HPI Product Builder / HHL Business Plan Seminar

A joint master program to develop digital products.


During the “Product Builder” project seminar, designed for master students of Hasso Plattner Institute Potsdam and HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, students work in agile, interdisciplinary product teams to experience market- and user-centric digital product development in a real world scenario.

Course Information for students of HPI

  • Semester hours per week: 4
  • ECTS: 6
  • Graded: Yes
  • Enrollment period: 01.02.2022 - 14.03.2022
  • Teaching form: Project seminar
  • Type of course: Elective module
  • Teaching language: English
  • Maximum number of participants: 20

Learning and teaching methods

  • Weekly, 90-minute lecture

  • 4x 30 min coaching plus 2x 60 min intensive workshop (both upon request) 

  • Hands-on exercises and workshops


The examination consists of a mid-term presentation with respective documentation during "Market Day" (30% of the overall grade), a final presentation with respective documentation during "Launch Day" and an elaboration of the final group project results (70% of the overall grade) both assessed as a team grade. Additionally, there will be several assignments throughout the semester that must be submitted to pass the course.

The exam date within the 8-day deadline is June 23rd, 2022. If you have further questions about withdrawing from the course, please contact the Office of Student Affairs.


Please register via e-mail by texting eschool(at)hpi.de.

Course Information for students of HHL

Please refer to the HHL CampusNet
For questions please contact f.lange(at)hhl.de


Product development refers to the activities involved in solving a technical task that lead to a marketable product. This means both developing a digital solution AND designing a suitable business model for it.

During our “Product Builder” project seminar, designed for master students, you work in agile, interdisciplinary project teams with students from HPI (Hasso Plattner Institute) and HHL (Leipzig Graduate School of Management; https://www.hhl.de/) to experience market- and user-centric digital product development in a real world scenario. This seminar will create a sustainable footprint since the business ideas contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) introduced by the United Nations. We will teach you a number of hands-on techniques of agile product development and entrepreneurship as well as how to create and rapidly test a related business idea.

For the seminar, there is the opportunity to either work on a topic introduced by one of our project partners as well as to bring in your own idea. In groups of four (two students from HPI and two students from HHL) you work on your topic and create a prototype as well as a pitch deck over the course of 12 weeks. If you are eager to work on your own business idea, you have the opportunity to get one of the four wild cards. In that case, please send us a short pitch-deck of your idea (max. 3 slides) by February 24, 2022, 23:59 CET. Please be aware, that your own idea is in accordance with at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) defined by the United Nations.

The seminar starts with a three-day kick-off event (March 24 – March 26, 2022) in an offsite space in Brandenburg where you get to know the other participants as well as the topics of the course. Teams are formed and choose the topic they would like to work on.

After the first half of the seminar, we will have our “Market Day” where every team presents their mid-term results in a short pitch in front on a jury of experts and receives feedback. The “Market Day” will take place at HHL in Leipzig on May 5, 2022 followed by a day of getting to know the startup scene in Leipzig organized by HHL on May 6.

The project seminar ends with the “Launch Day” at HPI on June 23, 2022. Every team will pitch their further developed idea and prototype in another short pitch in front of a jury of experts and the hall audience.


Key Learnings

  • Building & Collaborating in agile, interdisciplinary Teams
  • Problem Discovery & Opportunity Recognition
  • Ideation Process & Product Prototyping
  • Fundamentals of Working in a Product Team
  • Agile Product Development
  • Customer Interviews & Prototype Validation
  • Business Case Development & Market Analysis
  • Pitch Deck Preparation & Pitching a Startup Idea


  • 12-week course of extensive ideation, engineering, innovation, and user interaction.
  • Relevant problem field of a company or work on an own idea.
  • Combination of theory and pratical work by learning and implementing
  • Self-reliant interdisciplinary teamwork partnering with HHL Leipzig.
  • Intensive tutoring within a creative space in dedicated project rooms.
  • Budget for prototyping and traveling.


This program is offered every summer term. The next batch runs March - June 2022.

Key Dates:

  • 24.02.2022 Early Application Deadline HPI for Wild Card Applicants
    • Extended! New deadline: 13.03.2022
  • 14.03.2022 Application Deadline HPI
  • 24. - 26.03.2022 Kick-off Days (offsite location)
  • 05.05.2022 Market Day in Leipzig
  • 23.06.2022 Launch Day in Potsdam


The corresponding lecture is given every week, following the following schedule (lectures are joined between both institutions):

Preliminary schedule. All lecture topics are subject to change.

