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Using the Lean Canvas to Map and Drive your Startup


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The lean canvas is a powerful tool for defining and operating your startup. This deck presents a brief history and overview of the lean canvas and then describes how you can use the tool to "map and drive" your startup.

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Using the Lean Canvas to Map and Drive your Startup

  1. 1. Using the Lean Canvas to Map + Drive Your Startup Presented at to Oct 1, 2015 Kingston, Ontario
  2. 2. Agenda ● What is the lean canvas? ● The lean canvas as map ● Driving with the lean canvas
  3. 3. Caveats + Clarifications ● Frame of reference = tech ● Goal = a real tool for you to use! ● One size does not fit all + YMMV ● Academic context is specific ● Questions any time!
  4. 4. 1. What is the lean canvas?
  5. 5. Let’s start with a definition “Lean Canvas is an adaptation of Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder which Ash Maurya created in the Lean Startup spirit. Lean Canvas promises an actionable and entrepreneur-focused business plan. It focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics and competitive advantages.”
  6. 6. Business Model Canvas (2008)
  7. 7. Lean Canvas (2009)
  8. 8. The “canvas” movement is part of larger trends in the business world ● Agile ● Lean startup ● Decreasing cost of entry ● Seed investment explosion ● Startup “hacking”
  9. 9. These trends are equally relevant to startups and big companies
  10. 10. The Business Model Canvas is a work of “practical business theory” ● Arose out of PhD work - “The Business Model Ontology. . .” ● As such, it’s a distillation of specific theories about value creation ● But it’s also a (very popular) strategic planning tool for business practitioners
  11. 11. The Lean Canvas offers a similar tool focused more on risk and action My main objective with Lean Canvas was making it as actionable as possible while staying entrepreneur-focused. The metaphor I had in mind was that of a grounds-up tactical plan or blueprint that guided the entrepreneur as they navigated their way from ideation to building a successful startup. My approach to making the canvas actionable was capturing that which was most uncertain, or more accurately, that which was most risky. I had found the initial Business Model Canvases I created back in August 2009 missing on things I’d consider very high risk while other things on the canvas didn’t register as high enough risk.
  12. 12. Here’s what Ash removed
  13. 13. Here’s what he added
  14. 14. 2. The lean canvas as a map
  15. 15. Now that we’re situated, let’s have a closer look
  16. 16. Now that we’re situated, let’s have a closer look PRODUCT/COMPANY MARKET/CUSTOMER
  17. 17. 1. Problem ● be specific! ● start small ● multiple problems ● nested problems ● is it falsifiable?
  18. 18. 2. Customer ● be super specific! ● can you find them? ● multiple customers? ● consider personas
  19. 19. 3. UVP ● Not your product! ● Marriage of problem and customer ● Value creation! ● Differentiation ● Tag line?
  20. 20. 4. Solution ● Your product! ● Key features ● Platform? ● Core use case?
  21. 21. 5. Channels ● Be specific! ● Multiple channels ● Now vs. later ● Cost matters
  22. 22. 6. Metrics ● Measuring success ● KPIs ● Vanity vs. Actionable ● Unit economics ● OMTM ● Data availability?
  23. 23. 7. Revenue ● Be specific! ● Back of envelope ● LTV ● Gross margin ● Revenue vs. users ● Future streams?
  24. 24. 8. Costs ● Salaries! ● Channels? ● CAC ● Operations ● Unit economics
  25. 25. 9. Unfair Advantage ● Not my favorite box ● Often doesn’t exist ● Often must be developed/earned
  26. 26. 3. Driving with the lean canvas
  27. 27. But What Does a Business Model Have to Do With My Startup? Your startup is essentially an organization built to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. As a founder you start out with: 1) a vision of a product with a set of features, 2) a series of hypotheses about all the pieces of the business model: Who are the customers/users? What’s the distribution channel. How do we price and position the product? How do we create end user demand? Who are our partners? Where/how do we build the product? How do we finance the company, etc.” “Your startup is a series of hypotheses. . .”
  28. 28. Your job is to fill the Canvas with hypotheses. . .
  29. 29. Then prove or pivot them.
  30. 30. Every startup is at a different stage of proving hypotheses!
  31. 31. Entrepreneurship Class
  32. 32. Problem/Solution Fit
  33. 33. Product/Market Fit
  34. 34. Know your stage, know your riskiest hypothesis, and start testing!
  35. 35. | @sonofsarah