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Über dieses Buch

University Startups and Spin-Offs teaches university students, researchers, and educators the most effective strategies and tactics for launching their own startups from academic platforms with the backing of school programs, public grants, incubators, seed accelerators, and private partnerships in all parts of the world.

Serial entrepreneur Manuel Stagars advises students, faculty, and researchers how to test their ideas for marketability, how to develop commercial products out of research projects, and how to engage companies and investors with attractive value propositions. The author has seventeen years of experience as startup entrepreneur, founder of seven companies in the United States, Europe, and Japan, consultant to universities on commercializing their research programs, angel investor, and startup mentor. Stagars’ advice is field-tested, battle-hardened, and supported with a wealth of instructive first-hand examples from his international experience.

The author advises academic entrepreneurs to take matters into their own hands instead of relying on the initiative and support of universities and governments. He shows students and researchers how to fit lean startup methods to their existing university ecosystems, leveraging their strengths without getting bogged down in bureaucratic morass. Avoiding theory and jargon, the book focuses on real-world situations, practical steps, checklists, and case studies. University students and researchers will learn the skills they need to become startup entrepreneurs on an academic platform.

The final part of University Startups and Spin-Offs addresses university administrators, educators, technology licensing officers, incubator managers, and government grant officers. It shows them with practical examples from the private and academic sectors how to integrate startups into the fabric of the university, develop a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem for students and researchers, leverage latent network effects, build bridges between scientific research and industries seeking innovative solutions, enhance the public image of the university, and motivate the university’s best and brightest to engage in startup enterprises that will deliver benefits to the university and the public as well as to themselves.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Strategies for University Startup Entrepreneurs

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. The Status Quo: How Do Startups Fit into Universities?

Abstract
Students and researchers have always founded their own companies right out of universities. This is not new. Just as in any other venture, some of those companies thrive, while others falter. Some entrepreneurs have a natural talent for running a business, whereas others are less skilled. In recent years, there has been a huge surge of interest in entrepreneurship, both inside and outside universities. Researchers are beginning to realize that running their own company may be more adventurous and rewarding than a lifetime teaching position in higher education. Students converge on popular fields such as computer science to launch their own companies while working on their degree or after graduation. News stories abound about 20-year-olds turning into billionaires with virtual reality startups.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 2. The Lean Startup Changed Everything

Abstract
When Eric Ries published his book in 2011, he brought about a paradigm shift in business modeling. Only a few of the ideas in the book were groundbreaking or new, but many people were seeing them outlined neatly and logically for the first time. According to the Lean Startup method, “build, measure, learn” is at the heart of entrepreneurship. This means testing, measuring, changing, and retesting several hypotheses before a product launch. Real potential clients give feedback on minimum viable products (MVPs), which helps tailor the product or service to the market in small steps. Learning and experimenting therefore trump planning and politics. Businesses focus on product development close to their customers to improve their impact from day one. Hallelujah!
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 3. What Does It Mean to Be a Startup Entrepreneur?

Abstract
Thanks to the movie The Social Network, we now all know what startup entrepreneurship is like. Late night hackathons in the house in Silicon Valley, half-empty pizza boxes and shot glasses everywhere, groupies, parties. We lost a few friends on the way, but there is still the billion dollar paycheck at the end of the road. It would be nice if this were true. Unfortunately, it is not—unless you are Mark Zuckerberg. Entrepreneurship is fun, but rarely the sort of fun shown in the movies. More the fun of solving a complicated chess problem. Or the fun of writing a beautiful mathematical equation. Or combining many agents who seemed unconnected into a springboard for your product.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 4. Engaging Others with Actionable Next Steps

Abstract
How many times has this happened to you? A businessperson you meet at a networking event finds your research project interesting and wants to learn more about it. You exchange cards and set up a meeting in the coming week. The person comes to your lab, signs the NDA, and approvingly nods at your technology, which you present in much detail. When the hour is up, your guest thanks you for the time and suggests keeping in touch, especially when you have advanced the technology more and it is closer to implementation. The person then departs, never to be heard from again. You assume this person was not all that interested after all and chalk it up as one more pointless meeting.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 5. Benefits vs. Features

