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What exactly does digital entrepreneurship mean and how does it differ from "classic" entrepreneurship? How does digital entrepreneurship influence the economy and society? How does effective collaboration between different stakeholders work and what role do digital ecosystems play in this? What kind of entrepreneurial mindset does digital entrepreneurship need?

Not only in times of Corona, digital companies, digital business models and digital business processes are on the rise. Using many examples from entrepreneurs and scientists, you will learn in a clear and practice-oriented way what it means to be a digital entrepreneur. Based on state-of-the-art examples from digital entrepreneurship research, you will develop your own digital entrepreneurship approach and philosophy.

Self-paced since May 12, 2021
Language: English
Beginner, Professional Skills

Course information

Important: This is not a business plan course, we will not develop business ideas and/or write a business plan. Instead, we will focus on the framework and philosophy of digital entrepreneurship.

Target group:
With this course, we address those who are already thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, those who are not sure yet whether they want to become entrepreneurs but who are interested in entrepreneurial topics and entrepreneurial thinking, and also those who definitely never want to become an entrepreneur but who are mindful of societal and sustainable challenges that require new ways of thinking.

What will I learn in this course?
Especially in these current times, we want to encourage proactive thinking about the ‘new normal’ in times of crisis. You will learn in this course how to think and act in an entrepreneurial way. We will be using a reflective approach to Digital Entrepreneurship, focusing on building an entrepreneurial mindset for practice, research, and policy.

This course is not about writing a business plan nor will it teach you different entrepreneurial tools like Business Model Canvas. We will be touching different strands of digital entrepreneurship research and action like impact entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, female entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial ecosystems or entrepreneurial teams, to name just a view. All topics will be considered through a digital perspective, i.e. how do digital technologies influence these fields. The class builds on state-of-the-art research, literature, and practitioners’ insights in order to jointly reflect the underlying principles and schools of thoughts.

Prior knowledge:
You will get the most out of this class if you like a scientific perspective and how to apply it to current challenges. You are not afraid of empirical research and how to use it to extend your knowledge. You have some previous entrepreneurial experience be it as a founder, intrapreneur, policy maker or citizen. You like to discuss and develop concepts further and apply them to the task at hand. You speak and understand English fluently.

Course contents

  • Week I — Principles of Digital Entrepreneurship Research :

    The first session, 'Introduction to Entrepreneurship Research,' gives you an overview of entrepreneurship and digital entrepreneurship in particular. We will discuss aspects of the entrepreneurial process, types of entrepreneurship, what digital innovation is, and how entrepreneurship can help us address today's grand challenges. In the second session, 'Scientific Principles in Entrepreneurship Research,' you will learn about the 'tools of the trade' in management and entrepreneurship research. That is, how to assess a paper, which research designs should I know of, and where and how can I retrieve reliable scientific evidence.
  • Week II — Looking at the Digital Entrepreneurship Journey:

    In the session 'Entrepreneurial Process & Tools', we will give you a very brief overview on entrepreneurial tools. Throughout the session, we put these tools into context, and show you at which point in the entrepreneurial process ventures can apply them. For the session 'Entrepreneurial Mindset,' we will discuss the individual ABCs of entrepreneurship, that is, the [a]ffect, [b]ehavior, and [c]ognition of individuals. For each of these facets, entrepreneurship research offers insights on what makes for successful entrepreneurial activities and which role digital technologies play for such.
  • Week III — Beyond the Digital Entrepreneurship Monomyth :

    Whether it may be in teams or between teams, in start-ups or organizations, face-to-face or virtual – entrepreneurship is very much a matter of how people can work together towards a common goal. Our fifth session, 'Collaboration in Entrepreneurship,' gives you an overview of the means and modes of collaboration in digital entrepreneurship. In our session 'Female Entrepreneurship,' we take a closer look at what role demographic diversity plays for successful venturing. The majority of anecdotal knowledge we are frequently exposed to regarding successful entrepreneurs revolves around male, white, and young high potentials, who took their chance and built unicorn ventures from their garages. On the one hand, there are prominent success stories that match just this pattern, resulting in a 'universal start-up monomyth' (Ethan Mollick, 2020). On the other hand, most founders are much more diverse.
  • Week IV — Digital Entrepreneurship in Perspective :

