Start-up in a Box®: our unique approach to offering a successful venture experience

3ap — as agile as possible
5 min readSep 8, 2020


The competency to build successful digital solutions is crucial for a company’s future — and most don’t have it. That’s why at 3ap, we developed an approach that makes us the perfect venture partner when it comes to digital innovation and its realization. Keep on reading to find out what makes our unique Start-up in a Box® approach a success.

Let’s transform… but wait! HOW?

The typical obstacles for companies when shifting from «business as usual» to a transformed business model are:

  • Lack of good venture ideas
  • Lack of concrete/practical solutions to existing ideas
  • Absence of validation methods to see if the ideas will really work
  • Poorly executed digital solutions that are not fit for the future

Why is that? The pain points are that some of the essential capabilities needed to efficiently build a new digital solution are either limited or missing completely. So companies often hire other companies to help them. They either outsource the whole project or parts thereof. Most of the time, several agencies and business departments are involved, which leads us to the real problem.

How do you jump gaps the size of an elephant?

The first venture gap: from idea to reality
What we often saw was that the ideation teams — mostly agencies very proficient in exploring and drawing ideas — and the teams realizing the solution had a huge gap. The component of technical feasibility was often neglected by innovation experts.

The second venture gap: from design to delivery
Oftentimes, companies are experts in either design or development but not both. And therefore the hand-off from design to development doesn’t work smoothly. As specialists in digital solutions, we have often seen that beautiful design concepts and prototypes could not or at least could not easily have been implemented — almost always because the design specialists had little or no technical know-how.

The answer is simple: Don’t jump. Build bridges.
We were facing these situations with our clients on an everyday basis so we made it our mission to provide a solution. We wanted to bridge the gaps between these disconnected worlds. That’s why we created the Start-up in a Box® approach.

Call in the bridge builders: the Start-up in a Box® Team

When we introduced the Start-up in a Box® approach at 3ap, we formed a brand new team equipped with everything to provide a seamless venture experience to our clients. The Start-up in a Box® Team unites all the know-how and competences needed during all the phases of a digital venture project: from ideation and validation to concept and design, and finally to execution and scale.

The various ingredients of our Start-up in a Box® Approach

The team’s mission is to accompany the process from A to Z, provide consulting, skills, and knowledge where needed, and most importantly to build a bridge between the innovation teams and the ones who actually design and build the product.

With this set-up, we are bridging the gaps by having ideation, design and technical know-how merged in one powerful, interdisciplinary Start-up in a Box® team right from the beginning. For example, when new ideas come up in the ideation phase we immediately know if they are technically feasible. By including tech skills in the beginning phase, you avoid wasting time on non-feasible ideas. Having the designer close to the dev team also ensures that the main client’s idea is secured and the whole team knows what the aim of the user is.

What’s unique about our Start-up in a Box® approach

Two components make our approach unique on the market and therefore impactful to our clients:

1. It’s discipline-driven

Our Start-up in a Box® teams are self-organized, interdisciplinary units that act autonomously within 3ap. 3ap is like a container full of disciplines, tools, and methods to them. They can pull in resources from 3ap whenever they decide a certain skill set or role is needed during a specific project phase. In the end, the client gets the full power of 3ap.

Depending on the project phase, different methods and roles are in focus within our Start-up in a Box® team

The Start-up in a Box® Champion who leads the team is a flexible blend of different roles which change fluidly depending on the project state (wherever they are along the way from building the “right things” to building “things right”) — and with it, the applied disciplines, tools, and skills also change.

So our process is completely driven by the disciplines that are needed in a specific project phase. And our set-up is perfectly designed to provide exactly the right things at the right time.

Start-up in a Box® Champions Micky and Raphael explaining their changing role while driving a vision to a version

2. It’s an ever-evolving process

Did we simply wake up one morning and introduced the Start-up in a Box® approach? Certainly not! It is an ever-evolving process and five years since its inception, we still work on its improvement every day!

The five-year-long evolution of our approach was completely driven by the needs of our clients. At this point, we are shouting a loud “THANK YOU” to all of them because without learning so much from the collaboration, we wouldn’t have been able to establish such a sophisticated approach.

Every time we encountered a new client demand or identified a gap on the client-side, it triggered us to release an improved and upgraded version of our approach. Every new version provided more value to the next client.

All in all

Building the right things and building things right is absolutely crucial to business success nowadays. However, executing these in the right manner is a huge challenge for most companies. We can confidently say that our discipline-driven Start-up in a Box® approach is something truly unique and impactful on the Swiss market. Thanks to our sophisticated set-up that evolved over many years of learning from venture experiences, we can be the perfect partner for digital venture projects, offering everything seamlessly and under one roof.

With this approach we were able to help many clients increase their business value: For example, SWICA, who created and launched a digital premium calculator based on a chatbot with us. Or Flawa, who approached us to help them innovate their digital business with Flawa iQ — an intelligent 1st aid system with IoT (read more about it in our blog post). And that’s also why we love our work! Because we help shape the digital world of the future.

Our Start-up in a Box® Team celebrating a successful digital venture launch together with one of our clients

We are excited to bridge many more gaps in the future and to create more awesome venture experiences and stunning digital projects.