Abstract
A venture capitalist has read about your technology and has shown interest in learning more about your startup. When he and his associate come to the lab, you show them the research you have carried out in the last year. With your 200-slide strong PowerPoint presentation, you explain the features of the different technologies. This includes how you have improved on them by doing X, Y, and Z; an extensive list of software you used; and why most of it is no good to measure data with the precision you need. You show the statistical data that proves with confidence that this and that ratio have changed. Data from other tests is still waiting for processing, but once it is available, you can work on improving this and that ratio by so and so many percent. The venture capitalist and his associate both nod and say they find your work very interesting. They promise to stay in touch, and they leave. Since that day, you have not heard from them, and your e-mails to them remain unanswered.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 6. Simple Strategies to Get Unstuck

Abstract
Jumping off the cliff into the unknown murky waters of entrepreneurship can be frightening. You have exposed yourself by proposing a bold idea and offered yourself up to criticism from those who follow a more conventional path. Because you have no successful entrepreneurs in your circle of friends who could guide you, it is your responsibility to master each challenge on your own. What do you do when your product is too expensive for the market, but you already stripped it down to the bare minimum? How should you react when a joint-venture partner calls with an offer that is too good to refuse but will take your company on a new, unfamiliar path?
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 7. Troubleshooting

Abstract
Inevitably, there will be times when everything seems to go wrong in your startup. It is 2 am, your third MVP still pleases hardly anyone, and you ran out of ideas a long time ago. Troubles are brewing on your team: they doubt your abilities as the CEO and think they should get real jobs and forget about this crazy entrepreneurship idea. The university is breathing down your neck to vacate its premises, and your personal bankroll is reduced to triple digits. The joint venture you aimed for has fallen through, while a competitor from another university has gotten exactly the terms you wanted with the company you targeted.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 8. The Financial Model

Abstract
Although researchers are generally comfortable talking about their technology and its features at length, they are often much less well-versed in the business and financial aspects of their undertaking. Entrepreneurs need to be in a position to answer a few key financial questions about their venture. What are we producing that has a value in the market? Will the market pay us enough to be profitable? How exactly are we transferring money from customers into our bank account? The business-model canvas answers the first question, but the other ones require a financial model made with spreadsheet software.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 9. The Legal Setup of Your Startup

Abstract
Startups are distinct from research projects. They are businesses, not projects. For example, different minimum viable products are projects of your startup: each may have a budget and a deadline. Thinking of your venture this way helps put things into perspective and approach it more professionally.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 10. Communication Skills and Meetings

Abstract
Talking about their project with outsiders is an important skill that entrepreneurs often overlook. How difficult can it be to present something to a visitor? Presentation skills are often taken for granted, but in reality, good communication is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship. Because startups rarely take off in isolation, it is worth spending some time mastering communication skills. Students and researchers may find tactics related to communication too salesy or otherwise unfit for academics. Overcoming that hurdle is one of the points of this book: leave the ivory tower, and get feedback from the real market. The sooner university entrepreneurs warm up to this concept, the better.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 11. Startup Grants:Can Government Programs Stimulate Entrepreneurship?

Abstract
A discussion about startup entrepreneurship out of universities would be incomplete without touching on the subject of grant funding. Many first-time entrepreneurs believe the initial order of business is to get a grant. Obviously, entrepreneurs need to pay bills and have to eat, and product development requires capital. All this makes it necessary to spend some time writing a good proposal, then submit it, and hopefully impress a panel of experts enough to receive some money. This tides over the startup team for the early months while they labor in their lab on a better mousetrap. This is the mainstream view under which most people operate, because most have never started a business and see this adventure through the lens of the employee. Nobody would show up at their job if they were not paid, so why should the entrepreneur? A result of this thinking is that first-time entrepreneurs are often more concerned about paying for their health insurance than market-testing their product.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 12. Venture Capital and Angel Investors

Abstract
Students and researchers often misunderstand the function of investors, even if they have a business or finance background; they see them as a source of capital only. Entrepreneurs should consider investors in broader terms than that. Expertise, network, and influence are much more important than paying the next round of salaries. This chapter explains the most common sources of early-stage capital: venture capital firms and angel investors. It describes which other benefits these investors may have for startups and at what stage of development entrepreneurs should approach them (hint: much later than most people think).
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 13. Incubators and Accelerators

