Business ideas are worthless

Ideas are seen as the starting point of successful businesses.

The truths is that the initial idea doesn’t really count in the success of a business. I would argue that what matter over the idea is the the vision you have and how you will pursue it.

Here is how Jeff Bezos express it:

It’s easy to have ideas.

It’s very hard to turn ideas into a successful product. There are a lot of steps in between and it takes persistence and relentlessness. So I always tell people who think I want to be entrepreneurs: you need a combination of stubborn relentlessness and flexibility. And you have to know when to be which.

Basically you need to be stubborn on your vision otherwise it will be too easy to give up.

But you need to be very flexible on the details, because as you go along pursuing your vision you will find that some of your preconceptions were  wrong and you’re going to need to be able to change those things.

Taking an idea successfully all the way to the market and turning it into a real product, that people care about, that really improves people’s lives, is a lot of hard work.

How coding shapes your thinking

This article was first written and published for the Business Coaching Magazine.

When you write software all day, it shapes your thinking. Your brain is trained and you build up mental automation.

Interestingly, some of these thinking patterns are the same as those of successful entrepreneurs.

If one imagines a developer as a geeky introvert hiding behind his computer and closed in his bubble, what’s happening on the surface is very different from what is happening in his mind.

While programming, a developer is hyper-focused. He is on a mission to develop a software. So what is developing?

Developing is about learning

With this goal in mind, the developer drafts a possible architecture to build his software and gets to work. He writes his first piece of code and tests it.

The feedback is immediate! Does it work? Does it compile?

If not, the developer reviews and adapts his code, correcting his thinking, re-writing his program and testing it again and again until it works.

He revisits his thinking and learns how to build this piece of software.

In fact, after the programming is done, a developer can rewrite the exact same software about a 1/3 of the time it took him to write the initial program. He has learned and corrected his approach.

Working like this teaches you that you never get it right the first time. Test and learn becomes a reflex.

This is the thing developers share with entrepreneurs. The ability to test, learn and adapt.

Coding is about reaching out

Bugs and program errors are sometimes very hard to find, understand and fix. The developer needs to find the source of the bug and the solution to it. Very often the developer searches the web for similar cases or reaches out to the developer community to get help. Getting help and learning from peers is typical behaviour of developers.

Coding is about limitless possibilities

New applications are always amazing us: self-driving cars, facial recognition, complex computations, medical algorithms, search engine, etc… Developers KNOW that anything is possible with software. It’s just a matter of time to build it and perfect it. Developers see possibilities where others see obstacles and blockers.

Coding is understanding the bigger picture

Before coding, the developer takes a step back to understand the wider context of his work:

  1. De-zooming to grasp the essential function required. How is the software going to be used? what should it do exactly? How will this bring value to the company?
  2. Imagining the solution: the developer needs to understand the technical environment in which his software will work- like a piece that must fit perfectly inside larger puzzle.

Coding is an act of creation

The developer creates the software. He imagines the solution and brings it to life by coding the way he wants. He chooses how to build it, his tools he will use, where he will start, the functions and variables of the program, etc.. Developers have the freedom to express their creativity. The only condition is that it has to work.

Coding makes you happy

Programming is rewarding. I realized a few years ago while programming that developers experience a state of flow defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as a state of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment.

To enter this state of flow you typically need :

  • a clearly defined goal
  • a challenge adapted to your skill
  • immediate feedback

As a result, you enter a state of flow recognisable by:

  • an altered perception of time. …
  • great inner clarity
  • and a sense of serenity

Programming allows you to experience this flow.

Personally, I have noticed those patterns as a developer and while coaching innovation teams with developers. Developers already have those mental automations.

Can Big Corporations innovate better than Startups?

Increasingly, Startups are disrupting established companies that are wealthy with resources and most importantly with customers. On February 2019, two founders of modern entrepreneurship — Steve Blank, creator of the Lean Startup movement and Alex Osterwalder, inventor of the Business Model Canvas and co-founder of Strategyzer — discussed what it takes for big corporations to innovate better than Startups.

The insightful hour of conversation is available on the Strategyzer youtube channel.

Here is the transcript of some extract of the interview.

Today startups are pure competitors

Alex Osterwalder: What makes startups more inclined to innovation and to disrupt industries?

