Frequently Asked Questions
I. Entrepreneurship in Practice
What should we bring to the Boot Camp?
Please bring a bath towel, your soap/shampoo/toothpaste, and any snacks you'll need for 3 days. Some guys in previous Minors have mentioned snoring roommates, so if the sounds of a zoo bother your sleep, you should perhaps buy a pair of earplugs at Kruidvaat or Etos. The StayOkay does not supply any of the above items. Also, we will have free wi-fi there, so please bring your computer or smartphone if you want to be able to access the internet while we're there. At the end of Day #3 (usually Wednesday), teams will give their final Boot Camp class presentations, and you can give the presentation in Powerpoint if you have your computer there.
Why is so much effort encouraged during Business Basics to find ideas? Isn't this what we will tackle during the Start-up Factory?
After running through the Start-up Factory for multiple semesters, it has become clear that a 3-day Start-up Factory bootcamp is not necessarily long enough to find and nail down good ideas. Also, while the StayOkay offers free wife, we won't have access to dozens of desktop computers. As a class, we need to spend more time on brainstorming, and specifically brainstorming with easy access to the internet.
What is the purpose of the 'lookbook' that we receive at the Start-up Factory?
Each semester we expect 60+ participants in the Entrepreneurship Minor. With a target number of 4 members per team, that leaves us with millions of possible combinations. The 'lookbook' is thus designed to help you identify the best people for your team or the best teammates for your venture idea. For example, we ask everybody for their city of residence because it's best if teammates live near one another when face-to-face meetings are prescribed.
What are some other resources we can use to find ideas for ventures?
There are a variety of websites designed to help you generate ideas. Keep in mind that this is one of the few times in our academic professional lives where imitation or copying is completely fair game. Arguably the most valuable sites for our minor are halfbakery, quirky (click on "Cast your vote now"), ideabounce, springwise, creativitypool (click on the left!), trendwatching, trendhunter, and whynot.net.* The OECD Education 2010 report may also be useful.
We're ready to create our Start-up Doc now. What are the next steps?
Great question. First, it's recommended to copy a demo version of MindView from your coordinator. Then, please take a look at the following videos (here, here, and here). Then, you should take a look at a sample of the kind of Start-up Doc we expect (found here). If you have any questions about the process, please contact dr. Hsieh.
Why is a business plan required for Entrepreneurship in Practice? I've talked to many entrepreneurs, and some of them say that a business plan is a waste of time!
Another good question. Normally, it is reasonable if an entrepreneur says that a business plan is a waste of time... if he is working by himself or herself. If he's alone, it's just him, and there's no other person with a vision that differs from his.
Instead, maybe an entrepreneur is part of a team, made up of friends and colleagues who have known each other for many years. They perhaps they also don't need a business plan, because they all have the same shared vision, and they know each other's areas of expertise, and organizational strengths and weaknesses.
But, in this minor, team members on each team have only known each other for a few weeks or a few months. It is crucial that everybody on the team eventually have a shared vision or objective, so that you move as one organization. The easiest way to share a vision among people that have just met is to agree on it, and then put it on paper. In other words, in our minor, the business plan is not just a plan, it's also a kind of organizational contract between team members. It describes what the venture will look like, and also who is doing what. There is less room for confusion.
How do I make sense of Module C in the MBV spreadsheet?
For the answer, please look here.
We want to create a logo, but we don't have the cash to pay a graphic designer. What can we do?
The best advice is to visit Logomaker. You can design your own logo from a variety of designs, for free. A web-based graphic is also yours for free. You only pay if you want hi-resolution images.
II. Cases in Entrepreneurship
Do we have to take notes during CiE class periods?
No. It is not necessary. Come to class prepared, ready to address your precis in the homework.
III. Homework and Grades
How do I hand in all my individual assignments?
All individual homework except Homework #1 will be administered via Qualtrics. The Qualtrics form will include fields to fill in your homework answers, or upload files.
How come I'm not getting the Qualtrics homework emails?
Likely it's because it is showing up in your email in-box as Spam. If it's not showing up in your Junk Mail or Spam folder, please let me know and we'll figure it out.
