Course Syllabus

Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Europe

DIS Logo


Semester & Location:

Fall 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Sweden/Denmark and Berlin (ranked second most attractive startup hub in Europe).

Major Disciplines:

Business, Entrepreneurship, Leadership Studies



Faculty Members:

Mikael Fuhr (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Please, do not contact me about scheduling your trips. Try

Time & Place:

Tuesday, 13.15—16.10 — Classroom: F24-302

Course description

✏️  Blog for our class

📸  Google Photos for our class

This course works like a startup incubator where you form a team to create your own startup. Teamwork is a must and there is a lot!

You apply the tools needed to succeed as a startup. You get hands-on experience tackling entrepreneurial challenges and get guidance from experienced mentors. Visits to startups will inspire you. 

You embrace an innovative mindset and use Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, Design Thinking, Value Proposition Design, and Customer Journey Mapping.

First, you identify a problem based on customer needs. Then, you develop hypotheses about customers and solutions. You validate through surveys, interviews, explainer videos, websites, or other representations of your ideas.

The course culminates in pitching your startup to real investors and serial entrepreneurs who provide honest, constructive feedback. They view you not as students, but as startup founders!

You meet key figures in Danish, Swedish, and German entrepreneurship, including founders of top startups.

We have three hours a week of class time. 
The workload outside of class is six hours a week, most of it in your team... which takes planning!

If you are not up for that, this course is not for you.

Learning objectives

  • Learning methods for identifying customer needs and continuously getting feedback on solutions
  • Developing a Business Model for a startup venture
  • Building Minimum Viable Products (= experiments) and testing them with customers
  • Designing simple, professional slides, communicating clearly, and presenting effectively in an investor pitch
  • Understanding that failure is inevitable in innovation… but also a source of learning
  • Understanding the interplay between different actors on the entrepreneurial scene (entrepreneurs, science parks, universities, venture capitalists, incubators/accelerator programs)
  • Actively engaging in the entrepreneurship communities in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

Faculty: Mikael Fuhr,

Architect and Industrial Designer. Extensive experience in strategic design, innovation, communication, and leadership. Design manager and project manager in DSB (Danish State Railways), Head of Design Vision Lab, Director of Design in DSB, Founder of FUHR.

Literature list

  • Ries, Eric: The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, 2011 (primarily chapters 1-6 and 8)
  • Osterwalder, Alexander, Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers, 2010
  • Osterwalder, Alexander, Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want, 2010
  • Constable, Giff: Talking To Humans 
  • Fitzpatrick, Rob: The Mom Test
  • Cases and articles TBA
  • Course blog for cases, comments, and clips:

Core course week

This week is entirely dedicated to the core course and all other electives will be put on hold. The purpose is to have an intense focus on the course through a 3-day study tour to Sweden and Denmark as well as workshops.

Objectives of the core course week:

  • Building a strong bond and ease in sharing ideas for the student teams' startups.
  • Inspiring the teams through interaction with key actors on the entrepreneurial scene.
  • Getting exposed to Design Thinking to enhance innovation and creativity.

Long Study Tour: Berlin

The objectives of the study tour to Berlin are:

  • Meeting with successful startups/scaleups and entrepreneurship communities that will share their experiences.
  • Presenting your team's business ideas to venture capital company for constructive feedback.
  • PS: The 2022 Startup Ecosystem report ranks Sweden 2nd and Germany 3rd in Europe!




20% (indiv.)

Paper and presentation: Describe your Business Model Canvas + Activities in Customer Discovery and Customer Validation + Market Analysis


15% (team)

Development and presentation of Minimum Viable Product


15% (team)

Investor Pitches (final + ‘training’ pitches)


15% (team)

'Journey’ and Reflection Paper: Document and reflect on the process used to develop your startup


35% (indiv.)


Grading (expanded)

This class is based on identifying a problem, coming up with solutions, and turning that into a business. You must, therefore, have a strong drive to learn by doing. Please do not select this course if you expect to study articles and take tests, expect the professor to lecture all the time, or if you do not wish to apply your ideas in a real-life setting. This course demands that you engage with real customers to turn an idea into a viable business. 

The class focuses on short lectures followed by multidisciplinary teamwork with close supervision.

Individual grades for team assignments may be applied. The policy is that late assignments are not accepted.


