True Advantage - Entrepreneurship


Module 1

Start-up Basics and Performing Research

 

Watch: Udacity (you will need to login or register) and review slides

In the course titled "How to Build a Startup", please watch Lesson 3: Modules 1-11. Module 1 provides definitions of a company and a startup, and modules 2-11 briefly describe a business model and the 9 components of the Business Model Canvas.

Read:

  1. Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design, pp. 1-7.
  2. The Designing for Growth Field Book (D4GFB) pp. v-vii, and pp. 2-9 (note: pp. 8-9 "Scope Your Project", is a brief description of Challenge Mapping, the focus of Week 2 class), 44-45, 100-105 (List of Universal Human Feelings and Needs). To give you a sense of the design thinking process we will be using, also skim pp. 12-35. 
  3. Design-Centered Entrepreneurship
    • Ch. 1: Problem Finding - excerpt pp. 24-28, 50
    • Ch. 2: Fact Finding - excerpt pp. 51-63
    • Ch. 3: Problem Definition, pp. 78-104 (Challenge Mapping: Focus of Workshop)
  4. Key Facts, 101 Design Methods, pp.26-27

Assignment:

The purpose of this assignment is to provide each of you with experience in researching needs and related key facts/data.

Instructions:

Step 1 - Identify an urban problem/unmet need of interest to you that may inspire an entrepreneurial opportunity to work on with a team this quarter.

Step 2 - Do secondary research to develop a better understanding of the problem, addressing the questions below. Find “Key Facts” following guidance in Key Facts, 101 Design Methods, pp. 26-27. Identify links to articles and datasets that relate to the problem. Feel free (time permitting) to talk to experts.

Step 3 - Answer the following questions:

1.      What is the urban problem/need?

2.      Who has the problem/need? And who are the other stakeholders? Why does this problem matter to the various stakeholders?

3.      What target users/customer segments might you consider designing a solution for?

4.      When does the problem/need arise?

5.      Where does the problem/need rise (e.g. does it affect multiple cities?)

6.      Why does the problem/need exist? And what are barriers to solving it? Keep digging. The causes of the problem and associated barriers will provide especially valuable input to challenge mapping in the week 2 workshop.

7.      What external factors (e.g. trends, regulations, competitive environment) are relevant?

8.      How is the problem/need being addressed now, if at all?

9.      Is the status quo associated with significant idling capacity that could be avoided or exploited and/or other waste/inefficiencies that could be addressed?

10.   Does the status quo suffer from the use of “old” or no technology?

11.   Additional research: (Based on D4GFB, Step 3).

What key questions would you need to answer through additional research if your team pursues this opportunity? Be as specific as possible. Whom do you need to understand? Why are they important to understand? Identify at least one expert to reach out to should this problem be selected for further consideration.

Incorporate in your answers key facts that surfaced during your research and list all sources you referenced. Include links to articles and datasets that relate to the problem.

Notes:

This exercise is not focused on generating solutions, but rather on finding and understanding problems/unmet needs of customer/user segments related to real urban issues.

We hope that you really get into the research……and see it as an early step along the path of discovering potential entrepreneurial opportunities that you would be excited to pursue. And since this research will be shared with your classmates, you may trigger their interest.

If you have time, we encourage you to browse the bios and problem descriptions of the other students in your section as background for selecting teams during the week 2 workshop.


Module 2

Identifying a Problem and Barriers

 

Why-What’s Stopping Analysis

  1. Write the problem or need that you would like to solve; this is your Challenge Statement.
  2. Perform "What's stopping?" analysis to identify challenges with a narrower scope.
    1. Identify as many barriers as possible that exist to overcoming the initial challenge statement. State the barrier as a simple sentence and be as clear and descriptive as possible. 
    2. Covert each barrier into a challenge statement. Note: each challenge statement is a narrower challenge and potential opportunity.
    3. Repeat this process for the new challenge statements to identify new barriers.
    4. Take a picture of your analysis map.
  3. Perform "Why" analysis for your intial challenge statement to identify challenges with a broader scope.
    1. Identify reasons why your initial challenge statement matters. State the reason as a simple sentence and be as clear and descriptive as possible. 
    2. Covert each reason into a challenge statement. Note: each challenge statement is a broader challenge and potential opportunity.
    3. Repeat this process for the new challenge statements to identify new reasons.
    4. Take a picture of your analysis map.
  4. Optional: Perform "What's Stopping" analysis for new challenge statements of broad scope.

Challenge Map

  1. Organize all of the challenge statements generated by your "Why-What's Stopping" analysis, moving from broad to narrow scope, and connect them with arrows.
  2. Take a picture of the challenge map.
  3. Select a challenge statement to focus on. Key criteria include potential for high impact, seems “actionable”, and your interest level. 

