You want to learn how to consult start-ups and corporates in strategic issues? Join the CDTM to learn this in the third and last core course – the Entrepreneurship Laboratory (eLab) – in projects with company partners and in helpful sessions that teach the skills required to provide solutions to their most pressing business problems.

The eLab is a project-based course of twelve weeks where students assume the role of strategic consultants for start-ups, SMEs or multinational corporations. The student teams answer strategic business questions ranging from market entry of biomedical products to new pricing strategies for SaaS suites. To provide the students with the required skill set and best-practice examples, they are guided by course instructors as well as external coaches from top strategy consultancies like McKinsey & Company, the Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company.

As any other course at the CDTM, the eLab is conducted in cooperation with a project partner.

Hybrid course format

This year, the eLab started in fall 2020 – right in the middle of the Corona crisis. Thus, the eLab was conducted in a hybrid format similar to other CDTM courses. While all courses were offered online, students were able to join the kick-off and mid-term meeting physically under a strict hygiene concept. With growing case numbers, the end-term presentation was held again in a fully virtual setting. 

The fact that full virtual attendance was possible also provided a second chance to many alumni: Students who graduated years ago, but had one- or two mandatory sessions left over from their active days as students, could also join the course which further increased the diversity of the class.

The CAs (PhD students and lecturers at the CDTM) set up several screens and cameras to make the virtual setting as appealing as possible. Even for virtual attendants, this setup made it possible to see the remaining class all the time during their presentations and discussion.

Procedure of the course

After submitting preferences to projects of 3-4 people, students were assigned to a project with a company partner – ranging from early-stage start-ups to Dax corporates. The projects included identifying a new market for an existing product, developing a strategy to enter a predefined market, and helping a project partner to identify interesting start-ups they could partner with.

The teams were independently responsible for working on the project and communicating with the project partner. Class sessions supported the teams by teaching them consultant skills such as project management, project & case work, result-drive work and professional communication. The second part of the course focused more on gaining entrepreneurial knowledge, e.g. on venture finance, finding an idea, growing a team, embracing entrepreneurial thinking and the overall start-up founding process. These sessions were held by external lecturers with industry experience, e.g. by McKinsey consultants, successful entrepreneur and investor Marc Samwer, and Judith Data, partner at Berlin-based Venture Capital firm La Famiglia. 

A special experience was the “Entrepreneurial Negotiation” session: In this two-day course, the students learnt the theoretical approaches of negotiation. Most importantly, they applied the principle of integrative bargaining to “increase the size of the pie” in several practice negotiations focusing on the start-up context. The session was held by two Harvard graduates, who collected experience with coaching start-ups and multi-billion dollar corporations.

Additionally, the eLab course was accompanied by many real-world insights from successful CDTM entrepreneurs, such as the founders of CAPMO.

Virtual fun

The students surprised the CAs on Halloween when the whole class appeared as “ghosts” in the Zoom call. 

This was good fun – the CAs returned the gift by surprising the students with the baby shark dance:

Later, we also established regular dance breaks to compensate for the missing dancing in the lockdown. This is a example of us dancing to Asereje:

Become a part of the CDTM

How can you also learn strategy consulting in 3 months? Do you also want to learn about entrepreneurship, and take part in the courses like eLab, or other courses at CDTM?

Become a CDTM student! Find out more about our Honours degree in Technology Management, and apply here until May 30th!