The Four Phases of Creation

The four layers of creation.png

A Smartup lives and dies by the grace of its community. Like any other startup, it starts with an idea that has a certain shape. Most often a visualization and theorization of why and what the solution comprehends. This can be as simple as a powerpoint presentation or a one-pager and can be as evolved as a prototype or Proof of Concept. The product will be ready to market if it successfully goes through the 4 phases of creation. The phases are Validation, Design, Production, and Organization. Every layer has clear deliverables and thresholds that enable the next layer. The final ‘Go’ to go to the next layer always takes place with vote among the whole community. There has to be a majority in the General Forum that approves the ‘Go’. 





The first, most crucial step towards realization is validation. This means you, in the role of an entrepreneur, are proving that there is enough potential traction among people by creating a vibrant and organized community around your solution. You need to reach a financial threshold and accomplish specific deliverables to reach the next layer of Design. In essence you need to prove that there are enough people who want your solution and are able to build your solution. The validation phase is the most important phase because the active and organized community is going to be the foundation of your Smartup. Basically, you are asking the world: “hey world, do you think the world needs this? Yes? Oke, let’s get organized and ready to make it so! Are we organized? Oke, let’s design it!”

In the Validation phase these are the deliverables to go to the next phase.:

  • Financial Target reached?

  • Delivery of the Official Smartup Business plan, validation ready?

  • Formation of the Project Leaders Team ?

  • Majority vote on ‘ready for the design phase?’ 

Financial target

Basically a Smartup is using crowdfunding as a method of financing its own crowdsourcing activities. During ‘the 4 phases of creation’ the Smartup is constantly crowdfunding. Each phase has its own ‘budget target’ and campaign strategy. A Smartup ALWAYS starts with a crowdfunding campaign for the validation of an entrepreneurial idea. If the Validation phase is completed and all the thresholds are reached, the crowdfunding campaign for the Design phase starts.

The big difference with ‘normal’ crowdfunding projects is that, next to the normal way of backing a project, people can buy ownership of the Smartup. Being an owner means you got the right to work and earn money, perform oversight and govern. Also you are eligible to receive profits once the envisioned product or service hits the market. You will always get the same share as your fellow owners. No matter how much money and energy you’ve put in. In a Smartup people can distinguish themselves through labour and commitment. Nothing else.

The Official Smartup Business Plan (OSBP)

This document is the ‘living and breathing’ central hub where everything about the Smartup is logged and is always available to all Smartup owners. The basis for this document is provided by the entrepreneur. In essence, it’s the reviewed, edited and validated business plan that the entrepreneur initially used to present his solution. In the simplest shape its a form that the entrepreneur fills in to identify some key information that is needed for a Smartup to start existing. The three most important elements.

  1. The solution (a presentation of the product or service)

  2. Research material (a source list of used documentation and research)

  3. The initial set up with the needed Smartup teams (what are the team disciplines that are needed to create and govern to product or service)

In the Validation phase each Smartup team uses the OSBP to get organized by completing an assessment approach on their specific domain.

For example: the development team writes an assessment approach on the question how the envisioned product or service could best be built. The business team writes an Strengths-Weaknesses (SWOT) assessment on how the envisioned product or service could formulate the best market strategy.

In forcing teams to write an assessment together, they need to get organized. Getting each team organised through the OSBP, ultimately leads to the election of the Team Captains and the formation of the Project Leaders Team

The creation of the Official Smartup Business Plan (this is an example of a Smartup with four teams. To be clear: how many teams a Smartup has, is to be identified by the entrepreneur).

The creation of the Official Smartup Business Plan (this is an example of a Smartup with four teams. To be clear: how many teams a Smartup has, is to be identified by the entrepreneur).

The formation of the Project Leaders Team 

Although a Smartup is a community-driven organization, it does have a Project Leaders Team that functions as the day-to-day operational team during the 4 phases of Creation. This team, guides and stimulates the Smartup. The team is formed by all the captains of the teams plus the initial entrepreneur. They regularly align with video conferences that are live streamed in the General Forum. They are able to make decisions and decide what is brought to the General Forum for voting. After the Validation phase, the team as a whole is responsible for the overall progress and information supply to the General Forum. After the Validation phase they have a budget and should be able to get to work with each of their teams. In the Validation phase their main job is to create a revised and complete version of the OSBP. This way, the writing of the assessment approach based on the original OSBP (set up by the entrepreneur) is a key test for the community to show it’s will and capabilities to work together and get organized. Plus the assessments form the main ingredient to get the OSBP validation ready.  If the The Project Leaders Team is incomplete, the Smartup can’t go to the Design phase.

