Hi everyone it’s Steph, today we are September 11, 2020. So yeah you’ll say “yes September 11, okay we know it’s a special day”. But it is also a special day for me because looking at my agenda today I remembered something: is that there are actually exactly five years, i.e. September 11, 2015 I decided to found my company Design Sprint Ltd.

And here we are and Design Sprint is already five years old and I wanted to tell you a little bit about the genesis of Design Sprint Ltd. How do we launched it and why. And then I have rediscovered something in my library which is this: and I wanted to open it again and share it with you.

I think it is now almost 2-3 years I didn’t open it. This was, in fact, the document which launched Design Sprint Ltd. So I’m going to show it to you, because I have a lot of people who comes to me with questions about starting their own business, who are entrepreneurs. They ask me questions and questions about how I started my company, what did I do before launching and so on.

I will show you this document, because, in fact, it is important and still relevant for me and for Design Sprint Ltd. So five years ago, it was 2015, in the middle of summer I’m starting a new job in a very large company as a Lead UX designer. It’s well paid, it’s comfortable and the projects are interesting. And then I say to myself “here we go, we have great things to do.”

I join the company and then very quickly I realize that it’s not at all what I expected and wanted. It just didn’t work. It was far from the way I thought this job will be. I was looking for some freedom and when I started working in this company, right away I told to myself that “it’s not for me, I must quickly find my freedom”.

I had the project inn my head for a very long time. I wanted to start workshops of fast design, so design sprint. I had already stumbled upon the concept, but at that time it was simply a name “design sprint”. And then it’s at this moment when I discovered, in fact, the blog of Jake Knapp of Google ventures and then I cantacted Jake.

So five years ago I was doing a school called SAWI, which is marketing and communication school in Switzerland in Lausanne. They have courses – federal diplomas – which give professional Master degree in Switzerland. In this school at this time I was doing a Master of Web Project Manager.

It is just the best diploma you can have in Switzerland if you’re really interested in Digital. It was called “Web project manager”. and now “Digital project manager” and as part of this diploma they wanted a final w: it was necessary to make a “Master thesis”, a big, solid document on a web project, a digital project etc…

I told them I had the idea to start my own business, and asked them if I could use this idea ffor this Master thesis.

-It resulted in this- finally they agreed, so I’ve been able to fully commit to this work. It took me several months to finish this document. We’ll go through it together. The goal of my thesis was to set up my business.

It’s funny, it was 5 years ago and I had already defined the typeface, which is Proxima Nova, the color codes they are all there. It’s funny I had a kind of funny logo in don’t remember anymore they were the pillars of Lean design. I had a kind of theory about that… and the logo obviously changed since then.

So I wrote this thesis between mid-summer 2015 and I had it by the end of 2015. It’s written 2016 because the oral exams were in 2016. The photos you see are some pictures of my first Design Sprint. Because I needed to run a Design Sprint to have some photos to illustrate my concept and I had to quickly conduct my first Design Sprint. I created the company on January 1, 2016

Here are some pictures of my first Design Sprint. You can recognize the color codes etc. It is an academic so he you see all these boring tables of contents, but which explains everything I want to say one thing already before starting and going further is that this paper has helped me enormously.

Clearly it’s a big one, it took me a lot of time and energy to write this. I don’t know, it’s like sixty pages … 80 pages, wow! That’s a lot but this actually really helped me enormously to have the structure to launch the company.

I had to do it, it was a diploma work and at the same time all the work I’ve put in it, it’s not lost. So here we’re talking about context, we’re talking about the base of the idea, the process of the Design Sprint, the pricing policy at the time, business model canvas and VP canvas.

We’ll see after why this is really interesting. Here is a comparison with the competition a little bit benchmark, project team etc. The marketing strategy, the website because this was a web project so I needed to talk about the website.

Here is a part which was a bit of a pain for me at the time- I needed to make a financial analysis. I really sucked at this part, in calculating and projecting. But this is a part that helped me a lot.

