What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know
Entrepreneurship 101 provides resources to help get your company off the ground. OTTCP has outlined four main steps which we recommend you follow before financing your startup. Under each step there are curated resources (articles, books, videos, etc.) that can help keep you on track to launch.
You can also jump to our section on campus and local resources.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP 101: Company Startup
Key Questions to Ask Yourself:
- What is the unmet need?
- How are you going to meet it?
- What's the business model?
The main four steps to launch, with accompanying resources and details, are below.
A. Create pitch deck outlining business strategy with market overview, solution / IP, value proposition, and team
For access to the OTTCP Pitch Template, please email either Jay Chiang or Julie Schoenfeld.
B. Summarize concept with one pager
C. Draft executive summary to introduce startup (e.g., through email)
- Pitching 101 webinar from Osage University Partners (OUP)—especially useful for university/research-based startups and spinouts:
Intellectual property, patents, and licensing annual seminar slides (last updated March 2023) prepared by Hannah Carbone, OTTCP Director for Innovation, Patents & Licensing
A. Identify key IP required to support business strategy and technical differentiation
B. File IP
C. Obtain an option or license through OTTCP
- OUP webinar on licensing, term sheets, and financials:
A. Ensure founders are aligned on key elements of company formation including, strategy, ownership structure, and management
For access to the OTTCP Founders' Agreement Guide, please email either Jay Chiang or Julie Schoenfeld.
B. Identify initial team (business, technical)
C. Consider recruiting executive chairman
For access to the OTTCP job description template for the positions of executive chairman and advisory board member, please email either Jay Chiang or Julie Schoenfeld.
A. Identify investors (consider the Caltech Seed Fund, Wilson Hill)
B. Secure introductions, schedule pitch meetings, pitch, and iterate
C. Prepare for term sheet negotiations
- Summarized fundraising and pitching advice from First Round
- Familiarize yourself with what a general term sheet looks like by reviewing NVCA's term sheet template and Simple Agreements for Future Equity (SAFE) templates from Y Combinator
- Article on the differences between convertible debt and SAFEs
- OUP webinars on equity and term sheets as well as cap table scenarios:
Other resources on entrepreneurship:
- How to Build a Startup course on Udacity provides human feedback on projects and is taught by Lean Startup method creator Steve Blank. The course is expected to take approximately one month to complete; course syllabus is included at the bottom of the linked page.
- Columbia University's IP for Entrepreneurs Zoom course is a recording of six classes of their not-for-credit course over the pandemic. Each video is approximately 2 hours long.
- Founder Notes Feb 2022
- Founder Notes November 2021
- Founder Notes October 2021
- Founder Notes August 2021
- Founder Notes June 2021
- Founder Notes May 2021
- Founder Notes Apr 2021
- Founder Notes Feb 2021
- Founder Notes Dec 2020
- Founder Notes Nov 2020
- Founder Notes Oct 2020
- Founder Notes Sep 2020
- Founder Notes Jul 2020
- Founder Notes Jun 2020
- Founder Notes Apr 2020
- Founder Notes Mar 2020
- Founder Notes Feb 2020
- Founder Notes Dec 2019
- Founder Notes Nov 2019
- Founder Notes Oct 2019
- Founder Notes Sep 2019
- Founder Notes Aug 2019
- Harvard Business Review's article on How to Design a Winning Business Model
- This 90-minute OUP webinar overviews the steps and processes involved in launching an academic startup
Books accessible via the Caltech Library:
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. James C. Collins, Jerry I. Porras, 1994.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HF5386.C735 2002
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, 2010.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HD30.28 .O778 2010
Connecting with Companies: A Guide to Consulting Agreements for Biomedical Scientists. Edward Klees, H. Robert Horvitz, 2014.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: KF905.C67 K57 2014
Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup. Bill Aulet, 2013.
- Caltech students and staff can borrow a copy from the OTTCP office upon request.
Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology: Managing for Growth from Start-up to Initial Public Offering. Martin Grossman, 2003.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HD9999.B442 G76 2003
Entrepreneurship: Venture Initiation, Management, and Development (second edition). George S. Vozikis, Timothy S. Mescon, Howard D. Feldman, & Eric W. Liguori, 2013. A full .pdf of the first edition 2008 version of the book is available here.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HB615 .V84 2014
Fish Can't See Water: How National Culture Can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy. Kai Hammerich, Richard D. Lewis, 2013.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HD58.7 .H343 2013
Mastering the Complex Sale: How to Compete and Win When the Stakes are High! Jeff Thull, 2003.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HF5438.25 .T525 2003
The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that can Sink a Startup. Noam Wasserman, 2012. Wasserman's similarly-named 2008 Harvard Business Review article can be read here, and his Stanford E-Corner talk is also available on YouTube.
- Caltech students and staff can access and download each chapter individually from JStor using their Caltech credentials through this link.
The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Clayton M. Christensen, 1997.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HD53 .C49 1997
The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators. Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, & Clayton M. Christensen, 2011. The precursor article to this book is available on the Harvard Business Review website here.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HD53 .D94 2011
The Marketing Playbook: Five Battle-Tested Plays for Capturing and Keeping the Lead in Any Market. John Zagula & Rich Tong, 2004.
- Call number for Caltech students and staff: HF5415 .Z24 2004
The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company. Steve Blank and Bob Dorf, 2012. The UN Arab Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Portal has a full .pdf of the book here.
Venture Deals (third edition). Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, 2016.
- Caltech staff and students can access the eBook version by using their Access Caltech account to log into O'Reilly.
On Campus & Local Resources:
- The Entrepreneur Club (eClub) is a student-run organization that provides educational and networking opportunities focused on entrepreneurship for undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and staff through events and seminars.
- The Biotechnology Club (CBC) aims to foster better and stronger relationships between Caltech and the biotechnology industries. The CBC also provides career education through networking events and seminars.
- The Postdoctoral Club (CPA) organizes activities, workshops, and events to assist with professional development.
- Like the CPA, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) organizes activities, workshops, and events to help with professional development.
- The Career Development Center (CDC) assists Caltech undergraduate and graduate students with career planning, graduate and professional school advising, job search strategies, internships and related opportunities.
Classes & Forums:
- The Entrepreneurs Forum holds monthly talks about technology-based topics
- The National Science Foundation's I-Corps Program local chapter—Innovation Node-Los Angeles (IN-LA)—is a collaboration of USC, Caltech, and UCLA, with classes available for startup teams
- ZAP Lean Startup Workshop Series is based on the Lean LaunchPad curriculum pioneered by Stanford University
- The Rocket Fund at Caltech offers $25,000 - $75,000 in non-equity grants for cleantech and sustainability startups, as part of Caltech's Resnick Sustainability Institute
- OTTCP maintains contacts at venture-capital firms, law firms, and other service providers for startups. Please contact a member of OTTCP to discuss your startup plans and how we can help
- Internal funding programs for Caltech-owned technologies can be used to move technologies from the lab to the marketplace
Startup Support Organizations
- Alliance for SoCal Innovation networking organization
- Innovate Pasadena sponsors events and meet-ups for technology and design entrepreneurs in the greater Pasadena area
- BioscienceLA life sciences innovation catalyst for the Los Angeles region (aka BioLA)
- Biocom LA Life Science Association of California
- Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio) is a nonprofit, member-supported trade association that serves the biotech, med tech, IVD and digital health communities in Greater LA
- MADIA Tech Launch networking organization hosts educational networking events within the greater San Gabriel Valley area
- University Lab Partners wet lab and med-tech incubator
- Nucleate XYZ is a student-led biotechnology mentorship network
- Launch Labs from Alexandria Real Estate Equities; various locations
- BioLabsLA incubator in the Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at Harbor UCLA Medical Center coworking wet lab and office space (formerly LA BioMed)
- LA BioSpace at Cal State LA's Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center has desk, lab bench, and walled wetlab suite coworking options
- HatchLabs in Alhambra, part of HatchSpaces across LA (Westwood, Thousand Oaks, Irvine)
- The Design Accelerator (TDA) is a Pasadena-based accelerator focused on early stage design and technology companies
- LabLaunch enables access to affordable, high-quality lab facilities and a supportive innovation community for scientists and entrepreneurs
- Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) helps clean technology start-ups by providing office space, coaching and mentoring, and networking
- Oak Crest Institute of Science chemistry and biology research and education center
- The Pasadena Biosciences Collaborative (PBC) is an incubator offering affordable laboratory space and shared equipment for startups