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Venture Design Sessions @ UVA iLab

June 1, 2015 - June 2, 2015


This was a Venture Design ‘crash course’ for the UVA iLab. The UVA iLab is a university-wide incubator and innovation space- for more about it, see below.



Solving the Right Problem

1. Draft a working set of personas (1 – 3 hours)

Personas Tutorial

Personas Template

2. Draft a working set of problem scenario-alternative-value proposition trios. (.5 – 2 hours)

(see above for tutorial and template)

3. Finish a working product hypothesis. (.25 hours)

Product Hypothesis Template

4. Finish a working interview guide to validate your persona and problem hypotheses. (<1hour for 1st take)

Interview Guide Template

5. Complete at least 5 customer interviews. (~1 hour/subject, not including subject recruitment)

Template for Taking Notes (Reminder: More detail is good here. A good interview transcript may look very different to you 1 month, 3 months, 6 months in the future as your perspective evolves. I like to just touch type while I’m interviewing. The transcript is a mess but then I clean it up after the fact.)

6. Draft a working set of assumptions around your value hypothesis 

Lean Startup Tutorial

Assumptions Template

7. Design experiments to test your value hypothesis

Experiment Template

8. Execute your experiments!

See above. This is where a lot of the action happens! Be scrappy, be creative. Make sure you have a clearly delineated value proposition(s) and challenge yourself to think of something you can do in 24 hours.

Building the Right Solution

1. Draft a working set of epics and child stories (.5-2 hours)

User Stories Tutorial

2. For at least one of the above, draft a prototype in Balsamiq

Software Prototyping Tutorial

3. Design a usability test plan with the above (see for a template)

Customer Discovery Handbook (see section on Usability Hypothesis)

4. Carry out 3 usability tests

(see above)

Business Model/Business Model Canvas

We didn’t get to spend a lot of time in class on this, but I recommend earmarking an 90 minutes or so to sketch out the high points based on you you see the business working right now. The top 3 high points I’d hit are: 

1. The relationship between personas in your various Customer Segments and which Value Propositions are relevant to them. 

2. Use an AIDAOR storyboard to think through Customer Relationships and Channels (you can print out the storyboarding squares, or, I think Shivon still has some in the iLab)

3. Think about your business type and lay out Key Activities and Key Resources

Here are a few items to help you with that: 

A post on the top 3 high points

Business Model Canvas Tutorial

Business Model Canvas Workshop materials

Printable Business Model Canvas

Business Model Canvas in Google Doc’s

Project Management

We went over this very briefly. The summer will pass quickly. Probably, you’ve noticed that already. I recommend working in one week iterations where you explicitly prioritize what you really think is most important to moving your venture forward and then work those priorities over the course of the week, avoiding distractions. In agile, (brief) meetings are often organized around the following three questions: 

What did I accomplish yesterday (or last week, if weekly)?

What will I accomplish today (this week, etc.)?

What issues are impeding my progress?

Here’s a blog post about using this: The Daily Do. It’s about answering those questions daily but you can certainly do it weekly. Trello is a popular tool for assigning and progressing tasks on a ‘kanban board’.


Crash Course/Intro

Full Session: Solving the Right Problem

Full Session: Building the Right Solution

About the iLab at UVA

The i.Lab is a University-wide initiative that creates a nexus for entrepreneurship and innovation education. Its mission is to foster deep cross-collaboration with no boundaries, across disciplines, schools or ways of thinking. The i.Lab provides coaching, courses and incubation to students, faculty and community members innovating the future. Initiatives such as the i.Lab help create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem within U.Va. and its surrounding community. The i.Lab is a collaborative effort of 11 schools of the University, the Provost’s Office, and U.Va. Innovation.


June 1, 2015
June 2, 2015
Event Category:


UVA iLab
500 Nash Drive
Charlottesville, 22903
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