Helping start-ups learn about design thinking


Our client

The South Moravian Innovation Centre (JIC) is a world-class incubator for innovative businesses in the Czech Republic. Setting up 10 years ago, JIC had a big vision; improving the future prosperity of the country and its people by focusing on innovation.

To provide targeted support for early-stage start-ups, JIC established StarCube.

The challenge

JIC sought to grow the capability of its start-up clients in methods for design and innovation. These StarCube clients needed tools and techniques to help them refine their initial product, service and business model ideas.

Our response

Applying design thinking to start-ups
These incubator companies were in the beginning phases of crafting their businesses; an ideal time to introduce them to a methodology for helping ensure the successful design of products and services.

Working with JIC, we designed a short learning programme; An Introduction to Design Thinking. This consisted of a step-by-step design thinking methodology and included:

  • gaining empathy for your user
  • identifying user needs and goals
  • generating ideas for ways to meet user needs
  • testing ideas with your user
  • refining and iterating potential solutions
  • prototyping for learning.

Learning by doing
We took the incubator companies through a rapid, hands-on design challenge, which applied the design thinking methodology to a hypothetical design problem. This workshop had participants learn about their users, then design a physical, bespoke solution for them.

Explaining the big ideas
Following the hands-on workshop, we delivered a lecture to the participants. Here, we expanded on the techniques and methodology that they had tried out, and explained the theory behind it all.

The lecture covered:

  • design thinking as a mindset and a methodology
  • the value of design thinking
  • the principles of design thinking
  • design thinking tools and techniques
  • design thinking for start-ups.

The results

Participants had a lot of fun having a go at the design thinking process in the rapid, hands-on workshop. For most, several techniques were new them. The workshop provided an opportunity to practice these new ways of working in a practical way.

The big ideas behind design thinking gave them a new lens with which to view the development of their products and services. It also caused them to consider how they might build their organisations to support innovation.

The incubator companies now have new tools, techniques, and a process for designing and innovating in their tool kits. They can now apply all of this to their real world businesses.


Like what we’ve done here? Contact us to talk about how we can build your organisation’s innovation capabilities.

Key tools and methods used:

  • Practical workshop
  • Learning by doing

“I love reliable people and on-time projects which is something you don’t expect very often among creative people.

Matt is the exception. His project focus and deep knowledge in the field of service design made our project successful.”

Michal Hrabi

Manager, Microsoft Innovation Centre, South Moravian Innovation Centre