Module 3

Understanding the Competitive Landscape

 

Read:

Instructions:

  1. Do some additional secondary research, including competitive landscape analysis following instructions in “Startup Directories for Competitive Research”.
  2. Write a 2-4 page Research Report focused on the challenge identified during Module 2.
  • What is the problem/need?
  • Who has the problem/need? And who are the other stakeholders? Why does this problem matter to the various stakeholders?
  • What target users/customer segments might you consider designing a solution for?
  • When does the problem/need arise?
  • Where does the problem/need rise (e.g. does it affect multiple cities?)
  • Why does the problem/need exist? And what are barriers to solving it?
  • What external factors (e.g. trends, regulations, competitive environment) are relevant?
  • How is the problem/need being addressed now, if at all?
  • Is the status quo associated with significant idling capacity that could be avoided or exploited and/or other waste/inefficiencies that could be addressed?
  • Does the status quo suffer from the use of “old” or no technology?
  • What key questions would you need to answer through additional research if your team pursues this opportunity? Be as specific as possible. Whom do you need to understand? Why are they important to understand? Identify at least one expert to reach out to should this problem be selected for further consideration.

Summarize the following at the end of the Research Report:

  • Your key takeaways from the competitive analysis.
  • Assessment of the pros and cons of pursuing this opportunity.
  • Initial hypotheses about how city government might be engaged as a customer or partner (if at all).

List all sources you referenced. Include links to articles and datasets that relate to the problem.


Module 4

Conducting Interviews with Key Stakeholders

 

Read:

  • Interview Process: (also see optional video on interviewing below.) (background for HW_WK4)
  1. Ethnographic Interviews, D4GFB, pp. 48-49 and example on pp. 114-115.
  2. Interview Question Guide from Design Thinking Miami. (Ignore the Challenge Statement at the top.)
  • What to Look for During Interviews: (background for HW_WK4)
  1. Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design, pp. 29-37, 48-51.
  2. Excerpt from Disrupt, pp. 48-55 (footnotes on p. 231.)
  • Identifying Insights and Establishing Design Criteria Excerpt from Disrupt, pp. 60-66 (footnotes on p. 232.

Optional Video:  Getting People to Talk: An Ethnography and Interviewing Primer. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Instructions:

  1. Select people to interview.
  2. Develop an interview guide. Notes concerning what to look for during your interviews:

a. The following items will be especially helpful for identifying key items to learn from the interviews (e.g. customer jobs, pains, gains, how customers/users currently get the job done (if at all), barriers to getting the job done currently, emotional state at each stage of the customer journey, performance criteria and benchmarks for competing or “analogous” offerings).

b. In addition to the items in a, as described by Luke Williams (author of Disrupt), often the most valuable clues underlying innovation opportunities are subtle “tension points” representing gaps between the way things are and the way they should be. Hence, he recommends looking for four types of tension points: “workarounds”, “values”, “inertia”, and “shoulds vs. wants”.

3. Make contact and schedule interviews.

a. Given the constraints on your time, we think a reasonable length for each interview is 45 minutes to 1 hour (rather than one to two hours.)

b. To help with scheduling interview times, you may consider using https://calendly.com

c. To help with recording your interviews and facilitating multiple participants (interviewer, interviewee, and note taker), consider using https://www.uberconference.com . www.Zoom.us is an alternative virtual conference option to consider.

4. Conduct your interviews. At the end of each interview (if the interviewee was helpful) be sure to ask if he/she is willing to meet again in a few weeks to provide feedback on initial prototypes for a solution.

5. Be curious about everything. Be on the lookout for the unexpected/surprising. Such observations are likely to be especially useful for identifying insights.

6. Capture your findings and create a mindmap to organize emergent themes. Look for patterns, relationships, and surprises. Then ask:

  • Why is this a pattern?
  • Why is this unexpected?
  • Why is this meaningful?
  • What are customers trying to accomplish?
  • What does this say about customers’ emotions?

These insights are meant to uncover gaps between the current state and how things should be.


Module 5

Identify Disruptive Opportunities for a Start up

 

Read:

  1. Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design, pp. 28-29, 38-43, 46-47, 52-53 and skim pp. 54-63 and 72-79.
  2. What are the Best Ways to Think of Ideas for a Startup: Step 2 (Frame the Problem) & Step 3 (Generate Ideas) only. Note: we will use a modified version of this brainstorming method in the Week 5 workshop. Spreadsheet columns (business models and enablers) will be provided.  Your first step will be to generate a list of audiences for a potential solution to your urban problem (customer / user groups or industries).
  3. Disrupt: Chapter 1: Crafting A Disruptive Hypothesis.

