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Teaching Assistant Handbook for the Lean LaunchPad Course
Stanford University Graduate School of Engineering
2015 Winter Term
Classes meet 4:15 – 7:05 pm Tuesday
Littlefield Room 103
Steve Blank firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Epstein email@example.com
steve weinstein firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Zhan email@example.com
Gabriel Garza firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Tsau email@example.com
Akaash Nanda firstname.lastname@example.org
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 2 of 12
Welcome to the role of a TA for Lean Launchpad at Stanford! We are excited to have
The Role of a TA
As a TA, you are the backbone of the class. Your role is to ensure that the course runs
smoothly for the teaching team, students, mentors, and advisors.
Your role is split into 3 main stages:
1. Pre-class stage:
Goal: recruit the best teams with the most talented, entrepreneurial students for our
class. We have historically received submissions from 25-30 teams each year. We
winnow that down to 8 teams for the class.
Step 1: Reflect, gather feedback, and strategize.
If you are the head TA, recruit others to join you. Ideally, your other TAs are from
different departments and schools across campus so that our marketing efforts are
more expansive. (Students who have taken the class before have an advantage in
knowing what to expect as a TA). Recruit one TA who is a junior this year, who will
commit to TA both this year and next year. This will provide valuable continuity.
Read this handbook thoroughly and talk to past Lean LaunchPad GSI’s
Organize an event to gather students of past years together to gain feedback on how
to improve the course. Ask students: how they learned about the class, what the
biggest challenges were in applying for the class, how we could have better
marketed the class, what the pros/cons of the class were and how we can best
redesign class time, what they felt regarding engagement with mentors/advisors,
and interaction with the teaching team and other students.
Gather feedback from the teaching team (and if possible mentors) on last year’s
experience. (The teaching team often writes up a “Lessons Learned Document” as a
class post mortem. Ask if one exists.)
Create an action plan based on all feedback gathered – things to change & things to
keep the same. Use this to plan the course ahead.
Step 2: Recruit Students
Scan the Stanford calendar and set up dates for the following deadlines:
o 2 Information Session dates (see below for more details)
o Instructor Information Office Hours
o Team applications submission date
o Team final interviews date
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 3 of 12
Edit the existing “Launchpad-staff” email list with this years TA and instructors. This
allows easy communication amongst the teaching team. It also allows anyone to
contact all TAs easily, and allows all TAs to stay up to date on communication
o To edit the mailing list, please e-mail the previous year’s LLP TA asking them
to add you to the mailing list (email@example.com) and
appointing you a List Administrator. Remind them that they can do so on the
Stanford mailing list website: www.mailman.stanford.edu
o Once added to the list, log in on the mailing list website to add/edit members
subscribed to this list. Begin by clicking the “Manage the Lists You Own” link
and logging in using your SUID
o After clicking into the “Basic Options” link for the “launchpad-staff” mailing
list, you will be greeted by the following screen:
Use the top textbox to add members and the bottom textbox to bulk-remove
members (e-mail addresses separated by commas).
Note: this mailing list is to be used for class members to communicate with
the TA team. Please do not add anyone to this list apart from the TA team for
that year (and the professors, if they wish).
Create/update the class website (www.stanfordleanlaunchpad.com) with all
relevant details, including:
o Course and teaching team overview
o Application process & important dates
o Team application
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 4 of 12
o Spreadsheet shared publicly to assist with team formation. Students can add
to this spreadsheet to look for other members with specific skills/interests to
join their team
o Spreadsheet shared publicly to assist with idea formation. These ideas come
from the teaching team’s network (often VCs) who pitch an idea they are
interested in and would be interested in advising a team pursuing the idea.
Teams can sign up for one of these ideas if interested, instead of forming
their own ideas.
Current website is built using website builder Sidengo.com
To edit the website, please go to Sidengo.com/login and use the following
o Username: firstname.lastname@example.org
o Password: Leanwebsit3
Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.
The website was upgraded to PRO for free since it is for educational purposes.
Ask lead instructor to update the syllabus with changes for this year’s class.
Check to see that dates are correct
Poll instructors on any dates they will miss the class
Organize 2 info sessions. Each should last 2 hours (ideally in the early evening), and
they should be held on different days of the week. I would recommend holding both
info sessions before Thanksgiving break, and setting the deadline for team
application submissions to be the beginning of Thanksgiving break.