The formation process of the Project Leaders Team (in this example we use 4 teams)

The formation process of the Project Leaders Team (in this example we use 4 teams)

The Team Captain

During the Validation Phase every team chooses it’s captain. The captain has a lot of authority and responsibilities and is, after the Validation phase, the only person in the team that gets a fixed payout per month. This amount is set at the final stage of the Validation phase when it’s clear how much money is needed for the design phase. The main job of the captain is to make sure the team is effective, organised and makes deadlines. The captain is also responsible for the teambudget and delegation of the work among the team. The team itself keeps the Captain in check by having the power to question his leadership at the Project Leaders team. Every team has to choose it’s Captain and the chosen one has to accept the job. In the Validation phase, they are busy organizing their own team and writing their specific assessment of The Official Smartup Business Plan. 


The power of a Smartup is in the hands of the people. A Smartup is a democratic institution that involves it’s people in the most crucial decisions. In the General Forum the community comes together to vote and discuss on all kinds of matters concerning the process of creation. For now we start with two different types of votes. 

  • Advisory Votes ------> initiated by Team Captains, intended to help make decisions that could not be solved within the team. These can happen during any time during the 4 Phases of Creation.  

  • Binding Votes ------> initiated by the project team, usually intended to progress the product or service into the next stage but can be forced by the community through a petition that has raised ⅓ of community backing. 



The next layer is Design. Here you are using the Smartup to get all design aspects around your solution in order. See it as the paper prototype phase. Designers from within your community can submit concepts, blueprints, architecture and functional designs. In this phase, you are defining how you should build the envisioned product or service. In the Design phase, we answer the question: how do we build the product/service as sustainable, scalable and efficient as possible? The main deliverable of this phase is the Design Blueprint (document) that contains all the needed information for the developers in the Production phase to build a product or service. In this phase, the first scientific review is performed. This review determines whether or not the Design blueprint can go to the production phase. 

The thresholds to continue to the Development Phase:

  • Financial Target reached?

  • Delivery of the Design Blueprint?

  • Approval in a Scientific review done by the Science Team?

  • Majority vote on ‘ready for the development phase?’

The Science Team

As announced, science plays a crucial role in a Smartup. Scientists should be seen as the compliance officers that check, based on peer to peer-reviewed facts and models if the product or service is created under the most sustainable and scalable conditions. The science team assists all other teams in their efforts to make the best decisions. All kinds of scientists, academics and researchers are needed. The main function of the science team is to perform the two scientific reviews. One where they check if the design complies with the best sustainable practices in their fields and the second is to check if the work of the development team complies with the market's assessment. The science team is the only team that can turn back a decision that is made through voting. For example: if the community voted that the design can be taken into production, the science team can prevent that from happening by issuing a motion for further research. 



In the production phase, we work together to create a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The MVP is beta tested within the community. After the beta testing, the developers work together on the realization of the 1.0 version. The 1.0 version is the main deliverable of this phase. The 1.0 version is submitted for second and last scientific review which has the final say whether the product is ready to market or not. If so, the 1.0 version and the final scientific market assessment go to the final phase. 

The thresholds to continue to the Organisation Phase:

  • Financial Target reached?

  • Version 1.0 Beta tested within the community

  • Market assessment done by the business team? 

  • Majority vote on ‘ready for the organization phase?’



The last phase is the Organisational phase. In this phase, the organization structure around all business and marketing aspects are formed. Out of all members of the community, the Team of Executives is assembled and they are enabled and supported to get the product or service to market under the right conditions. The main deliverable of this phase is an official entity, based in a country of choice, with a solid and skilled team, a scientifically validated business proposition and a working 1.0 version that is ready to market. 

The thresholds to continue to Market:

  • Financial Target reached?

  • Formation of the Team of Executives?

  • Final Smartup Business Plan (including Market assessment)

  • Majority vote on ‘ready to market’?

The Smartup Executive Team

The Smartup Executive Team is a team of people that are chosen by the community based on their contributions and achievements during the creation process. Their main objective is to bring the product to market. They are the official directors that work full time on executing the Official Smartup Business Plan (Executive ready). Although they have own agency and power to make day-to-day decisions, they are being controlled and advised by the Smartup. They tap into the intellect of the community anytime they want and have an obligation to keep the community informed. The team of executives is a dynamic team that hires people from the community when the Smartup grows.