Digital Entrepreneurship (openHPI)

This course is based on the openHPI course Digital Entrepreneurship by Prof. Dr. Katharina Hölzle, Dr. Robert Rose, Valeska Maul and Nina Bachmann, available for reuse under a CC BY-NC-SA licence.

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? What kind of entrepreneurial mindset does digital entrepreneurship need?

Digital companies, digital business models and digital business processes are on the rise — not only in times of Corona. You will develop your digital entrepreneurship approach and philosophy based on state-of-the-art examples from digital entrepreneurship research. 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.


Are you already thinking about becoming an entrepreneur? Are you not sure yet whether you want to become an entrepreneur, but you are interested in entrepreneurial topics and thinking? You don’t want to become an entrepreneur, but you are mindful of societal and sustainable challenges that require new ways of thinking. Then this course is for you.

Course outline

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 use 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. The class builds on state-of-the-art research, literature, and practitioners’ insights to reflect the underlying principles and schools of thought jointly. We will be touching on different strands of digital entrepreneurship research and action like impact entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, female entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial ecosystems or entrepreneurial teams, to name just a few. All topics will be considered from a digital perspective, i.e. how digital technologies influence these fields.

• Module I — Principles of Digital Entrepreneurship Research

The first session, ‘Introduction to Entrepreneurship Research,’ gives you an overview of entrepreneurship, mainly digital entrepreneurship. 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 I should know, and where and how I can retrieve reliable scientific evidence.

• Module II — Looking at the Digital Entrepreneurship Journey

In the session ‘Entrepreneurial Process & Tools’, we will give you a brief overview of 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 into what makes for successful entrepreneurial activities and which role digital technologies play.

• Module III — Beyond the Digital Entrepreneurship Monomyth

Whether in teams or between teams, in startups 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 the male, white, and young high potentials who took their chance and built unicorn ventures from their garages. On the one hand, prominent success stories match this pattern, resulting in a ‘universal startup monomyth’ (Ethan Mollick, 2020). On the other hand, most founders are much more diverse.

• Module IV — Digital Entrepreneurship in Perspective

The session ‘Entrepreneurial Ecosystems’ will show you that entrepreneurs and startups do not work in isolation. 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 discuss how entrepreneurial endeavours can impact the industry and society. Entrepreneurial efforts have been put forth as a driving force to find solutions for today’s economic, 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.

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 as a founder, intrapreneur, policy maker or citizen. You like to discuss and develop concepts and apply them to the task. You speak and understand English fluently.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites
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Discipline: Transferable Skills
Period: At own pace, to be completed by 15th July 2023
Format: Online (asynchronous E-Learning)
Number of ERUA Students: 10
Number of ETCS: 3
Language: English
Student Level: Any
Application Deadline: If places are still available, applications may be accepted up until a few days before the 15.07.23.