Essentials of Starting a Business

Learn the proven tools and techniques developed by experienced practitioners and scholars of entrepreneurship. This hands-on course equips those seeking to start a business with the essentials to navigate a path of success.

Woman business owner working in clothing design studio

The Essentials of Starting a Business has a rich history.  Created by Drs. Ed Williams and Al Napier, who founded the Entrepreneurship program at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, this course’s time tested tools and techniques have helped four decades of students start new businesses well past graduation, resulting in the creation of hundreds of new businesses and thousands of new jobs.  

In this exciting new offering, former students of Drs. Williams and Napier bringing their mentors’ practical frameworks and life lessons to an audience outside the business school. Taught by Pinot’s Palette Co-founder and CEO Craig Ceccanti, this legacy course explores various pathways to entrepreneurship and new ventures including:

+ How to find entrepreneurial opportunities that are the right fit

+ Technology & innovation startups

+ Traditional businesses such as distribution, manufacturing and service companies

+ Financing Options:  Sweat Equity, SBA, Crowdfunding, Angel, Venture Capital 

+ Alternative Pathways: Joint Ventures, consulting, partnerships, franchising and other options to start a new enterprise


Section Instructor Format Schedule start datesort descending
PCAR1061.F18.1 Craig Ceccanti On-campus 6:15-9:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 2, 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Craig Ceccanti
FORMAT: On-campus
SCHEDULE: 6:15-9:30 p.m.
START DATE: Oct. 02, 2018

Instructor: Craig Ceccanti

Craig Ceccanti, MBA, is a founding member and CEO of Pinot’s Palette, Houston’s first upscale BYOB painting studio. As a pioneer in the newly developed and rapidly expanding sip and paint industry, Ceccanti directed an innovative start-up business from one location to a concept now being sold nationwide. He earned an MBA from the Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University and dual-undergraduate degrees in MIS (BBA) and computer science (BS) from Louisiana State University.

Term: Fall 2018

Start Date: Oct. 02, 2018

End Date: Nov. 13, 2018

Schedule: 6:15-9:30 p.m.

Length: Four Tuesdays (no class Oct. 9 and 23 and Nov. 6)

Location: Rice campus

Fee: $555 Fee includes course packet and applicable case studies.

CEUs: 1.2

  • Anyone interested in starting a business or service
  • Intrapreneurs
  • Entrepreneurs


A major goal of the course will be for the student to decide if he/she is able to adjust to the challenges of starting and running a new company. The rewards of creating a business are discussed along with the negative aspects, so students can be made aware of potential pitfalls. The course will consider the role of the entrepreneur in starting and leading a new enterprise.  Questions that are addressed:

  • How do you find ideas and opportunities that fit the prospective entrepreneur?
  • What are the different types of startups and keys to success in each?
  • What are the economic, legal and people aspects of starting a new company?
  • What are the latest methodologies in business planning?
  • How does starting a traditional business differ from an innovative or technology one?
  • What are the common keys to success as an entrepreneur?  

What you will do:

  • Read and discuss Harvard Business Review (HBR) case studies
  • Enjoy guest speakers that are top-ranked entrepreneurship professors and seasoned entrepreneurs

Takeaways include:

  • A framework for creating a new business
  • Clarity on a “right fit” business and essential decisions for planning
  • A Rice Certificate of Completion to post on your professional network

Past guest speakers include:

Al Danto, managing partner of the Danto Group and an instructor at the Jones School of Business at Rice University

Al Napier, co-author of Essentials of Entrepreneurship and Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship and Psychology at the Jones School

Don Porr, Founder and CEO of Diamond Fiberglass Incorporated and student of Al Napier

Rassul Zarinfar, Founder and CEO of Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company

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