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IMPULSA - Fòrum Fundació Príncep de Girona
IMPULSA - Fòrum Fundació Príncep de Girona

Xavier Verdaguer: How to generate an idea and turn it into a business



Imagine is an initiative designed to generate disruptive ideas that will change the world and transform the people involved. Every year we run different competitions to select twelve people with diverse profiles and ages. We have had people aged from 17 to 46 years old, from journalists to engineers. In each edition we set them four challenges, devised by four companies. We take them to Silicon Valley for one month and we work in a creativity centre, ready to generate ideas, connected with the world; it is a very intensive month, some fifty people and experts all collaborate there. The twelve participants, divided into groups of three, come up with proposals, and afterwards they present them to investors. This is the learning by doing method.

This experience has led us to three conclusions:

  1. Diversity is positive: get together with people who are different to you.
  2. Challenges stimulate creativity: set challenges for yourself in the creative process.
  3. Everybody can be creative: using different techniques we can all employ creativity.


Lombard Method

We have built a method for Imagine to be carried out over one month, one phase per week:

Phase 1. Rethink the problem. One of the biggest mistakes in creativity is that we start thinking about solutions immediately, but it is basic to look at the problem again, to question it. It is also important to put yourself in the user’s shoes.

Phase 2. Generate ideas, but always providing value for the client. We always look for disruptive ideas. We are living in a world where conventional ideas no longer work.

Phase 3. Prototype. If you have an idea, test it as soon as possible with the client, even if it is still only the beta version. Clients have a lot of power. Incorporate the user into the creative process.

Phase 4. If a good idea is not well communicated, it serves no purpose. Every entrepreneur must know how to communicate and should do so.

At Imagine we use diverse methods of creativity: NABCH, divergence-convergence, lateral thinking... Lateral thinking involves challenging all the hypotheses about a problem, encouraging even the craziest ideas, such as in a classic brainstorming session. It consists of thinking outside the box. In our environment we limit ourselves a great deal when it comes to generating ideas, and we must avoid this.


The €10 challenge

This involves giving each participant an envelope containing €10. They have three hours to think what they would do with the €10. From the minute they open the envelope they then have two hours to make the best possible profit from the €10. At the end, they have three minutes to explain the results.

An example of the return on the $5 challenge, in which the participants had three days to make use of the money:

  • I could gamble the money in a casino in Las Vegas or play the lottery = $0
  • If I had the money, I would buy raw materials, make a product and sell it (classic production method) = $100
  • I would ignore the initial hypothesis, because thinking about $5 is limited. You don’t need money to be an entrepreneur. For example, I could make lots of reservations at a fashionable restaurant on a Saturday night, when it is busiest, and I could sell these reservations on to people in the queue = $400
  • I would forget about the dollars, and the three days, and focus instead on the three minutes I have to communicate the results. For example, I could sell the three minutes to a company so that they could explain whatever they liked = $650


-          Look beyond the framework of the problem.

-          It is not essential to have money.

-          The business plan must be dynamic.

-          Lateral thinking is very productive.


From the idea to the business

When I have an idea, what do I do to turn it into a business, so that I can make a living and generate employment?

  1. Share your idea with other people. If you explain it with a great deal of passion, perhaps they will invest in it. If somebody copies your idea, you will already be in phase 2, and more advanced, because explaining your idea also helps to make it evolve.
  2. You must take risks. If you do not make mistakes while setting up a business, you are not taking enough risks. We are too afraid of failure.
  3. Cooperate. Help each other. You are not alone. You must join forces with other people, with people different to you. Multidisciplinary teams.
  4. Grow. If you have an idea, make it big, and think big. There are many initiatives in this country that can provide advice and financial backing: Inlea Foundation, Wayra contest, SFBCN, Barcelona Global, Lanta Digital Ventures, etc. There is money out there for your ideas, and it is part of your job to go and look for it.
  5. Keep dreaming. You can choose to be actors or spectators in your own life. I recommend that you become the actors.


Two final suggestions:

1)      Have fun.

2)      Have a positive attitude. Do not allow yourself to be infected by the negative spiral that surrounds you. You can put your energy into problems or into opportunities: it’s up to you.



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