Ideation and Conceptualisation – Guide To Starting Out

Welcome to step 0, where you first go through ideation. Then you conceptualise your ideas, and finally pen and plan your approach to building a successful start-up

Many great ideas begin with an inspiration, which stem from observation and eventually lead to conceptualisation. Several quotes and books out there often tell you to just start, act on your idea, and not just keep it in your mind. However, how many of us actually know how or where to start? Well, you’re in luck, because we are determined to help you in your journey to become recognised as part of the EDGE 35 under 35.

To be an entrepreneur, you first need to have the mindset and motivation of one. So, if you’re reading this, it means you’re almost there. We love to talk more about it but this article is mainly about ideas and conceptualising them. But we plan to have a separate article talking about the mindset that a start-up founder should have. Stay tuned for it (psst… It will be an interview with an interesting founder)!

So, what is ideation and conceptualization? According to the dictionary, ideation is the formation of ideas and concepts, while conceptualization is the action of forming the concept or idea of something. Sounds similar? Yes, it is! However, we define it differently here. Ideation is the forming of ideas or brainstorming. Conceptualizing is planning how the idea can be turned into a business.

Ideation (brainstorming)

We all know about brainstorming, sitting together in a room and throwing out ideas. But, do you know that there is a structure to a brainstorming session? 

You can read an article on ideation here 

But to sum it up, the rules of brainstorming are:

Preparation

Always go to a brainstorming session prepared (by that we don’t mean already having solutions on hand). That is, read up and understand the topic, walk around, gain some inspiration and jot down some thoughts that pop into your head. This will help people to focus on the session and the time will be used more efficiently.

Be concise – Use post-it notes

Using post-it notes forces you to keep your ideas to a few words. The fewer the words, the better. Why? By not over explaining it, others can interpret your idea differently. That brings up new perspectives and angles that you have not thought of before, thus generating more ideas.  

Aim for quantity

Now is not the time to stress on the quality of the idea. The key is to generate as many ideas as possible to build up a vault of ideas. Let the ideas flow.

Keep to the time limit

As much as we all want to have more time to generate more ideas, keeping to the time is important. If there is no time limit, there won’t be an end to things and it will be hard to move on to the next task. Furthermore, having a time limit forces people to think harder and faster, resulting in more ideas.

Have wild ideas

No idea is too crazy, no suggestions too weird. Be sure to let the creative juices flow and accept all wacky ideas. Who knows, one weird and wacky idea may cause someone to have an even better idea. Which leads me to…

Build on each other’s ideas

Always be open to listen to others and try to build on that. Sometimes many cooks may result in a heaven-defying broth rather than spoil it. By refining and polishing the idea, it becomes the central one that everyone will agree on!

Defer all judgements

It’s hard to keep to yourself when you see someone wearing an ugly sweater. But, to not block the flow of ideas, all judgements (including body language) should be deferred. This may be hard but it is crucial if you want to have an effective brainstorming session.

One conversation at a time

Having one conversation at all times will allow the team to stay on track and not veer off course during discussions. This will prevent the muddling of ideas as well.

Focus

Stay on track, focus on the topic at hand. The facilitator needs to be mindful of the objective and keep everyone on topic. It is easy to veer off topic during brainstorming sessions but that would lead to muddled ideas and may even lead to unimportant discussions.

Conceptualising

There are multitude of ways to conceptualise your idea and in the article here, the author talks about the five dimensions.

For us, we will just be talking about one model. That is, the business model canvas.

Business model canvas for ideation and conceptualisation
The Business Canvas

A business model canvas is a way for businesses owners to figure out who the customers are, what value the business brings, and the way the business makes money. There are nine sections to the canvas. They are:

  1. Value proposition
  2. Customer Segments
  3. Customer Relationships
  4. Channels
  5. Revenue Streams
  6. Key Activities
  7. Key Resources
  8. Cost Structure
  9. Key Partners

Using the business canvas will force you to think about your business in a concise manner. It will also get you thinking about the essential aspects of the business. Having the canvas also allows you to think about your customers and how your business can effectively address their needs.

This brings us to the next point, market fit and research. This is an article all on its own and we will be talking about it in the next step, validation. To give you an overview, your intended product/solution should fit into the market. In other words, you have to figure out if there is a need for your product and if there is already a similar solution on the market. 

To sum it up, ideation and conceptualisation is only the very beginning of your entrepreneurship journey. However, it is one of the most important steps as it sets your direction and it can make or break your journey. 

The Lighthouse Series shed light on the journey of an entrepreneur and how aspiring founders can navigate better in the unpredictable environment. In this series, there will be articles on how an individual can take an idea and grow it to become a company. There will be interviews, suggestions on programmes, and even insights to what investors look for in a business.

If you like what you’ve read, consider sharing this article with your friends. Check out the main article for the lighthouse series here. Expect constant updates as more articles and resources get published, so keep a lookout for it.

If you are feeling intimidated, don’t be! The team at EDGE strives to help founders and aspiring entrepreneurs understand the life of a start-up. We help grow and foster a more cohesive and collaborative youth entrepreneurship scene in Singapore. Check out our blog for other exciting content and sign up for our newsletter today!

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Daryl Seah

Big guy with big dreams Hoping to help aspiring entrepreneurs kickstart their journey in the exciting world of start-ups. Not willing to be just a content manager, I hope to develop my skills as a marketer to make waves in the ocean of consumerism.

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