design thinking nova scotia nextlabs


Who else will be there? 

The program is limited to 6 businesses, so each team will get the opportunity to be supported individually by our coaches and facilitators. During the live sessions, you’ll also have a chance to connect with other businesses who are working on their own challenge and bounce ideas off one another if you are comfortable sharing. During these live sessions, there will be a maximum of 24 people present (each business may sign up with a team of up 3-4 people).


How do I know I won’t end up in a live session with my direct competitor? 

We are using a brief application and will be able to check in with any businesses who may be in that position before admitting them, to ensure everyone is comfortable. This way we can avoid uncomfortable surprises. 


Is this really worth my / our time? 

We absolutely think so!
The Design Thinking approach allows you to solve the right problem (rather than symptoms) and get feedback from real customers before investing time and money into product development. What’s more, you’ll be able to use the tools for customer discovery and risk-management for future challanges that may arise. We believe this program can actually save you time and money in the long run! 


Who should I bring as my team? 

You may bring up to 3 team members (at no additional cost).

If you are a solopreneur, you may join on your own, or invite a ‘team for now’ with similar characteristics.

Ideally, your team will consist of as many different perspectives as possible, representing different positions within the company and different views of the challenge. For example, a good team for a restaurant-owner who wants to improve the customer experience would be a mix including the owner / manager, kitchen staff, server, someone new and someone experienced. We will help you decide who to bring as part of your team, and, in some cases, if that’s desired.


What do I need to bring?

This program is fully online –  here are some things you will need

  1. Yourself and your team members – you can bring up to 3 team members at no additional cost. If you are a solopreneur, join on your own, or bring a ‘team for now’ or a mentor/other supporters.
  2. A challenge you want to work on. You’ll need a direction to get started, and we will help you define your challenge further during initial coaching. Here are some example challenges:
      • How might we as a transportation business branch out into offering tours, while setting ourselves apart from the competition? 
      • How might we provide exceptional staycation experiences for Nova Scotians and thus attract new customers?
      • How can we provide an exceptional customer experience despite PPE made necessary by Covid? 
      • How can we help our staff stay motivated and connected while working from home? 
      • How might we test our new product offering while limiting costs and risk?


What are the tech requirements?

We will be using zoom & Mural (an online interactive whiteboard) – they are easy to use but we will send you all needed how-tos in advance.

Your team will have access to an online collaboration space on Mural, so that you can work together on your challenge and access your work at any given point throughout the program.

  • A computer with video camera and microphone for each member of your team
  • A quiet space to join zoom calls from for each team member
  • A stable internet connection (at least for zoom sessions) 


How much time do I need for this?
Make sure to put the Zoom Session dates in your / your team’s calendar, to ensure you can connect and learn from others: Feb 2, Feb 16, Feb 23, Mar 2, Mar 9.
Between these, your coach will schedule 1 on 1 coaching sessions with you based on your mutual availability.
We do recommend reserving time for these coaching sessions and for follow-up work on your challenge. Past participants have spent as little as 5 and as much as 20 hours per week working on their challenge. This is entirely up to you, and depends on how complex your challenge is and how much time you want to commit; the program provides flexibility for you to work at your pace.
If you’d like to know more about this or get an estimate based on your challenge, please contact us.

How is this iteration of NextLabs different from the August one?

As you may know, we ran a very successful first iteration of NextLabs in August 2020. Based on the amazing feedback we received and the constantly changing landscap of what businesses need, we have updated the program for this iteration.

The program is now even more customized, allowing you to work on your challenge at your own pace, while accessing personalized coaching support from our business counsellors and Design Thinking coaches. They will help you define the challenge you want to work on, and apply Design Thinking to explore it.

In the last iteration, the online group workshops were used to teach core Design Thinking methods. This will now be more customized and happen as part of coaching. To make space for this, we have increased the coaching hours you can access, so that coaching can teach you what you need to know, when you need to know it – right in time.

Online group sessions will now be shorter (90 minutes) and focus on debriefing experiences and questions together, and making time to connect with other business owners and provide peer support (supported by our facilitators).


How do I sign up?

Please start by filling out the application below under ‘sign me up’ below.
We will be in touch to follow up and, once you’re accepted into the program, we will send you payment information. Please pay within 5 days of being accepted to secure yourspot.


Can I get a refund if I can’t make it after all?

While payments are not refundable, they are transferable (i.e. if you cannot make it, you may pass your ticket on to someone else).




Program is Full – Join the Waitlist
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How does Design Thinking help other small and medium-sized businesses?

Manufacturer minimizes the risk for product development by building a low-cost protoype and using it to test early & often. Restaurant owner uses empathy to understand poor staff morale – and finds out the solution is simpler than expected: cooks want space create a weekly new menu item.
A local clothing store has good instagram traffic but few actual sales. Design Thinking helps them truly understand their customer needs, and a changed store layout changes everything.