The Setup stage is the very first of the three stages of the 100 Tasks. First it’s Setup, then Launch, and then Scale. Each of the three stages has five sub-stages. So that means that there are 15 sub-stages in total. A sub-stage is a set of related tasks.
Throughout the series of these blogposts, I will always do a blogpost introducing each stage (so 3 blogposts) and a blogpost on each of the sub-stages (plus 15 blogposts). So, I’ll provide you with 18 blogposts in total: 3 introducing the stages and 15 about the sub-stages.
Now in this blogpost, I want to give you an overview of the first stage — the Setup stage. It’s a critical stage for anyone who is a builder — regardless of whether you are startup founder, a digital consultant, or a corporate innovator. It’s critical because it creates the foundation for building ventures.
If you take away only two things about this stage, it’s the following:
1) Set up the launchpad and 2) Do ideation
Let’s take each one at a time.
1) Set up the launchpad
First of all, what do I mean by “launchpad”?
The analogy comes from space aviation. A launchpad is used to launch rockets vertically into space. Real-life launchpads exist at places like the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral where NASA or SpaceX launch their rockets. The rocket, as we all know, is a commonly used analogy for a fast-growing startup.
Thus, applied to the Setup stage, any organization — a corporation, a government, or an investor — sets up the infrastructure that is capable of building multiple startups, one after the other.
For example, take a corporation in the automotive industry that I once advised. Robert, the senior executive I was advising, had the goal to create a separate entity dedicated to disruptive innovation: the launchpad. It was important to Robert that it took place on a completely separate playing field. The reason was that he didn’t want the highly successful parent business to negatively influence or slow down the new launchpad. The launchpad was the corporate’s place where the future would be invented. Accordingly, the automotive corporation’s launchpad became a separate structure dedicated to building multiple startups in a fast and scalable way.
And the tasks in this stage teach you how to do exactly that.
2) Do ideation
What do I mean by “ideation”?
I mean that, in the tasks in this stage, we travel through the entire ideation journey:
1. We create a long list of ideas for our venture
2. We turn that long list into a short list
3. From the short list, we decide on one idea to try to validate first
4. Once that idea is somewhat validated, the startup is ready to pass the stage-gate ® and move onto the next stage
For example, I recently advised the founders of a boutique consulting firm, Emilia and Anna. That consulting firm advises startups and corporates on the early stages of building ventures. Emilia and Anna already had many commonly known ideation tools in their tool kit: like Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, or Design Thinking. However, what their consultants were missing was the bigger picture of ideation. They were missing an end-to-end process for ideation. And in the 100 Tasks, the tasks in the Setup stage provide exactly that. They provide a clear, structured, and holistic step-by-step process on how to go about ideation. The ideation tools Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, and Design Thinking are featured in this process, but they make up only a fraction of it.
The same goes for a David, a want-to-be entrepreneur, I advised not too long ago. I challenged his ideas for business models. Together we went through all ideation-related tasks: from beginning to end. At the end of our ideation journey, David ended up with a ranked short list of 5 great business models — all of which he was passionate about and all of which aimed to solve a big problem in a big market. It turns out that the investors love his idea, too. He has just raised a significant amount of seed funding for his #1 business model, an AI-enabled B2B SaaS solution.
That’s it! That’s the gist of the first stage, the Setup stage. Keep those two key takeaways in mind before we dive into the Setup stage’s 5 sub-stages.