This is an incredibly important question that marks the starting point of the entrepreneurial journey. Early-stage ventures are inherently high risk with a great deal of ambiguity & uncertainty. How do we create a structured method to test, validate & iterate nascent business ideas in an economically effective manner? How do we ensure we only spend our most precious resource – time – on those ideas that live at the center of feasibility, desirability and viability? How do we get from 0 to 1 without years of wandering?

At Stellenbosch University LaunchLab our answer to all of these hard questions is an 8-week Design Thinking Program called Countdown. The program is built for anyone – University student, researcher, serial entrepreneur, first-timer – that wishes to test a business idea. Design Thinking & Customer Discovery are the venture building methodology we use to empower the entrepreneur to test their idea through interactions with potential users. A heavy emphasis on rapid prototyping, testing and iteration allows us to create a product or service that meets our customer needs in a financially viable manner.

At the conclusion of Countdown all participants have the following:

  • Experience in Design Thinking that will serve in many aspects of life
  • A clear understanding if their idea or product can be a viable business
  • A Minimum Viable Product and deep understanding of the ideal customer
  • A Data Room with important assets such as an Ideal Customer Profile, Business Model Canvas, Financial Model & Pitch Deck.

At SU LaunchLab we believe that entrepreneurial techniques are not just for starting businesses. They provide us structured ways to make better & more informed decisions in the face of uncertainty. Does that sound necessary for mothers, fathers, sisters & brothers as we work our way through a global pandemic? Equipping everyone with the proper tools & mindset to thrive during these trying times is critical to the success of the planet. Countdown provides a great way to start learning these techniques while entering a supportive, inspiring community.

We’re excited to kick off our first cohort of Countdown with some world-shaping ideas:

InforMED Global – led by Keaton Harris

InforMED Global is focusing on the production of an offline mobile language translation application, with the main goal of breaking language barriers in healthcare. The focus is to get public and private customers to subscribe to the application with scalability across Africa. InforMED Global’s vision is to empower doctors and allied healthcare workers to provide a heightened quality of healthcare to their patients, ensuring treatment that is streamlined to be safe and efficacious.

Biocode – led by Este Burger & Resia Pretorius

Biocode is developing a bio nanosensor that can measure biomarkers of inflammation through a drop of blood. The vision is to develop a device that can be manufactured and sold around the world to help detect and prevent cancer, heart disease and other inflammation-based health issues.

Biotikum – led by Deon Neveling

Biotikum develops host-specific probiotics for animals to improve animal health. The vision is to be recognised as a reputable globally role player in the animal health and microbial production industry.

Welgevallen Wine – led by Nick Kotze

The team from Agri Sciences is searching for a new business model that can transform the SU Die Laan wine brand attractive to students, alumni & the general public. The vision is to increase sales substantially and transform the cellar into a profitable business.

Fruit Packaging of the Future – led by Alex Tsige

The team from Agri Sciences is exploring out-of-the-box thinking in the fresh-fruit packaging design for reduced material usage, increased energy efficiency, increased space usage, and extended freshness. The vision is to provide customers with packaging solutions with a more comprehensive analysis by merging virtual prototyping and physical testing approaches to improve the design and reduce cost and time of manufacturing.

Cyberate – led by Dale Sparrow & Karel Kruger

Cyberate is a software platform that provides humans with a digital administration shell, allowing them to integrate effectively with digital systems. The vision is to create a highly scalable, incrementally achievable method for digitizing existing and future environments that include and rely on people.

Immobazyme – led by Dominic Nicholas, Ethan Hunter and Nicholas Enslin

Immobazyme and the unique enzyme immobilization technology of PepTrap solve the major issues of current industrial enzyme technology. The vision is to create an affordable, organic, multi-enzyme immobilization matrix that is scalable and can be offered across various industries.

Phagoflux – led by Ben Loos & Andrew du Toit

Phagoflux is measuring autophagy (the self-cleaning of cells) through a drop of blood and a small digital device that can be used at any health and wellness facility. The vision is to develop 3 devices across 4 specific markets to take the underlying IP to the world so that it may have a positive social impact.

We’ll run Countdown at least three times per year in February, June & October. We can also increase our cohorts to meet demand. We’re dedicated to offering these techniques as broadly as possible and thus are also exploring licensing arrangements across the continent.

If you’re interested in being part of the next cohort of inspiring, early-stage entrepreneurs then apply for Countdown on the ‘Entrepreneurs’ page of the website: Always feel free to drop us a note or stop by SU LaunchLab to share a cup of coffee. Here’s to transforming seemingly impossible into world-shaping.