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UVA iLab: Crash Course in Venture Design

June 18, 2014 @ 9:00 am - June 19, 2014 @ 4:00 pm


iLab fellows:

It was a pleasure to spend time with you all and to see the excellent work you all are producing.

By way of follow-up, I’ve updated this page with three items I thought might be helpful:

1. The slides we used

You’ll find these below as embeds from Slideshare. I also referenced the standard workshop where I drew these from and linked to those. The standard workshops have video which will help if you’re finding the slides hard to follow by themselves.

2. Related tutorials

If you’re looking for a supplemental explanation of our topics, these are self-paced written explanations of the topics we covered.

3. Our agenda

If you missed part of the workshop or want to recap what we did, this is the original agenda I created. We varied this a little in practice but everything we did appears on the agenda notes.


Wednesday AM Session

Note: Most of this material (all but the intro.) is part of Venture Design I: Achieving Customer Relevance. That link will take you to the workshop page which has video as well as slides.

Wednesday PM Session

Note: Most of this material is part of Venture Design II: Iterating to Success. That link will take you to the workshop page which has video as well as slides.

Thursday AM Session

Note: Most of this material (all but the intro.) is part of Venture Design IV: Engineering Your Business Model. That link will take you to the workshop page which has video as well as slides.

Thursday PM Session

Note: Most of this material (all but the intro.) is part of Venture Design V: Building the Right Product. That link will take you to the workshop page which has video as well as slides.


Where do I organize my work in this area?

Here’s a Google Doc’s template you can use that has sections, tables, etc. for all this pre-created: Venture Design Template. Here is a supplemental item specifically for the Business Model Canvas: Business Model Canvas Template.

How do I create an operational view of my customer that I can use across both product and promotion so I connect with demand and not an echoing silence?

Tutorial on Personas & Problem Scenarios

How do I focus my work so I’m steadily driving towards conclusive results and not wasting time?

Tutorial on Lean Startup

How do I efficiently out and acquire actionable learning about customers?

How do I make sure I have a coherent, workable business model that my stakeholders will understand?

Tutorial on the Business Model Canvas

How do I make sure our visual communication is authoritative and relatable for my audience?

Tutorial- The 25 Minute Style Guide

How do I create effective development inputs that will get me the best possible product?

Tutorial- Your Best Agile User Story

Tutorial- Build Your First Prototype in 30 Minutes



Wednesday AM


See above slides for ‘Wed. AM Session’


See above slides for ‘Wed. AM Session’

Item Time (min.) Materials & Technique
Item Time (min.) Materials & Technique
Intro to Venture Design & Design Thinking 10 See above slides for ‘Wed. AM Session’
Exercise: A Day in the Life 50
BREAK 10(~70 MIN)
Exercise: Write Down as many personas as you can for your venture/product (at least 5) 4
Exercise: Are they buyers, users, or both? Note on each Post-It with a ‘B’, and/or ‘U’ 1
Exercise: Can you think of 5 real people for each? 2 Materials: use the back of the existing index cards
Exercise: Sort the personas. Which have the most compelling need, desire? Why? 1
Personas in more detail: Think-See-Feel-DoUsing problem scenario+alternative+value proposition trios to operationalize your personas. 3
Exercise: Brainstorm:: problem scenarios:: alternatives:: your value propositions 7 Materials: use index cards; one per trio (more if needed for space)Notes:- What problems (desires) do you believe the various personas have that are relevant to your venture?- What’s their alternative (or alternatives)? What are they doing right now instead of using your product?- What’s your value proposition for them?They do NOT need to link these to personas yet. Make sure to mention this- comes up a lot.
Exercise: Prioritize the propositions 2
Introducing the Business Model Canvas 5
Exercise: Sort and link above to personas on the Business Model Canvas. 3 Materials: printout of the Canvas and colored pencilsNotes:The idea is to list these in ranked order and link the personas to the value propositions (in that direction; it’s important to start with the individual persona). .
Exercise: Formulate your Product Hypothesis 4 Notes:This translates the design thinking outputs into a testable hypothesis (which is also an input to the next workshop on Lean Startup).
Exercise: Formulate your Positioning Statement 4 Notes:This is important since otherwise in the peer reviews that follow, the students will likely spend most of their time explaining their venture.If the students are using the synthetic ideas, they’ll already have these as part of the venture brief. They may want to re-render them, but more likely if all the students are using the synthetic ideas you can skip this. If you have a mix, you can have the students using the synthetic ideas work on Think-See-Feel-Do for their top persona.
Exercise: Peer Presentations 10 Notes:I’d call out the time every 2.5 minutes (halfway point of each presentation and then the switch). This is a short timeframe for the unpracticed presenter.
Intro to storyboards and the Enable Quiz example 4
Exercise: Create a before and after storyboard for your key Problem Scenario-Value Proposition 10 Materials: Storyboarding Squares.
BREAK 10(~140 MIN)
More on personas 1
Demo: Tools for customer discovery:- customer interviews- concierge MVP- Google Trends- Google AdWords- Facebook Ad’s- Landing Pages- Mouseflow/Clicky 5 Notes:You may find it more convenient to use the screen cast for this.I start by finding a photo on social media to warm up the customer discovery- not strictly necessary but I find it helps keep teams moving in the direction of humanizing the persona. I find a photo in the screencast and you may find it more convenient to use that.Otherwise, find a photo, any photo that represents your persona- someone you know or know-of. If B2C, Facebook is good. If B2B, LinkedIn is good and drop it into the personas section of the Venture Design template.Customer interviews: Show the corresponding section of the Venture Design template.

