Top Startup Courses
It’s no secret that the internet is home to an extensive number of educational resources for entrepreneurs at every stage. Finding the right course to take your business to the next level means sifting through the noise to find the digital course that will provide the most educational value for your startup.
Fortunately, the knowledge and resources you need to launch or scale your startup might be a click away; these are the top startup courses for your entrepreneurial journey.
1. Entrepreneurship Specialization
- Cost: Free
- Duration: 48 course hours (about six months to complete)
- Best For: First-time entrepreneurs
The Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Specialization program is a five-course series led by the University of Pennsylvania. The course series includes developing your startup idea, launching your startup, growth strategies, financing and profitability, and the Wharton entrepreneurship capstone.
This course provides great fundamentals for a range of entrepreneurial skills, from identifying and growing a startup idea to finding ways to make it profitable. The course ends in assembling a pitch deck for your startup with key deliverables such as concept description and financials.
2. How to Build a Startup
- Cost: Free
- Duration: About one month
- Best For: Entrepreneurs with a clear business idea
How to Build a Startup is a course led by Steve Blank and Kathleen Mullaney. This comprehensive entrepreneurship course is broken up into 12 lessons spanning from business model to revenue model.
Segments include helpful video guides and quizzes to help you better absorb the information provided. This is a customer and product-focused course, with much of the information curated to help entrepreneurs learn how to generate feedback to better refine their offering and find product market fit.
This course is ideal for startup founders in the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey looking for expert-guided resources to build their startup idea into a reality.
3. Becoming an Entrepreneur
- Cost: Free to audit, $69 for verification
- Duration: About six weeks
- Best For: Entrepreneurs just starting out
Becoming an Entrepreneur is an excellent introduction into the world of entrepreneurship and the philosophy behind it. Best suited for beginning entrepreneurs at the precipice of striking out on their own, this course combats entrepreneurial myths as well as helps students learn how to identify great startup ideas, define goals, conduct market research, and make a business plan.
This course is designed in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and provides valuable tools for understanding the entrepreneurial journey before you begin a venture. There are no prerequisites, so anyone interested in dipping their toe into entrepreneurship can try it out.
4. Self-Made Entrepreneurship
- Cost: $10 per month for a MasterClass membership
- Duration: Three hours and 30 minutes
- Best For: Innovators looking for inspiration to strike out on their own
Led by Spanx founder Sara Blakely, this short MasterClass course walks students through this successful entrepreneur's advice on building a self-made business yourself. In Self-Made Entrepreneurship, Blakely shares her strategies for bootstrapping a business as well as how to invent, sell, and market groundbreaking products.
The 14-video lesson series ranges from finding your purpose and developing your big idea all the way to building a culture. Plus, there are case studies to review from coffee gear company Fellow’s founder Jake Miller and Spanx, providing you with real examples of how to put Blakely’s advice into practice.
5. Entrepreneurship: From Business Idea to Action
- Cost: $45.99
- Duration: About four weeks
- Best For: Beginner entrepreneurs
Another fantastic course for entrepreneurs looking to build their startup idea, Entrepreneurship: From Business Idea to Action is offered by King’s College London and hosted on FutureLearn. This course helps beginner entrepreneurs to take their startup out of the idea stage and into motion.
From business idea development to long-term strategy, this course provides tools integral to the foundation of any entrepreneurial venture. This program is intended for refugees, displaced people, and those supporting them within the Middle East and North Africa.
6. Y Combinator’s Startup School
- Cost: Free
- Duration: About seven weeks
- Best For: Early-stage startup founders
Y Combinator (YC), the accelerator behind startup powerhouses like Airbnb and Doordash, offers a free course packed with essential information for startup founders. YC’s Startup School goes beyond the basics of startup entrepreneurship, offering lessons from experienced founders and executives from Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and 23andMe.
Not only can you learn valuable insight to launch and grow your startup, but Startup School also showcases potential co-founder matches to help you build your founding team from a group of like-minded entrepreneurs. Plus, it provides discounts to companies like Brex and provides a tool for tracking startup growth and progress.
