How do you solve the problem?

After you determined a problem which is worth solving, you now have to find a way to solve that problem. Think about solutions in general, not specific products. Jump back and forth to ask yourself: does my solution-approach really solve the problem? Is it a feasible solution to the problem?

Inspire with your solution

Your solution is the heart of your project and the starting point on which everything else will build up. Therefore, it is important at this point to proceed with care and lifeblood. Remember that a solution to a problem is always unique and exceptional, depending on which entrepreneur or team is taking on the solution.

»Just do it! I am founding a bank.«

Valentin Stalf, N26

Be precise

The important thing about this field in the Startup Navigator is to make an as precise statement as you think is needed to solve the problem in order to convert the pain points of the customer into Gains. Also think about the "tools" through which this should happen: Do you build an online platform or an app? A web shop or SaaS (Software as a Service) model? Or do you develop a physical product that you then sell to the end customer? These considerations and questions are central to concretizing the solution model and have to be well thought out.

Everyone solves the problem differently

Remember, a solution to a problem is always unique and individual in nature, depending on which business owner or team is taking on the solution. Therefore, the execution of the solution is the central point and not the solution itself. Often, the execution lets you encounter another problem that is more promising for a startup than the original problem.

With the solution module we conclude the profiling part of the Startup Navigator. Learn more about the fifth module "solution" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

Outfittery and the jobs they get done

After having determined your customer and the problem you want to solve, you have to think about what jobs do your customers actually want to get done. Ask yourself the question: what are the tasks, the jobs that your target customer needs to do or wants to do to solve his problem? Mostly, as consumers, we are looking for products that do our jobs as best as possible.

Outfittery has taken on the problem of "men and fashion": men who want to get new clothes need to get on their way and go to a clothing store. Once there, you have to find your way around first and find the necessary clothes. Then it goes into the dressing room to try on these clothes. Most of the time, this process has to be repeated two or three times in order to find suitable items. What a pain! At least for men. In order to meet your style, you can also involve the staff in the process. Another pain! For most men. Then you have to pay and carry the things home. So there are quite a few "jobs" to do until you can find new and matching clothes in the closet at home and put them on, in order to present themselves to the second half of the earth's population.

»Once upon a time … during a beautiful afternoon in New York City. A friend of ours hired a personal shopper. Enthusiastic and loaded with full shopping bags he came back from his shopping trip. So stress-free and successful shopping – that should be possible for every man, we thought. The idea for OUTFITTERY was born.«

Julia Bösch und Anna Alex, Outfittery

The startup Outfittery has taken on this series of jobs: once you have registered and logged into their website, a stylist will contact you by phone to get a picture of the man who is shopping. Then she puts together a box with an outfit and sends it by mail. The man does not have to leave the house, nor choose clothes or try them on. The box with the hopefully stylish outfit will be conveniently delivered to your home and can be returned free of charge if you do not like it. So Outfittery takes on jobs which are unpopular for many of their peers and even cause "pain" for some.

Learn more about the fourth module "Jobs" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

Der Startup@HSG-Film ist da!

In den letzten Monaten hat das Team vom Center for Entrepreneurship der Universität St. Gallen einen Kurzfilm über Startup@HSG realisiert. Dieser wurde letzten Donnerstag stündlich auf TVO ausgestrahlt. Durch den Beitrag sollen sowohl Studierende als auch die Öffentlichkeit einen Einblick in die unternehmerischen Tätigkeiten der Universität St. Gallen bekommen. Wir bedanken uns herzlich bei den HSG Startups und Entrepreneurial Talents Rebels Technologies, OnlineDoctor und Sleepiz für die Zusammenarbeit.

Know your customer like a private investigator

What is your customer and user segment that unlocks the most potential for your business? Who is your primary customer? What do they like and value? Be as specific as possible to create a profile of your ideal customer. Don’t make the mistake and take your values and views for granted.

»My experience has shown that you cannot just see the problem from your personal point of view. Think right on from the beginning, whether the topic is relevant for a large market! How many potential customers exist for that?«

Valentin Stalf, Founder of the Mobile Bank “N26”

Is the customer always king?

