Online Workshop- Venture Design IV: Engineering Your Business Model

For the current workshop page, please see ‘Business Model Canvas Workshop‘. The notes below describe how, where and why this workshop fits into the venture design series. 



This is the fourth workshop in the series and I’m often asked- why? Isn’t creating a viable business model paramount to having a successful venture? Am I one of those loonies that doesn’t believe in revenue or business models?

No. First of all, I’m old, 38, nearly ancient by the standards of my industry. I’ve lived through the bust and since then I’ve mostly been in plays that are very functional and ROI-oriented. I’m a huge believer in revenue as litmus test and assuring a viable business model.

business-model-canvas-driversThe reason this workshop falls where it does is that even a lightweight tool like the Business Model Canvas tends to promote planning/premeditation over learning and experimentation. There’s been a lot of great work linking the Canvas with assumptions from which experimentation is supposed to follow, but that’s the reality of what I’ve learned working with both entrepreneurial teams and intrapreneurial teams. Most people I work with move from:

  1. a big, loosely defined vision (good place to start) to
  2. a focal set of personas, problem scenarios and value propositions to deliver on those problems to
  3. getting in front of real people and situations to learn about #2 to
  4. a variant of their approach that’s actionable to
  5. basic experimentation on validating their core concept to
  6. needing to vet out the business model
  7. (and then figuring out if/what minimum-viable-product they should build and what it will do for them)

And it’s really that focal pairing of personas (customer segments) and value propositions that drives the rest of the business model. Prior to that, worrying about a business model distracts from the vastly more important task of learning about what makes prospective customers tick and how to deliver on that. From a Venture Design perspective, this is why Design Thinking is a foundation element and Lean Startup is a core element. Around that you wrap a business model.

Again the workshop page is: Business Model Canvas Workshop