Abstract
Both incubators and accelerators provide startup aid in the form of advice and services. In comparison to venture capital firms, which focus on investment capital, incubators and accelerators house startups at their offices and are in daily contact with them about challenges at hand.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 14. Moving Past the Startup Stage

Abstract
The prospect of having to micromanage their company’s taxes, accounting, payroll, and sales calls and handle all the other unpleasant byproducts of entrepreneurship is often a turnoff for students and researchers. Whether they are good multitaskers is another question. A world-class entrepreneur should not waste time filling out a tax return that an accountant could complete for $100. But to reach the point that you can delegate all the support tasks, you need to understand what it takes. The first stages of entrepreneurship are yours and yours alone. Doing everything in the beginning does not mean things will always be that way. It is important to realize that your venture will graduate from bootstrapping and MVP testing mode at some point. In order to be a business, it must eventually launch a final product and take off.
Manuel Stagars

Strategies for Universities

Frontmatter

Chapter 15. How Do Universities Measure the Impact of Their Research?

Abstract
University startups have existed for a while, but it has become easier in recent years for students and researchers to launch a company. Startup grants, entrepreneurship programs, a drastic decrease in the cost of IT technology, and rapid prototyping beckon researchers to take the plunge into startup life. Students and researchers are beginning to take advantage of lean methods. I applaud this trend and think it paves the way for a promising future. At present, however, the startup initiatives of most universities still amount to little measurable impact in the market. How much relevance does university research have outside academia? How many university startups launch products and achieve profitability in the real world? Universities rarely collect impact-driven metrics, and it is still the revenue from patent licensing that validates a technology as a commercial success.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 16. Why Are University Startups Not Taking Off?

Abstract
This chapter looks at the gaps that exist in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which we encountered in part 1 of this book. To overcome those gaps and improve the startup launch pad, both entrepreneurs and universities need to make a concerted effort. Dabbling in entrepreneurship will not work—you either do it or you don’t. Dabbling always results in mediocrity, not only in entrepreneurship, but in everything you do in life.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 17. How Universities Can Support Their Startups Today

Abstract
Many universities are adventurous when it comes to research and new technology in a lab setting. But when the conversation turns to commercializing this research, academics often remain on the sidelines. There is still a chasm between academia, the business community, and the financial world. However, many decision-makers at universities I had the pleasure working welcome new ideas for entrepreneurship and commercialization. They have shown great interest and support, and I wish to thank them for their openness.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 18. Building a Bridge to the Market

Abstract
Currently, few links exist between universities and the business community. This makes sense, because both work differently. State-funded universities largely run as not-for-profit entities, whereas businesses with shareholders are at home in the capitalist paradigm. Regardless, universities often declare that they benefit from established links to the business community. These exist mainly in research, where corporations sponsor certain projects. However, when examined more closely, such connections do little for university startups—as I have mentioned, they are often nothing more than a convenient strategy for corporations to let researchers do their R&D inexpensively. Such links are not particularly valuable for universities, and the knowledge exchange is lopsided. Corporations extract know-how from university research teams, but universities gain no insight about how entrepreneurship works and how they could better commercialize research in the market. This is unfortunate, and some universities have begun to realize there is room for improvement.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 19. Platform Thinking for Startup Success

Abstract
The first part of this book explored what individual startups can do to improve their chances in the market: how they can communicate more effectively with outside partners, and how they can organize their business model and financial model around easy-to-understand principles with which they can engage others and kick-start synergies. So far, support from the university only includes providing a framework for startups with its existing infrastructure and occasional assistance such as hiring a startup coach.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 20. More Platform Projects

Leverage Cooperations and Create Network Effects
Abstract
We know that universities can take advantage of their interactions with external allies for the good of their startups. They can do this with an innovative mindset about launching startups and engaging third parties through actionable next steps. This chapter describes several initiatives to reroute energy from external parties into a university’s startup track. They take place on the existing university platform but require a little more time and effort to establish than the actions described in Chapter 19.
Manuel Stagars

Chapter 21. Additional Considerations

Abstract
The following articles and resources are related to startup entrepreneurship but go beyond the practical steps presented in this book so far. Sometimes a single sentence can bring about the solution to a specific problem you are wrestling with. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll find this sentence somewhere in this appendix.
Manuel Stagars

Backmatter

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