Instructions: Consider your key insights and design criteria. Now consider the current state (i.e. status quo) of the industry, segment, or product/service category which comes the closest to addressing your urban problem. Begin this exercise by stating the status quo that you want to disrupt as follows: (From Disrupt, p. 23): “How can we disrupt the competitive landscape of [insert your situation] by delivering an unexpected solution?”

A. Generate Disruptive Hypotheses:

Following closely the discussion in Disrupt, Ch. 1, complete the following for the current state:

1. What are the key product, interaction, and pricing clichés? (Include some in each category.) Note: You may need to extend your secondary research (including your competitive analysis) to have a clear understanding of the clichés. See guidance on pp. 24-29 for identifying clichés.

2. What clichés can you invert or deny? Scale up or down? (See discussion pp. 29-38) Goal: Generate at least 8-10 disruptive “What if?” hypotheses from steps 1 & 2. Don’t worry if these disruptive hypotheses seem “out there”! The goal of the exercise is to give you practice at challenging the status quo with bold “What if?” questions. (Note: See example beginning on page 4 below.)

B. Generate Disruptive Opportunities:

Disruptive hypotheses are not necessarily disruptive opportunities. You need to consider your disruptive hypotheses in light customers’/users’ unmet needs (i.e. the gaps between what is and what ought to be) and your related insights and design criteria. Disruptive hypotheses that can create a real advantage in filling an unmet need represent disruptive opportunities.

Now that you have generated disruptive hypotheses, compare them to one another and to your lists of insights and design criteria. Are there connections among any of your disruptive hypotheses? And can you make a favorable connection between your disruptive hypotheses and your insights / design criteria? Imagine whether each such disruptive hypothesis could be turned into an advantage given the matched (i.e. connected ) insight(s) / design criteria, and consider what gap could be filled. Be flexible and creative when thinking this through.

C. Generate Disruptive Ideas4 Focus on your most promising disruptive hypotheses and the gaps they might fill. Assume that they are true (i.e. can provide a true advantage). Brainstorm ideas for achieving each one. These are your disruptive ideas. For each disruptive idea write one page with the following format:

1. Short catchy name of the idea.

2. One sentence description of the idea and why it is important, using the following structure: (Disrupt, p. 98):

_________________________________________ (label/description)                                                                            that allows __________________________________(primary user) to _________________________________________ (primary benefit) by _________________________________________(how your solution provides the benefit).

3. A description of how your idea is different.

4. A visualization of your idea. (e.g. hand drawn or digital sketch, diagram, etc.)

Start up Idea Matrix and Examples


Module 6

Brainstorming Solutions

 

Read: 

  1. Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design, pp. 44-45.
  2. Trigger Questions for Startup Ideas
  3. Trigger Questions Ideation Tipsheet

Instructions:

1.      Review the spreadsheet exercise from Module 5.

2.      Assume that you are developing a solution to solve a problem for your highest potential customer / user segments. Your team will complete Trigger Questions; the first two trigger questions are below:

  • How could we solve …….. (insert an urban problem here)?

(It is useful to keep this trigger question broad to generate a variety of ideas at the beginning of your brainstorm session. This is especially useful to enable team members to surface ideas they have had for a while.)

  • How could we ensure that …..(insert each of your key design criteria here, one at a time)?

(Including this trigger question will keep your design criteria front of mind.)

   3. Select and complete eight additional trigger questions from the reading downloads. Perform a second round on each of your trigger questions to dig deeper.   

4. Develop: 

a) two initial “concepts” (i.e. detailed solutions) to explore further.

b) a napkin pitch to communicate each concept.

c) a simple visualization of each concept.


Module 7

Minimum Viable Product and Prototype

 

Read:  

  1. Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design, pp. 8-27 (review pp. 1-7 if needed) and skim pp. 79-85, 90-93.  
  2. Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design – Part 2, pp. 1-8.
  3. 5 Lessons to Bring Your Idea to Life
  4. Testing Your Business Model: A Reference Guide, pp. 1-4 only.
  5. Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design – Part 3, p. 6 only.
  6. Best Practices for Coming Soon Launch Pages.
  7. What Is Bubble? And How Did It Clone Twitter With No Code?
  8. Epic and Child User Stories
  9. AdWords Worksheet


Optional Reading:

  1. How to Use Thought Experiments to De-Risk Your Startup.

Watch and Do (Bubble):

  1. Create an account on Bubble.is and visit the learning center.
  2. Watch the videos:
    • The Bubble interface (4 minutes)
    • Building your first Bubble workflow (3:40 minutes)
    • Displaying data in a repeating group (5 minutes)
    • Saving stuff on the server (4 minutes)
  3. Do the following lessons:
    • Saving data (6 minutes)
    • Building a slideshow (3 minutes)
    • Building a sign up system (7 minutes)
    • Saving and modifying data (10 minutes)

Review, as needed, Excerpts from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design: (These readings have been assigned previously (or this week). It will be helpful to have this material fresh in your mind.)