(If you are using Hotmail, please do this: In Hotmail, please go to "Options" > "More Options" > "Safe and blocked senders" > "Safe senders". Then type in "email@example.com" in the text box (no quote marks, please). Click "Add to list." When you have finished this, please email me and let me know… Then I can send you the emails properly.)
Can I work with classmates on individual assignments?
Unless otherwise stated, you may work with classmates on the weekly assignments in CiE and EiP. You must submit an assignment to get credit. If your teammate hands in an assignment but doesn't list you as well, you are out of luck.
However, short papers (CiE) and Lessons Learned (EiP) must be an independent effort.
How do I hand in documents?
Please refer to the Document Deadline Schedule, found on this page.
What if our group has sensitive documents that we do not want shared on Stixy?
Generally speaking, the team documents will be secure on Stixy. However, if your team document contains particularly confidential material, in the Stixy drafts please make a note of the section. And then email me the section directly.
Where can I find my current grades?
Please click on "Spring 2012 Teams" at the top to access your Dashboard. At the bottom of the Dashboard screen, grades can be downloaded.
Is it possible to get a "10" on team documents in EiP?
In the Spring 2011 semester, a handful of "10" scores were given. So it's certainly possible.
Why am I no longer receiving emails or Qualtrics assignments from you?
In general, it is either because (a) you changed email addresses, (b) you changed your email spam settings, or (c) the email service is malfunctioning. Once you are in my Outlook and Qualtrics systems, I change nothing.
IV. Using this website
Why does the (Spring) Entrepreneurship Minor use this 'personal' website, instead of Blackboard?
Great question. There are two good reasons. First, Blackboard is really very non-user-friendly for evolving unstructured courses like the entrepreneurship minor that include extensive group work (separated from additional individual assignments) and document review. And second, Blackboard has proven difficult to use for non-UvA students (i.e. VU or Delft students), due to registration issues.
It would be great if this website could use the UvA.com domain. However, the UvA requires all of its websites to follow its UvA design to "ensure uniformity," which can conflict with the best delivery of all the information and tools prescribed for our Minor.
Does our team have to use the PiratePad app, or the scheduling tools?
Does our team have to use the Stixy app?
Yes. It is the way that I collect, grade, and return team documents. Please upload your team documents in .doc or .docx format. As of Spring 2012, PDF's are no longer acceptable. If you need it, you can convert from .pdf to .doc for free here.
There are two major reasons why Stixy is used. First, and most importantly, it gives everybody on the team the capability to verify that a team document has been uploaded. With email or Qualtrics, it's very difficult for you to verify that your teammate has uploaded a team document, if s/he is in charge of submitting it. Second, it is much easier for me to return feedback via Stixy to a group page.
The .doc group documents that you hand back to us have some funny-colored text. Why?
In Microsoft Word this is called "tracking." Right-click on my comments and you will be able to see options to "Accept" or "Reject." If you click on "Accept" then the tracked comment is built into the document. If you click on "Reject" then the tracked comment disappears (i.e. if you are rejecting one of my suggestions or recommendations).
Why should I bother to use the Contact Forms to reach you? Why can't I just email your email address?
I receive dozens of emails a day, from a variety of people. When you submit one of these forms, my Microsoft Outlook distributes your email into an appropriate folder in my in-box. Then I can answer all CiE emails at once, or all EiP emails at once. In the long run, you will receive clearer, more effective responses.
Also, the Contact webpage shows you whether I'm online or not, via Gmail's chat or Skype. If I'm online, you can usually get an answer immediately.
Finally, the Contact Forms allow you to be anonymous, if you want to provide feedback with a constructive suggestion, but you'd rather not reveal your identity or be hassled with creating a new email address.
Can we request to add our team-specific additional buttons or pages to the "Current Teams" webpage?
Is there a mobile version of this website?
V. Other issues related to the Minor
How is our tuition fee used for the Minor?
Good question. To see a breakdown of the budget and expenses, please see this file.
We are looking for population-level statistics for the Netherlands and the Eurozone, e.g. regarding consumer behavior and demographics. Where can we look?
