The NPE Canvas: Fundamental Principles for any end-user facing product

We see hundreds of companies in the dealflow every week. Most of the time, it’s easy to associate them to a specific sector and to ask questions accordingly. However, some of the most challenging part is to detect something early on that has yet to be realized. And It’s even more difficult with end-user facing products especially mobile consumer applications who secretly hope to become the next Facebook, Snapchat, Tinder…

A little over 18 months in the job at Kima Ventures, I have invested in few mobile consumer applications such as Zenly, Tribe.pm, Yellw.co, Jodel.com, Sounds.am… And it hasn’t always been easy to build conviction over some of those teams and companies. Luckily enough I have known the founders of Zenly since January 2013, I have followed the path of Cyril Paglino since 2013 as well and for the record I had turned down Yellow and Sounds several times before finally committing to invest.

To build a popular, strong, long lasting experience towards consumers takes time, talent and hard work. One must be patient. That’s why it fundamentally matters for entrepreneurs to reflect on a few core principles to never loose sight of where they’re heading to (or at least trying to…). Otherwise they might get lost in their quest of building something unique, meaningful and solid that could eventually reach hundreds if not dozens of millions users who will remain active overtime.

So here is the framework I use to understand and reflect on any end-user facing applications: The NPE Canvas > Narrative — Primitive — Enablers: Think of a spider web in which you’re trying to catch your users.

I know this is ugly :)

The frame of your web is the Narrative: it’s the Profound, Authentic and Sustainable behavior of your users on which you build your experience. It’s initially something that can be complex to frame and understand until it becomes ridiculously obvious. Everything you build should serve your narrative at some point. The narrative of Tinder is the ego (90% of the users only swipe & chat), Snap is the need for non judgmental genuine interactions, Zenly is the need to know where your people are…

For the users to be able to express themselves within the narrative, you need a Primitive: core, simple, and self-sufficient. The latter is critical, it’s the ability of your primitive to hook the users without any additional features. The primitive is something you never stop working one while keeping it simply actionnable. The Primitive of Tinder is the swipe & match, Snap is the instant camera, Zenly is the map.

Now that you have a strong primitive allowing your users to express themselves within the narrative, you need Enablers to enhance, strengthen and amplify their experience. Snap has the lenses for instance.

As a founder, you must reflect on the narrative and the primitive of what you’re building. Take some time off, open your favorite text editor and write down a 1 or 2 pages about it.

It must be simple and obvious to anyone reading it :)