Google Trends: I use Enable Quiz (ruby developer vs. .net developer)

Google AdWords: I use the same above examples.

Mouseflow/Clicky: I show activity on my book site.

Summary on customer discovery and hypothesis creation for persona hypothesis 2
Persona hypothesis 2
Problem hypothesis 2
Value Hypothesis 2
Customer Creation Hypothesis 2
Customer development and next steps 4 Notes:If you’re doing it, I set up the 2nd workshop, Venture Design II: Iterating to Success, transitioning from design thinking and customer discovery to direct customer experimentation of a value propositio


Wed. PM


See above slides ‘Wed. PM Session’

Item Time (min.) Materials & Technique
Summary & Review from Venture Design I: Achieving Customer Relevance 7 See above slides ‘Wed. PM Session’
Lean Startup and 4 Types of Hypotheses 6
The Persona Hypothesis 3
Exercise: Your Early Market 4 Notes: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 Materials: Index cards. See also the applicable portion of the Venture Design templateNotes: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
Exercise: Developing Discovery Questions for Your Problem Hypothesis 5 Materials: Index cards. See also the applicable portion of the Venture Design template
Value Hypothesis 2
Exercise: Developing Discovery Questions for Your Value Hypothesis 2
Understanding the MVP and 7 Case Studies 15 Notes: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
Lean at Large 3
Student Presentations (variable) Notes: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

Thurs. AM



Part 1

Item Time (min.) Materials & Technique
Intro talk on Business Model Canvas & the Venture Design curriculum 5
Importance of the Customer Segment to Value Proposition pairing(s) as primary ‘independent’ variable for a business model and use of design thinking as a tool to focus and improve that pairing 10
Exercise: Map Personas to Value Propositions on Canvas 3 Materials:- printed Canvas- colored pencils (optional) or pen/sharpieNotes:- list the prioritized Personas in the Customer Segments box and the prioritized Value Propositions (from the ‘trios’) in the Value Proposition box- link the Personas to the Value Propositions that are relevant to each

– Customer Segments are not the same as Personas; but at this early stage the workshop uses personas instead

Peer Presentations 8 Notes:- Continue with: positioning statement on index card, annotated Canvas- Students pair up and ‘pitch’ each other with the guidelines on the slide, 4 minutes per side- Ideally, students in teams break up and commingle with others so they can get a fresh perspective
The importance of describing the customer journey for evaluating Customer Relationships and Channels. The use of AIDA(OR) as a framework for this and storyboarding as a visualization/narration tool. 5
Exercise: Storyboarding AIDAOR 10 Materials: storyboarding squares: 3/type/student
Break 10
Exercise: Describe Customer Relationships 5 Materials:Canvas (Customer Relationships block)Notes: see key points and examples on slide
Exercise: Channels 5 Materials: Canvas (Channels block)
Exercise: Peer Presentations 5
Exercise: Describe Revenue Streams 3 Materials: Canvas (Revenue Streams block)
Exercise: Map Revenue Streams to Personas and VP’s 2 Notes: Basically, this is extending the Personas to VP mappings to one or more Revenue Streams each (if applicable)


Part II

Item Time (min.) Materials & Technique
Business model type and corporate focus. Its relationship to evaluation of Key Activities, Key Resources, Partnerships and ultimately cost drivers (Cost Structure) 5
Exercise: Describe Key Activities 3
Exercise: Describe Key Resources 3
Exercise: Describe Key Partnerships 3
Talk: Managing cost drivers in a new venture 3
Exercise: Describe Cost Structure 3
Exercise: Describe cost drivers relative to Key Activities and Revenue Streams 3 Materials: colored pencils (optional) or pen/sharpieNotes:The basic idea here is to answer the question: ‘How do your Key Activities & Resources drive cost? Are the costs fixed or variable (note on description of cost)? How do those in turn drive revenue?’
Exercise: Peer presentations 4
Closing notes 2

Thurs. PM


Item Time (min.) Materials & Technique
Intro to Agile 5
Exercise: Write an agile epic 5
Exercise: create a storyboard for the epic 10
Draft four agile user stories in support of the epic and its storyboard 10
Peer presentations on storyboard and stories 10
About prototyping 10
Break 10(~ 1 hr)
Exercise: select comp’s 5
Present comp’s 6
About wireframing and drafting for applications 5
Exercise: set up Balsamiq on Gmail/Google App’s 5
Exercise: do a Balsamiq mockup 15
Peer presentations 10
About branding and visual communication 5
Recap and close 10


June 18, 2014 @ 9:00 am
June 19, 2014 @ 4:00 pm
Event Category:


UVA iLab
500 Nash Drive
Charlottesville, 22903
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