Create an agenda for the information session. Agenda should include:
o Introduction to class & video
o Introduction to teaching team
o Overview of class
o Alumni Panel – invite students from past classes to talk about their
experiences (as early as you can, preferably 2-3 weeks before the info
o Overview of application process
Introduce online tool to assist with team formation process
Introduce online tool to assist with team idea formation process
o Team matchmaking
First, go around the room and have each student introduce
him/herself by pitching background + interests + idea + team member
Second, have students freely mix!
Organize food & drinks for all attendees of information session. Last year, we had
around 60-70 students at each information session.
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 5 of 12
Book rooms accordingly.
On the day of & night before information sessions, send the schedule to the
teaching team with details on location and time of office hours as a reminder.
Information Office Hours
Before team applications are due, organize office hours for students to meet with
the teaching team to bounce ideas off of them. This past year, we organized 3 full
afternoons of office hours. Each instructor runs individual office hours.
Book rooms for office hours accordingly. Plan for a max of 8 people per office hour
Arrange each office hour session to be 10 mins long, 5 mins apart. Create a
spreadsheet to share publicly on the website, to have students sign up for an office
hour slot. If slots fill up quickly, add a “waitlist” section to gauge interest for adding
On the day of & night before office hours, send the schedule to the teaching team
with details on location and time of office hours as a reminder.
The day before, send all students who signed up for a slot a reminder e-mail about
their appointment with the teaching team (including specific time and location) and
ask them to confirm their attendance
A week before the first info session, create your marketing materials (poster, email,
etc) introducing the class, teaching team, and all necessary details for information
session, office hours, & link to website. Engage the entire teaching team for history
of previous marketing materials and feedback.
Create an organized spreadsheet to track all groups/lists that you market the class
out to, like this one :
Have all TAs update this document periodically. If any groups are missing, reach out
to them. Target other entrepreneurship clubs & groups, including but not limited to:
o All of MS&E:
Lori Cottle email@example.com
o All of CS:
Meredith Hutchin firstname.lastname@example.org
o All of CEE
Jill Filice email@example.com
o PhDs in any engineering field.
Ken Hsu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Ng: email@example.com
o Business Association for Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES)
o Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity (AKPsi)
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 6 of 12
o Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Reach out to the entrepreneurship club and high tech club at the GSB,
ask them to blast out the marketing email to their respective mailing
lists, as well as on “Blast” to reach all GSB students
Ask a GSB student to post it on the GSB Facebook Group (ideally for
both MBA1s & MBA2s)
o Entrepreneurship Club
o Venture Capital Club
o All GSB students
o Stanford Medical School
o Stanford Law School
o Stanford Education School
o Other entrepreneurship classes/programs such as: Stanford Venture Studio,
Startup Garage, MS&E 273
Be sure to target these mailing lists/groups in advance, as well as send out a
reminder the day of the event to maximize attendance
Step 2: Recruit Mentors & Advisors
Goal: after the teams are selected (~four weeks before class starts,) teaching team and
TA’s recruit mentors and advisors.
First choice: Mentors who are excited about contributing, can unequivocally devote an
hour a week to the team, and get or will invest the time in learning the process.
Second choice: Relevant domain experience
Close Second choice: Mentors with entrepreneurial experience who get Lean and are
relentless at Customer Discovery
Last choice: Mentors who feel like they were doing you a favor.
Create a spreadsheet to keep track of all individuals who express interest to be a
mentor or advisor.
With the teaching team, formulate the expectations of both a mentor and advisor.
Send the list of expectations to all individuals who expressed interest in getting
involved in the class, and ask how much they can commit in order to find if they are
a better fit as a mentor or advisor for the class.
Goal: one mentor per team. Ideally, we have 8 mentors for the 8 teams.
In the same spreadsheet, create a new tab to provide background on each of the
student teams that were accepted to our class. Add names of team members,
mission of team, industry/sector of mission, emails of team members, etc. Send this
information to all mentors of the class, and have them privately provide you their
preferences on which teams to mentor.
With these preferences, assign 1 mentor to each team. Keep in mind each mentor’s
sector/industry of expertise in this decision-making process.
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 7 of 12
Email all mentors & advisors the Mentor/Advisor Handbook. In the email, make sure
to clearly specify the dates/time/location of the first mentor workshop & our first
day of class.
Make sure you set mentors up on LaunchPad Central
o Have them watch the short mentor tutorial here:
Parking passes can be obtained for mentors from Jill Erbland in the Haas
Parking passes can be obtained for mentors from ??? in the STVP? office
Book a room for the workshop, an hour before the first day of class. Location
should be near the location of the class.
Ask a representative of LPC to lead the workshop and help mentors/advisors
become familiar with the workflows on the LPC platform.
