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Company Ideas

What if I want to take the class with my own incorporated business but don’t anticipate wanting to move forward with my whole class team?

Anything developed during the class is owned by each of the teammates. After the class, you can run the business on your own, without them; and they can run the business without you. If needed, come to office hours and we can figure out how best to help your position. In short, we want you to treat your teammates as equals.

We recommend you work together during the class with the goal of learning; after the class, if you continue and they join you, you can negotiate a fair compensation arrangement.  If you continue and they don’t, you can give them equity based on your view of how much they contributed.

In general, part time work for 3 months isn’t worth very much. The full time work you put in over the next five years will be worth a lot.

Another way of thinking about it is if you hired them and paid them their value in cash, would it be $10k?  $20k?  some other number?  Then, if your company is worth $3 million pre-money (a ballpark value for a pure startup), $10k in value would be equivalent to 0.33% of equity.

What if I don’t have an idea or a team but want to take the class?

You can work on your own idea, or if you like one of these ideas, you can work with the sponsor on one of these ideas. Finding a team you can work effectively with  is far more important. An A-team with a B idea always trumps a B-team with an A idea. We run team formation mixers before the application deadline to help you find a team. Please go to to get more information on team formation. 

What is the difference between the different sections of ENGR 245?

The spring section is focused on deep tech but open to all applications, while the winter session is focused on any idea. 

Do teams receive funding?

No funding is available to the teams during the class.

What if I do want to test a web idea?

The only condition is that you have to get the site up and deliver the minimum product feature set during the quarter.

How advanced should my idea or technology be when I apply?

For the Spring Deeptech cohort, concepts should have research and development initiated and start to return some proof of concept validation. Think technology readiness level (TRL) 3 or above. Reach out to the TA team if you have questions about technical readiness.

Is this class for web startups only?

All teams can apply to the Winter class. Any startup can apply to the Spring class, but priority will go to Deep Tech teams.

Intellectual Property

Who owns the intellectual property tested in the Business Model?

If you’re working with a Stanford related-technology (i.e. either research from one of the team members or University IP), you must check with the Office of Technology, Licensing to understand Stanford ownership rights in any resulting IP.

You own what Intellectual Property (patents, hardware, algorithms, etc.) you brought to class with you. No one (other than Stanford) has claim to anything you brought to class.

You all own any intellectual property developed for the class (such as code for a web-based project) developed during class.

You and your team members need to disclose to each other what IP/Licensing rights any company you’ve worked at has to inventions you make at school.

If any of you decide to start a company based on the class, you own only what was written and completed in the class. You have no claim for work done before or after the class quarter.

If a subset of the team decides to start a company they do NOT owe anything to any other team members for work done in and during the class. All team members are free to start the same company, without permission of the others. (We would hope that a modicum of common sense and fairness would apply.)

My idea is based on deep technology that I have been working on at Stanford, is this the right class and how is the ownership determined.

This is the right class to take. See the earlier question on IP ownership.  Please reach out to the teaching team if you have additional questions.

My idea is based on deep technology that I have been working on independent of Stanford. Is this the right class and how is ownership determined?

This is the right class to take. See the earlier question on IP ownership.  Please reach out to the teaching team if you have additional questions.

I feel my idea/Business Model may become a real company and the “next killer app” and I want to own it myself. What should I do?

This is more than likely the wrong class to take. Your slides, notes and findings will be publicly shared. Your team owns everything done in class. Discuss Intellectual Property rights with your team from the beginning. If you can’t come to agreement with the team, join another team, pick another project, or drop the class. Remember anything you do and learn in the class is public.

Will my Intellectual Property rights be protected when I discuss my ideas with the class?

This is an open class.  There are no non-disclosures. All your presentations and Customer Discovery and Validation notes, Business Model Canvas, blogs and slides can, and more likely will, be made public.

This class is not an incubator. At times you will learn by seeing how previous classes solved the same problems by looking at their slides, notes and blogs.

Keep in mind that successful companies are less about the original idea and more about the learning, discovery and execution. (That’s the purpose of this class.) Therefore you must be prepared to share your ideas openly with the class. It is a forum for you to “bounce” your ideas off your peers.

Resources Available

What kind of support will our team have?

The teaching team consists of faculty members, and a TA and one mentor per team. A mentor is an experienced entrepreneur, investor or consultant assigned to your team. They’ve volunteered to help with the class and your team because they love startups. Their job is to guide you as you get out of the building. Each faculty member will also have two teams that they will be guides for. 

How often can we/should we meet with our mentor?

Your mentor is expecting to meet with you at least every week face-to-face or by video chat.  You can email them or meet with them more often if they have time.

Can I talk to a mentor not assigned to my team?

By all means, do so. All the mentors are happy to help. However they cannot support your team full time unless your mentor decides to swap places with them.

I have a busy schedule and my mentor can’t meet when I want them to.

Mentors have day jobs. Asking them to meet or reply to you ASAP is not acceptable. So plan ahead to allow for a reasonable amount of time for a reply or meeting. Be concise with your request and be respectful of their time.

I need help now.

If you need help with the application, check the homepage for office hours. Email us! We are approachable and accessible 🙂

During the quarter, your first stop is your TAs. Email or sit down with them during the week if you have a problem. If you need something resolved sooner, email us.

Team Dynamics

What roles are in each team?

Each team member is required to be part of the customer development process and meet with prospective customers.  All other work can be assigned based on student interests and capabilities.

Can I have more/less than 4 students on a team?

Teams can have 4 or 5 students per team.  Smaller teams will not be accepted. Larger teams will be decided on a case by case basis (e.g. through auditors).

Do all team members have to be active students?

Yes, all team members need to be enrolled Stanford Students. Other non-students can serve as advisors to the team. 

If you are a Visiting Student Researcher (or any other non-official Stanford student) you can be part of a team or form a team. Your team must however have 4 Stanford students enrolled in the class. 

Where can I find teammates to join our team? Where can I find a team to join?

If you are looking for a team, check out LLP’s team formation hub or come to one of our in-person events (details on homepage)! Also feel free to ping our Lean Launchpad interest mailing list The best teammates come from classes you have taken and projects you have worked on in the past with them. Feel free to reach out to the people on the spreadsheet of those who have applied to the class. For spring, preference given to teams that are all- or majority-engineering, hard sciences or education.

What if my team becomes dysfunctional?

Prepare to work through difficult issues. If the situation continues, approach the teaching team. Do not wait until the end of the quarter to raise the issue. Mentors, TAs and faculty are here to help!

What if one of my teammates is not “pulling his/her weight”?

Try to resolve it within your team. If the situation continues longer than a week, please approach the teaching team. Final grades will also reflect individual participation and contribution.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

Continual feedback weekly. Substandard quality work will be immediately brought to your attention. We grade everything you send us and show us, and we aim to provide constructive and honest feedback for it.