VCs Fund Startups with No Ideas – A Perverse take on the Design Thinking Process
I’m not sure if I should jump for joy, laugh or cry? Perhaps I should just sit dumbfounded.
Forbes recently reported a new trend in Silicon Valley; Venture Capitalists are now funding Start-Ups with no idea what they are going to do. Sounds like the dot-com bust all over again.
The exception is now the rule, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reports that “pivot” is the buzzword on the lips of every Silicon Valley founder and venture capitalist these days. Having some kind of notion what line of business your fledgling company might want to pursue used to be a prerequisite to raising capital. Now, it’s a mark of hubris. You don’t tell the market what it needs; you gently offer it a series of options, which are less viable concepts than ritual sacrifices aimed at cultivating the favor of the start-up gods. It’s called “iterating.”
This iterative process and delivering to what customers want is one of the core tenets of Design Thinking. Therefore I am a little please to hear that VCs are endorsing this process. However, it is dangerous to only focus on this part of the process, as this is a validating activity that results in incremental innovation. Unless this is what you (or the VCs?) want. Probably that’s why everyone is complaining that startups are stagnating, and software innovation has not been meaningful in awhile.
There is so much more Design Thinking can do for Startups. Understanding your customers so that you can deliver design driven innovation through meaningful solutions is one of them.
Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)
Brian is a multidisciplinary Design Leader with more than 18 years of experience leading strategic design programs that drives successful Brands and Fortune 500 businesses such as GE, Philips, Nakamichi, Flextronics, Ericsson, Hannspree, and HP. His passion is in helping organisations leverage on Design Driven Innovation to make people’s lives better.