  1. pp. 1-23, Describes the 9 building blocks of the BMC in detail, illustrating a variety of possibilities for each building block. You will be working your way through these pages as a team, using it as a guide to build your BMCs for each concept (e.g. for Apple iPod/iTunes pp. 24-25; e.g. for model with social purpose pp. 26-27.).

  2. pp. 28-43 and 53, Describes customer jobs, pains, gains and tools for thinking about how your product creates value for the customer.

Skim:

  1. pp. 79-82, Explains the role of business model prototypes such as the BMC in providing structure for exploring innovative new business model possibilities.
  2. pp. 83-85, Explains how to use scenarios to guide the design of new business model.

  3. pp. 90-91, Explains how to use design constraints to generate ideas for new business models.

  4. pp. 92-93, Provides questions for evaluating your business model design.

  5. Excerpts from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design - Part 2, pp. 2-8 

 

Part 1: Create a Business Model

A. Complete the Business Model Canvas Building Blocks for each concept.

While the order in which you fill out the building blocks is somewhat flexible, we recommend working your way from p. 2-23 of Excerpts from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design in order.  This results in a customer-centric approach that begins with customer segments and the value proposition for each one. Specifically, treat pp. 2-23 as a workbook to guide your process of generating ideas for your BMC.

1)     Customer Segments

  • For whom are we creating value?
  • Who are our most important customers?

Note: Divide broad customer segments into narrower ones. Focus on the customer segments that you believe are the most promising and build a Canvas for each one (since many building blocks will vary across customer segments.)

2)     Value Propositions

  • What value do we deliver to the customer?
  • Which one of our customer’s problems are we helping to solve?
  • Which customer needs are we satisfying?
  • What bundles of products and services are we offering to each Customer Segment?

Note: It is important to state in this building block the key features of your product/service as well as the hypothesized jobs, pains, and gains of each customer segment and how your product/service addresses them. (See Excerpts from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design, pp. 28-43 and p. 53.)

It also is useful to clarify how your product/service differs from the alternatives and why it “is worth getting attention”. (in Running Lean, Ash Maurya refers to this description as the “Unique Value Proposition”. P. 27).

3)     Channels

  • Through which Channels do our Customer Segments want to be reached?
  • How are we reaching them now? (Not applicable)
  • How are our Channels integrated?
  • Which ones work best?
  • Which ones are most cost-efficient?
  • How are we integrating them with customer routines?

4)     Customer Relationships

  • What type of relationship does each of our Customer Segments expect us to establish and maintain with them?
  • Which ones have we established? (Not applicable)
  • How costly are they?
  • How are they integrated with the rest of the business model?

Note:  The key issue addressed in this building block is how you will acquire, retain, and grow your customers. For example, how will customers initially become aware of your product/service? How will you create demand?

5)     Revenue Streams

  • For what value are our customers willing to pay?
  • For what do they currently pay? (i.e. pay others)
  • How are they currently paying? (i.e. paying others)
  • How would they prefer to pay?
  • How much does each revenue stream contribute to overall revenues?

Note: This building block also includes pricing models (e.g. subscription model, freemium, pay-per-use etc.)

6)     Key Resources

  • What Key Resources do our Value Propositions require?
  • What Key Resources do our Distribution Channels require?
  • What Key Resources do our Customer Relationships require?
  • What Key Resources do our Revenue Streams require?

7)     Key Activities

  • What Key Activities do our Value Propositions require?
  • What Key Activities do our Distribution Channels require?
  • What Key Activities do our Customer Relationships require?
  • What Key Activities do our Revenue Streams require?

8)     Key Partnerships

  • Who are our Key Partners?
  • Who are our key suppliers?
  • Which key resources are we acquiring from partners?
  • Which Key Activities do partners perform?

9)     Cost Structure

  • What are the most important costs inherent in our business model?
  • Which Key Resources are most expensive?
  • Which Key Activities are most expensive?

Note: If you have multiple customer segments (e.g. two-sided market like Uber) with different value propositions (as well as differences in other building blocks), repeat for each segment. We recommend filling in all of the building blocks for one customer segment before adding the ideas for additional customer segments. If needed, you can place customer segments on different BMCs.

B. Play with your business model to consider other opportunities for each building block.

For example, what if you addressed a different customer pain point? What if you converted a product to a subscription-based service? What if you outsourced additional activities?

Skim the questions for each building block in “Assessing Opportunities” on pp. 7-8 of Excerpts from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design - Part 2 to stimulate ideas. In the likely event that a revision to one building block requires changes to others, use a different color of Post-Its for this 2nd round to distinguish new vs. original Business Model ideas.