Step 3: LaunchPad Central Setup
Contact LaunchPad Central to sign up faculty, mentors, advisors and students
TA’s need to watch the LPC GSI/TA training video
LaunchPad Central training immediately after Class 1
Mandatory hands-on team training by the TA on key features.
Creating team profiles and opportunity descriptions/assessments, including
preliminary market type and market size assumptions.
Creating/updating discovery narrative posts.
Creating/updating preliminary business model canvas.
Posting their initial customer segment and value propositions first, which allow
teams to “color-code” linkages as defined by the teamsthey define them.
Learning how to post audio recordings, videos, pictures in interviews, and relevant
.xls and .doc files.
Exporting Learning how to export slides, canvas elements, scorecards, and contacts.
Making Learning how to make an “Ask” of mentors, faculty, TA, or other teams.
Have the teams watch the following LPC tutorials
o Team Welcome Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m1hwK2-Ajs
o Team Tutorial videos
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 8 of 12
Schedule and set up Workshop 1: Customer Discovery Practice for the Real World
For student teams that have no experience talking to customers (undergrads, engineers,
etc.) we’ve found it helpful to offer a two-to-three hour workshop in the first week of
class on the basics of Customer Discovery.
2. During the Quarter
Before Each Weekly Class Session
Communicate with students:
Topic to be addressed for class
o Reminder of what needs to be on their cover slides (team summary, number of
interviews this week, total number of interviews, number of mentor interactions,
total number of mentor interactions.)
o Ask how they are progressing on their MVP’s
When presentations should be uploaded to Dropbox
Team presentation order
Allotted time for presentation
Location of presentation
Prefligh tclassroom logistics
Ensure that projectors, screens, wifi, break rooms,presentation laptop etc. are in place
and are in working order
Collect Team Presentations
Collect student slides beforehand so no individual computer setup is necessary, then
load them on a single presentation computer
Email team presentation order (teaching team selects half the time, teams pick the
Deadline has ranged from 15 minutes before the beginning of class to 3pm on the
day of the presentation. You and the teaching team get to set the deadline.
Then load them on a single presentation computer.
Check on Student Homework
Using LaunchPad Central ensure that each student has watched the videos for
homework. Email them and put them on notice if not. Inform instructors if it
continues past one week.
The teaching team has mandatory office hours for teams every week (except the first
and last weeks) to provide course corrections and uncover the inevitable team dynamics
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 9 of 12
Remind teams that they need to be at least a week ahead in scheduling their
mandatory office hours.
o This may require the TA to reach out to certain teams to wrangle them into
available slots. We have found it best to make office hours mandatory, and
have teams rotate through the teaching team members to get different
perspectives on their progress.
Manage Office Hours: set up and maintain a student and room scheduling and
signup sheet on Google Docs
Book office hours rooms.
Remember that remote office hours can be extremely effective for teams, mentors,
and faculty. Lots of mentors prefer weekend times for their mentor-team meetings,
and in some cases this alternative may be worth considering for faculty-team
meetings as well. This is especially true toward the end of the class, when there is a
mad scramble to pull it all together for the final presentations and videos.
During Each Weekly Class Session
Manage the order of presentations and keep the teams on their allotted
Time all presentations
Keep the clock on team presentation time – announce 1 minute to go
Capture the verbal teaching team critiques (“Teaching Moments”) in a separate
Google Doc – this should be shared with all the teams.
Remind teams that they need to be providing the teams presenting with their
critiques on LaunchPad Central (this is part of their grade, and you will be using it
when you total up their grades.)
After Each Class Session
Update grading syllabus
Send out briefing email to mentors and advisors.
Send out debrief email to students with recap of what is due for coming week
(videos / reading), lecture slides, and any logistical reminders.
Follow up with students who are behind on video progress that they need to catch
up by next week
Team Management – Throughout the Quarter
During the quarter each team needs one TA to monitor each team’s progress and
facilitate them solving any issues. These include team member discord, team member
slacking off, and mentor unavailability. TA’s should just divvy up the teams after or
around class 1.
A team’s TA should spend about 10-20 minutes a week by talking to or meeting up with
the team or partial teams to make sure that they are getting the most out of the class.
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 10 of 12
They should bring any issues forward to the teaching team or directly to the mentors for
the various issues.
Things you should be asking the teams:
Customer discovery progress – how are they doing? Do they need help with
contacts? Are they all participating? Are they just talking to Stanford students or
really getting out of the building?
Minimal Viable Product (MVP) progress – teams need to do discovery + build an
MVP. Are they doing both? With enough progress?
