Online Workshop- Venture Design II: Iterating to Success

Learning Objectives

customer-creation-hypothesis-SML After this workshop, you’ll have a systematic, testable structure of your venture’s key assumptions and pivot points. You’ll also have an understanding of lean, including Lean Startup. Though you can use it on a stand-alone basis, this workshop complements  Venture Design I (Achieving Customer Relevance), taking the design thinking outputs from that workshop as an input to structuring your venture as an experiment. The learning objectives are:

  1. Hands-on experience structuring a new venture’s uncertainty into specific, testable assumptions
  2. Know-how to distinguish between assumptions that are important vs. those that are truly strategic and ‘pivotal’
  3. How to formulate a ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP) to prove out an idea
  4. Best practices for running customer discovery and lean experimentation


The workshop slides, on SlideShare:


Yours truly delivering the workshop.

Preparation & Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites. While  Venture Design I (Achieving Customer Relevance) is designed to precede this workshop, the workshop works fine on a stand-alone basis. Instructor notes: The checklists below describe ‘minimum viable preparation’ and additional related preparation.

Minimum Viable Preparation

  1. Review the slides
  2. Prep the materials below

Additional Preparation

Review the tutorials on the underlying tools and frameworks from the exercises:

  1. Personas
  2. Lean Startup

If you’re interested in the surrounding body of work on Venture Design, see that link and if you’re interested in a structure program for product design & entre/intra-preneurship, check out Startup Sprints.


1. Index Cards

While Post-It’s are more in fashion for design workshop type events, these exercises are designed around index cards. The reason is that the students will progressively layer more information on to the cards. That said, use whatever works for you; just make sure to review the exercises and have advice for your participants on how they’ll organize their work. I do not recommend doing these on the computer- it tends to create writers block and a desire to create something more permanent than this material is meant to be.

2. A Product Idea to Work

Since the workshop involves sitting down and creating storyboards, all the participants will need to have an idea to use. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in an advance state of planning- as long as they generally know what it is and who it’s for, I think you’ll find it’s sufficient. For those without an idea (or wondering what level of description will work), here are some sample ideas: Venture Concepts.

Workshop Agenda

90 min’s + 8 min/student presentation

ID Item Time (min.) Materials & Technique
Intro’s and set up on ideas 5 Slides 1-10

The workshop is hands-on and students should have an idea they’ll use through the exercises. Their own idea will be much better, but if they don’t have one there are a set of predefined ideas here: Venture Concepts. In a perfect world, the students review these and select an idea in advance (so they’re already a little familiar with it before they start the workshop).

Summary & Review from Venture Design I: Achieving Customer Relevance 7 Slides: 11-30

You can use this as a summary of personas and problem scenarios as well, if the audience is familiar and you think that’s a good fit. Here’s the first workshop on design thinking- Venture Design I: Achieving Customer Relevance.

Exercise: Your Product Hypothesis 4 Slide 31

Materials: Index cards

The idea here is to lay out the core assumption around the venture. This is a kind of ‘compound assumption’ that will decompose later in the workshop.

Lean Startup and 4 Types of Hypotheses 6 Slides 32-40
The Persona Hypothesis 3 Slide 41-45
Exercise: Your Early Market 4 Slide 46

Having too broad a set of customer personas and not a clear view of the early market (or first customer) is a common beginner issue. The purpose of this exercise is to help introduce the important differences between personas within a segment.

Exercise: Developing Discovery Questions for Your Persona Hypothesis 5 Slide 47

Materials: Index cards. See also the applicable portion of the Venture Design template

The idea with this and the similar exercises that follow is to stimulate thinking about how to approach customer discovery subjects, hopefully clearing the way for action on this front.

Problem Hypothesis 2 Slides: 48-51
Exercise: Developing Discovery Questions for Your Problem Hypothesis 5 Slide 52

Materials: Index cards. See also the applicable portion of the Venture Design template

Value Hypothesis 2 Slides 53-58
Exercise: Developing Discovery Questions for Your Value Hypothesis 2 Slide 59
Understanding the MVP and 7 Case Studies 15 Slides 60-87

I like to do these with a brief ‘hey what does everyone think’ for each of the MVP’s before I reveal with the company actually did.

BREAK 5(~1 hr. 5 min)
Exercise: Your (Concierge) MVP 5 Slide 88
Lean at Large 3 Slides 89-95
Student Presentations (variable) Slide 96

The idea is to have the students present the items on the list for 5 min. and then to have an instructor-lead discussion about ideas for an MVP and next steps. Having just reviewed the 7 MVP case studies, that’s a good tool: ‘Which of those situations does your project most resemble and what parts of those stories might make sense?”

Closing, resources, and next steps 5 Slides 97-98