Projects usually arise as a result of perceiving a need, or identifying a problem which can be considered interesting enough to be worth solving. Starting usually involves coming up with an idea and discussing it with all those involved in a series of exploratory meetings. Note that the way a project is started can have an important influence of the types of questions asked and who asks them in the course of exploring the feasibility of an idea.
At the very beginning of the project, it is the executive producer who is involved mainly with the client, if there is one. Not every project has a commissioning client; some projects arise from ideas within the design team itself and are funded internally. In the case of projects which arise without a commissioning client, the matter of funding needs to be settled very quickly. If the idea is sufficiently interesting, the executive producer may decide the project should be funded entirely internally. Or the executive producer might spend time writing proposals which court possible sources of external funding. Alternatively, the decision might be to invest sufficient time and resources to develop the concept to a prototype form which can then be used to secure funding from outside for its commercial exploitation. Obviously, the larger the scale of the the project, the greater the financial risk.