So executive summary: when you do this kind of thesis it is interesting to summarize in fact everything in two pages. Here I explained basically what the concept was, the structure. I sell my vision and my mission: “lead the way and become a must in the field of digital prototyping and become a leader in Design Sprints in French-speaking Switzerland.” Funny…

You can see the ambitions: BOOM french speaking part of Switzerland! It was five years ago, I couldn’t even imagine at that time that we could one day work with people all over the world. I was quite modest.

Mission “to help startups and large companies in Switzerland to bring together their ideas and create the digital prototype of their future website or application in a few days” that’s really funny because at the time Design Sprint was really focused on digital. It was really a workshop purely for digital products, even when we read Jake’s book.

It has been changed a lot since then. Now we have run Design Sprints for so many fields and more and more of them are about strategy. It’s funny to see how it has evolved, the photos here were taken even before Jake’s book was released.

Here are some tricks, a little weird to see this- why did I do this exercise.

In short, the context… so here comes the generation Y, Swisslicon Valley – my goodness – this is to explain the interest of Silicon Valley in Switzerland, I’m launching in 2016 so there you go and then I had judged that it was the right time and it’s true it was a good time, maybe I was a little bit in advance to start running Design Sprints in Switzerland.

Here we see the pictures at the beginning. I already had my business cards. I was at least a little bit professional. Defining the needs of the companies, with a fairly comprehensive study I had numbers, numbers, numbers, numbers, numbers, numbers, numbers. It was quite advanced calculations, it took me several months.

Anyway, here we see a tool that I really recommend I had done a search on “UX Design” in Google Trend, it’s a tool I still use. You could see that there was a global trend of UX Design at this time in Switzerland for several years. That it was rising steadily, so it seemed to be a fairly safe trend. Here is an analysis of the costs of development of an application etc. there were several studies and then I came across this figure of $150’000 USD which was the average cost of launch of an app in version 1, at the time.

Therefore, it was five years, maybe the costs have decreased a little bit now but to create an application remains anyway extremely expensive. So there was and still is an interest to run a Design Sprint or this type of workshop at launching an App was interesting.

Here I was showing how my potential customers could lose their money and time and here is a proposition of the service. This was actually a very interesting study about when adn what time and money was lost during large and small projects. We could see very clearly that big projects were problematic in the digital industry. Hence the importance of runnning Design Sprints for large projects- so it’s always interesting when you throw something from the backer with numbers.
That’s really key, I’d say.

So we come to this page which is quite important “what do my future customers want?”. In fact two years ago it was still relevant. It is still the same now in 2020… 1) ensure the survival and profitability of their business it’s funny because in 2020 with COVID, God knows there are a little challenge, we’re still there 2) stand out from the competition and gain new market share then yes at the time there was a lot of competition on the same products now with COVID things are moving quickly so maybe there is less competition on the same products but on the other hand there is always a speed problem 3) ensure the success of their future products – obviously 4) maximize their return on investment, ok 5) find quick solutions to complex issues, not changed. I already had it five years ago and 2020, same thing.

Quote of Ash Maurya: “life is too short to build something nobody wants.” The idea therefore to explain what design sprint is.

These were already concepts in the air of course- design thinking, lean start up, agile… The design sprint being something new. It’s a graph that I have often brought out in my slides later, for my Masterclasses, customers like to see this because it allows them explain what it is.

This was all about how to integrate design sprint in project. Waterfall or with agile methods. I did a search anyway on how we can integrate design sprint into the workflow, in the process of creating a product. It’s funny i forgot i put it here, i saw that AJ&Smart, another design sprint agency in berlin they published the same quote the other day: “the only way to start is to stop talking about start doing” it is from Walt Disney.

That’s the interest of the design sprint. It’s really about being able start something, quickly and to execute quickly. There, the promise “your digital prototype in five days” yes it’s always a bit like that but… Ahh here is the triangle “imagine -> prototype -> and learn” – Wow the concept! Bravo Steph…

This I had in the document and then yeah so that’s a trick that I’ve come across again. You see the trick? “What problem does the design sprint solve” that’s what it’s all about. Something what is very important: eft column-problems, bullet points and the right column what it solves.

