innovate Welcome

Innovate is the world's leading online startup program used by thousands of creatives, entrepreneurs and innovation experts worldwide. Its 7 stages and 49 steps guide you all the way from generating a great idea to building a market leading product or company. Innovate is freely available online and regularly updated by blur Group.

Market Entry
Market Development

CREATE-IVITY is the process of generating @ha Ideas and Innovate's first stage.

An @ha Idea is an idea that you think could change the world a little or a lot and that may even make you some or a load of money on the way. Creativity in its various forms has become the No. 1 engine of economic growth. The creative class, in the words of University of Toronto professor Richard Florida, now comprises 38 million members, or more than 30% of the American workforce. McKinsey & Co. authors Lowell Bryan and Claudia Joyce put the figure only slightly below, at 25%. They cite creative professionals in financial services, health care, high tech, pharmaceuticals, and media and entertainment who act as agents of change, producers of intangible assets, and creators of new value for their companies.

Creativity is the seed of innovation. It's inception. But how do you DO 'creativity'?

This is what Innovate's CREATE-IVITY Stage is about.


CREATE-IVITY is the combination of:

- Environs

- Exercise


Perfectly combined to generate @ha ideas.

Tip: CREATE-IVITY can be done as a lone pursuit but is better achieved with a group of people. Each with different perspectives and experiences. Try it.

Lewis Carroll
"The more relaxed and uncluttered your mind is the more creative you will be"

An @ha Idea is an idea that you think could change the world.

A little or a lot and that may even make you some or a load of money on the way. Once the entrepreneur or innovator has developed their @ha idea they need to know what to do with it. Rushing straight from idea to venture is way too hit and miss. Equally, the world over, far too many people sit on an idea for so long that they never end up profiting from it.

Innov@te uses a simple, yet highly effective, 10 phase system for taking the @ha idea through to concept (or prototype) efficiently and cost effectively. Each step should be followed in order - it is the correct sequence and the right planning that makes taking idea to venture work. And innovation is much more than ideas. Innovation is about what you do with an idea - how you make it work!

@ha Idea Stage:
1. Generate the @ha Idea (CREATE-IVITY)

2. Evaluate likely demand for the @ha Idea and turn into concrete market need

3. Hone @ha Idea & need down again & again & again

4. Analyze and size the market opportunity

5. Describe existing and potential competitive landscape

6. Justify and design barriers to entry

7. Model and value most likely economic return from taking honed @ha Idea to market

8. Extrapolate exit strategies and value

9. Re-justify taking @ha Idea to market given steps 2-8. Benchmark versus other relevant best of breed start-up's/innovations

10. If 9 yields a green light evaluate whether founders/inventors DNA, desires, skills, resources and experiences are best suited to take the @ha Idea to market. If positive - move to concept (prototype stage).

"Outside perspectives are critical while honing your @ha Idea and need" starbucks

Once the @ha idea has been developed it needs to be taken to concept (or prototype).

The key to Innovate's Concept Stage is ending up with a true proof of concept or working prototype. Innovate's Concept (prototype) Stage follows 11 structured phases to usher the idea through to proof of concept and ready for market entry. And a successful launch - time after time.

Concept (prototype) Stage:
11. Design a (design-driven) prototype offering

12. Write a 'short business plan'

13. Try to finance the business or project to prototype yourself
Check this article on bootstrapping before going any further

14. Create company name and brand (back of napkin)

15. Create legal entity (simple, cheap and relevant for prototype stage)

16. Develop most efficient prototype marketing plan and business milestones/criteria for '1st strike' prototypes.

17. Hire minimal, most appropriate team to develop '1st strike' prototype - insource or outsource

18. Package, position and protect the prototype offering in the context of the 'marketplace'

19. Launch and validate the prototype offering against the market - attempt to pre-sell/create revenues to finance to Version 1 and market entry stage if at all possible

20. Re-evaluate the prototype post launch & consider if a '2nd strike' prototype is necessary. If so, take prototype 2 through steps 11-20

21. Re-evaluate company name, brand, plan and exit strategy prior to moving to Version 1 and market entry stage

innovate templates

Business plan
Strategy Paper

"You are only given enough budget to build one missile - so it had better hit the target" Angry Birds

The key to Innovate's Market Entry Stage is as it says - how to enter the right first market in the right way! Dress rehearsals are over.

Entering your first, early adopter market requires lazer-like accuracy and perfect planning. A successful first-strike is the objective because second or third strikes are both expensive and time wasting.

Viral techniques driving and shaping 'influencer' support is critical to early market entry and development. The specific take-up of your initial offering by early adopters is the essential measure utilized through Innovate's Market Entry Stage.

Market Entry Stage - Version 1:

22. Design Version 1 of the offering given all data and knowledge gathered through the concept (prototype) phase

23. Write 2nd edition of the 'short business plan'. Consider whether or not it is necessary to raise capital to develop.

24. Develop 1st edition of the most effective and efficient marketing plan and cost out/justify fully ('Maximize Free and Viral').

