This course is part of the Entrepreneurship specialization that includes Opportunity Identification, Gathering Resources & Launch, Entrepreneurial Growth, Entrepreneurial Finance, Harvest, & Negotiations (Financial Management of the Small Firm) and the capstone course, Entrepreneurial Management. This class is quite quantitative and a solid finance/accounting background is helpful. If you do not have a strong finance/accounting background, make sure you get in a study group with someone who does have this strong financial background. This course is very demanding from both the amount of reading required and the number of cases discussed during the semester.
In a case course, much of the learning occurs in preparing for the case, which often requires three to six hours of readings and preparation, including discussions within your study group. The case method is student-centered rather than instructor-centered. In the classroom, the students will drive a rigorous discussion of each case by identifying the problems and issues faced by the managers and formulating alternatives for solution backed by case facts and assumptions. In addition to preparing for cases, there are substantial reading assignments, especially in the early part of the course. Two notes on the case method are provided in your readings: “Note to the Student: How to Study and Discuss Cases” from UVA’s Professor Robert Bruner and “The Case Method” by Jeff Sandefer.
The class will set its own standards through friendly competition. The student with the highest weighted average ranking will receive the highest grade and then the remaining students are ranked from this top position. A forced curve is used in this class with approximately:
Your T.A. will record the class discussion and you will be graded on the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of your discussion of each case. Cold calls will be used for openings, summaries (closings) and during the class discussion. Openings and summaries will have a disproportionate weight on your class participation grade. Since there are more students in the class than cases, not everyone will be able to open or close a case and therefore, it is incumbent on you to raise your hand and participate fully in each case. Study group members will be expected to be active in the discussion when a group member opens a case. Student comments which move the class forward and build on other comments will be rewarded while just citing case facts or being unprepared for the discussion will adversely affect your grade. A survey at the end of the semester will allow you to rank your classmates discussion and study group participation. Rarely is there a significant difference in how I rank your participation and how your classmates rank you. Classroom discussion counts toward 30% of your final grade.
If you are not prepared to open a case and tell me before the class begins, I will give you a minus one (-1) for that class discussion. However, If you do not tell me before class, I will award you a minus three (-3) for that class discussion. If you miss class due to an excused absence, then you must turn in a written analysis of the missed case to your T.A. (or me) within one week of the missed class. Failure to turn in a written analysis will result in up to a letter grade deduction. Unexcused absences and excessive excused absences may result in your being dropped from the class, having your grade reduced or be given a failing grade in the course.
Obtaining help on a case, either written or oral, from students who have discussed the case in this or other classes is considered cheating and you will receive an “F” for the course. Students should also not “surf the web” searching for the outcome or “the right answer”. Cases force you to put yourself in a managers/owner’s role, frame the problem, identify strategic alternatives and make a recommendations based on logic and fact-based analysis. Most cases are self contained and research on the web will not be required.
Being late to class is disruptive to the class discussion. If you are late to class, we will stop and find out why and you may get the pleasure of opening the case or being cold called multiple times.
Midterm – All students will perform an individual analysis of a take-home mid-term exam case (individual, no team analysis). The case will be handed out during the previous week’s class. Limit your analysis and spreadsheets to 10 pages total and put your name on the back of the last page of your analysis, as I grade the exams blindly. Please use double spacing on your word-processed analysis and use 12-point font size on your text and spreadsheets. The mid-term represents 25% of your total grade.
Option A – A written analysis of a comprehensive case similar to the mid-term. This take-home final exam case will be distributed to you on the final day of class and you will return the case, your written analysis and spreadsheet work at the scheduled time on the syllabus. The final represents 25% of your total grade.
Option B – You may elect, during the first month of class, to form a team of 4 students in your section that will find a privately held company which will allow you to perform a financial analysis and valuation of their firm. In lieu of a written individual case final, the team members will work throughout the semester with their client company and will turn in their written analysis at the same time the Option A case finals are due. Your team will act as a financial consultant and generate a report targeted to the Board of Directors of the company that addresses, at a minimum: a SWOT analysis; an Industry/Competitor analysis; a financial analysis; and a valuation of the equity of the firm. This project will require you to find and meet with the business owner/manager and do original research including searching for comparable companies and industry benchmarking. I will give you access to databases such as BizComps and PrattStats, RMA Annual Financial Statement Surveys and Capital IQ. Your final written report will substitute for the same 25% of your final grade as the case final in Option A. All team members will receive the same starting grade based on the accuracy, quality and completeness of your team’s project and ranked relative to the other team’s projects. Adjustments to individual member’s project grade will be based on their team member’s evaluation of their contributions to the project. Samples of previous semester projects are posted on BlackBoard.
The remaining 20% of your grade is based on written exercises, turned-in case analyses, and two, take-home quizzes. For each case, your study team should print out a copy of your analysis and spreadsheet just in case I ask that you turn them in for grading. You may e-mail the files within 30 minutes of class if the files are on your notebook computer. Someone in your study group should have your spreadsheet work on their laptop or on an overhead slide in case I ask you to show your model to the class.
Come prepared to participate and come on time.
Take a stand and defend it.
State your assumptions.
Give evidence to support your claims but do not just repeat case facts.
Speak concisely. Airtime is a scarce resource, do not ramble.
LISTEN and build on previous student comments.
Direct your comments to your classmates, not the professor.
Respectfully challenge or support the arguments being made.
While this course is about harvesting, exit strategies and valuation, do not overlook your traditional SWOT, FIT (PODC) and Industry/Competitor analysis frameworks in preparing your case. For your openings, take a stand and then defend it. Decide what the central issue of the case is and put yourself in the decision-maker’s shoes. Outline your alternative solutions and the pros and cons of each option. Never just give “the answer”. List any assumptions such as: normalization of the cash flows, the discount rate used and why, the terminal value assumptions, which comparable company that was used and why, any unique risk of the company and any discounts for marketability, minority interest or other adjustments. Only after you have cited your assumptions should you give your conclusion of value.
Some of the points that I will use to grade your opening and class discussion are:
Was the problem or issue clearly defined?
Did you take a firm stand and back it with evidence?
Did you outline your assumptions?
Did you use the frameworks, valuation models and notes discussed in class?
Did you explore the pros and cons of the strategic alternatives?
Did you perform both qualitative and quantitative analysis?
Was a plan of action presented along with implementation steps, timing and costs?
How did you respond to your peer’s questions about your solution?
A good question can be worth as much as a good answer. Feel free to experiment with unorthodox solutions, which will be rewarded if you can defend them with logic and evidence.
At the beginning of the class I may ask someone (cold call) to summarize one of the notes assigned for that class. At the end of most cases I will ask someone (cold call) for the lessons learned in the case. You should be able to concisely summarize the key learning objectives derived from the readings, the case and/or the class discussion.
Try to develop a valuation excel template that allows you to enter data regarding an asset/cost approach, comparable market value approach, and discounted cash flow approaches. I have posted a few examples on Blackboard under “Resources”. You can use this template for the mid-term and the final to assist you with your analysis of the case.
Finally, valuation is both art and science. If you are looking for “the number” you will get frustrated. We are trying to “narrow the range of darkness” by using different valuation models and hope to get some convergent validity and triangulation from these models to give a valuation range. Ultimately, fair market value will be what a willing buyer and seller agree upon.
Tues., 1/15 A. Class 1 – INTRODUCTION & GOALS FOR THE SEMESTER
Review of Topics, Assignment Sheets, and Course Outline
Rules for Classroom Discussion
Instruction for the Formation of Study Groups
The Case Method
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