Designing a Business

Build and test new business ideas
Preview Course

Learn how to make a business desirable for customers, financially viable for stakeholders, and feasible to build and deliver to the world.

At IDEO, instead of writing a static business plan, we design rapid prototypes to test and iterate business concepts. In this course, you’ll combine traditional business strategy with the methods and mindsets of design thinking and prototype three parts of a business—value proposition and offer, revenue model, and sales channel.

Whether you’re working on new initiatives and ventures inside an existing business or organization, or you’re an entrepreneur ready to bring a startup to life, this course will help you de-risk your business ideas and craft a sustainable business model that is rooted in the people you wish to serve.

Course Outcomes
  • Remove risk from creating new business models and get to product-market fit faster.
  • Build stronger, more innovative solutions that solve real needs for your customers.
  • Prototype and iterate components of your business model to unlock more value from an existing product or service.
  • Determine which offer, revenue model, and sales channel will work for your business.
  • Draft a business blueprint to move your concept forward and get buy-in from others.
Skills You’ll Gain
Entrepreneurship Business Strategy Innovation
Format Online Cohort Course
Start Date
Duration 5 Weeks*
Time 4 Hours/Week
Regular price
Sale price
Unit price
Download Syllabus
*Enroll in any August cohort course or certificate to get exclusive access to our new AI x Design Thinking Workshop Series.

Businesses Designed in Collaboration with IDEO


PillPack (Acquired by Amazon)

Redefining and simplifying how customers engage with their pharmacy
Learn More
Innova Schools Case Study


How a legacy phone book company reinvented itself
Learn More
Innova Schools Case Study

Hunter Gatherer

Building a new venture to restore trust in China's food system
Learn More

Go Deeper with Certificate Programs

Designing a Business is part of two certificate programs:

What You'll Learn

Week 1: Introduction

Learn how you can use the principles of design thinking to reduce risk, test assumptions early, and build a business that truly meets the needs of the people you serve.
Watch: what does a business designer do?
  • What Does a Business Designer Do?
Watch a sneak peek
  • Designing a Business
3 Video Lessons
  • Designing a Business—New ways to think
  • The Business Blueprint—Visualizing the components of your business
  • Prototyping Your Business—Answer big questions with small experiments
1 Assignment
  • Identify Your Business: What’s the new business or business line that you want to work on? It could be something from your current role at your company, or an idea that you are hoping to start from scratch.

3 Discussions
  • What's a business that you really love? What makes it so special?

  • Got a favorite business framework that you like to use? Share with the group.

  • What are some of the best prototypes you've seen, participated in, or heard about? What made them so special or memorable?

Project Challenge:
  • To get the most out of this course, come prepared with a customer need and an idea for a new business, product, or service. It could be something from your current role or an idea you are hoping to start from scratch. You’ll develop this business idea as you move through the course.

Week 2: Creating Value

Identify different forms of your value proposition that are insightful, unique, and targeted, and come up with an idea for a compelling product or service that ties closely to your value proposition.
2 Video Lessons
  • The Value Proposition—Designing the essence of your business
  • What People Want—Prototyping an offer that stands out
2 Assignments
  • Creating Value, Part 1: Build a prototype of your value proposition and test with your customers.

  • Creating Value, Part 2: Build a prototype of your offer and test with your customers.

2 Discussions
  • What's a company with a strong value proposition that you really love?

  • Have you ever encountered a product or service from a company that varied wildly from their value proposition? How did it make you feel?

Week 3: Capturing Value

Learn how your business's revenue model and price can be designed to provide even more value for your customers.
2 Video Lessons
  • Capturing Value—What revenue model is right for your business?
  • Building Revenue—Getting creative with revenue model and price
1 Assignment
  • Capturing Value: Build a prototype of your revenue model and price and collect evidence to help you further refine how and how much your customers will pay.

2 Discussions
  • What's one example of a product or service where price is being used to signal something about it's quality or availability? Is it working (are people buying it)?

  • What deep functional or emotional needs do you think people pay the most for? What's an example of a business that understands this well?

Week 4: Delivering Value

Expand your thinking about the ways you can use channel to improve how your business delivers value.
2 Video Lessons
  • Designing the Last Mile—Delivering value through the channel
  • Getting to ‘Yes’—New ways to think about your channel
1 Assignment
  • Delivering Value: Sketch a storyboard prototype that captures key moments around your channel, and collect evidence about which ideas most resonate with people.

2 Discussions
  • Think back to a time when you took real pleasure in the experience of buying a product or service. What made the experience delightful?

  • What do you think about when deciding whether or not to make a purchase? What tips you over the edge to 'yes?'

Week 5: Conclusion

Get advice for iterating your business idea, and complete a Business Blueprint and narrative to plan the next steps for your business.
1 Video Lesson
  • Parting Thoughts—Stay generative, focus on people
1 Assignment
  • Conclusion: Update the narrative of your business and your Business Blueprint

1 Discussion
  • What's the one thing you'll take away from this course? Maybe it's a quote or piece of advice or framework. How will you use it to design your business? Or, how have you started to use it already?

Meet Your Instructors

David Schonthal

IDEO Venture Advisor

David has been a practitioner of entrepreneurship, design, and innovation for over 20 years. He is a Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management. He currently serves as an Operating Partner at 7Wire Ventures and a Venture Partner at Pritzker Group Venture Capital. Additionally, he co-founded MATTER, a healthcare technology incubator, and is an advisor at IDEO-affiliated venture capital fund Design for Ventures. David earned an MBA from Northwestern University and a B.A. in International Relations from Boston University.

