Using a startup
At the Phillip J.
Patiño School of
using a curriculum that
focuses on business
startup models has
better involved students
and the community and
made staff more willing to
change when needed and
look for opportunities.
When we set out to create the
Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship
in the Fresno Unified School District, the
idea was to rethink an entire school through
an entrepreneurial lens.
Though I had been selected as the principal
of the school, my own experience with entre-
preneurship had been limited. As we devel-
oped a program and curriculum for our stu-
dents, we thought that if we were going to have
students develop ideas through these entrepre-
neurial systems, as a school staff we should cre-
ate our school through the same models.
What we didn’t expect was that adopting
these systems would make us a better school,
that thinking like an entrepreneur could
make us better leaders and that these entre-
preneurial processes could help any school
or district change for the better.
Because of the nature of startup com-
panies, they follow unique business mod-
els that allow them to innovate and grow
quickly. We applied multiple models to our
school, like the Lean Startup, the Business
Model Canvas, and Design Thinking. In a
nutshell, these startup models have found
that it is better to start a business, enterprise
or project and learn along the way, than to
spend time endlessly planning things out.
Chances are the plan is wrong anyway,
or something about the plan is going to be
wrong, and the longer you invest time and
money in planning, the further away you
are from figuring out what changes need to
be made. You can’t find out how well some-
thing is going to work until you get it into the
hands of customers or users and get real data.
Some of the features of these models are
a departure from traditional business pro-
cesses. Gone are 50-page business plans and
in their place are one page Business Model
Canvases. This gives a quick one-page over-
view of available resources and the large-scale
plan to move a business or project forward.
Instead of endless hypothesizing, the
Lean Startup Model encourages entrepre-
neurs to develop a minimum viable product
(MVP). This is a quick to-market, imperfect
first product that allows for real customer
feedback and immediately uncovers flaws in
the design of the product or mission.
This quick data allows for a quick pivot
and change of direction before too much has
been invested and built. These are models of
constant building, measurement, learning,
changing, redesigning and retesting.
By Brett Taylor