Chapter 5

The Approach

Next: Finding Focus Areas →

Light touch process

Most design and product methodologies run on the assumption that you already have an established business or product. With venture design, there is no business or product: we’re creating both from thin air. So we created an iterative approach that allows us to go from an abstract theme or market (which we call a Focus Area), all the way down to a specific idea, as well as having a means to scrutinise it.

Concept process


Focus is about defining a starting point – a place to go looking for opportunities. In the context of Founders Factory, our sectors are rather broad. What is “Media”? Is it video production? Is it journalism? Focus narrows the scope to something manageable.

During Focus, we want to find a number of Focus Areas. Focus Areas are the intersection between trends and markets.

Focus area

These can then be written into a ‘brief’ for us to work from. Here’s an example from a Focus Area on Sexual Health:

Sexual health and wellbeing remains a taboo subject for many, despite it being a fundamental pillar of overall health. Topics such as safe sex, reproductive health, and emotional relations and responsibilities remain difficult for many to discuss, with over 57% of adults saying they felt uncomfortable talking about it. Last year there was an estimated 333 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections, with the biggest increase seen in 20 to 24 year olds. As attitudes relax around the subject, we want to explore solutions which tackle these issues head on.

Notice how it has:

  • Several clearly defined markets
  • Some initial sizing of those markets
  • Some trends happening within them

See Finding Focus for more information on how Focus Areas.


Our Focus Areas are usually free from any specific insight or customer need: Discover is about finding one. We sometimes refer to this as the “market gap”. There’s a number of different approaches that can be taken, and it will largely depend on the focus area. For example:

  • Ethnographic study
  • Surveying
  • Sector expert interviews
  • User interviews
  • Desk research

Take a look at Threads for some ways on generating Discover activities.


Generate is about ideating possible solutions to address the needs or desires found in Discover. Ideation is definitely more of an art than a science, but we’ve developed a number of approaches that can help.

Output at this stage is usually a number of New Venture Canvasses, but could also be an early pitch deck.


Challenge is about identifying assumptions and challenges in the generated ideas. These are usually identified in a Challenge Session, where everyone has an opportunity to constructively teardown an idea, so we can build it back up.

Sessions usually happen both internally with relevant people from our Ops team (venture, tech, etc), and again with our partners.


Check is about devising experiments to prove or disprove assumptions identified from Challenge. See Experiment Design.

Finding Focus Areas →