More About David

Kerry O'Connor

Former Design Director and Business Designer at IDEO

At IDEO, Kerry worked on developing new and sustainable ways to monetize innovations. She co-founded Materna Medical, a medical device startup focused on maternal health, and lectures at the Stanford Kerry holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Boston University and an MBA from Stanford University.

More About Kerry

Amy Bonsall

Former Senior Design Director of Venture Design, IDEO

Amy helped clients and design teams bring innovative new ventures to market. She is a mentor to startups in the tech and wellness worlds, and has advised at accelerators in Singapore and Brazil. Amy earned an MBA from IMD in Switzerland and holds a master's degree in electrical engineering.

More About Amy

Frequently Asked Questions

We offer three types of courses: self-paced courses, cohort courses, and certificate programs. Cohort courses run on a set calendar, with fixed start and end dates. Course learning is self-paced within those dates and requires approximately 4-5 hours per week over 5 weeks. Courses consist of videos, activities, assignments, access to course teaching teams, and feedback from a global community of learners. There are also optional 1-hour video Community Conversations, held weekly by the teaching team. 

All of our cohort courses are fully online, so you can take them from any time zone, anywhere in the world. With our cohort course experience, while you'll be learning alongside other learners, you'll still have the flexibility to work at the pace that fits your own schedule. There aren’t mandatory live components, so you don't have to worry about having to log in at a specific time. At the same time, you'll have access to a teaching team, which is composed of experts in the field who are there to provide you feedback, and there are also plenty of options to connect with your fellow learners.

Course instructors have a strong presence in the courses through the course videos, but they're not actively providing feedback or holding direct conversations with our learners. We have a teaching team to ensure that you have the feedback, guidance, and support you need to learn successfully in your course. Our teaching team members are design practitioners that have experience applying course methods and mindsets in a wide variety of contexts around the world.

Our teaching team consists of teaching leads and teaching assistants, who are experts in their fields. Many of them have been with IDEO U for many years, and we have selected those who have direct experience with applying the course methods and mindsets in all sorts of contexts around the world. They all go through multiple training sessions by our instructional designers on not only on the subject matter, but also on how to create safe and collaborative learning experiences and environments.

Community Conversations are one-hour live video conversations hosted by the teaching team on Zoom. These happen once per week, with each one having two to three time options to accommodate different time zones. Each week focuses on the lesson that you’ve just gone through, so the output and the content depend on the specific lessons. You'll have the opportunity if you work together with your peers on the tools and mindsets from the course, reflect on what you’ve learned, and also address any challenges that you might be going through.

All course materials, including videos, activities, and assignments will be available while you are enrolled in a course. During the 5 weeks of the course, you will have full access to our learning platform and can refer back to it any time. You will only have access to the course materials while you are enrolled. 

Assignments must be submitted during the 5-week course duration in order for you to receive a certificate of completion.

Absolutely! We have had many teams go through our courses together. For those taking our courses as a team, we provide a number of additional benefits:

1. A Team Learning Guide, developed to provide your team with resources to facilitate offline discussions that complement the in-course experience.

2. A Manage Learners function, which provides visibility into your team's progress within the course.

3. The ability to create a private Learning Circle, which is a closed space for discussion on the learning platform specifically for your team.

For more information, visit our Team Learning page.

We offer a discount when you enroll in multiple courses at the same time through some of our certificate programs, including Foundations in Design Thinking, Business Innovation, Human-Centered Strategy, and Communicating for Impact

You can also enter your email address at the bottom of this page in order to receive updates on future offers or possible discounts. 

After completing a cohort course, you will be able to add it to your “licenses and certifications” on LinkedIn.

We also have certificate programs that consist of multiple courses. After completing a certificate, you will receive a certificate of completion via email as a downloadable PDF within 1-2 weeks of completing the final required course. Certificates are configured for uploading and sharing on LinkedIn.

You can purchase a course on our website using a credit card, PayPal, or Shop Pay. For US customers, we also offer installment plans at checkout if you use the Shop Pay method of payment.

We typically are not able to accommodate bank transfer or invoicing. However, if your order includes 10 seats or more, please contact and our team will be happy to review your request. 

Collaborate with a Global Community

Loved by Learners Across the Globe

Niccii Kugler
Niccii Founder Stride Collective Online Publishing
Steve Managing Director Headfirst Group Ltd
Valeria Sales Program Manager Bimbo
Haley Brand Manager Smucker Foods of Canada
Designing a Business
Cohort Course

I found the IDEO U Designing a Business course to be very relevant and useful during the launch phase of my business and will continue to use the insights gained during the course as I develop and iterate the business moving forward. I have already recommended the course to one of my clients who has enrolled and will continue to recommend it.

Niccii New South Wales, Australia
Designing a Business
Cohort Course

“Simple and elegant course, but powerful impact. Just being introduced to the business blueprint was an aha, and knowing that each piece is always a working prototype. More specifically, I had no idea that channels can be made into so much more (e.g. transforming the customer experience) than just something static.”

Steve Hong Kong
Designing a Business
Cohort Course

“The course is carefully designed to make the learning experience easy to understand and practical. Also the community conversations are a valuable way of sharing knowledge, getting feedback, and networking.”

Valeria Mexico, Mexico City
Designing a Business
Cohort Course

“The videos were informative, short, factual, and applicable to real-world examples. All the material was memorable by using case study examples. The structure of the Assignments Workbook was a great process to follow and learn; you work through sections of the blueprint, make adjustments after each lesson, and then tie it all together in the end to make a refined business plan.”

Haley Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Enroll As a Team

How to Enroll as a Team