Business Inspiration, Design Thinking
Design Thinking for Startups in Emerging Markets

For some of the startups we work with, design thinking is a new concept and working with users in the development of the product or service is uncharted territory.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is: “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” (Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO)

There are a few ways of looking at it.

Design Council: Double Diamond

Zealify on Medium

In Discover, designers look at things in a new way and gather insights. Defineaims to makes sense of all the possibilities through synthesising insights and developing ideas. The objective of Define is to create a brief, or value proposition/product concept that frames the design challenge. Develop is the time where ideas are developed, tested, prototyped and iterated. Finally, Deliver is where the product is finalised and launched.

IDEO’s Phases of Human-Centred Design

In the Field Guide to Human-Centred Design shows six steps.

  1. Observation: Identify behaviour and pain-points of the user
  2. Ideation: Creating ideas for solutions your users need
  3. Rapid prototyping: Build simple prototypes of the ideas
  4. User feedback: Users give feedback on the simple prototype
  5. Iteration: Updating the idea and prototype, this may be through a few rounds
  6. Implementation: Go to phase 1 and go through the process again.

Stanford Design School: Design Thinking Bootleg

The Design Thinking Process is similar to IDEO’s and is seen as a ‘methodology for creative problem solving’.

Zealify on Medium
  1. Empathise: This is the centre of the human-centred design process, understand people within the context of the design challenge. Observe what people do, how they interact with their environment and learn what they need.
  2. Define: “Framing the right problem is the only way to create the right solution”. This part of the process is about bringing clarity and focus to the design. Define the challenge based on what was learned about the user and context. The goal is to craft a meaningful and actionable problem statement, a ‘point-of-view’ – [User] needs to [user’s need] because [insight]
  3. Ideate: Generate a broad range of possibilities, in terms of concepts and outcomes. It is the basis for building prototypes and getting innovative solutions to users.
  4. Prototype: An iterative stage that brings the business closer to their solution. The early-stages are low-fidelity prototypes that are quick and cheap and later stages are more refined. A prototype is something the user can interact with — a gadget, a wall of post-it notes or a storyboard.
  5. Test: Ask for feedback about the prototypes from users and empathise with the users. Testing helps understand the user, ideally the testing is done in the real context of the user’s life.

Five Ways Design Thinking Benefits Startups in New and Emerging Markets

Design thinking should be key to startups entering emerging markets. Designing the product with users should be something taken seriously, particularly for new technologies going into emerging markets as there are many unknown-unknowns:

Businesses going into emerging markets need to uncover who their user groups are, who are their key stakeholders, who are the key buyers and so forth.

Having a user-centric design can really help, the product/service can be design to meet user needs. We’ve seen a number of times where a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) has been built, without any user input and not knowing who their users are or the market they are entering.

The five ways that design thinking benefits startups, entering into new and emerging markets are:

  1. De-risks Innovation

Innovation can be seen as risky and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Design thinking can help de-risk innovation. In the first stages of design, it is all about the user — understanding them and empathising with them. Ideas can be tested with users, and the user feedback helps iterate and refine these ideas that then become prototypes and then final products.

User insights and user testing can validate the need for the products and in turn, de-risks it as there is a known appetite for the product or service. This is particularly important for bootstrapped startups entering a new or emerging market space.

2. Save time and money

So much time and money can be wasted developing a product or service based on assumptions, personal experiences and needs along with conjecture, with no input from end-users.

Sometimes, businesses can prioritise technical development, which is one of the three parts of this model for innovation. Design thinking includes all three, but really puts the human (desirability) into product development and in turn, creates insights for value propositions and business models (viability).

via Legacy Innova

3. Evidence for Investors

Investors like to see that there is a need for the product, that there is a strong and growing market and users have been part of the product development process.

4. Improves Business Strategy and Marketing

Design thinking can provide businesses with an idea of what not to do and what product not to develop. By involving users in product and service development, ideation and innovation is based on insight. Business decisions about strategy are based on evidence rather than assumptions and gut feelings. Communicating with customers is informed by empathy and really understanding users.

5. Competitive advantage

Design thinking can help not only develop products and services that meet user needs but also with products and services with better customer experiences, with digital products with better User Experiences and User Interfaces. If a business is entering a new and emerging market, it needs to do it well and be the leader before other businesses come in.

The Snap Out Team 🚀