Steve Blank: It is worth visualizing startups, companies and government agencies and the percentage of these organizations focused on innovation: 100% for startups, between 0 and 10% focused on innovation for companies and the rest on execution and that’s normal because they already found the product/market fit, close to 0% for government agencies.

The whole idea of Lean Startup started when we realized that startups are not smaller versions of big companies. Vice versa, a large company is not a larger version of a startup because it’s bound by different constraints than early-stage ventures.

In the 20th century, startups were bound by capital, they had a couple of million dollars, today startups have more capital in large rounds than corporations have for their entire yearly budget.

Startups were seen as incubators for large corporations and today they are pure competitors.

What big corporations can do to respond to startups

Alex Osterwalder: A lot of things are working against large corporations. Startups are focused on creating a new growth engine and often it is disrupting the established players and they are extremely well funded now so they go faster.

Is there anything that large corporations can do? or is it like a life cycle? Is the fall inevitable?

Steve Blank: You’ve implied there is a natural life cycle to a company. In the 20th century, Deloitte and McKinsey have looked at this and said the average life cycle is about 50 years. Nowadays it’s closer to 15 for a public company. This means something is happening to them, not that CEOs have gone stupider, it’s just that the environment has changed. Yet companies don’t have the tools, methodologies and skill sets to respond. However, there is a cookbook :

  1. Companies can actually figure out how to incentivize external resources to focus on disruption. For example, Apple on the app store or the Nasa gave money to Space X.
  2. They can acquire external innovators. For example, Google buying Android. Beware of the risk of mismatched cultures, processes, and incentives. Companies almost always strangle the newly acquired innovation culture unless they are really careful at how they manage disruptive acquisition.
  3. The third way is to rapidly copy your innovators but use your business model to dominate. For example, Microsoft copied Netscape web browsers, Google didn’t come up with pay-per-click, it copied Overture’s to sell ads. The risk for large companies is that if you copy without understanding deeply the customer problem, you could end up with solutions that miss the point and might be a failure.
  4. The fourth way: innovate better than existing disruptors. It is extremely difficult for companies because it’s more about a culture process problem than a tech problem. Startups are born betting it all but large companies are executing and protecting legacies.

Disrupters with off the shelf components!

Alex Osterwalder: Big corporations say they can collaborate with startups. Can something come out of that? What are the guidelines to make something work?

Steve Blank: It goes back to culture and leadership in large corporations. I remind people that large companies have handbooks of processes, financial metrics, culture, all built in and focused on execution. They recognized that the bills are being paid by people who are just turning the crank.

But companies need to become ambidextrous: chew gum and walk at the same time! They need to be able to execute and have an innovation culture in parallel. In the 20th century, it was a “nice to have”, in the 21st century it is a requirement. However, the problems still remain.

Companies are almost always run by horizon 1 executors. CEOs who are great at playing golf, understanding sales, numbers, managing process and all. The innovation stuff they know the words but never came up with that culture.

Now they are dealing with disruptors who in the old days would have required years to come up with some tech disruption. Now disruptors can get off the shelf components and commodity components and come up with the disruption of business models, that’s what’s scary.

Get disruption out of execution organizations

Alex Osterwalder: In terms of metrics, ambidextrous organizations, cultural space, innovation, what can large organizations learn from startups that they don’t have today?

Steve Blank: If you wanna do something disruptive, it cannot sit inside an operating division of a functional organization. It is important to distinguish between incremental innovation and adjacent innovation (level 2).

If you truly want the disruptive stuff, it cannot start inside. Why? Because we’ve seen this all the time: no budget, not possible to hire the best assets, resource allocation doesn’t allow it. If you’re not committed, don’t do this.

If we just put these people in an internal incubator or accelerator, we’re also going to fail. We have created an innovation theatre and not an innovation pipeline (an end to end process). That is the ambidextrous part.

What’s the equivalent to a process driven, stage gate driven engineering process that takes a year to get a product out versus a fast track operated speed emergency and deliver MVPs that are just good enough process that actually gets things out of the door?