It’s really quite a format to sell an idea to the client. You see, I had been working! There was work to do! ” it is estimated that a modification costs 100 times cheaper when it’s made before starting to code” – thoroughly, one could replace “to code” by “to build” .

We can see that at the beginning the costs are not very high you start small but the costs go up very quickly as soon as you start to build and code. In fact this image makes me realize that I don’t use it at all anymore. The pricing policy… that was five years ago… so that was before I started in this business, in this profession.

I was the first, so I wanted propose start up design sprints that last three days- bad idea. Don’t do 3-day design sprints! I priced it 5 years ago at 6000 Swiss francs, well I was all alone… 2000 CHF per day and sprints five-day company to 10’000 CHF also 2k the day. So we’re a little bit more expensive but also we are now a team.

Now, when we run a Design Sprint, we come two persons. One facilitator and one co-facilitator – prototyper. Now we are stronger. At the time I was facilitating alone so I was clearly a good deal – well, we’re still a really good deal. It’s kind of fun to see the difference between the price of launching the idea when you are freelancer, and then to adjust the pricing to real life cost and value. Of course, we also work now in a slightly different context.

Our price for a Design Sprint is around 20 and 25 thousand Swiss francs. I am talking about the sprints that includes everything: preparation, facilitation + co-facilitation, recruitment for user tests and so on… Back then, at that time I was quite naive, I thought a sprint was going to last just five days and that’s it.

But there is a lot of preparation done in advance and also after the design sprint.

What’s funny to see here is that I had in fact three offers the mini design sprint of three days – really bad idea – I do not advise you to do so. (You can’t deliver same quality results in 3 days), the five-day Google Venture Design Sprint, ok it’s always what we do now, and then the Custom design sprint of X days.

So in fact the Design Sprint X, I say that to my friend Paul, who thinks he has imagined this concept: design sprint X – I already had it before you!

The geographical perimeter- so at that time I was only aiming french-speaking switzerland. My clients, back then, all spoke French. Now more and more we work with english speaking customers.

I talk a lot about start-ups, but I was already considering the big companies as my future clients. We see it here. I also considered working with the government, public institutions… Swiss government- we are still waiting for you…

We run more design sprints with large companies and start-ups than with institutions, but we’ll get there!

What you are looking at is an 80-page document and we’re right in the middle of it. My Goal in fact was, that by opening the file in the center you’ll find a bright pink page that I had at that time imagined to grab the attention. This is still relevant. This page was and is the heart of the document and my business- it’s business model and the value proposition canvas.

Personally, I believed this helped me a lot. Now I advise to every start up or an entrepreneur to do a business model canvas and then a value proposition canvas. This can really be useful for your business concept.

Where it really helped me a lot is on the part … (search) partners… Here are the key partners. Actually, I think it was really interesting: when you imagine a business you shouldn’t launch alone. You must have people around you.

At this time I was really very very modest, I was a freelancer, but I had already put the developers with whom I was working with at the time. Who I am still working. Hello MDM they have changed their name to Troisdeuxun now. I put a lawyer- a friend too, to help me on legal stuff. For finances, I’ve noted down my teacher who also helped me a lot on this part. Then we also had a translator friend etc .

And then Arnaud had made photos of the Design sprint so actually I had already some people who helped me to start- it was very modest – now it would be rather entities, companies around us, but in fact it is still very relevant and very very important.

Do not launch your business – and I look at you in the eyes when I say this- don’t throw yourself there, your business without surrounding yourself with partners or friends or allies…

We’re not going anywhere alone and that’s really the core of launching your business.

Something important- income flows: how do you earns money and this is the key. There are some people who say “ah no, but this is not going to make any money for four years” – bad idea. You need to know how you will simply live.

And then the resources: what are your resources, so I had put myself as key resource, it’s true. I put what I knew how to do. So at that time I note down that I’m going to do the UX design, prototyping, front-end, therefore html css, digital strategy of graphic design. I was lucky enough to be able to have several very useful skills to start my business. I had listed my skills.

It’s very clear that if you lack some skills for your project, you will have to get the right people for it and you will have to integrate them.

