Venture Up is Creative HQ’s Youth Accelerator giving young entrepreneurs a taste of what it means to start their own business, by teaching them the ropes of startup methodology. With the fifth edition of Venture Up in Wellington behind us, and the kick off of the first ever Venture Up in Queenstown, we asked Venture Up 2019 Programme Director, Aaron, to share some of the learnings he collected along the way.


It’s human nature to jump to conclusions and focus on the solution before really understanding the true nature of a problem. We are hardwired to rapidly solve (or simply ignore) problems we experience every day from jump-starting a temperamental car to fine-tuning the settings of an obtuse projector.

For millions of years our solution-bias has helped us survive and evolve, but within the modern business world this habit can waste resources, break teams and stifle innovation. One recurring mistake many entrepreneurs make is investing in a solution that is a nice-to-have-mess that customers yawn at.

Within Venture Up, the very first challenge all teams face is overcoming solution-bias. We often find ourselves in front of teams who are excited by a solution but forget to consider deeper customer needs or problems. Eradicating this bad habit can be tricky, but essential to your venture success. Solutions can change, develop or be abandoned entirely but a problem will stay and linger. Any entrepreneur is a scientist before they ever become an innovator.

Discovering a problem begins by creating a hypothesis, identifying assumptions or missing pieces of knowledge, and then working with customers to generate new insights. Over continuous iterations of the problem discovery process, you can begin to uncover and label the root causes of pain points that drive customers mad. This anchor provides a rich environment for creativity that is informed by sound customer rationale, constraints, desires and experiences.

During Venture Up’s final showcase, many of the 120+ members of the audience including families, contributors and sponsors of the programme, blushed at the validation and attention given to customer needs and problems. Regardless of the development of the solutions, teams who displayed mastery over problems, from reducing plastic milk bottle waste to helping new mothers return to work, stood out.

It all goes to show that customer experiences and data overshadows business visions and intentions. The teams learnt to focus on the problem, not the solution, and above all else, trust the process.


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