This was the first time such course was run at UCT Prague! The course was targeted at the chemistry majors (PhD. level and last year master students). It provided them insights into startup careers and other roles utilizing entrepreneurial skills and mindset (such as intrapreneurial roles and thinking of your own life as a startup).
In the course students developed the ideas they brought to class, talked to users to identify user problems. Next they developed solutions, tested with users and built a business model. The course concluded with team pitches to a jury of experts.
The jury consisted of outside experts: Steven Gedeon (Chair of the Ryerson Entrepreneur Institute, the largest entrepreneurship program in Canada), Matěj Matolín (Partner at Impulse Ventures, a venture capital investor focused on tech startups in the CE region), Rajesh Navaneetham (angel investor and co-founder of Semco Style Institute India), Klaus Sailer (CEO of Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship at Hochschule Muenchen), Michael Volny (Senior Scientific Researcher at Genentech, San Francisco and startup founder).
The jury provided suggestions how to move the student ventures forward, what could be the next steps and what could be the key breaking points.
Two teams made it to the end of the course. One team was solving the problem of updating CV for multiple roles. The other team was focusing on technical innovations in irrigation.
During the course students heard from a lineup of speakers from the industry.
Lectures and speakers
Steven Gedeon opened the course with discussion of the place of entrepreneurship from the viewpoint of an engineer.
Prof. Steven A. Gedeon, BSc, MSc, MBA, PEng, PE, PhD (MIT) is Chair of the Ryerson Entrepreneur Institute and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship & Strategy in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University (Canada).
Florian Huber discussed the first steps in understanding user problems and finding the place to start. In the next session he helped the students with generating insights from the research, ideating potential solutions and prototyping and testing.
Florian Huber is an experienced entrepreneurship educator at the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship, previously at the University of St. Gallen, in the design and innovation studio IXDS and PwC after acquisition of IXDS.
Michael Volny discussed startups from the perspective of an R&D chemist.
Michael Volny is a graduate of Charles University and University of Washington in Seattle. He worked in scientific and product management roles for some of the leading scientific companies, such as Thermo Fisher Scientific and Genentech, as well as in small startups and in academia. He holds several EU and US patents.
Haricharan Vijayaraghavan spoke about how to create products people will love.
Haricharan Vijayaraghavan is senior IT & Business executive with experience leading teams and building products/services for a wide range of industries. He is also an experienced trainer, Accredited Kanban Trainer, ICAgile Agile Certified Coach.
Jan Vašek explored business models using the well-known Business model canvas. Subsequently, he focused on the profit models and discussed a dozen less well-known strategies of transforming value into money.
Jan Vašek is Assistant Professor at the UCT Prague. He joined academia in 2014 after a long career in the automotive and consumer goods procurement. He complemented his linguistic education with post-graduate courses at Cranfield University, Harvard Business School, and University of Oxford.
In an interactive workshop Gil Goldman had students practice various formats of pitches to prepare them for the final presentation to the jury.
Gil Goldman is experienced development engineer with a history in the electrical and electronic manufacturing industry working for companies such as Siemens, Bohemia Interactive Simulations or Socialbakers.
Matěj Matolín spoke from the viewpoint of an investor. He discussed specifics of financing during the startup growth, what is the purpose of pitches and how the investors judge investments.
Matěj Matolín is a Talent partner at Impulse Ventures and his mission is to help amazing tech startups to scale. He focuses on finding tech talents and C-level executives, setting international operations, building an effective People Ops function or creating an attractive employer brand.
Students were supported by team coaches Gil Goldman, Pavel Teichman and Haricharan Vijayaraghavan. Gil Goldman is experienced development engineer. Haricharan Vijayaraghavan is senior IT & Business executive and trainer. Pavel Teichman is experienced project manager, agile coach and trainer and consultant with experience especially in insurance and e-commerce. Pavel actively builds the agile community especially in the Brno region.
The School of Business of the University of Science and Technology Prague is already planning future editions of this course and activities to promote entrepreneurial, innovation and business skills of UCT Prague students and staff.
Lead partner for the pilot course was Impulse Ventures, a venture capital investor focused on tech startups in the CE region. “The money we invest and the network we provide are just the beginning; our commitment reaches far beyond. As a team of investors, founders, HR experts, and finance and product specialists, we are ready to work alongside the founders with whom we partner up. We are devoted to understanding our portfolio companies’ businesses—which is why we only invest in a selected few standout companies a year. Over the past decade, we’ve helped build and successfully exited major tech companies including Kiwi.com, Mall.cz or Centrum.cz in combined value exceeding 650 mil EUR. Our focus is on the Seed and Series A stage but we often invest in the follow-up rounds as well, supporting founders throughout the entire journey. Investing our own money allows us to keep our decisions flexible. No fixed investment horizon, no limitations, no artificial rules. Only the impulse to pursue riveting ideas without boundaries.”
The University of Chemical Technology in Prague is a natural center of first-class education and research in the fields of chemistry and food science. It is one of the largest Czech institutions focused on technical chemistry, chemical and biochemical technologies, materials and chemical engineering, food and nutrition, environment, and now also economics and management. The school, with its excellent international reputation and state-of-the-art instrumentation, opens up opportunities for each student to engage in scientific projects of their choice, enables foreign internships and is subsequently a ticket to prestigious, well-priced employment at home and abroad.
The School of Business of the University of Science and Technology Prague offers programs in the field of education in the field of management, intended for a wider range of students, and programs aimed at closer integration of management disciplines with the fields of natural and technical sciences developed at the faculties of the University of Science and Technology Prague. The activity of its faculty includes professional topics of a purely management focus as well as interdisciplinary topics, usually in cooperation with other departments. The School of Business thus educates graduates with a strong theoretical foundation, capable of applying their knowledge in practice.