Attention: Details for summer term 2024 will be added in due time. Details listed here are for orientation purposes only.


HPI Product Builder

14 weeks, 40 master's students, 4 challenges, 1 amazing experience! In our Product Builder program, students work in agile, interdisciplinary teams and experience market- and user-centric digital product development in a real-world scenario. 20 HPI master's students and 20 master's students from different disciplines and universities within the Berlin-Brandenburg area come together in teams of three to six people and design a technical prototype as well as an associated business model to solve the challenge of a corporate partner.




Course Information

  • Time investment: 4 semester hours per week, 180 hours in total, ~1.5 days per week
  • ECTS: 6
  • Module selection at HPI:
    • DE: HPI-PSK-EI
  • Graded: Yes
  • Application period: Ongoing until middle of April
  • Application interview period: Ongoing until middle of April
  • Teaching form: Project seminar; Every week we will have a "Product Builder Thursday" from 9:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. with lectures, a coaching session and free working time
  • Type of course: Elective module
  • Teaching language: English
  • Maximum number of participants: 20 HPI students, 20 external students


Product development refers to the activities involved in solving a technical task that lead to a marketable product. This means developing a digital solution, designing a suitable business model for it and create an appealing design.

During our “Product Builder” project seminar, designed for master's students, you work in agile, interdisciplinary project teams with students from HPI (Hasso Plattner Institute) and students from various backgrounds and universities in the Berlin-Brandenburg are to experience market- and user-centric digital product development in a real world scenario. 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, you will work on a topic introduced by one of our project partners and - in groups of three to six people - create a product prototype, a business model and a pitch deck over the course of 14 weeks.

The seminar starts with a three-day kick-off event (April 20 – April 22, 2023) in an offsite space in Brandenburg where you get to know the other participants as well as the topics of the course. Teams and topics are announced and you start working on your challenge.

After the first half of the seminar, we will have our “Challenger Day” where every team presents their mid-term results in a short pitch in front on a jury of experts and receives feedback. The “Challenger Day” will take place at HPI on June 1, 2023.

The project seminar ends with the “Demo Day” on July 20, 2023. 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 of & collaborating in agile, interdisciplinary teams
  • Problem discovery & opportunity recognition
  • Ideation process & product prototyping
  • Fundamentals of working in a product/founder team
  • Agile product development
  • Customer interviews & prototype validation
  • Business model development & market analysis
  • Pitch deck preparation & pitching a startup idea


  • 14-week course of extensive ideation, engineering, innovation, and user interaction.
  • Relevant problem field of a company.
  • Combination of theory and pratical work by learning and implementing
  • Self-reliant interdisciplinary teamwork partnering with students from various universities in the Berlin-Potsdam area.
  • Intensive tutoring within a creative space in dedicated project rooms.
  • Budget for prototyping and traveling.

Key Dates

  • 11.04.2023 Application Deadline
  • 14.04.2023 Application Interviews done
  • 13.03. - 14.04.2023 Rolling confirmation of participation
  • 20. - 22.04.2023 Kick-off Days (offsite location)
  • 01.06.2023 Challenger Day
  • 20.07.2023 Demo Day

Learning and Teaching Methods

  • Weekly "Product Builder Thursday" with 90 minutes lecture, 30-60 minutes coaching and free working time

  • Agile product development, lean startup, design thinking

  • Hand-on excercises and workshops

"Product Builder Thursday" Schedule

9:15 amCheck-in
9:30 amLecture Part 1
10:15 amCoffee Break
10:30 amFree working time and coaching
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pmLecture Part 2
2:15 pmCoffee Break
2:30 pmFree work time and coaching
5:00 pmCheck-out: Work results of the day, questions and support
6:00 pmCommunity event (optional)


Lecture Schedule

The project seminar takes place every week according to the following schedule:

Preliminary schedule. All lecture topics are subject to change.


The assessment takes place via a presentation and associated project documentation and is carried ot in two steps:

  1. Challenger Day (01.06.2023) presentation, pitch deck (live deck and reading deck), first prototype and project documentation (based on deliverables throughout the course) account for 25% of your final grade.
    IMPORTANT: Challenger Day presentations account as your first examination performance, the 8-day rule thus refers to 01.06.2023
  2. Demo Day (20.07.2023) presentation, pitch deck (live deck and reading deck), final prototype/MVP and project documentation (based on deliverables throughout the course) account for 75% of your final grade

All grades are recorded as a team grade. Please contact the study department if you do not want to participate in the performance recording (8-day rule).


The application process consists of three steps:

  1. Please complete the following application form by April 11. 
  2. After we have receive your application, we will contact you as soon as possible for a 15 minute interview.
  3. We will inform you between March 13 and April 14 whether your application was successful.

Note for external students

Since the Product Builder is a course within the curriculum of the Hasso Plattner Institute, we cannot guarantee whether and to what extent the ECTS points earned in this course will be recognized at another university. We therefore ask you to clarify with your respective study department whether recognition is possible. Of course, we will be happy to issue a certificate of achievement.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have my own business idea to participate in the Product Builder Program?
No, that is not necessary. Every team will be provided with a challenge from one of our corporate partners.

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

How do I chose a challenge?
Depending on the preferences you indicate in your application and during the interviews, we will assign you to one of the corporate challenges.

What is the expected outcome?
We expect a paper prototype, a value proposition and a pitch presentation during Challenger Day after 7 weeks as well as a working clickable prototype, a business model and a final pitch in front of an expert jury during Demo Day after 14 weeks.

Do I need to have my team members in advance?
No, that is not necessary. According to your preferences we will create teams of six to seven people with at least two HPI students per team. The teams will be announced during the kick-off on April 21.

Do I have to be in Potsdam during the seminar?
We highly encourage teams to use our facilities at HPI especially during the "Product Builder Day" every Thursday from 9am - 6pm. If you are not in Potsdam at all during the three months, we cannot accept you for the program as at least the Kick-off, Challenger Day and Demo Day are planned with onsite presence. We will not offer any hybrid or online session during the course.

Are the weekly input (90 minutes) and coaching sessions (30-60 minutes) during the program mandatory?
Yes, if you cannot attend due to severe reasons please sign off with your coach.

Who will be grading the final project?
The program management team of HPI Product Builder will assess your work with their grading criteria according to the requirements of the module.


Your Coaches

Annalena Lorson

Program Manager

David Hahn

Head of Program

Leonard Petter

Teaching Assistant

Hendrik Patzlaff

Teaching Assistant