The Lean Start-up Methodology

-By INSME Secretariat

On the 28th of May 2020 the INSME Innovation Management Programme addressed a very interesting topic: the lean startup canvas. Andrea Di Anselmo, Vice President and Founding Member at META Group and INSME Vice President, intrduced this methodology, by presenting it as a very articulated approach to be analysed from the “early stage” angle, a very specific perspective which should be used when we deal with research results and young entrepreneurs.

The lean approach is extremely relevant to support young teams, especially the ones involved in research and innovation environment in universities or research centres, to better understand how to be more efficient and effective in using their knowledge.

If it is true that every solution has a problem and that not every problem has a customer – stated Andrea Di Anselmo – it is also true that every customer has problem and most probably every problem has a solution. Based on this and by using the design thinking as one of its most relavant features, the lean canvas is considered the better approach to address the challenges that researchers and innovators face.

The speaker highlighted that the canvas builds upon four main pillars which are:

  • The identification of the problem
  • The identification of the problem owner, that is to say our potential customer
  • The understanding of how the potential customer is dealing with the problem
  • The offer of better solutions.

The lean canvas has a very precise structure whose added value is the adoption of a bottom-up approach, a problem-driven approach. The first step is to start from the identification of the top three problems our target customers have and then to understand who are our early-adopters, meaning the ones who fill these problems more than others in the target group. Once the right people to talk with within the organization have been identified, we need to understand the solution they are adopting to solve the problem and this is the first step to identify our benchmark.

The Unique Value Proposition is fundamental in the lean canvas, it explains in a very precise and concise way why we are solving problems better than current alternatives. It is crucial to base it on facts and data as the more our early adopters can use our facts and data to compare our benchmark the more we will be able to convince them that our solution is what they are looking for.

Once we come up with the value proposition, then we can describe our solution highlighting what our solution is and how it is delivered. Nevertheless we will not be able to bring our solution to life, if we do not approach our custormers. Talking with them, understand what they are looking for, demonstrate what differentiates our solutions from others is the only way to be able think about numbers, cashflow and a business plan to design how to make revenues.

The canvas has to be used by keeping in mind that it is crucial to pay attention to contents, consistency and to validate contents with early adopters. By doing so we will have an extremely powerful tool that helps us in many different ways, for example to identify risks or to run an effective pitch. The more the information is validated the more the power of the tool is exploited that is why this is an iterative tool.

Andrea Di Anselmo concluded his speech with the following advice: “Try to avoid to repeat the mistake number 1 which is working on something that nobody wants, try to follow a problem-based approach, try to use the lean canvas to streamline our solution in an efficient and consistent way. The more we do this, the more we validate outside our labs talking to people and early adopters the more the tool will be powerful and the faster we will able in coming up with market-ready solutions.”

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