Business Students working together

Business Workshops

Business Model Innovation

Instructors: Dr. Thomas M. Katona and Dr. Klaus Sailer

Created for both undergraduate and graduate students from various fields, the course gives participants the opportunity to understand how organizations innovate business models to create new value. The course utilizes a hands-on, team based and fun format where students will work in teams on a project requiring them to identify an opportunity and develop a novel business model to capitalize on the opportunity.

  • Opportunity Identification
  • Creativity & the innovation process
  • Business Model Development
  • Customer Development
  • Prototyping
  • Market Testing
  • Validation
Participants work through the process of building a business model for a product or service that could be brought to market. While many of the same skills can be applied to entrepreneurial small businesses, this course will focus on innovation within organizations and allow participants to exercise the analysis and executional skills required of intra-preneurs.

In addition, participants will be exposed to various business environments including technology organizations, entrepreneurial settings, makerspaces, and various forms of technology ventures. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from and speak with managerial leaders who have worked in and developed a variety of business models.

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Course Learning Objectives

  1. Understand methods for identifying, and validating new opportunities for growth.
  2. Identify and describe key issues affecting growth in organizations of varying size.
  3. Develop and defend a consistent business model.
  4. Develop the ability to conduct effective customer development interviews and analyze interview data to validate early stage product/service ideas.
  5. Discover the personal, behavioral, and situational factors in new business models that lead to success and failure.
  6. Identify the skills of effective leaders which enable them to manage companies through new product launch and growth stages.
  7. Understand critical concepts related to financing and analyzing the economics and budgeting relevant for launching a new product/service and business model.

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Sample Schedule

Day Activity
1 Value Propositions, Customer Segments and the Intro to Business Model Canvas (6 hours)
2 Creativity & Innovation, Project Selection, Customer Interviews (The Mom Test), Opportunity Identification (6 hours)
3 Channels, Customer Relationships, Competition and Market Research, Analyzing Technology Trends (6 hours)
4 MVP’s and Prototyping, Use in Customer Validation, Market Sizing, Revenue Streams, Case Study 1 (5 hours)
5 Bay Area Site Visits (Companies, Investors, Maker Spaces) (7 hours)
6 Visit Cal Poly Innovation Sandbox, Unit Economics, Cost Structures and Project Cost Estimation, Case Study 2 (6 hours)
7 Partnership Models, Key Activities and Resources, Building a Managing a Team (6 hours)
8 Customer Interview Results and Interpretation, Visit Cal Poly Summer Accelerator (6 hours)
9 Intellectual Property, Financing, Storytelling, MVP Presentations (6 hours)
10 Finish Projects and Final Presentations (6 hours)
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Meet the Instructors

Thomas Katona

Dr. Thomas Katona received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business and a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Westmont College. Dr. Katona works jointly with the Orfalea College of Business, focusing on Entrepreneurship, Product Development and Commercialization, and Design Thinking. Prior to joining Cal Poly, he served in senior roles for three successive startups (SET Inc., Soraa, and NEXT Lighting), commercializing novel light emitting semiconductors and lighting systems. For more information, read Dr. Katona's full bio here .

Klaus Sailer

Dr. Klaus Sailer is professor for Entrepreneurship at the Munich University of Applied Sciences and CEO of the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE). He is a co-founder and chair of the board at Social Entrepreneurship Akademie, Co-chair of EREE (European Round Table for Entrepreneurship Education) and a member of the expert group of HEInnovate. Klaus Sailer holds a Ph.D. in physics. He studied at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and did his Ph.D. at the Research Center for Environment and Health. At Infineon AG Klaus Sailer was responsible for the project management and marketing of new semiconductor technologies. In 2000 Klaus Sailer co-founded a company with partners in the area of communication technologies and as its chairman was able to successfully establish it in the market and realized his innovative ideas with other start-up teams. His main research interests are in the area of entrepreneurship education, innovation process, business modeling, networks, co-creation and societal innovations.

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Enrollment Info

Dates Program Fee Included Credits Enroll Online
August 6 -17 $1,450** Silicon Valley trip 6 CEUs* Enroll Now
For questions or more information, please email

*Ask your home institution on conversion to ECTS
** Early Bird Discount of $100 off $1,550 if enrolled by March 31, 2018 Extended to May 1, 2018!
***Housing not included
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