I have worked in product development for a number of years but taking this course certainly added rigour and discipline to my approach. The first 5 weeks were very useful, I was particularly thankful for being shown how to professionally set out business models as opposed to business plans - the distinction is real and very important. It also helped me to think of the startups as iterating around experiments, instead of being forced to go to market with a viable product (or what I think is viable) on day one. Being shown the best tools of the trade also saved a great deal of time.
Oh the team work! Yes, working in a start-up is necessarily a team experience. But on a MOOC you must expect a number of team members not to bother participating. This means some work very hard (if you do the course right, its a lot of work), but others do nothing. This is true in many group projects, online or in class, but on a MOOC you never meet the people so the freeloader problem becomes 10x harder. Secondly, you must elect your own start-up idea very quickly, all group work revolves around that idea. You can tailor the concept, but there isn't time to go back to square one and radically change it - which would happen in real life. So after initial research you may feel you're pursuing a business idea simply for its convenience on the course, which can be a slog - especially when trying to hold together a team of people from around the world.
The course claims to try and group participants by location so they can learn together in the early classes before committing to group projects. I was in the UK, there were many UK participants, but for my first lessons I was dropped into a team with people in many time zones. Fun, I talked with people from Syria and China, but not practical for a start-up. Some of my team were great contacts to make and we had an experienced mentor (Stanford attracts quality mentors) but spread over 9 time zones it became very hard to co-ordinate. I found myself managing my team between 11pm and 1am (shattered at the office the next day). If I waited to the next day, then my team loses 24hrs out of the 7 days to do a task. Even Mr Eesley claims the best start-up teams all share a city so they can meet up occasionally. Why couldn't they match us by location? Maybe they did, but only for US students.
I also noticed that the silent partners got the same 'Graduated with distinction' that the active members of the team were awarded. One silent partner in my team didn't participate once, not even one email, but still got the same award. There was genuine hard work to be done on the course and I would value someone with this experience, but employers will struggle to value a certificate which some gain without effort.