Join us to get a set of practical steps and templates you can use immediately to get your startup off the ground or to the next level.   Alex Cowan, MS ’99, will be speaking about his latest book on starting a business using the techniques of leading companies such as lean thinking and agile development to innovate faster and improve quality.

Alex Cowan is the founder & CTO of Leonid Systems and author of ‘Starting a Tech Business’.

Thursday, November 15th

7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Menlo Park (address provided upon RSVP)


Contact: Kathryn Gorges, MA ’90 at

Join us for a discussion of the techniques leading companies are using to build better products and businesses- they’re not just for high tech anymore. Companies across the board are using design thinking, customer development, lean thinking and agile development to innovate faster and improve the quality of what they offer.

Enter with an interest in trying new ideas to improve your business. Exit with a set of practical steps and templates you can use tomorrow to improve your business.

We’ll cover:
- What does ‘design thinking’ really mean?
- How you can apply it right now?

- What’s wrong with the 5 year plan and what should the entrepreneur do instead?
- How can you apply lean thinking and a business model canvas to your business in 2 hours?
- What are the most valuable linkages with ideation through design thinking?

- What are the most crucial differences between managing a startup vs. established business?

– What if your company has elements of both?

– What are the keys to managing a team with the ideas and tools we’ve reviewed so far?

- Agile’s actually very simple- why do we make it so complicated?
- how agile fits like a glove with the items above, particularly design thinking

We’ll close with review of a step by step template (on Google Docs) that you can use to apply the ideas above at your business.

Alex Cowan Biography:

Learn more at

Alex has been starting and growing technology businesses for over 17 years.

Alex started by fixing broken computers in Santa Barbara, California, for a few dollars an hour. Even then, working as a computer mechanic, the need to couple what the technology could do with what people wanted stood out as a huge opportunity.

Since then, he’s worked with electrical engineers from Motorola and Sharp, software developers from Pixo7 and Symantec, product designers from IDEO and Tommy Hilfiger, advertising giants from Wieden & Kennedy, and bankers from Goldman Sachs. Speaking Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish gave me the opportunity to work with customers, engineers, and managers on six continents.

As a contemporary of many of the dot-com pioneers at Stanford University in the late 1990s (and later in Silicon Valley), Alex experienced the full force of the dot-com period, its aftermath, and later its commercial evolution. He started Leonid Systems, in 2007, to help communications service providers (phone companies and cable companies) launch and scale next-generation services, like voice and video over IP (VoIP). Leonid currently works with some of the world’s largest service providers creating scalable technology systems to manage their operations.