You can use this framework to enable startup stakeholders establish a common understanding of the current status of the startup, which stage it is in (pre-seed, seed, or Series-A), and the next milestones in its evolution. This framework is not intended to be a cast-in-concrete structure for every single situation. The start-up stakeholders may adapt this to their specific situation.
Version 2 of the framework includes:
- An illustration of how to complete the framework.
- A description of why it is critical to have documented interviews of potential customers.
The simplest way to use the framework is:
- Go through the framework, component by component.
- Clearly and simply describe where the startup and place the description in the appropriate stage.
- Outline the key milestone, to get to the next stage and identify who is accountable for each milestone.
- State any critical issues.
The facts and assumptions you assemble will feed into the startup’s monthly cash flow forecast.
The framework reflects technology enabled services startups intended to grow into businesses with a valuation of at least $100 million. You can adapt this to other situations. This framework does not address fundraising.
You can download the complete template from my website:
The column headings refer to where the startup is at the beginning of that stage. The following is the defined framework. You will use this to position your company, state the future milestones and outline any critical issues.
|Product/Service||Idea||MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – A product or service with just enough features to have satisfied early customers, and to have obtained customer feedback for future development.||MVP has been revised until market/product fit is proven. Product/service ready to scale.|
|Value proposition: This is the customers perception. What are all the benefits achieved (financial and non-financial) achieved by the customers? What are all the costs incurred by the customer (purchase costs, costs to switch to your company, other adoption costs, ongoing costs)?
|Not validated with customers.||Customers have validated the value proposition.
Have documented experience with customers to prove satisfaction with MVP. Alpha launch completed and customers in place for Beta launch.
|Completed Beta launch.
Start to grow, month by month.
|Revenue||0$ to < $5K/month||>$5k/month||>$100k/month|
|Market Traction -Customer/Revenue growth||None. Might be a pilot customer.||Starting to generate revenue, increasing month by month||6+ months of 10% growth per month|
|Distribution channels i.e. how are you going to get it into the customers hands.||None||Initial identification and discussion with distribution channels.||Distribution channels in place, with low volume.|
|Profitable?||No||No||No. May be profitable 18-36 months in the future|
|Scalable?||No||No||Technology enables scaling at low marginal cost.
Processes in place to enable growing talent.
|Intellectual property||Maybe||Maybe||Must have legal or other protection in place|
|Co-Founders team||1-4 co-founders, could be part time.||2-4 full time co-founders||2-4 full time co-founders|
|Overall team||Co-Founders with relevant skills and experience.||Co-founders + 1-5 people with relevant skills and experience?||Co-founders plus 5-20 people with relevant skills and experience.|
|How long until run out of money||Personal cash flow plus friends and family will sustain co-founders.||6-18 months||6-18 months
|Advisory board, with regular communications processes in place.||1-2 industry credible experts||3-6 successful entrepreneurs, industry experts||6+ successful entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts|
|Board of Directors||None||1-2 co-founders||1-2 co-founders, 1 successful entrepreneur, prominent investor or industry leader
|Corporate governance: decision making, etc.||Informal||Clear decision-making roles.
Incorporation results in legal, financial, reporting requirements and policies.
|Decision making roles clear for investors, shareholders, board, and management.
Having employees drives requirement for talent policies and processes.
|Is the business viable||Unknown||Unknown||Yes. The question is, can the business scale successfully?|
|Source of funds||Personal, family, friend, fans, incubators, accelerators, government||Angel investors, lead investor.||Investors with deep pockets who can fund future rounds. Startup debt providers.|
|Financial ask||<$50K – $250K||$500K – $2 million||$2 million to $10 million|
|Market place communications||Little or none||Website, newsletter, and social media begun.||Enhanced website, newsletter, and social media processes.|
|Investor engagement and relationship management||Little or none||Defined the characteristics of target investors and investor introduction approach.||CRM technology and processes in place to manage investor and investor ecosystem relationships.|
|Cash Flow Forecast
|Likely none||Monthly cash flow forecast and tracking.||Monthly cash flow forecast and tracking. Ties to key milestones.|
|Financial and operational metrics
|Likely none||Know what the metrics should be.
Initial targets set.
|6+ months historical reporting of financial and operational metrics.|