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Testing ideas early and often


Testing ideas early and often

A behind-the-scenes look at the GV Design Sprint

  • Getting to a great idea is one thing. But applying great ideas to reality is another situation entirely. So how does one identify whether an idea is a legitimate solution without investing too much time and/or resources to find out otherwise?

    Enter the venture capital firm GV, which provides seed, venture and growth-stage funding to technology and life sciences companies. GV helps the startups in its portfolio refine their products through an intensive but productive five-day process known as the Design Sprint.

    “In a Sprint, we work side by side with our startups to solve a big problem, build a prototype, and test it with customers—all in a single week,” says Jake Knapp, design partner at GV.

    To achieve this, GV began experimenting with brainstorming techniques and processes—and then applied them to a variety of situations to allow companies to take advantage of a more fluid approach.

    “We’ve found that great solutions can come from anyone on the team, but we’ve also found that group brainstorms just don’t work,” says Knapp. “So in our Sprints, we ask each person to sketch, quietly and individually. This way, every single idea is expressed on a level playing field.”

    “We’re total tech nerds, but we’re huge believers in starting with paper and sticky notes like Post-it® Notes. They’re a great equalizer. You don’t need to be an artist to clearly communicate your ideas with words and rectangles. And if you screw up, you can always just peel off another note.”

    Following the ideation phase, team members then have an opportunity to discuss everyone else’s ideas, building on what they like or addressing weaknesses. Afterwards, the best ideas are selected by the team leader and built into a prototype for testing.

    “Testing with customers is the most important part of the Sprint because we find out what works and what doesn’t. Either way, the startups save months of time. Of course, running a Sprint isn’t the only way to come up with ideas. But it’s an incredibly fast way to find out which ideas are actually good.”

    You can learn more about the Design Sprint process and get a sneak peek at “Sprint: The Book” at gv.com/sprint.


productivity brainstorming ideas super_sticky_notes