Don’t write a business plan for your new start-up

It’s been a few months since I’ve written on this blog. Apologies. The objective is to be more pro-active going forward. I hope to share with you my thoughts and key insights as I go about developing Snacky – a passion project of mine for the past 2 – 3 months. Snacky – an iOS app. aims to fundamentally alter how we search for restaurants and bars today. It is visual, it is based on your social circle, it’s easy on the eyes and effortless in terms of usability. It’s set to pilot in NYC in the next 4 – 6 weeks.  Going forward, I will share useful material and lessons learned from application development complexities to customer development.

 Its a different ballgame when launching something you’ve ideated. It requires a different way of thinking, something that involves reigning in your fleeting thoughts and elaborate feature-sets. So, before I even started thinking about the MVP or a potential roadmap – I had to lay out the idea. I had to lay out the idea to assess implications across the business model, which will at the end of the day determine the success of a product as a business. And it was not a business plan.

Business Model Canvas

I used an adaptation of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) which is foundational across any entrepreneurship course and is really helpful in being able to closely identify the ecosystem that will dictate the success of your business.

Although lean, the business model canvas is still a little bloated when you are approaching a problem with a product centric view – specifically based on the MVP.

In order to focus your thoughts, limit your list of features to be released I used a leaner canvas – an adapted version of the BMC. Not only does it provide a go to reference for your product build out it also helps you control scope, exercise restraint and build upon your initial hypotheses and analysis. The Lean Product Canvas (LPC) is an adaptation of the BMC as follows:

Lean Product Canvas

The LPC allows you to distill the relevant buckets in order to go to market with an MVP.  As you have probably already gathered, the model above can be used to iterate multiple times and store different versions of the LPC based on what information you gather from user surveys and customer development.

  • The problem statement and solution could be relevant to multiple customer segments – but the product feature sets will vary based on that combination of the problem and solution.  That’s fine, note those changes, save versions. It will come in handy for future iterations.
  • Path to initial customer segments is key to customer development. What is your strategy for reaching this initial user base? Is it posting relevant content on Instagram? Is it sharing helpful posts on another channel and eliciting email addresses?
  • Key metrics are foundational for an MVP – for example weekly signups or in my case for Snacky – user signups leading to a successful outcome i.e. view of a restaurant, saving a restaurant or making a reservation. Also don’t forget about churn and repeat visitors. Keep track of your initial customer metrics closely.
  • The rest – cost, revenue streams are self-explanatory but will also help in keeping track of any initial CFs.

The benefit of using the LPC is that you can adapt it for each iteration / release based on a product roadmap. The LPC can be used for every release on the roadmap with specifications of incremental benefits, value propositions, product features and any new customer segments. That’s the beauty of it – it’s adaptable!

Until then, happy hypothesizing and iterating!

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