C. Analyze the Business Model for Weaknesses.

Identify key weaknesses in and threats to your proposed business model and generate ideas for addressing them. To help identify potential weaknesses, skim examples of weaknesses of each building block in the right-hand column of pp. 2-4 of Excerpts from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design - Part 2.  To help identify potential threats, skim the questions in “Assessing Threats” identified on pp. 5-6 of Excerpts from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design - Part 2. In the likely event that a revision to one building block requires changes to others, use a different color of Post-Its for this 3nd round.

D. Select your final Business Model.

Use the following questions to help you prioritize your ideas:

  1. Does our value proposition effectively address important customer jobs? Pains? Gains?
  2. Does our proposed business model allow us to reach and acquire our customers cost effectively?
  3. What is the possible “customer resistance” to adopting our solution?
  4. Can we reasonably expect this business model to be profitable?[1]
  5. What is the size of our market opportunity?
  6. Is our solution technically feasible?
  7. Are there important dependencies? (e.g. requires a regulatory change or the development of a new technology or a more widespread adoption of an existing technology)
  8. Is the model scalable?
  9. Is our model differentiated from the competition?
  10. Is our competitive advantage sustainable?
  11. What is the expected social impact?
  12. What is the estimated implementation time?

 Also see “Seven Questions to Assess Your Business Model”, Excerpts from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design, pp. 92-93 for additional suggestions.

Type your complete BMC into the free online editable template for the BMC: https://goo.gl/bAZ3rz

E. Describe the key strengths and weaknesses of your proposed business model.

 

Part 2:  Surface Key Assumptions

Purpose:

An initial concept and its associated business model are based on a set of assumptions (i.e. your best guesses). Identifying and testing key assumptions is an important part of the design thinking / lean start-up processes to learn quickly and cost effectively, enabling you to iterate (or pivot (i.e. change in direction)), as appropriate toward a better solution and to reduce risk.

Instructions:

For each of your two current concepts:

a.      Write down your top 2-3 assumptions in each of the four categories in the table on p. 29 of D4GFB.

b.      Do a thought experiment to test any key assumptions for which you already have data (e.g. from secondary research, interviews). (e.g. see optional reading “How To Use Thought Experiments to De-Risk Your Startup”.) Describe your thought experiment(s).

c.      Describe the key assumptions you plan to test in your stakeholder sessions during the next two weeks.[2]

 

Part 3: Reach Out to Schedule Stakeholder Feedback Sessions

1.      Given the key assumptions you identified in Part 2, identify stakeholders with whom you want to engage. Review D4GFB, Step 13: Get Feedback from Stakeholders (pp. 32-33) and Co-Creation Tools (pp. 82-83) as background. Reach out to schedule interviews within the next two weeks.

 

Part 4: Drop Key Elements of Napkin Pitch into Landing Page Template

Purpose:

The purpose of Part 4 is to turn your “napkin pitch” into an MVP / Landing Page. You will be introduced to Bubble.is: a visual programing tool useful for creating web pages and web or mobile applications without writing program code. In this assignment, you will use a template to create a very simple website. Finally, as a team, you will explore more elaborate templates that may be used in the future to build a functional MVP that not only showcases but potentially delivers your value proposition.

Instructions:

1.      If you are short on time, you may want to pick a subset of the team to create an account on http://Bubble.is and do steps 2-9 below on behalf of the team.

2.      Visit https://bubble.is/apps, click on the Example Apps tab, and locate the Launchpage sample application (third row, second column). Once located, click the “Clone” button.

1.      Follow the prompt to name your copy. 

2.      Once you click the CLONE button and are taken to your dashboard, locate your new app and click the EDIT (pencil) icon.

3.      You are now in the editor for your landing page. Double-click on each element of text that is visible (listed below) and replace with the appropriate content from your team for ‘concept one’.

Placeholder →  Your Team name

Your name or logo →  A catchy or simple name for your concept

Here is the description of what you're doing… → 1 or 2 sentences summarizing your napkin pitch.

What is your email? → You may leave this as is or change the question as you see fit.

Send → You may leave this as is or change the prompt as you see fit.

4.      While these instructions are focused on replacing text as an easy entry point to building your landing page, everything about this page is customizable. Feel free to play with changes to the background image or color schemes, add elements, etc. - time permitting. You can undo any changes with the ‘Undo’ button on the top right.

5.      Click the ‘Preview’ icon on the top right to see your finished work. Share the URL with your team by copying it from the browser and emailing it to the rest of your team. Also post the URL to Canvas.

6.      Repeat steps 1 - 7 for your ‘concept two’

7.      Review the “Example Apps” section of https://bubble.is/apps again and discuss with your team which of the templates listed below might align with your team's vision of what a functional MVP app for your concept one and concept two might look and feel most similar to. You are encouraged to play with the sample apps and to imagine how each of your concepts could work as a single-function application.