There are different opinions whether the customer should be always king. What is certain, however, is that your company ultimately has to find customers who pay for the solution to their problem. Or to put it in another way: the best form of financing your startup is paying customers! Many innovative companies have failed because they developed their products or services past the customer and misjudged their needs or willingness to pay.

Get to know your customer: Coffee-type meeting

In a coffee-type meeting, you sit down with your customer over a cup of coffee and try to find out as much as possible from him or her. In a casual atmosphere, you usually hear more than in other meetings in a conference or an office space. Try to take a passive role and listen to what concerns your customer and where his acute »pain points« lie.

Your ideal customer - the persona

Based on these personal insights you can develop a customer persona in the B2C as well as in the B2B area, in order to understand exactly the needs and the context of your customer. Personas are ideal representations of groups of people in everyday life and are simplified descriptive models of users, customers and other stakeholders. Personas are identified from observation, interviews and focus groups. Try to "build" one or more personas by looking closely at your target customers.

Define your Decision Making Unit

To better understand the customer, you must be clear about who has the decision-making power. Add your customer persona to the Decision Making Unit (DMU). In the B2B area, one or more departments are often involved in the decision-making process. Define who within this group is the decision maker, what his needs are and how big his budget is.

Target group analysis

Try to get in touch with as many potential customers and users which match your personas as possible. The goal is to learn from the customer through short interviews and receive feedback, not to have a sales pitch.

Learn more about the third module "customer" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

Start with a great problem

Find a great problem worth solving and define its characteristics! Always remember: If there is no problem there is no business opportunity. Be critical about whether you address a marginal problem or a life-changing issue.


»Once upon a time ... during a beautiful afternoon in New York City. A friend of ours hired a personal shopper. Enthusiastic and loaded with full shopping bags he came back from his shopping trip. So stress-free and successful shopping - that should be possible for every man, we thought. The idea for OUTFITTERY was born.«

Anna Alex und Julia Bösch, Outfittery


Find the "beautiful pain"

When the problem is identified, it is time to narrow down the problem as much as possible and define the corresponding characteristics. To do this, you examine your problem and scrutinize it closely: Who else suffers from "your" problem and who ultimately affects it? What are the acute features of the problem: Does it "burn" money, time, nerves, or all together? And which "pain" (pain points) can be alleviated for the customer? What would be saved in the case of a suitable solution?


»Group appointments have often caused frustration because they are complicated to organize. Myke, with whom I shared the office at ETH Zurich, wanted to make an appointment for dinner by e-mail with others. The attempt ended once again in chaos. This everyday problem kicked off Doodle.«

Paul E. Sevinç, Doodle


There is not always a problem

Maybe you already have a suitable solution in stock, which is still looking for a problem? That sounds strange at first, but it does happen quite often. However, most of the time, this not as easy as intended, because one important factor is missing: the customer problem. Here it is important to find the most concrete application fields possible. To do this, you activate your network and try to interact with as many experts as possible in the relevant area of expertise in order to finally find the problem that is worth solving.


Learn more about the second module "problem" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

Your Motivation

What motivates you to go on this website or take the Navigator book into your own hands and initiate an innovation project in your company or start your own startup? It's much easier to stay in your comfort zone and not go the extra mile. Quite simply: human beings, unlike animals, are beings that seek meaning. Happiness research clearly advises us: find your identity in what you do!


»I am developing a product that I wish for myself and my friends.«

Lea von Bidder, Ava


"We combined our positive naivety with maximum risk when we raised a privately guaranteed loan for our first restaurant. I come from an entrepreneurial family. «

Dominik Stein, VERTS Mediterranean Grill


Your entrepreneurial identity

The type of entrepreneur we represent depends heavily on our social identity. The identity poses the questions »Who am I?« and »What is my role in society?«. These two questions have a significant impact on our entrepreneurial identity as "Darwinist," "Communitarian," or "missionary," as research has shown.


Type Darwinist

Darwinists found companies out of an economic self-interest. They act competitive and they are driven by their own pursuit of profit and growth.


