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BUS 12 W — How to Build Successful Startups: Learn Lessons Straight from Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Oct 3—Dec 2
Drop Deadline: Oct 11
Unit(s): 1 Units
Tuition: $555
Limit: 125
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving
Oct 3—Dec 2
8 weeks
Drop By
Oct 11
1 Units
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving

Great companies, like great homes, can be built in many ways. Outstanding entrepreneurs, like outstanding architects, can learn much from the achievements of their predecessors. Designed for the budding entrepreneur, this course will introduce you to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, advisors, and investors, and the varied ways in which they’ve constructed successful startups.

During the course, numerous guest speakers will assist us in addressing these and other key questions: How can you overcome the critical challenges founders face, such as assessing your own unique goals, skills, and capabilities; forming a complementary core team; creating a breakthrough product; and raising initial capital? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of companies, whether big or small, technology- or market-focused, a traditional for-profit startup or a novel social enterprise? Which development path would be best to get your company off to a strong start? Should you go it alone, apply to an incubator or accelerator, or begin pitching venture firms immediately? What are effective ways to raise growth capital from a variety of sources? With rapid growth, what new organizational, managerial, and competitive challenges might your company face? What are useful metrics for measuring a startup’s progress? And, if all goes well, what is the IPO process like? Finally, what vital technological, educational, cultural, and other resources does Silicon Valley offer startups today?

Guest contributors include: Neerav Berry (Co-Founder and CEO, Payplant), Leon Chen (Venture Partner, OrbiMed Advisors), Adam Cheyer (Co-Founder and Vice President of Engineering, Viv Labs), Adam Draper (Managing Director, Boost VC), Timothy Draper (Founder, Draper Associates and DFJ), William H. Draper III (General Partner, Draper Richards LP and Co-Chairman, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation), Jim Fruchterman (Founder and CEO, Benetech), Jim Kleckner (Co-Founder and Vice President, Analytics, CloudPhysics), Kira Makagon (Executive Vice President of Innovation, RingCentral), Ambarish Malpani (Vice President of Engineering, Edmodo), Ted McCluskey (Chief Medical Officer, Finance Technology Leverage), Jessica McKellar (Director of Engineering, Dropbox), Alan Mendelson (Partner, Latham & Watkins, LLP), Jan Møller Mikkelsen (President and CEO, Ascendis Pharma A/S), Daria Mochly-Rosen (The George D. Smith Professor in Translational Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine), Camilla Olson (Founder and CEO, Savitude), Cecily Anne O’Regan (Patent Attorney, Shartsis Friese LLP), George G.C. Parker (Dean Witter Distinguished Professor of Finance, Emeritus, Stanford Graduate School of Business), Rob Reis (Founder and CEO, Higher Ground), Elton Sherwin (President and Founder, Sherwin Advisors), and Glenn Winokur (CEO and Co-Founder, Syapse).

This course may not be taken for a Letter Grade.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 125 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

John Kelley, Co-Founder and COO, OnRisk

John Kelley is the COO of OnRisk, which provides software services to the commercial insurance industry. Earlier, he founded 399 Innovation, which advises firms on invention and innovation strategy. He received a JD from Stanford, where he pursued an independent research track in artificial intelligence and law. Kelley also studied at Sorø Akadamiet in Denmark on an American Field Service Fellowship.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Elton B. Sherwin Jr., The Silicon Valley Way, Second Edition: Discover 45 Secrets for Successful Start-Ups, Second Edition/Paperback (ISBN 0982796110)
(Recommended) William H. Draper III, The Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs, Paperback (ISBN 0230339948)
(Recommended) Jessica Livingston, Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days, Paperback (ISBN 1430210788)
(Recommended) Ash Maurya, Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works, Second Edition/Hardcover (ISBN 1449305172)
(Recommended) William F. Miller et al., The Silicon Valley Edge: A Habitat for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Paperback (ISBN 0804740631)