Module 8

Prototypes and Stakeholder Feedback

 

Read:

  1. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development:
     pp. 68-70 Document C-P-S (Customer-Problem-Solution) Hypothesis
     pp. 80-83 Engaging Prospects
     pp. 84-85 Phase Gate I Compile / Measure / Test
     pp. 86-87 Problem-Solution Fit / MVP
     pp. 88 Phase Gate II Compile / Measure / Test
  2. Testing Your Business Model: A Reference Guide, pp. 5-10 only.
  3. Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design - Part 3, p. 1-5 and 7-14.
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Minimum Viable Products.
  5. Epic and Child User Stories.
  6. AdWords Worksheet.

Optional materials related to design thinking / lean startup methods and tools referenced in HW_WK8:

Optional Readings:

  1. Detailed Guide: 8 Must Have Elements of an Effective Landing Page.
  2. Presentation Slides for Detailed Guide: 8 Must Have Elements of an Effective Landing Page.
  3. Create a survey using Google Forms.
  4. Excerpt from How to validate your next big idea - Stage 1: Market Validation - The deep-dive survey
  5. Excerpt from How to validate your next big idea - Stage 1: Market Validation - Understand market size with keyword research
  6. The Definitive Guide to Copywriting - Chapter 3
  7. How to Demo your MPV: Tips and Tricks
  8. The MVP Interview Script

Optional Videos: 

  1. [FREE] Keyword Planner | How To Use The New Google Keyword Research Tool
  2. Additional videos and lessons of your choice on Bubble learning center

Background: At this point, you have applied design thinking / lean startup methods and tools to identify a problem as a potential entrepreneurial opportunity, to develop research-based insights and design criteria (based on both secondary research and stakeholder interviews), to brainstorm potential solutions, to develop concepts and communicate them with napkin pitches and visualizations, to iterate (or pivot) as needed based on feedback, and to ideate how to embed your solution in a viable business model (untested hypotheses about each business model building block.)

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to expose you to design thinking/lean startup methods and tools used to assess the potential of a concept quickly and inexpensively, and to iterate toward problem-solution fit. Use the following guidelines to select your concept:

  1. Is your team excited about the problem being addressed?
  2. Have you arrived at the concept based on secondary and stakeholder research (can you show the connection)?
  3. Does your BMC (based on your current assumptions) suggest that this is a feasible business opportunity?
  4. Is there potential for this to be a high growth business as defined below? (“High growth” is not a critical criterion, but potential sustainability is). We define a high growth business as having the following potential:
  • For an acquisition exit in 5-10 years
  • To grow into a large, cash-flow positive business over the longer term.

Part 1: Create a Landing Page with a Simple Call to Action

A landing page is an inexpensive, expedient way to test interest in your concept. Your landing page should include a Call to Action (CTA) button, asking the visitor to complete a simple step (e.g. sign up with their email to receive more information). In practice, landing pages can be designed to enable further engagement with visitors after they complete the simple CTA, in order to collect additional data to test key hypotheses. For example, a visitor can be prompted to complete a survey or pre-order an item or service. It is recommended that the CTAs in a given landing page are limited to optimize learning. If you are interested, SnagIt (and the free version Jing ) are great “Screen capture” or “Screencast” software that allow users to record the screen while narrating on top of the video. They are especially good for short just-in-time “how to” style videos.

For more background on landing pages, review, as needed, the following reading assignments:

  • Testing Your Business Model - A Reference Guide, Landing Pages, p. 4. (Week 7)
  • Best Practices for Coming Soon Launch Pages. (Week 7)
  • Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design - Part 3, pp. 12-13, ‘Landing Page’, and p. 14, ‘Split Testing’. (Week 8)
  • The Ultimate Guide to Minimum Viable Products (See #2 A Landing Page). (Week 8)

Part 2: Create a Google AdWords Campaign

Review, as needed, the following readings for Week 7:

  • Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design - Part 3, p. 6 ‘Ad Tracking’.
  • Testing Your Business Model - A Reference Guide, p. 3 ‘Google ads’.

Ad Tracking is a process that enables you to generate various tests using online advertising (we will be using Google AdWords). This method can be used to test various hypotheses during your concept and product development cycle, by creating and measuring the response to messages targeted at the demographic of your stakeholders.

In practice, you would set up tracking and analytics tools (e.g. Google Analytics) to measure the success of your AdWords Campaign. This would allow you to determine if an adjustment is needed in your messaging, concept, target demographics, or all of the above. For the purpose of this class, we will be managing this side of the process for you and providing you with the generated reports as feedback.

