Lean Launch Pad workshop for WITS engineering students

A 5-day intensive for just graduated 4th year engineering students in the Lean Launch Pad methodology, a rigorous scientific approach to test assumptions underpinning a start-up’s new business model.

John designed and facilitated a five day course using Steve Blank’s novel Lean LaunchPad methodology. This was introduced at the JCSE (Joburg Centre for Software Engineering) at Wits University in 2013 for the first time ever at a South African higher education institution. Course faculty included Anna, Adam Pantanowitz (a lecturer in biomedical and software engineering at Wits) and Brett Steingo ((Innovation and Technology Manager at Internet Solutions)

The five-day course gave attendees direct exposure to the high-pressure world of a start-up. A key requirement for prospective delegates was that they attend the course in a team of two to four people. This emphasised good teamwork as a critical component of successful start-ups. The participants came into the course with a product/service idea and a first cut of their proposed business model. They received continuous feedback on their business model, as it evolved from day to day from the faculty as well as from their own peer group. They learnt that the ideal mix for a team is to have some people with technical/product expertise and some with a more customer-facing business perspective..

One of the successes of the course was that the graduates who had not previously considered going into business discovered that they had abilities and interests beyond engineering. A couple of the teams that participated went on to raise funding, and established their start-up organisations.

“I leave this course a promoter!. Really loved the course and I am very grateful for all the effort put in by all the teaching team”
Ryan Canin

“I loved this course, and I’m absolutely stunned at how lucky I am to have just caught it at its pilot and just be involved and start learning. The exposure to Internet Solutions, the exposure to entrepreneurship, and just the short demonstration that exposes the engineers to the real world, the real life, and just how dynamic this all needs to be have been amazing.”
Ashton Hudson

“I really, really enjoyed the course. It has encouraged me to be an active member of the start-up community.”
Gian Luca Cantarin

“A wonderful course. In terms of business, I have learnt more in these 5 days than I have in the rest of my life. I really think that what I learnt here will change my life and I feel very grateful to all of you for all of the time, effort and care that you put into the course.”
Keagan Malan

“The course was pretty intense, but overall it helped me better understand what exactly the lean start-up program is. It also helped guide me in terms of wanting to be an entrepreneur.”
Kyle Jordan