Week                              Date and TimeLecture Topic
Sprint 1: Discovery
Week 024. - 26.03.2022 offsiteKick-off
Week 130.03.2022,
3:00 - 4:30 p.m. 
Challenge Decomposition / Assumption Baseline
Develop first problem understanding / problem definition
Customer and Expert interview
Week 206.04.2022,
3:00 - 4:30 p.m. 
Primary and Secondary Research / Problem Quantification
Persona/Emphasizing Guest Lecture
Sprint 2: Ideation & Prototyping
Week 313.04.2022,
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
The Testing Process
Trend & Market Gap
Key Player Analysis; Solution Comparison
Week 420.04.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Value Proposition
Business Model
Hypotheses Extraction
Week 527.04.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Experiment Design
Discovery Experiments & Prototyping
Customer Journey Design
Week 605.05.2022 full dayMarket Day in Leipzig
Sprint 3: Iteration & Validation
Week 711.05.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Product Team
Product Vision & Strategy
Validation Experiments, Interaction Prototype & Solution Interview
Week 818.05.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Interaction Prototype & Product Design Guest Lecture
Market Segmentation
Market Sizing
Week 925.05.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Simple Landing Page Experiment
Online Ad Experiment
Sprint 4: Business Planning & Pitch
Week 1001.06.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Go-to-Market Planning
Financial Planning
Implementation Planning & Product Roadmap
Week 1108.06.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
MVP Development & Testing
Performance Tracking
Week 1215.06.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Pitch Presentation
​​​​​​​Pitch Training Guest Speaker
Week 1323.06.2022 full dayLaunch Day
Week 1429.06.2022
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Wrap Up & Feedback


FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have my business idea before the Future Builder Program?
You can bring you own idea according the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but we will also invite partners to work together with you and their challenges.

What are the criteria if I want to bring my own Wild Card Idea?
The submitted wild card idea must meet the following criteria:

  • It must target one or more of the 17 SDGs with a concrete indication of which of the SDG areas is covered. 
  • The problem must affect a larger amount of people / companies (There must be the possibility to conduct sufficient interviews).
  • The problem must enable solution approaches that can be implemented as a digital business model
  • It must be possible to create a business model and prototype within 12 weeks
  • The issue must be solvable with a technology that can be implemented today 
  • Relevance: the problem should already be roughly quantified = how much damage/cost it is currently causing

Further relevant information:

  • Does it tend to be more of a B2B or B2C business model?
  • Have parts of the problem already been validated?
  • Does a solution approach(es) already exist?
  • Maturity level: The idea should be in the early stages of problem identification (rough problem definition known, at most initial solution approaches known, no concrete realization/implementation yet)

Who are the partnering companies for the challenges?
The partners will be mainly larger companies from various industries with an SDG-related challenge. Your idea remains independent from their operational business but they support you as mentor for this project.

What is the expected outcome?
We expect a working prototype of your business idea in the end plus a pitch presentation during Market Day after 5 weeks and a final pitch in front of an expert jury during Launch Day after 13 weeks.

Do I need to have my team members in advance?
We expect mixed teams of 2 HHL and 2 HPI students. The final groups will be built during the kick-off on 26th March.

Do I have to be vaccinated?
Yes, with a booster as well. Additional testing is required for on-site events.

What if there is still a lock-down during the kick-off?
We will be able to run the sessions in a hybrid format if the lockdown prevents us from physical meetings.

Do I have to be in Potsdam or Leipzig during the seminar?
We encourage teams to use our physical facilities in Potsdam and Leipzig for regular check-ins. The teams decide how they arrange coping with the workload and coaching sessions. If you are not in Leipzig or Potsdam at all during the three months, we cannot accept you for the program as at least the Kick-off, Market Day and Launch Day are planned with onsite presence. Regular input sessions will be offered in a hybrid format throughout the course.

Are the weekly input sessions during the program (90 min) mandatory?
Yes, if you cannot attend due to severe reasons please talk to your program manager.

What if we want to change our business idea during the course?
Pivots are possible but the presentation during Market Day and Launch Day count for your final assessment already.

Who will be grading the final project?
Professors and research associates from HHL and HPI will assess your work with their grading criteria according to the requirements of the module.