The only thing that was truly defined upfront was the industry this new business idea would need to fit into. To do all this in 2 weeks was quite a tough ask, given that we still had to identify a suitable opportunity in the market, define a target customer and then create a differentiated proposition with all the bits and bobs.

However, we did manage it and here’s how…

Plan + Prep

We had a few days ahead of the kick-off workshop to get an overview of the latest developments in the target industry and work through all the materials the client had sent. It was particularly helpful to get a feeling for what other start-ups in the space were up to and how their business models had evolved over time. We learnt that many disruptors with seemingly good ideas had completely changed their approach. Tracking this gave us a crash-course in what to do and what to avoid.

Prep activities:

  • Interview stakeholders individually to understand their perspective on the industry, where they saw the biggest opportunity and what their priorities were for the 2 week sprint.
  • Research potential untapped customer groups for the target industry: Who is currently underserved, but potentially valuable?
  • Develop materials for the kick-off workshop: Write-up case studies and example features.
  • Sketch out an initial project plan with proposed dates for customer testing and decision making deadlines.
  • Give the client a heads-up that you will need their help very soon.

Week 1

It was important to have a really strong start to the project to ensure we could hit the ground running and create as much clarity on scope, approach and desired outputs as quickly as possible. The kick-off workshop was essential for this.

Kick-off workshop activities:

  • Assess project goals and expected outcomes as a group This highlights the differences amongst stakeholders and helps with managing expectations and trade-offs.
  • Discuss ‘ways of working’ and timelines How much time can stakeholders dedicate to this work? Where are they keen to input? What format will our regular catch-ups take? What tools do we want to use (e.g. Slack, Trello)?
  • Run through the type and structure of deliverables Even though this might feel early, it helps to be on the same page when it comes to what output we are aiming for. Putting titles on empty slides and assigning responsibilities for gathering content (also from client side) can be very helpful in ensuring everybody stays on track.
  • Take the first steps in defining the proposition Starting with the customer: Who do we want to address? What are their needs? What are current providers doing to address them? Where are the gaps? Identify assumptions: Start gathering topics to test and questions to answer.
  • Revisit timings and deliverables Now that you have created a little more clarity on what the aim of the sprint is, it’s time to check if those timelines and deliverables still measure up to the task. Clarify where you expect the client to pitch in or take responsibility of work streams.
  • Don’t get side-tracked Create a parking lot for concerns, questions and topics that may be important, but can’t be addressed in this first session. This ensures that everyone feels heard and you manage to address all the topics you prioritised for the session.

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Once this first workshop was completed, we went straight to drafting the approach and discussion guide for the first round of customer research. We had already locked-in some time with our recruiter and shared our likely target segment prior to the project kicking off. The first round of customer research was aimed at getting a general understanding of needs, attitudes, concerns and opportunities with regards to the target industry. We learnt a lot from our first round of interviews and started to capture the key points for each topic we covered with participants. It was important to not only capture quotes and observations, but to take them to the next level and translate them into ‘insights’. In order to do this, you need to answer the ‘so what?’ … what does this mean for the proposition? All of our findings were summarised in a research summary deck to ensure that any future work our client was planning could draw from this research.

Now it was time to finally start creating concepts. We employed a variety of techniques to develop ideas for propositions that would address our target customers needs and had the potential to disrupt the market. One simple example is ‘How might we…’.

How might we (→ see Ideo)

  • Gather all your insights.
  • Pick an insight and phrase a ‘How might we’ question that addresses the problem or opportunity it describes.
  • You get faster at it if you do this for all your insights in one go.
  • Then vote in your team on which problem / opportunity statements you want to address first.
  • Pick one and start generating solutions.

Week 2

We clustered our brainstorm outputs and crafted lots of initial ideas and proposition concepts. We needed to pick the right ones to develop further. We agreed a set of prioritisation criteria with our clients that would help us identify those concepts that had the greatest potential. We picked a subset of the top concepts and drafted a template to work out each proposition in a little more detail.

Proposition Template (first draft)

  • What is the customer proposition?
  • What are the features?
  • What are the benefits that address the customer needs?
  • What does the proposition look like?
  • What customer problem are we solving?
  • How would it work?
  • Will this make us money?
  • What capabilities are needed to deliver this?

These early prioritised proposition concepts were brought to life through rapid prototypes and went straight into the second round of customer testing. This round of interviews was much more about getting direct feedback on our ideas and helping us prioritise what to take forward. We supplemented the prototypes with short descriptions of each proposition to ensure we would present them in a consistent way across participants.

We invited a fresh set of participants, but also re-invited a few of our earlier participants to be able to fast-forward some of the warm-up and get straight into the feedback section of the interview. The returning participants were already switched-on to the topic and could give us feedback if the concepts addressed the needs they had expressed in the previous round. We also opted for conducting these interviews in pairs to get more of a discussion going and to be able to get participants to bounce ideas and suggestions off one another.

We analysed the feedback we received and luckily had a winning concept that we could improve by integrating elements from two of the other contenders. Now it was time to refine the prototype, create a video to illustrate the customer problem we were addressing to capture reactions form research participants and of course to create the final pitch deck for our clients.

Pitch Deck Elements:

We answered the following questions in an aim to take the audience on a journey from understanding the problem and opportunity we identified to the solution we developed.

  • What is going on in the industry?
  • Who is the target customer?
  • What is the problem? How is the industry not addressing the target customers’ needs?
  • What is the solution / proposition?
  • What are the features?
  • What do consumers say? (video)
  • What is the size of the market?
  • Why is this an attractive opportunity to address?
  • What does the competitor landscape look like? How are you addressing the top customer needs like no one else?
  • What is your competitive advantage?
  • What do you need to bring this vision to life? i.e. money, resources Who is the management team?

The pitch deck is now going to potential investors and we are hoping to work with our client again, once they have secured funding for the next round of development.