Thanks for asking! Please visit the Dutch Statistics office database here. It will be useful for you to familiarize yourself with it before the end of the semester. The CPB topics website is also very useful, and can be found here.
The Eurostat database is very informative about Eurozone matters. Please find it here.
We are currently looking for ways to fund our venture. What sources are recommended?
There are a variety of websites that you can visit. Peerbackers and Kickstarter are two of the more popular, well-cited websites that connects entrepreneurs with small investors. Pitchstar is a popular one here in the Netherlands (in Dutch). Indiegogo aims to serve culturally-oriented ventures. There are many others. Check out RocketHub, Quirky, Pozible, CatwalkGenius, FansNextDoor, ProFounder (currently in beta, however), RaiseCapital, and Razoo.
Can we suggest specific color schemes for the Business Basics and Cases in Entrepreneurship presentations? Last week's presentation hurt my eyes.
Of course. Contact me with your color scheme suggestions. If it's reasonable, I'll make a change. First come, first served.
Are we allowed to audio record your lectures or class discussions?
Yes. However, please do not 'auto-tune' them and put them on youtube. Like this:
What are the electives available to satisfy the rest of the Entrepreneurship Minor?
Please find the answer to this question here. That webpage also describes which electives are offered in which blocks.
I'm a HvA student. Can I register for the UvA Entrepreneurship minor?
Yes. Students from a University of Applied Sciences (HBO) who passed their first-year program (60 EC) can also be admitted. There are no entry requirements for knowledge in the field of mathematics.
Our team is interested in receiving a package from a vendor/supplier, but the delivery requires a signature and we can't be sure that we will be at home to accept the delivery. Can we use your office address as a delivery address?
Yes. Please use the address below, and I will email your team when the item(s) arrive:
Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship
Roetersstraat 11 (kamer 2.21)
VI. Issues related to the coordinator
Why are you the coordinator? It seems like the best person to teach an entrepreneurship minor is somebody who has spent many years of their life as an entrepreneur...
Another good question, with many different answers. It's not clear at all that an entrepreneur is the best fit for teaching an entrepreneurship minor. Mainly, the difficulty arises when an entrepreneur imposes the structure that brought him/her to success. For example, it's a bit risky to learn about retail sales from an internet entrepreneur who may have deep knowledge in internet sales and thus be too biased in terms of e-commerce channels.
As you'll discover if you take the minor, the coordinator's job in this minor is to put together the best set of workshops, the best set of CiE readings, and to give valuable feedback to business plans and progress reports. In other words, the coordinator behaves almost more like a manager than an entrepreneur. I've coordinated a minor and taught entrepreneurship courses since 2005, increasing success along the way.
Anyways, as a researcher, I am currently studying data covering thousands of entrepreneurs and their behaviors. Thus, while I lack depth and richness in some areas of entrepreneurship, I attempt to make up for it in terms of breadth and generality of knowledge.
In this minor, we attempt to protect you from both pitfalls (lack of depth, and lack of generality), by introducing a researcher as coordinator, supported by a team of coaches and local entrepreneurs.
Ultimately, please don't think of the entrepreneurship minor being taught by a researcher or even a coordinator. Think of yourself as being guided by a system.
As the coordinator of an entrepreneurship minor, do you have a favorite quote about entrepreneurship?
Indeed, and it's by Jerry Useem in a magazine article called "The risk-taker returns."
- "Some 200 years ago the French economist Jean-Baptiste Say coined the term 'entrepreneur' from the verb entreprendre, 'to undertake.' The word has always eluded precise definition, but a colleague of mine once came pretty close when he wrote: 'An entrepreneur is someone who takes nothing for granted, assumes change is possible, and follows through; someone incapable of confronting reality without thinking about ways to improve it; and for whom action is a natural consequence of thought.' A man is walking down the street and falls down a manhole, and he starts a company devoted to manhole safety: That's entrepreneurship."
* "Second-tier" websites include globalideasbank.org, globalideasblog, ideaexplore.net, idea-a-day, and premisespremises. A "third-tier" website is worldchanging.