Engagement (20% — indiv.): This class requires a high level of motivation and active participation in class and during the study tours. To get a good engagement grade the following must be done:

  • Collaborating well with your team and handling any team 'obstacles' in a professional manner
  • Preparing AS A TEAM for every class and planning your time abroad AS A TEAM to meet the expected workload (see above)
  • Providing and receiving feedback from your peers and others during the course
  • Participating actively in class activities
  • Actively seeking out startup events, and sharing with the class
  • Being willing to step out of your comfort zone, to dare and try new approaches.

Business Model Canvas + Customer Discovery/Validation + Market Analysis Paper (15% — team)

FORMAT: Written 1.000 words paper + Team presentation (featuring all team members)

This paper must elaborate on three topics:

Business Model Canvas: Explain the process and considerations of developing your Business Model Canvas (at its current stage).

  • Focus on the process, describing primarily how you make a BMC and secondarily what your BMC looks like.

Customer Discovery and Customer Validation: Describe your team’s activities in the Lean Launchpad Customer Development steps of Customer Discovery and Customer Validation, where you prepare your hypotheses of a Business Model and then take that hypothesis to potential customers for validation.

  • Describe primarily how/which ways you interacted with customers (at your current stage) and secondarily what you learned from customers that significantly influenced or changed your business idea. Successful Customer Discovery does not imply that the customers necessarily agree with you. There is much value in learning what the customers do not want and making the appropriate adjustments.

Market Analysis: Having solid domain knowledge vastly improves a given venture’s chances of success. In this context, domain knowledge does not have to be extremely technical, but rather good and analytical knowledge of the market that you intend to go into. You are not required to display an absolute knowledge of the market since it is an early-stage paper. You are however required to show an understanding of the basic drivers of your particular market/industry. As the semester progresses this initial understanding will be strengthened as you learn more about the market and its related customer needs:

  • What is the competitive landscape like?
  • What are the trends that are changing the industry/market?
  • What opportunities can you spot in this changing landscape?
  • Give an approximation of the size of the opportunity, i.e. how large is the target market?

The paper must be visual and structured to be easy to overview: Include illustrations, diagrams, etc., and use headlines, sub-headlines, etc to structure and prioritize the content.

Minimum Viable Product Presentation (15% — team)

FORMAT: Slide deck + presentation:

  • Give a quick update on your customer development process
  • Explain your choices in connection with your MVP (how did you establish what was 'minimum'?) and the way you use it with customers to learn
  • Demo a live MVP, e.g. explainer video, landing page, website, app dummy or a physical prototype (if applicable).

You will be graded on efforts to build something that can generate feedback from customers. Your demo in class is the first version... and it can be flawed. The more ways you can produce in order to generate feedback via MVPs, the better. Experimentation and boldness are expected.

Investor Pitches (15% — team)

FORMAT: Slide deck + final pitch to a panel of professional entrepreneurs and investors. ‘Training’ pitches during the course may count towards this grade as well. The pitch must be delivered in max. 3 min. You will be judged on the content of the pitch and your presentation skills.

‘Journey’ and Reflection Paper (35% — indiv.)

FORMAT: Written 1.500-word paper (+10% extra is acceptable)

Describe (verbally and visually) the ‘journey‘ — step by step — that you have been through in the course and reflect on key moments. Think of this as if you were teaching what you have learned to a third person:

  1. A description of the process you used in developing your startup
  2. Key insights from your customer interactions that helped validate and develop your idea
  3. A reflection about which steps/methods in the process worked well for you (and your team) and which could be improved next time... and how.
  4. Appendix: A log of conducted interviews (for your team). Starting the week after Core Course Week a quota of interviews — in-person or online — must be conducted every week. Also, include the tests you do with your MVPs.

The paper must be 'visual', easy to overview, and engaging to read: Include illustrations, diagrams, photos, etc., and use headlines and sub-headlines to structure the content.

Pre-course survey (individual, mandatory, not graded)

You will receive an email asking you to submit a PROBLEM before you leave for Denmark. Please see all the details there. 

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 

DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Schedule: The schedule is subject to change if necessary with as much notice as possible.

Class Policy on Audio and Video Taping and Distribution: Any audio or video recordings produced during this class, as well as any recordings posted to online class sites such as Canvas, may not be exchanged or distributed for commercial purposes, for compensation, for posting on social media sites, or be used for any other purpose other than for study by students enrolled in this class. In addition, distribution or sharing of course materials (including instructor PowerPoint slides) may constitute copyright infringement.


Course Summary:

Date Details Due