There are three ways to watch these lectures:
(1) A good way is to watch the lectures and use the Udacity discussion forums to interact with other people watching the lectures.
(2) Something better is that although these lectures are free and don't really require any books or texts, there are books or texts that I would feel really guilty not telling you about. These include Alexander Osterwalder's "Business Model Generation" book for understanding the Business Model Canvas, and the Startup Owner's Manual, written by yours truly and my co-author Bob Dorf, that is kind of a standard for customer development. Let me emphasize again, these are not required and you can understand the lectures just fine without them but they'll surely help explain a lot of the detail in the 617 pages because they're almost an encyclopedia for startups. Enough of the ad, that's the last time I'll mention buying the texts or books.
(3) The best way to watch these lectures is, instead of just watching them, do everything in (1) and (2) above and also form a startup team and get outside of the building in between watching the lectures so you're actually watching the lectures as a guide for what you are supposed to be doing week to week. One of the reasons we suggest that instead of just watching the lectures you actually get out of the building and do it either by yourself or with your team is because startups are not about lectures, and entrepreneurship is not about your grades and this class, they're about the work you do outside the building after you watch the lectures-- not how much you watch the lectures. Entrepreneurship is experience, it's hands on, and it's immediate and intense feedback.
If you're doing more than just watching these lectures, one of the things you're going to be staring at a lot is the Business Model Canvas. If you're watching this video, the first thing I suggest is stop, go to businessmodelgeneration.com, and download the canvas and print out a bunch of copies. Then go get a bunch of yellow stickies and a red pen because that's what you're going to be using for the next couple of weeks. Now, what we actually do with the Business Model Canvas is in week 1. You use those yellow stickies to put up all your hypotheses and you probably don't have many facts yet but you can make some pretty good guesses about what's a value prop, where the customers are, what your channel is and what your pricing is, but what more you can do is really interesting. It's as you come back in with facts, we're going to be marking up the canvas and crossing out the things that actually weren't true and replacing them with the things we've learned, and we're going to do that week after week until what we end up with is a series of Business Model Canvases, and what you'll find out is at the end of the class, you can actually play back these canvases almost like a filmstrip and see what you've learned over time.
An optional piece of software is something called launchpad central at www.launchpadcentral.com. The launchpad central allows you to share your work, your customer discovery narrative, what you're doing outside the building with mentors and instructors and everybody else. Some of you might think, "Well, I don't want to share what I'm doing," but it's not sharing your IP or your great ideas--it's actually sharing what you found out in testing your hypothesis and it allows others to comment in real time. So in fact, you won't have to sit alone thinking about "Am I on the right path or is this the right strategy, etc." The launchpad central comes with the startup weekend program, which is available to anybody else here at launchpadcentral.com. It is not required for this class but is a great resource if you're interested.
So to prepare for watching these lectures, of course, you could just hit the play button but actually it would be helpful, if you actually do some reading. And as I said earlier, there's optional reading, and you'll see this going forward, after each lecture, and a Startup Owner's Manual pp. 1-50, or in the strategy volume if it's an e-book. And in Business Model Generation pp 14-49, completely optional. But what's available for free is if you want to get a feel of the core strategy how we're trying to teach this and how we teach this in real life, you could go to steveblank.com category/Lean LaunchPad or just click on the link. You could also look at other students' presentations and we have our students make 2-min quicktime videos which are summaries of their presentations as well and you could see those at steveblank.com/slides but if you want to actively engage in the class, your first real homework is download that Osterwalder canvas and using yellow stickies, take a shot at actually filling out all your hypotheses on the business model canvas. It's okay if you're just guessing because the whole class is about how you turn those guesses into facts. So get ready, download the canvas, put on those yellow stickies, and then looking at those boxes, start figuring out who would you call on and who would you contact to start testing those hypotheses and take a look for the first week at your value proposition and customer segment box. Who would you want to talk to, to validate your ideas about what features are important and who would you talk to to validate that these are customers you want to go after and we're just getting you ready for the work you're going to do after the next lecture. See you soon!