    Our seventh session, 'Entrepreneurial Ecosystems,' will show you that entrepreneurs and startups do not work in isolation. In fact, every entrepreneurial actor relies on complex and interdependent relationships with other startups, organizations, or institutions. This can involve questions of funding, supply chains, or platforms entrepreneurs rely upon. The emerging patterns among these actors can be described as entrepreneurial ecosystems. For our final session, 'Impact Entrepreneurship,' we will talk about how entrepreneurial endeavors can not only impact the industry but society as a whole. Entrepreneurial efforts have been put forth as a driving force to find solutions for today's economical, ethical, social, and environmental grand challenges. 'Impact entrepreneurship,' as well as its antecedents, conditions, and consequences, is a phenomenon still relatively new to entrepreneurship research and practice, and at the same time, increasingly relevant.
  • Final Exam & Goodbye:

    The final exam will take place during course week IV.

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Course End
May 12, 2021
Course Start
Apr 14, 2021


This course was rated with 4.1 stars in average from 49 votes.

Certificate Requirements

  • Gain a Record of Achievement by earning at least 50% of the maximum number of points from all graded assignments.
  • Gain a Confirmation of Participation by completing at least 50% of the course material.

Find out more in the certificate guidelines.

This course is offered by

Prof. Dr. Katharina Hölzle

Prof. Dr. Katharina Hölzle, MBA leads the Research Group IT-Entrepreneurship at the Hasso Plattner Institute, Digital Engineering Faculty, at the University of Potsdam since November 2019. Prior to this, she held the chair for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Potsdam from 2011 to 2019.

She has published various articles in the field of entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, and project management in leading scholarly and practitioners’ journals. She holds a Ph.D. from the Technical University of Berlin, a diploma in business engineering from the University of Karlsruhe (TH) and an MBA from the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

She is Deputy Chair of the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (EFI) and member of the German government's High-Tech Forum. Katharina Hölzle is Visiting Professor at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing and the Macquarie University in Sydney. She is Editor-in-Chief of the journal 'Creativity and Innovation Management’ (Wiley). Her research focuses on digital entrepreneurship, digital innovation and transformation, and digital ecosystems.

Dr. Robert Rose

Robert Rose works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Research Group IT-Entrepreneurship (Hasso Plattner Institute, Digital Engineering Faculty, University of Potsdam). His research interest concerns innovation teams, virtuality, digital entrepreneurship, and bibliometrics in management studies. He completed his doctorate in 2019 as part of the Joint PhD program of Macquarie University (Sydney) and the University of Potsdam. He studied business administration at the Free University of Berlin (B.Sc.) and the University of Potsdam (M.Sc.). He graduated at the HPI School of Design Thinking and was co-founder of a technology transfer project as well as an innovation consultancy in Berlin.

Valeska Maul

Valeska Maul is a research assistant and Ph.D. candidate at the Research Group IT-Entrepreneurship at the Hasso Plattner Institute, Digital Engineering Faculty, University of Potsdam. Within the scope of her work at the research group, she assists Prof. Dr. Katharina Hölzle in the EFI commission work (Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation) as well as in the High-Tech Forum of the Federal Government. Her research interest is concerned with the topics of innovation (eco-)systems, innovation policy, digital entrepreneurship, and bibliometrics. Prior to this, Valeska Maul studied Business Administration (B.Sc., M.Sc.) at the University of Potsdam and the University of Bergen (Norway) with a focus on innovation management and entrepreneurship. During her studies, she worked as a student assistant at the Chair of Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Potsdam.

Nina Bachmann

Nina Bachmann is a research assistant and PhD candidate at the Research Group IT-Entrepreneurship at the Hasso Plattner Institute, Digital Engineering Faculty, University of Potsdam. Her research interests concern the role of digital technologies to work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Previously, she studied Études Supérieures de Management in Reutlingen and Reims (B. Sc.) and Finance and Information Management (M. Sc.) at the Technical University of Munich with a focus on Business Information Systems Engineering. In the course of her studies, her research focused on blockchain technology and on the digital transformation of health care. In this context, she also spent four months as a guest researcher at the Department of Digitalization at the Copenhagen Business School.