Entrepreneurship Lab (e-Lab)

IST’s Entrepreneurship Lab aims to provide the foundations for entrepreneurial activities among IST’s scientific and administrative staff. All areas relevant for establishing and running a tech company are addressed, ranging from the protection of your idea/invention over the creation of a business plan, sales and marketing, to financial and regulatory topics.

The comprehensive topics are distilled into eight 90-minutes sessions, lectured by IST’s tech transfer office, as well as guest speakers who will provide insights into todays technology startup ecosystem. An integral part of the e-Lab is active discussion and the possibility to work on an own business idea to gather feedback from peers, as well as getting in touch with startups residing at the IST Cube space.

Course Objectives

Participants shall

  • acquire a solid overview on what it means to found a technology company.
  • become aware of common pitfalls, do’s and don’ts concerning intellectual property, company registration, sales and marketing, and entrepreneurial financing.
  • become able to properly draft a business model and write a business plan.
  • become able to successfully apply for public grants and approach investors and incubators to secure funding for their business.
  • form small groups and work together on their existing or future business ideas.
  • use the last session to give a short 5-Minutes pitch on their business or potential business idea.

Course Topics

Introduction and Team Formation

Basic questions such as “what is a startup?”, “why should one found a startup?”, “is my/our idea good enough?”, and “what are the downsides of founding a startup?” are discussed. The session also features guest presentations by founders from successful university spin-offs, who will pitch their companies to provide insights into startup life.

Legal Fundamentals

e-Lab provides a legal 101 concerning the company foundation step. The most relevant legal forms, from a sole proprietorship to a limited liability company, are laid out in detail, and their advantages and disadvantages in practice are discussed.

Protecting Ideas / IP Basics

Particularly for technology companies, intellectual property (IP) is a vital topic. The fundamentals of protecting your IP through copyright and the various forms of patents and trademarks are introduced. Practical aspects such as the typical costs, benefits, and timeline of patenting and international IP protection, as well as when not to patent inventions are addressed.

Communicating Ideas / Sales

Many startups with great technology fail due to them not gaining traction in the market. We discuss how sales and marketing differ for B2C and B2B startups. While most people have a rough idea of B2C sales and marketing, e.g. through classical or social media advertising, B2B sales oftenly is perceived as a black box by inexperienced founders. Thereby this session will focus on B2B sales and provide valuable practical insights through a guest talk from a seasoned enterprise sales expert who will shed light on the actual process on setting up a successful sales pipeline.

Funding Ideas / Financial Planning

We outline the creation of a solid financial plan, which is the basis to derive the funding need of your startup over the next years. Consequently, the main sources of income for a startup, apart from sales revenues, are discussed: differences between equity, debt and grant funding and the process of raising funds for early stage ventures are described.

Special Legals

Founding a technology startup typically requires consideration of special legal topics, such as the setup of the shareholders agreement, the board of directors, the advisory board, employment contracts, and employee incentives. Apart from aligning the interests of founders and employees, there are also taxation, product liability and data protection issues to consider.

Regulatory Affairs

Many startups operate in areas, where additional regulations need to be accounted for, e.g. biotech/medtech startups who are in the process of drug or medical device development. We provide insights into these regulatory requirements and the typical costs and time expenditures of the corresponding regulatory processes.

Pitching & Feedback Session

Participants will present a short elevator pitch of their idea or the startup, integrating all strategic topics discussed in the course. The pitches can be presented either as a team or as an individual, and are discussed in turn.

Audience/Prerequisites

No previous knowledge of business administration and finance is required. The sessions will be of introductory nature and students are not required to be familiar with accounting and finance concepts.

This course is open to the IST community (not limited to research staff). Participants are encouraged to think about and develop a specific idea, but we also welcome participants who are still in the search phase.

Credit/Grading/Attendance

This course is not for credit, however a certificate of participation is issued if the participant attends at least six of the eight sessions.

Course Dates

e-Lab is a course offered in the winter term. In case of any questions, please get in touch with us.