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A challenge solving workshop is a workshop connecting early stage entrepreneurs with a specific challenge and experienced mentors. The workshop is rythmed and led by a facilitator with specific questions and generally two sequences (a time of creative divergence and a time of convergence) around entrepreneurs' challenges. The goal is not only to exchange ideas, offer solutions and sometimes change perspectives on a problem, but also to create links between entrepreneurs and potential future business partners represented by the mentors themselves.


  • Post-its
  • Papers
  • Canvas to be filled (solution canvas and action plan canvas)
  • Pens & markers
  • Camera for documentation
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Data & Image consent forms to be signed by the participants


We recommend to invite at least 3 mentors per entrepreneur, so that all working groups are composed of at least 4 people and so that there can be a dynamic of collective intelligence. We recommend one facilitator per group in order to help them with brainstorming methodologies, and time-keeping.

  • Facilitator/ Moderator
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Mentors


  • Contact early stage entrepreneurs
  • Plan a 1 hour call with each entrepreneur to frame a challenge with them before the workshop. A good challenge should be narrow enough to bring concrete solutions, but not too narrow to stay open to several unlocking possibilities.
  • Contact mentors, ideally relevant to solve the entrepreneurs' challenges
  • Find a place to host the event
  • Get some drinks and snacks
  • Prepare and print out canvases to save and structure the groups' ideas
  • Prepare some slides for the workshop introduction (optionnal)
  • Prep the room (if possible, organize the room with a common space, and spaces for each group)


1 - Introduction (30 min)

2 - Challenges pitch and split in groups (25 min)

3 - Creative divergence in groups (40 min)

4- Break (10 min)

5- Convergence in groups (50 min)

6- Conclusion (20 min)

1 - Introduction - (30 min)

Welcome the participants with some snacks and make an informal round table to get to know each other.

Opening of the workshop : Present your lab, the objectives and frame of the workshop (agenda, safe and creative space).

Icebreaker example: The participants walk inside the room and when facilitators clap their hands, they should go to the person next to them that they know the least and have 3 minutes to find as many common points as possible. Repeat this 1 or 2 times depending on the number of participants.

2 - Challenges pitch and groups creation - (25 min)

Challenges pitch : Each entrepreneur presents its project and challenge during 5 minutes. Mentors can ask some clarifying questions.

Groups creation : Mentors decide which entrepreneur they would like to help, the participants divide into groups and go to their respective table

3- Creative divergence in groups - (40 min)

Clarification round : For 20 minutes, mentors can ask as many questions as possible to the entrepreneur to better understand her activity, why she has this particular challenge, her constraints. This step is dedicated to questions only, and mentors should not start giving solutions to the challenge.

Brainstorming : When the challenge is clear to everyone, the group can start brainstorming. Facilitators should remind them of the frame for a good brainstorming, with IDEAL rules.

"I" means “Ideas only”, not long stories, or debates.

"D" for “Developing other’s ideas”. Participants should listen actively to the others.

"E" for “Expressing all ideas”. There are no good or bad ideas, share them without self-censoring.

"A" for “Achieve a maximum of ideas”. Focus on quantity, not quality. Ideas selection will take place later.

"L" for “Liberté” in French, meaning “Freedom”. All ideas are welcome, especially the craziest ones.

Participants can start to write their ideas on a post-it (one idea per post it). To energize the brainstorming, facilitators can propose exercises or question ideas to the groups.

Example of “Kill your darling” exercise:

  • Participants pick up the best and worst ideas from their list.
  • Each participant gives his/her worst idea to the one next to him/her.
  • Each participant must transform and rework this “worst idea” and turn it into a good one.

Example of Brainstorming Questions

  • If you were Bill or Melinda Gates (unlimited money and contacts), what would you do ?
  • If you only had 2 euros and 2 months, what solution would you imagine?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would you do?
  • What are the key qualities you are looking for in your solution?
  • If you had to explain your solution to a 5 year old, what would you say?
  • How do you make your solution the most used in the world?

4- Break - (10 min)

5- Convergence in groups - (50 min)

During this phase, groups should select the more relevant ideas to solve the challenge and develop one of them.

Step 1 : To select ideas, participants can first reorganize post-its on the table : group related ideas, rank them by preference order...

Step 2 : After that, each participant can stick a little sticker on the ideas he/she prefers. Post-its with less stickers are left aside.

The groups can then fill their solution canvas. Here is an example of a solution canvas to design a communication strategy (objectives, target, means, message, calendar, KPIs…)

6- Conclusion - (20 min)

Participants all gather and each entrepreneur explains their key takeaway from the workshop, and their next priorities. If there is enough time, mentors can also share their learnings.

The workshop should end with a collective celebration (taking a group picture…).

Additionnal materials

How to frame a challenge with your entrepreneurs

  • Plan a 1 hour call with each entrepreneur
  • Follow this interview guide

Introduction : present yourself and introduce yourself (better understand their project, and frame a challenge together...)

Understand the project : who are you ? how did the project started ? how is the project organized (team, skills,...) ? what are your greatest achievements ? what are your next steps ?

The projects' challenges : are you facing any limits ? if yes, which ? For each limit/issue mentioned by the entrepreneur, do not hesitate to dig deeper, asking "Why" several times.

Framing a challenge : agree with the entrepreneur on the more pressing issue for them. Then, define 3 objectives related to the challenge. For instance, if you challenge is increasing your visibility, one objective could be "Reach 4000 instagram followers", another could be "Sell 15 products a month". Finally, define 3 constraints. Some constrainst examples could be "Budget limited to x euros", "The solution should be implemented during the next month."

Conclusion : after the call, reflect on a challenge question starting with "How to...". Validate the challenge with the entrepreneur and explain her she will need to pitch her project and challenge during the introduction of the workshop.*

Last update: December 2, 2022