25. Hire team required to develop the offering to Version 1 (only)

26. Document project plan and processes to take the offering to Version 1. DO NOT over engineer Version 1.

27. Include core, early adopter customer(s) profoundly & continuously in development of offering to Version 1. Gather data.

28. Carefully plan 'SCREAM-OUT-LOUD' launch of Version 1 to maximize early adopter awareness and take up

29. Develop Version 1 of offering utilizing 'get-it-right-1st-strike' iteration & feedback loops

30. Re-package, position & protect Version 1 of the offering in.

31. Launch Version 1 of the offering

32. Sell/drive revenues off Version 1 offering to as many customers as can be intimately handled. Use custom/flexible pricing to maximize early adopter market penetration of Version 1

33. Gather maximum feedback from early adopter customers of Version 1 offering. Re-evaluate your exit strategy in advance of moving to Version 2 phase

boeing 747 innovate templates

Marketing Plan
PR Plan
Project Plan

"one last thorough review before launch could be literally worth millions of dollars down the road" Sony

Innovate's Market Development Stage runs through 11 phases that take a venture from market entry through to development.

Step by step, the market development stage ensures that ventures maximize the opportunity in front of them. Optimally - both from a customer and cost perspective. By now your innovation is reality - so make sure to maximize such a unique opportunity.

The specific usage of your initial offering by early adopters and the value they attribute to it is the essential measure utilized through Innovate's Market Development Stage.

Market Development Stage (Version 2):

34. Design (design-driven) Version 2 of the offering for mass market penetration and profitability

35. Write 3rd edition of the (full) business plan with a private placement memorandum as an off-shoot. Develop advanced financial model, business simulations, operational model, core business processes (particularly v customer) and product roadmap

36. Develop human capital plan with values, org chart, hiring strategy, roles and responsibility system, remuneration structure, communication and management processes and culture of 'innovation embedded'

37. Develop 2nd edition of effective and efficient marketing plan

38. Raise capital to take the company to Version 2 offering and beyond

39. Hire the full team required to take offering to Version 2

40. Include early adopter, core customers of Version 1 profoundly and continuously in the development of V2 of offering

41. Carefully plan 'OUTRAGEOUS' launch of Version 2 to maximize market awareness, entry and instant take up

42. Launch Version 2 of offering

43. Sell/drive revenues off Version 2 from/to as many customers as possible and to as many as you can possibly handle and more. Price to maximize market penetration

44. Gather as much feedback and data as is physically possible from customers re Version 2 - re-evaluate the exit strategy before moving to Version 3 phase and a first exit

"Gather as much feedback and data as is physically possible from customers" Google
Submit a
Marketing Brief

Innovate's Market Dominance Stage takes you through the final phases of the product or venture life-cycle ensuring that no value is left on the table - all the way to exit.

By dominating your niche market - making sure that you are one of the top 3 companies by market share or net profits.

By now you are developing and managing a complex project or venture. It needs to be done in the right way, architected and people/project managed for balanced and optimal execution. A slick, focused speed boat and never a dinghy or a tanker powering through market dominance, margin maximization and profit optimization. Straight lining to a first exit.

Market Dominance Stage (Version 3):

45. Design a (Design-Driven) Version 3 of the offering to maximize market dominance, profitability and exiting the original investors

46. Write 4th edition of (full) business plan to optimize companies market leadership, profitability plan, organizational excellence and exit of original investors

47. Go like mad to ensure market leadership and to optimize original investor and employee exit via trade sale, stock buy backs or IPO

48. You've ended up

49. Pat yourself on the back, thank EVERYONE that helped you get here and loop all the way back to go through Innovate's 49 phases again, phase by phase, if you want to launch a second major product set. You should do it better and faster the second time around!

"You're heading to the Exit: make sure you're heading to the Bank" Google Submit a
Design Brief

Triggers. Deciding to sell shouldn't be a shock to your system: your exit strategy should have identified the criteria that will trigger a sale so always be looking out for them. Make a list of your triggers: have any of them happened? Revisit them now and act.


Timing. Trends within your particular sector and industry may lead you to seeking out a buyer even if it's earlier than your initial plan; similarly even if all your ducks are lined up it may just not be the right moment. Right place and right time really matters. Stay practical: don't miss an opportunity because it wasn't the date planned. Targets. How close are you to your original evaluation target? Would you consider taking over another business en route to a sale? Or as an alternative? Is your target to buy out your partners? What are the steps to the ultimate goal?


Tax. We know it's one of the two certainties, so remember to factor in these costs when planning your exit.


Tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day, but what are you going to do with it? Before sealing the sale/transition of one business consider what you'll be doing next. Do the terms of the sale preclude you setting up similar entities; is your time and money still closely tied into the original business? When forward planning for the business sale, it's also vital to forward plan for the 'afterlife', so that the elements of the sale work out best for your next venture. You may already be ready to start at Creativity again. You've done it