csciStartup is unusual. Half of the classes are fairly traditional — a talk or lecture about a topic we think every young company needs to think about — the other half of the meetings will be driven entirely by your current progress and roadblocks.

You will need to come to each “progress” meeting with a report on what you've acomplished in the last week and, perhaps more importantly, be ready to discuss your single biggest roadblock.


Stanford has done two classes on building startups, and much of the content is online.

Peter Thiel's class is available as course notes. Sam Altman's version, which includes a lot of great guest lectures, is available as videos and includes an extensive reading list.


csciStartup may be unusual, but we still need to assign grades. First, there are a few specific assignments toward the beginning of the term when every company has some of the same problems to tackle. Next, you'll be assigned grades for the quality of your preparation for progress meeting and for your contributions during other teams' progress reports. Beyond that, it's likely that each team will be working on very different issues, and we will evaluate each team's progress independently. Expect that customer acquisition and satisfaction will be critical to your success.

  • 5% Tech Mechanics - (domains, webserver, dev environment, deployment strategy)
  • 5% Financial Mechanics - (incorporate, bank account, budgeting)
  • 10% Market analysis - (User surveys, A/B testing)
  • 10% Advertising - (Adwords or email campaign)
  • 10% Hiring - (freelance graphic design, outsourcing some tech, etc)
  • 20% Progress reports
  • 10% Progress help
  • 30% Team dependent metrics (customer growth, user engagement, downloads, etc)



Your companies should certainly constitute a Capstone scale project.


Almost any level of collaboration is acceptable. For example, we wouldn't even tie your hands from hiring someone to do something. But we would expect you to talk about it in your progress reports, and you'll be graded on the quality of your hiring and management. (We don't really expect teams to be so far along that hiring developers makes sense.)