So it is really the value proposition which actually makes your product worthy of buying. And it’s what will interest your customers. So you list here the user and the benefits, the hopes to achieve as well as the problems. Then on the other side, you are going to explain the solutions, so how does your product integrate solutions.

We see here that they hope to limit the risk -> they do a prototype they hope to validate choices -> user tests are made for validation… It’s a very simple way to explain how your product will help the client.

These are two pages comparing the competition (benchmark). It is important to identify the competitors, who were in fact very local at that time. I imagined myself launching only on the UX design market in French-speaking Switzerland, so it is very very niche. Some of them are going to recognize themselves by the way. It’s funny, now my competitors are really not the same at all, because we work internationally. So ffor real our competitors are other agencies, who are based worldwide…

Some of the competitors I mentioned in this document are more like friends in fact. But here it is: these competitors in the Swiss scene have almost all become – or were already – partners or friends. It’s kind of funny to see that.

Here I even did a “ranking” rather a mapping of competitors on two axes “are they working on short or long duration”. So here are freelancers or very small agencies compared to very large agencies, then the other it is “are they more using waterfall in their approach, or agile”. This was important to me.

I placed myself in the agile and it was one of my added values with the design sprint. There weren’t that many people who were really agile at that time in Switzerland.

The SWOT analysis: hyper classic -> strengths, weaknesses, threats… Threats, I wrote: “other design agencies, resistance to change”, – it’s always the problem – and “the time”… time? – … I don’t know what I meant back then…

Here are legal aspects etc – Get help from a lawyer if you have a lawyer friend, it can be really usefful. This really helped me a lot. When you launch a business you will need help for everything what is linked with the paperwork, the creation of contracts etc. You need a strong base to start. These things are really really expensive so it’s interesting to look for a win-win deal. My deal was- I had created a website for my friend and in exchange he created the contracts for me. It saved me, frankly talking, a lot of money.

When you start your business you get a lot of surprises, especially when you reallize how extremely expensive it is to create your company, there is a lot of paperwork, a lot, fees of notary or lawyer, accountant…

This is a picture of one of my first Design Sprint. I needed to put a photo for my Risk analysis: that’s what it’s all about. It’s funny because now we use this in our evaluation grid at the end of the design sprint (scorecard). You see the risks low with a green or red light for more serious risks.

Five years ago it was a lack of financial issues after the first year, well yeah… I had planned to launch my business only with my personal savings. I could go about a year without having a job at that time, but then it’s expensive to live in switzerland. I had planned to empty my savings and therefore the risk was that if I couldn’t find any warrants or work after a year I was in danger of burning all my personal saving.

Luckily it went better than that. I have found clients not right away, it took a little bit of time, but I got my first customers fairly quickly. At the beginning I think at the end of the first five six months I have started to be able to pay myself a salary. This was 5 years agowhen I started.

Now with COVID, if you start now it’s a very particular context and very difficult. So probably having enough of resources for one year could be really useful.

What else do I have: yeah the Health issues: I put it as a risk. I think it’s important. I’m still in good health and I touch the wood, but we never know what can happen. When you are the sole contractor it can really be problematic. Because you don’t get paid when you don’t work, so that can be a problem. Loneliness at work, lack of interest from the public, bad business…

These were things that were important but less important than my own personal health or risk running out money.

Key factors of success, so time-to-market I was the first in the game. I knew that. I started even before the book of Jake Knapp- Sprint come out… So on this I really had a big advantage, so I called it a blue ocean.

Now there are other people who run design sprints, but I was the first, at least in Switzerland.

Marketing: the color codes are still the same. This pink and this blue and then this is very interesting: since I had actually not run too many workshops myself, I didn’t have too many things to show. So I tried to use metaphors, an analogy to design sprint. I thought it was interesting, and in fact the analog I found was in the archives of beginning of aviation. Launch something that seems impossible or very difficult.

I was looking for how I could illustrate it. and I found this whole bank of image is the National Bookstore of the U.S. Congress where images are free of rights, that can be used free of charge and which are magnificent. And the Wright brothers were the first inventors the first planes. I found that it was super cool to go digging into it.