Instructions:

  1. Clarify what you want to test. (e.g. Are you testing the existence of a particular customer job, pain, or gain or the interest in your value proposition?)
  2. Decide which demographic best describes the stakeholders you are interested in targeting. Demographics can include region, age, gender, and brief motivations / relevance to your concept.
  3. Select keywords.
  4. Design your test ad with a headline5 , link to your landing page, and “blurb” (1 or 2 brief sentences or questions related to your concept that might appeal to your target demographic).

Optional materials to review:

  • “Excerpt from How to validate your next big idea - Stage 1: Market Validation - Understand market size with keyword research”
  • “[FREE] Keyword Planner | How To Use The New Google Keyword Research Tool” 
  • “The Definitive Guide to Copywriting Chapter 3"

Part 3: Prepare Additional Prototypes (e.g. storyboards) and related discussion questions or other co-creation tools to use in your stakeholder engagement sessions.

Begin by reviewing what you want to learn from the stakeholder sessions and design materials accordingly.  Consider Steve Blank’s “3 column approach” for testing your problemsolution hypothesis. (See The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development, pp. 80-83, ‘Engaging Prospects’.) (Also see pp. 84-88 for perspective on the complete testing process.) The 3 column approach allows you to first test your assumptions about the key problem(s) your prospects have (providing insight into whether you are addressing the right problem), and then to test your proposed solution. Note, if you jumped right to your proposed solution initially and did not get a positive response, you would not know if this is because you are trying to address “the wrong problem”, or because your proposed solution does not address the problem in a compelling way.

Note: You may choose to combine Steve Blank’s 3 column approach with visualizations to elaborate on column 3 (your proposed solution), providing prospects with prototypes to react to.

For additional guidance on preparation and materials for stakeholder sessions, review, as needed, the following prior reading assignments:

  • D4GFB: Step 12: Make Prototypes (pp. 30-31), prototyping tools: Visualization Basics (pp. 76-77), Storytelling (pp. 78-79 and example on p. 130), and Storyboarding (pp. 80-81).
  • D4GFB: Step 13: Getting Feedback from Stakeholders (pp. 32-33 & Co-Creation Tools (pp. 82-83).
  • Excerpt from Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design - Part 3 (pp. 8-11, ‘MVP Catalog’, ‘Illustrations, Storyboards, and Scenarios’ and ‘Questions to Ask Customers’)
  • Testing Your Business Model: A Reference Guide pp. 9-10, ‘Innovation Games’. Deliverables for Part 1C: 

Part 4: Get Feedback from Stakeholders

Instructions:

Option 1:

  1. Conduct at least four stakeholder feedback sessions this week, and at least another four next week.
  2. Write a debrief following the format on p. 33 of D4GFB for each stakeholder feedback session.
  3. Consider using your landing page to record stakeholder engagement with your concept (See optional readings: “How to Demo your MVP Tips and Tricks” and “The MVP Interview Script” for helpful tips).

Option 2:

  1. Build an initial functioning version of your platform or other kind of app as a functioning MVP. To do so, use the “Epic and Child User Stories” to customize the app template on Bubble your team selected. Your app should focus on only one feature that exposes some aspect of your value proposition. You will have the aid of Bubble’s built in video tips, and library of instructional videos and feature guidelines. You also can reach out to Neerja (from Bubble) or Stonly for support. The deliverable for this step (you will continue to work on the app for HW_WK9 if you have selected Option 2) will be a link to your app that can be tested as successfully delivering your “1 feature” (as described in your “Epic and Child User Stories”) or to show the current version of your app’s attempt to do so.
  2. Conduct at least two stakeholder feedback sessions (rather than eight) over the next two weeks.
  3. Write a debrief following the format on p. 33 of D4GFB for each stakeholder feedback session.
  4. Consider using your landing page and prototype or MVP to record stakeholder engagement with your concept (See optional readings: “How to Demo your MVP Tips and Tricks” and “The MVP Interview Script” for helpful tips).

Module 9

Pitch Presentation and Executive Summary

 

Read:

  1. Want A Better Pitch? Watch This
  2. 7 Amazing Sales Presentation Examples
  3. Startups: How to Storyboard Your Pitch Deck in 10 Steps
  4. Make Presentation Data Less Boring
  5. How to Derisk a Start-Up

Guidelines for Pitch Presentation:

Prepare a 14 minute presentation (10-12 slides) that incorporates the following:

  1. Name The Enemy: “Never start a pitch by talking about yourself, your team, your product, or your total addressable market. Instead, start by naming the thing that’s getting in the way of your customer’s happiness. Do that by painting an emotionally resonant picture of how your customer is struggling, who/what is to blame, and why. When Musk shows this image of burning fossil fuels, you can practically hear Darth Vader’s ominous breath.”
    1. An overview of the current state of the specific urban challenge you are addressing, including evidence of an unmet need (What is the world like before your solution?)
    2. Photos, quotes from prospects, a key story from your research etc. are useful here. What did you observe or hear that can be used to paint a compelling picture? You want to develop the empathy of your audience.
  2. Answer: Why now?: ‘Audiences — particularly investors — are skeptical. They’re thinking, “People have lived this way for a long time — are they really going to change now?” Musk handles this objection by showing that we’re at a critical point in the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration: If we don’t act now, things quickly get much, much worse. When Musk says, “We should collectively do something about this,” his audience howls in support.’
  3. Show the promised land before explaining how you’ll get there: “Before saying anything about batteries, Musk describes his version of happily-ever-after: a civilization powered by “this handy fusion reactor in the sky, called the Sun.” Showing the enemy’s defeat before explaining how you’ll make it happen can feel wrong for novice presenters — like blurting out the punchline before you’ve told a joke. But when an audience knows where you’re headed, they’re much more likely to buckle in for the ride.”
  4. Identify obstacles – then explain how you’ll overcome them: “Now that you’ve shared your vision of the future, (a) lay out the obstacles to achieving it and (b) show how your company/product/service will overcome each one. (There had better be some big, nasty obstacles — otherwise who needs what you’re selling?)”
    1. A description of your solution and why it will work (solution’s name, brief description, visualization of how it works and stands out from alternatives, benefits (how it  changes the world))
    2. A visualization of your solution. This could be any of the prototypes or even a screenshot of your landing page or MVP app. You optionally may choose to pre-record a video capture of your MVP in use if it has reached that point of development. Do not attempt to demonstrate your MVP live. If you do not have an app to demonstrate, it is ok to use your wireframes or sketches that represent how you will deliver your value proposition. (You will not be graded on the completeness of your app.)
  5. Present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air: “Again: audiences are skeptical. So you must give them evidence that the future you’ve laid out is, indeed, attainable. Musk does that by letting his audience in on a secret: Powerwall batteries have been supplying the energy for the auditorium in which he’s speaking. As proof, he zooms in on the meter above, which registers zero power from the grid.
    1. For early- stage companies and products, demos like this can serve as evidence, though results from early (or beta) customers are more compelling. Least persuasive— but better than nothing — are testimonials from potential customers explaining why they would buy.”
    2. Evidence that validates a potential fit between your solution and the market need. For example, quotes and figures from your research and interviews.

 

Additional Items to Include in Presentation:

  • How and when you will generate revenue
  • The customer segment you will focus on initially
  • Size of market opportunity (e.g.  Is this a large problem? Does it affect multiple cities?)
  • Description of how potential customers/users discover your product/service and the marketing and/or partner channels you expect to use.
  • Description of other partners/suppliers that you will need in order to provide the solution.
  • Potential next steps to further test the commercial viability of this project including specific organizational support and finance strategies you might seek
  • Competitive analysis, if relevant.
  • AdWords/Website traffic data only if it is helpful.

 

Guidelines for Final Report:

  • Key stakeholders and current value proposition for each stakeholder.
  • Your current business model canvas.
  • Who you engaged with, why, and the method/materials used to understand the problem and develop & iterate your concept.
  • Who you reached out to unsuccessfully.
  • An image of and link to your landing page and/or app.
  • Your Google AdWords worksheet.
  • Insights from your research (including brief (1-2 sentence) interpretation of the results of your Google AdWords campaign.)
  • How you initially designed and subsequently iterated your solution based on these insights.
  • Key assumptions, clarifying which ones remain untested at this point.
  • What would be your next step in developing your concept to move toward product solution fit? Why? Be specific.

 

Format of Final Report:

Page 1

  • Concept Name
  • One-line idea statement:

A _______________________________________________ (label/description)

that allows ________________________________________(primary user)

to _______________________________________________(primary benefit)

by ______________________________________________(how your solution provides the benefit).

If you have a two-sided market, provide a statement for each side of the market (i.e. both customer/user segments).

  • Description of your products and services: 150-200 word description of the key problem(s) you are addressing, the customer segment you will focus on initially, and how your offering is differentiated from the current solutions.

Pages 2-3

  • Description of how and when you will generate revenue.
  • Description of how potential customers or users discover your product/service and the marketing and/or partner channels you expect to use.
  • Description of key activities your startup will perform.
  • Description of other partnerships/suppliers your will need in order to provide the solution.
  • Key strengths and weaknesses of your concept and the proposed business model. At a minimum, please include a sentence or two related to each of the following:
    • Does your value proposition effectively address important customer jobs, pains, gains? What evidence do you have?
    • What else did you learn from your research that supports or challenges your concept?
    • Competitive analysis
    • Key risks: E.g. regulatory obstacles, technological feasibility, competitive threat.
    • Size of market opportunity. (e.g. Is this a large problem? Does it affect multiple cities?)
    • Scalability