Fall 2021

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Everything that we do in our courses is highly experiential — it’s the only way to begin to appreciate the demands that entrepreneurship places on teams and individuals. Additionally, the best startup teams embrace disciplinary diversity so we encourage all students from across UofT to participate. This is why we offer two of the most highly rated courses in parallel. A customer development course, the Business of Software (CSC454/2527 – that all of you will take), which informs the product development Capstone Design course (CSC491/2600 — that a subset of you will take). The former course (customer development) requires no previous computer science or business background, just an insatiable curiosity for entrepreneurship.

Customer development teaches you how to engage prospective customers in order to validate the hypotheses you will make regarding your customer’s personas, their hair-burning issues and your value proposition to them. The knowledge gathered there directly feeds into a calculated product development cycle to rapidly iterate toward product-market-fit and minimize the go-to-market timeline. This all needs to underpin an investable, self-sustaining and ever growing business model.

The second way we create a true-to-life experience is by sourcing industry problems. That means we go out and seek industry partners that provide problem sets for our students to solve during the semester. Problems that are really challenging their businesses. No make-believe issues or theoretical hallucinations but the problems that are costing them financially or reputation every single day! We’ve done this before with subjects such as law, biomed/biotech and human performance enhancement.


Industry Collaboration

We are partering with the Marketing Science organization at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). The theme for this term will be to create a startup built around marketing campaigns and optimization for various regulated clients.

In marketing, as a general rule, the more you spend on a campaign, the more successful it’ll be. But, how much should you spend? And, what success can you expect? While in the tech industry, online controlled experiments (A/B testing) is one of the gold standard methods for making various marketing decisions. In banking and other industries, various constraints (such as the nature of the products/services offered, regulations, etc) makes the use of these methods difficult. Therefore other methods, such as the use of observational data, must be used in order to make causal conclusions about the effectiveness of various marketing campaigns.

RBC will join us this semester to help guide you in answering these questions.