This diagnostic canvas (*2) is a “radar” that helps to improve the accuracy in assessing the potential of a business idea for a startup in its early stages, from concept to market entry. It complements the holistic view of the business provided by the business model canvas.
Following is the description of the structure of the “Bell-Mason Diagnosis”, incredibly succinct and complete that Gordon Bell (*1) designed to systematically assess whether the business idea you are considering is worth betting on your time, career and resources. I adapted it for a canvas that can be used by a mentor, an investor or the entrepreneur himself to evaluate his idea in 12 dimensions that fall into four categories:
TECHNOLOGY / PRODUCT, with: Technology, Product and Manufacturing
1.a — Technology: Does the company have a measurable and defensible technological advantage?
1.b — Product: Does the product have well-defined and superior features or benefits?
1.c — Manufacturing: Is there a process or at least a plan to manufacture at a competitive price (outsource and self-produce the right things)?
MARKETING / SALES, with: Business Plan, Marketing and Sales
2.1 — Business plan: does the company have a good five-year plan with the first two years detailed (the minimum here is a business model with a descriptive document to begin with)?
2.b — Marketing: Does the company have a well thought out marketing plan (strategic and tactical) with the team to execute it? [In the first stages, we must also consider here the contacts / visits that were made during the Customer Development in parallel with the product development].
2.c — Sales: does the company have a sales plan that makes sense and a sales leader with a proven track record and understanding of space?
PEOPLE, with: CEO, Team and Board of Directors
3.a — CEO: Does the CEO have the character, energy and intelligence to make this happen?
3.b — Team: is the top team composed of high quality people, with the right experience and knowledge?
3.c — Board of directors: does the board of directors bring the right experience and knowledge and is it playing the right role (ie acting as lawyers and not as corporate decision makers)?
FINANCE / CONTROL, with: Cash (in cash), Finance and Operations
4.a — Money (in cash): Does the company have money to complete the current planned phase and start the next one while looking for its next round of financing?
4.b — Finance (investment potential): Based on market space, company stage, product, etc., are there several investors who would be ready to invest in the next round of financing?
4.c — Operations (control): does the company have adequate control over execution (for example, clear schedules, objectives, reviews)?
Give yourself a yes or no for each of them. Add your yes and you will have a sense of whether it makes sense to move forward.
Find out what you need to do to turn your numbers into yes.
As for the Startup Stage, here (for simplicity) we are considering:
Concept — The business idea is maturing, identifying the real problem and possible solution, team, partners, mentors,…
Seed — It is with the team, starting to develop and test the MVP and adjusting the solution to the problem.
Product — MVP is maturing, first customers, adjusting the solution to the market.
Market — Product launch, Start of marketing / sales, structuring and growth of the company.
Example of Spreadsheet with hypothetical data from a Startup:
* 1 — Gordon Bell helped found Microsoft’s research division (Microsoft Research), which now, with more than 1,000 scientists conducting primary research worldwide, rivals the research power of most universities. He started his career at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), where he worked on many of the most critical innovations that would shape computing. Along the way, he spent years as an active entrepreneur and venture capital investor.
* 2 — File in PDF version of the Diagnostic Canvas for Startups — download.
* 3 — Spreadsheet (MS Excel) to support the Diagnosis (according to the canvas) — download.
* 4 — Print this post to use with the canvas.
* 5 — Note: To simplify use, the method does not explicitly present some elements, so it seems to us that it needs more dimensions, but they can be considered implicit in the dimensions presented. For example: Communication can be treated in the Marketing dimension. Like Pricing, it can be treated in Product or Marketing. Time must be taken into account when changing stages, as Decision Making and Execution must be very agile in the context of Startups. The “Business Plan”, which is essential for the preparation of the Pitch Deck, must be simple, clear and objective — providing a view of the whole and briefly explaining its elements, including those not contained in the 12 dimensions of this Diagnosis.
Thank you in advance for your encouraging feedback to improve this material.
If you need help contact me.
Version in brazilian portuguese Descrição do Canvas de Diagnóstico 360° de uma Startup
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