Start-up methods

Startup methods vary. The methods provide structure for entrepreneurial people to create an enterprise or business. They are for use in conditions of high uncertainty and limited resources. Some examples are the lean startup, lean canvas, business model canvas, lean analytics. Startup methods share common attributes.


  1. Define challenge

    Define challenges from your customer’s perspective.

  2. Explore and prototype

    Use a structured design process and prototype solutions.

  3. Test and refine

    Refine prototypes with experiments to ensure your solution meets customers challenges.

Why startup methods work for city-making

1. Rapidly Changing context

City-making is uncertain because cities involve many agents working to their own logic. The context also constantly changes. The national and global networks of cities are a dynamic system. Overlaid on the system is the era of digital transformation. Now, trends are evolving more quickly, and it’s hard to keep up. Start-up methods help you stay agile.

2. Limited Resources

Cities’ resources are always limited and there are always competing priorities for funding. Running lean projects helps you to do more with less. A portfolio of innovation projects means successful projects continue, while failed projects stop. This saves resources. Startup methods also focus on gaining insights from your customers and citizens. Customer insights are important for incremental innovation (customer-pull), and to inform radical change.


Startup methods engage decision-makers and stakeholders to:

  1. Define opportunities and challenges.

  2. Provide feedback throughout a project.

  3. Build confidence through the Minimum Viable Product concept.

Value Proposition Design orients your project towards customers’ jobs, pains, and gains. This customer-centred approach makes your services more valuable. In the context of cities there are many customers, beneficiaries, stakeholders, and partners. The tool to deliver value to them is the Business Model Canvas. It provides city-makers with structure and a shared language.


Assumptions are a major source of risk in projects. Yet, not all assumptions need testing. Experiments reduce risk by focussing on a project's most important and uncertain assumptions. In the long term this reduces costs of redesign and rework of solutions.


Prototypes allow you to get feedback in the real-world with citizens or customers. Refining the prototype over time allows a winning strategy to emerge. You also avoid wasting resources on building things which customers don't need.

MAke an impact in three steps

Overcome challenges that limit your progress on your big goals. Use a simple three step process to make an impact in your city. The steps:

  1. Engage.

  2. Accelerate.

  3. Adapt.

Contact us for an initial consultation about your goals.