companies that have flourished and others that have floundered in the subscription economy.

Each class session will start with a short lecture, then move into thought-provoking discussions based on the readings and case studies along with occasional guest speakers from subscription leaders.

Ajay Arora, Director of Product Innovation, Netflix

Ajay Arora is a named inventor on over twenty patents in digital media. Prior to Netflix, he was the vice president of product management at Imgur and led the product team at Audible. Arora received an MS in electrical engineering from USC and an MBA from Harvard.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.