Team dynamics – are their individuals not pulling their weight? Team conflicts? How
do they make decisions? Note if the MBA’s are dominating the teams.
Mentor Interaction- are they talking to their mentors at least once a week? Is the
mentor helpful? Any issues?
Immediately alert the instructors to any student reports of abuse or harassment
Let instructors know about team issues – business or interpersonal
Mentor Management – throughout the Semester
Coordinate with teaching team to manage the weekly mentor email update mailing.
Include a weekly slide deck of what they can expect in the week ahead, gleaned from
this Educator’s Guide. The basic outlines for these decks are available from LaunchPad
Central and at at http://www.slideshare.net/sblank/tagged/syllabus)
Send the Mentors/Advisors Weekly Email
After each class, send mentors a weekly email summarizing what their teams should be
doing. The emails are accompanied by a short set of already-made PowerPoint slides
summarizing the weeks learning for the class. (The weekly mentor update slides can be
found at http://www.slideshare.net/sblank/tagged/syllabus)
Personalize the email by including 1-2 sentences for each team around key learnings or
feedback that teaching team provided about each team so that mentors can stay “in
sync” if they were not able to attend class.
Below is an example of a TA email that would be sent out right after class 2:
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 11 of 12
Welcome to the kick-off of the Lean Launchpad! We hope you've all had a chance to meet your teams and
are looking forward to a fantastic quarter.
This week the teams are doing discovery on Value Proposition. Please watch the on-line lectures
Lesson 2: Value Proposition and Lesson 3: Customer Segments (in preparation for next week).
Your role this week is to offer them critique on LaunchPad Centra and find a time to chat in person or via
Skype to offer them your advice/counsel and wisdom.
I've attached two documents to this email:
1) A cheat-sheet of the responsibilities/best practices for mentors.
2) A short deck (6 slides) that summarizes teaching objectives and common student errors. As a reminder,
teams need to be focusing on the right half of the canvas focusing on understanding their value
proposition, whether they have a multi-sided market, the archetypes of each of the segments and
whether they have product-market fit.
All of these Mentor Update slides will be posted on LaunchPad Central in the Resource Hub section.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks for all your help,
The mentors are your “deputies” and keeping them up to speed is your best defense
against excessive train wrecks. To do that, the mentors have to keep up (ideally
ahead) in the readings and the Course video lectures as well. Repeat for all classes.
3. After the Last Class of the quarter
GSI’s are responsible for putting together the final grading sheet for the instructors.
Goal is to normalize to a class average of 3.45
After the final class session, send the email below to all students. Put the responses
in the grading spreadsheet
Stanford E245 TA Handbook Revision 4 2015 page 12 of 12
Lean LaunchPad Class - One last assignment:
As part of your grade you get to confidentially rank yourself and your team members on how you all
contributed to your team this semester.
Starting with 1,000 shares, how would you allocate those shares among all team members (including
For example, in a 4-person team where you felt everyone contributed equally you would allocate 250
shares to yourself and your other three team members. If you feel otherwise, allocate the shares by your
view of each team members contribution.
Final Individual Student Grades are a sum of:
Peer Comments (5 possible points)
track these starting in week 1 in LPC - allocate 1-5 points accordingly.
Videos Viewed (5 possible points)
track this starting in week 1 in LPC - allocate 1-5 points accordingly.
Attendance (5 possible points):
Track unexcused absences starting in week 1 - allocate 1-5 points accordingly.
Canvas (10 possible points)
All teams get 20 points for weekly updates to canvas unless there’s a meltdown
Narrative Quality (20 possible points)
Use total interviews and mentor engagements. Multiply mentor engagements as 5
times a customer interview. Then allocate points up to 20 accordingly.
Weekly Presentations (25 possible points)
Look at weeks 1-9 teaching team scores. Take the average and improvement
(average of weeks 6-9 minus average of weeks 1-3). Add overall average and
improvement. Allocate 25 points accordingly based on the team score.
Final Presentation (30 possible points): Take the teaching team scores from LPC (on 10
points scale) and multiply by 3.
Total Score: Sum out individual and team scores, out of 100 total points.
Peer Grading Multiplier:
Take peer grades for all team members. (Normalize to 4 for a 4-member team,
normalize to 5 for a 5-member team).
Take the average of the normalized scores for each team member. The multiplier is this
normalized average divided by 25 for a 4-member team, divided by 20 for a 5-member
Those who had outsized contributions were rewarded by a multiplier effect; and free
riders had their points cut down substantially.
Final adjusted Grade: Take their total score and multiply it by their peer grading
Based on this multiplied score, assign letter grades to average out class GPA at 3.45