I kept this identity, these images for few years. After, we had enough of real photos from real Design Sprints to illustrate our services, but in anyway it was good enough for the launch.

I had prepared my website at the time www.design-sprint.com it is still the same site, I wanted to impress the experts. I wanted to be cool and I put some QR codes so this is a special dedication to my friend Orlane who never believed in the power of the QR codes.

Well, we are five years later. And now you can see them everywhere… I was right! The QR codes were useful, but, well, for this one if I remmember well, no one had scanned to access the website…

In short, all that I want to specify I had done all this before the launch of the design sprint ltd. People say five years after “Oh, yeah, you got lucky.” Yes, I may have been lucky to be at the right time with the right idea, but this is not enough to launch the company.

I don’t say that you need to write an 80 page document, i don’t say that everyone should do it before starting their business. I needed to do it to graduate- but this was a huge help for me.

So I really advise you to do your homework, to do it before you launch anything. To keep you from crashing. I had also made a persona and a user journey map (experience map) on how I was going to sell design sprint. It is UX techniques finally that I had used at this time and I still use this sometimes. It’s super useful .i

The sales part- one really funny thing you see – I have my persona from five years ago. Back then I noted down as my persona hobby: running! So that’s something I’ve noticed among the people/ my customers who are in the Innovation field or who love design sprint is that there are a lot of them who are great sportsmen: triathletes runners etc.

I’m not very athletic, but in fact many of my customers that I have in front of me when we discuss the design sprints love running. So I don’t know why: do they get better by running? Maybe these ones were looking something about marathon or sprint on Google an by accident found my services. I don’t know, but there’s something about this.

Here you see the navigation of the website, the pages… yeah it was made five years ago, and my website so so much better and we have reworked it a lot, but the fundamentals were already there. And we can still see it the technology of the site… But who cares? It was made in Wordpress, if you ever want to hack me, know that it is made in Wordpress here

It’s important for me to launch the company on January 1st with the website ready in January so I had actually done a whole retroplanning. I wanted to launch on January 1st. It was a weekend so I had a little delay on the site. So I officially launched the 6 or 7 January, but here we are… and to finish the the “finance” part – I think that’s the heart of the thing.

Ha!! I used a tool: the Google Ad Keyword planner I completely forgot about this thing, you can add keywords and then we see in fact the level of research during the year, wow cool is that.

So that was made for the Swiss or the french-speaking switzerland. You could see the search rate for “web design”, “web designer” and “UX”. With the search curve of the year, so I could plan my future income: this curve is the one that it shows the income in the year so the peak moments and the low moments…

Here is the summer vacations… funny is probably fair enough It’s been 5 years. I completely forgot about it.

It can be a very good strategy to use a tool of this type. To understannd and evaluate the market. Here is the big numbers part, financial, all these figures are well sure false because they are invented: I can show them to you now, and I don’t care about that.

This was the turnover of the first year, that’s it … sorry: it was the charges, all my costs, and that was the the expected turnover of the first, 2nd and 3rd year in CHF (Swiss Francs). It’s fun to see this financial part. It is very very difficult to do this, it took me so much off time and energy and two or three white hairs (that you see here).

But it’s still it’s extremely useful, when you launch to imagine sales and therefore revenues you are going to do year 1 2 and 3. It is important to have some visibility so I think all accountants and specialists died laughing while seeing my thing, but I still feel like it was pretty serious.

The revenue part- you never really know how much you can expect to make and when. What I can tell you looking at these numbers now is that I have earned more. I don’t know if I was rather optimistic or pessimistic at that time as freelancer.

In short this document gave me energy to launch my company 5 years ago. I realize that I was quite naive. but here I am still there at the end of five years, we’re still here because now we are a bigger team, we’re in the middle of COVID, but we’re on the way of getting out of it. They say normally the start-ups who don’t die at the end of first 4 years, well, we’re 5 years old! And it’s going pretty well for us. And to finish I had this image of one of the first aviators who greeted a general I don’t know why. The aunch of the company was the January 1! So Design Sprint Ltd is five years old and I am super happy for making this video and for introducing you to my diploma work Tchaw tchaw