Business Modeling and Customer Validation

Learn how to create and deliver value for customers and how to sustainably extract value for the startup, corporate venture, or established organization.




12 Weeks


8-10 Hours per Week

This course will guides aspiring and active entrepreneurs and innovators through the process of creating successful business models and navigating the customer discovery process. Students learn how to conduct customer interviews and identify target customer segments. Students use the Business Model Canvas and test new ideas to create winning business models.

What You'll Learn

  • Identify how to create and deliver value for customers.
  • Learn how to extract value for the venture in a sustainable fashion.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews to guide the customer discovery process for your venture.
  • Develop business models that encompass the product or service, customers, and economic engine that deliver on venture objectives.

Who Will Benefit

  • Aspiring product managers working to develop their skills for entry into a product management role.
  • Active product managers seeking to enhance their capabilities to be world-class product managers.
  • Product designers, developers, and collaborators interested in improving their understanding product management.
  • Educators, consultants, and organizational leads desiring to improve their capacity to teach, advise, or empower their constituencies in the product management area.

Course Topics

Module 1: What Does a Startup Business Model Look Like?

This module includes a welcome to the course, an orientation to our teaching approach and faculty, and an introduction to business models and product-market fit.

Module 2: Talk to Customers to Build the Business Model

Why talk to customers. How to get insight from customers. What to do before and after the customer interview. Building a pipeline of customer interviews.

Module 3: Customer Segments and Value Propositions

Why have customer segments at all. Customer types. Customer segments. Customer archetypes. Minimum viable product (MVP).

Module 4: Market Types

Sizing markets. Physical and virtual goods. B2B and B2C markets. Crossing the Chasm.

Module 5: Customer Discovery Interviews

Fundamentals of customer discovery. Troubleshooting your customer discovery. The customer's wallet.

Module 6: Reaching Your Customer

The funnel of customer engagement. What is a channel. Product-channel fit.

Module 7: How Will Customers Pay

Revenue models versus pricing. Types of revenue streams. Determining the right revenue model. Metrics for a sustainable business model.

Module 8: The Rest of the Business Model Canvas

Key activities. Key partnerships. Key resources. Cost structures.

Module 9: What Comes After Customer Discovery

Four steps to the epiphany. Customer validation and scaling sales. Customer creation and scaling demand. Company building and scaling the organization. Raising financial capital.

Module 10: Telling Your Story

What is storytelling. What do customer want to know. What do investors want to know. Storyboarding for the customer pitch and the investor pitch.

Learning Experience

Asynchronous Lectures

Coaching and Mentoring

Live Office Hours

Peer Interactions and Networking

Project-Based Learning

Real-World Assignments

Learner Testimonials

The instruction and startup coaching that I received from Dr. Green were invaluable to the launch and growth of Squarespace. The skills taught in this course are a fantastic introduction to many of the fundamentals one needs when starting a business.

Anthony Casalena

Founder and CEO, Squarespace


Daniel Gordon
Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute
University of Maryland

Dan Gordon has over 30 years of experience working with technology, as a computer scientist, software developer, manager, analyst, and entrepreneur. Dan is a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Maryland, teaching in the Master of Professional Studies in Technology Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation.

As a technology partner with Valhalla Partners, Dan brought together the most respected and successful venture investors in the region. Valhalla Partners' present and past investments have resulted in 27 M&As, 22 IPOs, and over $1 billion in investment proceeds. Prior to joining Valhalla Partners, Dan was a director and senior staff member at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Technology Centre, analyzing technology trends and consulting on technology-oriented strategies in the software, e-business, wireless, optical, networking, semiconductor, and life sciences arenas. He worked with clients from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Dan was a Contributing Writer and Contributing Editor to the Technology Centre's annual Technology Forecast, and a frequent speaker at industry and general business meetings. Prior to joining PwC, Dan spent 20 years in Silicon Valley as a software technologist, manager, director, and entrepreneur, including senior technical roles at well-known Silicon Valley firms like Symantec, Intuit, and Oracle. Dan has also been involved in startup companies in the applied artificial intelligence and web applications fields.

Dan has a BA from Harvard University and an MS from New York University in Computer Science.

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