Type Communitarian

The Communitarist wants to use his products or services to add value to his community. He is a group-oriented person. Therefore, communitarians often start with a self-experienced problem and develop an improved solution for the people around them.


Type Missionary

Missionaries seek to make the world a little better with their products that solve an existing problem. Often, they use their company as a platform to spread their political, social or environmental visions.


Hybrids are common as you can see by the primarily Communitarian statement of Lea von Bidder and the dominant Darwinian approach of  Dominik Stein who both show some ingredients of the other two types. Curious to profile your own entrepreneurial identity?


Learn more about the important first module "motivation" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

Videointerview St. Galler Startup Navigator von Dietmar Grichnik und Manuel Hess veröffentlicht.

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik und Manuel Hess über die Entstehungsgeschichte des St.Galler Startup Navigators, wichtige Inputs von erfolgreichen Entrepreneuren und die vier Blöcke, die im Zentrum des Tools stehen, das im Zusammenspiel evidenzbasierter Wissenschaft und Erfahrungen aus der Praxis entstanden ist.

Zum Beitrag auf das Foto unten klicken; auch auf der HSG Startseite im Videobereich, im Newsroom ( sowie direkt über den YouTube-Kanal: Parallel hierzu hat die HSG einen neuen Themenschwerpunkt zu «Entrepreneurship» veröffentlicht (, der diverse Beiträge zum Thema bündelt.

Mehr zum Thema: St. Gallen Startup Navigator

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik and Manuel Hess on developing the St.Gallen Startup Navigator, important inputs from successful entrepreneurs and the four blocks at the centre of the tool. The tool was developed in the interplay of evidence-based science and practical experience. More on topic:


Startup Navigator book launch

On 17.01.2018 the Chair for Entrepreneurship celebrated the launch of the new book “Startup Navigator” by Dietmar Grichnik, Manuel Heß, Diego Probst, Torben Antretter and Britta Pukall at the Univerity of St. Gallen.

Dietmar Grichnik and Manuel Heß gave insights into the genesis of the tool and the book. The St.Galler Startup Navigator is an intuitive, step-by-step approach that guides you by 4&20 cornerstones to take data driven decisions, to build and understand your business’ neural system.

A big thank you was given to all the contributors along the way, who have attributed to the book’s development. Among them, the milani design agency, the publisher Frankfurter Allgemeine Buch and the protagonists with their companies’ portrait in the book.

Since this week the Startup Navigator is available in book stores and online. You can order your copy directly with the publisher here:

“There is magic in every beginning” and the Startup Navigator is your guide to turn this magic into succeeding rough waters and markets of your endeavour. We wish you a good start, a good read and most of all entrepreneurial success!

Startup Navigator website online: Discover the interactive Navigator now

The St.Galler Startup Navigator teaches you how to systematically create your business. On the Startup Navigator website you could learn how to apply the Navigator to your own venture. Design startups that are better, faster, and more sustainable with the insights from entrepreneurship research and successful entrepreneurs.

What makes the Startup Navigator unique

4&20 Steps + 66 Tools

The Startup Navigator provides you with a step-by-step process on how to start a business. Over 66 tools and methods help you to grow your venture systematically.


The combination of evidence-based research and practical knowledge from leading entrepreneurs and industry experts maximizes your chances of success.

Data-driven decisions

We believe in data-driven decision making from the very beginning. The Startup Cockpit will help you to make early business judgments based on facts instead of believes.

Startup Navigator Handbook

The Startup Navigator Handbook is a practical book which builds on cutting-edge entrepreneurship research and best practices of some of the most successful entrepreneurs in Europe.

Learn how to apply the Startup Cockpit with detailed exercises to make sure that your business decisions are based on facts instead of opinions and believes.

What others say about the book

»Startups sollten zeigen können, welche Mechanismen ihrem Geschäftsmodell zugrunde liegen und wie sie diese aktiv verändern können. Wie das geht, zeigt der St.Galler Startup Navigator.«

Dr. Florian Heinemann, Gründer und Partner bei Project A, Berlin


You could buy the Startup Navigator Handbook here.

Discover the Startup Navigator website now: Click here.