7. Entrepreneurship Essentials
- Cost: $1,750
- Duration: Four weeks (six to eight hours per week)
- Best For: Early-stage entrepreneurs, students
Harvard Business School Online offers a variety of business and entrepreneurship courses. Their foundational course, Entrepreneurship Essentials, helps provide early-stage and aspiring entrepreneurs with a proven framework for building a successful business.
Within the course, there are four modules, each paced at between six and eight hours. Topics include ideas and opportunities, building a business, financing a business, and sources of investment. At the end of the course, you will receive a certificate of completion and, if you complete three courses within this subject area, a certificate of specialization as well.
8. Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program: Scaling Your Business
- Cost: $1,950
- Duration: Three months (three to four hours per week)
- Best For: Early-stage but established entrepreneurs
Another entrepreneurship course offered by the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program: Scaling Your Business provides valuable guidance into the ingredients for scale — from hiring a strong team to securing the right type of funding.
This serves as a great follow-up to Wharton’s foundational entrepreneurship course or as a valuable resource for founders who have already launched their businesses. During the final chapter of the course, participants will be able to pitch their business to Wharton staff as well as venture capital firms such as Sequoia Capital and Walnut Venture to secure seed funding of $5,000 or $10,000.
9. Innovation: From Creativity to Entrepreneurship Specialization
- Cost: $554 total, $79-$80 per module
- Duration: Three months (10 hours per week)
- Best For: Aspiring and established entrepreneurs
Offered by the University of Illinois, Innovation: From Creativity to Entrepreneurship Specialization is a seven-course series that provides valuable, foundational insights for leaders to learn how to innovate, collaborate, and launch their ventures.
The course ends with a capstone project that involves skills and knowledge obtained through each of the learning modules. Plus, if you are enrolled in the University of Illinois, this coursework may be applied toward your degree.
10. How to Come up with Killer Business Ideas
- Cost: $79.99 for Udemy subscription
- Duration: About seven hours
- Best For: Aspiring entrepreneurs
Sometimes the biggest hurdle in entrepreneurship is coming up with the winning idea that will serve as the foundation for your business. How to Come up with Killer Business Ideas is a course by Evan Kimbrell, founder of Sprintkick.
This course provides students with the essentials to generate valuable business ideas rooted in key business frameworks, evaluate their potential, and refine concepts to increase the likelihood of success. The course is composed of seven hours of video, 13 articles, and 62 downloadable resources. Once you are done with the curriculum, you receive a certificate of completion as well.
11. Entrepreneurial Operations: Launching a Startup
- Cost: $149
- Duration: Four weeks (four to six hours per week)
- Best For: Entrepreneurs ready to take action
Entrepreneurial Operations: Launching a Startup is a course offered by BabsonX. This is an operations-oriented course for entrepreneurs seeking to understand the role operations play in the overall success of a business, risk associated, and tactics for successfully launching their venture.
At the end, you will receive a certificate of completion for networking, LinkedIn, or future employers, as well as unlimited access to course materials.
12. The Essential Guide to Entrepreneurship
- Cost: $64.99
- Duration: About five hours
- Best For: Entrepreneurs at all stages
Created and led by Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist at Canva, The Essential Guide to Entrepreneurship is a general guide to all aspects of running a successful business. In the course, you will learn from real-world examples, gain valuable insight about the do’s and don’ts of entrepreneurship, and a plethora of information about all stages of the startup lifecycle.
The course is composed of lectures on the following topics: launching, pitching, fundraising, building a team, social media, and evangelizing. The course description dictates that this course is for decision-makers who are ready to put in the work themselves. You will receive a certificate of completion once you’ve finished the course, as well as four hours of video, five articles, and 21 downloadable resources.
13. Founder University
- Cost: $500
- Duration: 12 weeks (7-13 hours per week)
- Best For: Students, dedicated entrepreneurs
One of the more time-consuming courses on this list, Founder University is a program offered by Columbus State Community College and provides an in-depth, community-oriented introduction to entrepreneurship. Not only do students engage in a series of lectures, but they are also participants in a community of fellow entrepreneurs to help build their startups from scratch.
The course focuses on building a minimum viable product (MVP), identifying target markets, onboarding first users, testing and refining the product, and formation and fundraising support. Most notably, top graduates of the program receive a $25,000 investment from Jason Calacanis.