Embarking on the journey of launching a startup can be both exhilarating and challenging. To increase the chances of success, startups must navigate through the process of horizon scanning, identify problems worth solving, and develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that addresses these needs effectively. Oftentimes business starts off in one direction, then a differentiator must be highlighted to stand out from the crowd.

This guide walks you through the tips and tricks of the processes of horizon scanning and their link to MVP development, giving you a great starting point for the best places to look when seeking solutions to real-world problems.


Horizon scanning: anticipating trends and opportunities

  • Identify industry trends – stay abreast of emerging trends, technological advancements, and market shifts relevant to your industry. This can involve conducting market research, attending industry conferences, and monitoring reputable sources such as industry reports and publications.
  • Analyse customer needs – understand the pain points, challenges, and unmet needs of your target audience. Engage in customer interviews, surveys, and observational research to gain insights into their preferences, behaviours, and expectations.
  • Assess the competitive landscape – evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and strategies of your competitors. Identify gaps in the market and areas where your startup can differentiate itself and provide unique value to customers.
  • Explore emerging technologies – keep an eye on emerging technologies and disruptive innovations that have the potential to transform your industry. This may involve monitoring tech blogs, research papers, and engaging with experts in the field.


Developing a minimum viable product (MVP)

From concept to prototype

  • Define your value proposition – clearly articulate the problem you’re solving and the value proposition of your solution. Define the core features and functionalities that are essential to address the identified problem effectively.
  • Prioritise features – prioritise features based on their importance and feasibility, considering factors such as technical complexity, time-to-market, and customer impact. Focus on building the minimum set of features necessary to validate your concept and gather feedback from users.
  • Create a prototype – develop a prototype or mockup of your product to visualise its user interface, navigation flow, and key functionalities. This can be done using wire framing tools, prototyping software, or by working with designers and developers.
  • Iterate and refine – launch your MVP to a select group of users or beta testers and collect feedback on their experience. Use this feedback to iterate and refine your product, addressing any usability issues, bugs, or feature requests that arise.
  • Scale gradually – as you gather insights and validate your product-market fit, gradually scale up your MVP by adding new features, expanding your user base, and refining your business model. Continuously monitor metrics such as user engagement, retention, and conversion rates to inform your growth strategy.


Best places to look for problem-solving inspiration

  • Online communities and forums – engage with online communities, forums, and social media platforms relevant to your industry or target audience. Participate in scanning the horizon by engaging in discussions, asking questions, and seeking feedback from peers and experts.
  • Industry-specific publications – subscribe to industry-specific publications, blogs, and newsletters to stay informed about the latest trends, insights, and case studies within your field.
  • Networking events and conferences – attend networking events, conferences, and workshops where you can connect with fellow entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and potential collaborators. These events provide valuable opportunities to share ideas, gain inspiration, and build relationships.
  • Hackathons and innovation challenges – participate in hackathons, innovation challenges, and startup competitions where you can collaborate with like-minded individuals to solve real-world problems and showcase your solutions to a wider audience.
  • Academic research and journals – explore academic research papers, journals, and publications related to your industry or area of interest. Academic institutions often conduct research on cutting-edge technologies and innovations that can inspire new ideas and approaches.


Navigating the startup journey requires a strategic approach to horizon scanning, problem identification, and MVP development. By firstly starting up in your area of expertise and in turn tuning into industry trends, understanding customer needs, and leveraging the right resources and networks, your startup can increase it’s chances of creating impactful solutions that resonate with users and drive sustainable growth. 

Remember, the path to success is not always linear, so stay agile, adaptable, and open to learning from both successes and failures along the way.

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