Start-up Development Series- A Practical Approach

In our Start-Up Development series, we shall be exploring some of the most effective ways to grow your business/start-up from the idea stage to landing your first investment. It’s going to interesting and all hands on deck with lots of activities. You can join the live sessions every Thursday at 8 pm, using this link

The Start-Up series is divided into nine parts or steps.

We have decided to be very elaborate in our explanation in order not to leave any loose ends.

The nine steps are:

  • Ideation
  • Minimum viable product
  • Initial Market Testing
  • Market Feedback
  • Pivot the Idea and repeat steps one through four.
  • Validating scalable product
  • Creating a pitch and demo in other to secure investment and;
  • Expansion

We will take it one step at a time.


STEP 1- Ideation

In this step, these are the things that you should expect:

  • Introduction
  • Design thinking.
  • Practicals/Activities.


The Nielsen Norman Group defines ideation as “the process of generating a broad set of ideas on a given topic, with no attempt to judge or evaluate them.”

Ideation is crucial in getting us to question the obvious, challenge the norm, and come up with new ideas.

The main aim of an ideation session is to uncover and explore new angles and avenues—to think outside the box.

For the sake of innovation and creativity, it is essential that the ideation phase be a “judgment-free zone”.

This means that no idea is useless. The focus is on the number of ideas rather than quality. This is considered one of the most important aspects of business development. It all starts with ideas. Sometimes, very crazy ones. Here, you must think outside the box.

Assume everything is possible and allow your mind to explore. Whether you are starting a new business, or working with an organization, or trying to grow an already existing business… Ideation is very essential.

To fully explore ideation, we are going to use the Design Thinking approach to explain the concept beat by beat.





Design thinking.

Design Thinking is a design methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems.

It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by understanding the human needs involved, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing.

 Here are the five stages of design thinking:

  1. Empathy
  2. Define the problem
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test


1. Empathy

showing empathy

The first stage of the Design Thinking process is to gain an empathic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This involves consulting experts to find out more about the area of concern through observing, engaging, and empathizing with people to understand their experiences and motivations, as well as immersing yourself in the physical environment so you can gain a deeper personal understanding of the issues involved.

2.Define the problemdefine the problem

During the Define stage, you put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathy stage. This is where you will analyze your observations and synthesize them in order to define the core problems that you and your team have identified up to this point. You should seek to define the problem as a problem statement in a human-centered manner.

To illustrate this, instead of defining the problem as your own wish or a need of the company such as, “We need to increase our food-product market share among young teenage girls by 5%,” a much better way to define the problem would be, “Teenage girls need to eat nutritious food in order to thrive, be healthy and grow.”

The Define stage will help the designers in your team gather great ideas to establish features, functions, and any other elements that will allow them to solve the problems or, at the very least, allow users to resolve issues themselves with the minimum of difficulty. For more details and practical examples, I would recommend you read Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick on



You’ve grown to understand your users and their needs in the Empathy stage, and you’ve analyzed and synthesized your observations in the Define stage, and ended up with a human-centered problem statement. With this solid background, you and your team members can start to “think outside the box” to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created, and you can start to look for alternative ways of viewing the problem.

4. Prototype


The design team will now produce a number of inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product or specific features found within the product, so they can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous stage. Prototypes may be shared and tested within the team itself, in other departments, or on a small group of people outside the design team.

This is an experimental phase, and the aim is to identify the best possible solution for each of the problems identified during the first three stages.

The solutions are implemented within the prototypes, and, one by one, they are investigated and either accepted, improved, and re-examined or rejected on the basis of the users’ experiences.

5. Test


This is the final stage of the 5 stage-model, but in an iterative process, the results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine one or more problems and inform the understanding of the users, the conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel, and to empathize.

Even during this phase, alterations and refinements are made in order to rule out problem solutions and derive as deep an understanding of the product and its users as possible.

 Bonus: How to hold a useful customer conversation without blowing your cover.

  1. Talk about their life instead of your idea
  2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future
  3. Talk less and listen more.




  • Draft a questionnaire that would help you get useful answers from your potential customers or clients, using the mom test approach.
  • Send it to at least 10 persons.
  • Gather the responses and use them to define the problem you’re trying to solve. Then write down your problem statement. e.g ….. exists to help …. people to solve …., so they can…You can use Google forms. It’s free and easy to use.
  • Submit your problem statements in 3 days max. We shall review them together.

Send the Statement of your problems to

If you encounter any challenges or have any questions during the process, feel free to leave a comment in the description box.

You can also join our Whatsapp group to join the Live Webinars for this Startup Series.




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