Right now we seem to confuse innovation with what needs a demo, like a startup but forget we need to connect it to delivery. How does this get to a customer? Typically innovation teams don’t want to have those political battles on day one. However, if you’re not having those conversations about what an end-to-end pipeline looks like for innovation delivery then welcome to t-shirts and cool coffee cups but you’re ain’t going to deliver anything.

Failure in large corporations is not the same thing as in startups

Alex Osterwalder: Organisations often copy the part of startups that is the least impactful. How to copy the attitude to failure embraced by the startup world?

Steve Blank: Another reason why you want to pull innovation groups out of execution groups is that in a large corporation, we have job specifications and descriptions. Title on a business line, detailed job specs. In a large corporation, it comes from HR. This job has been done before, we know what the requirements are, what you need to do day-to-day and we know how to measure you. Failure in a large corporation for the execution part is a real failure.

In a startup, there is no job specification. On day one, we’re just guessing, that’s why failure is not a failure in a startup. Failure is actually learning and discovery, we’re doing hypothesis testing. We’re taking every part of the business model canvas that we built and say let’s run experiments here and we’re gonna get data, derive some insights and invalidate our hypothesis based on the data.

It is not the same mindset compared to execution.

You need a different set of measurement tools and a different culture. One group is doing execution of the business model and the other one is searching for a business model.

The incubator is part of the innovation pipeline but if you don’t have the connecting tissues from sourcing innovation to delivering the product, you haven’t build anything productive.

Don’t confuse motion with action. The goal is not for you to demo cool stuff. A chunk of big corporations are having fun incorporating what they think is innovation. The actual goal is to deliver on time stuff with speed emergency that people need.

Entrepreneurship is a calling

Alex Osterwalder: Many of the entrepreneurs who succeed don’t succeed on the first time. They understand the innovation pipeline because they’ve done it from end to end several times. Can entrepreneurship be learned? Is it a profession that can be learned over time?

Steve Blank: I was a practitioner and now I’m an educator. For founders, entrepreneurship and startups are a calling, not a job. If you’re not called, you shouldn’t be anywhere near a startup. Entrepreneurship is a miserable job. It’s much like being an artist. Most of the time, it’s not fun, you’re doing it because this a calling, passion, you’re driven to do this. We’re having fun because we are engaged with our passion, not by a job specification.

We should separate the early stage team from the later stage team. Almost every successful startup has at least two people, that’s the entrepreneur paired with the innovator. It’s very rarely embodied in a single person. The innovator might be the Steve Wozniak who came up with the Apple 2 but there would not have an Apple without the entrepreneur who is Steve Job who could create a reality distortion field and remove money from people’s wallet before he had anything and convince investors he was going to change the world.

Or Bill Gates versus Paul Allen. Paul Allen innovated and Bill Gates was the business strategist, he built the distribution channel and was the one to turn Microsoft into the company it became. Elon Musk doesn’t build rockets engines or cars, it’s JB Straubel who you never hear about who came up with the entire battery architecture used in Tesla cars. For every startup, you see that pairing almost from the beginning.

Why an Innovation pipeline?

Steve Blank: In a large corporation, the entrepreneur is someone who knows how to push products unto the finish line. But in the past, we kept telling these stories of heroic innovation without realizing that maybe we should build a repeatable process internal to companies rather than making those stories a one-off. That’s why we came up with an innovation pipeline which says let’s start with sourcing and get a whole lot of internal and external ideas into the company and then let’s do problem curation (figuring out the solution sourced match any problem that potential customers might have), then let’s prioritize the things we have in our pipeline either by product line or by horizon 1, 2 and 3 and then let’s do hypotheses testing and solution interviews. Finally, some of it might actually require integration.

The last part about pipeline which most people ignore (and that’s why the stuff die) is how we integrate this into our existing channels or engineering organizations or functional units to get it out of the door or if it’s unique enough we get internal funding to stand it up as unique division or sales channel. That’s a good internal process.

The Innovator versus the Entrepreneur

Steve Blank: You must be passionately committed to get stuff out of the building and see your idea turn into something used by thousands of people, then you are at the right place.

I’ve seen people get confused because entrepreneurship is trendy and is the thing to do.

To me, an innovator is someone who has an insight about creating something that never existed before or making something that exists much better. In Silicon Valley, we tend to think of technology innovation but it could be an innovation about a channel opportunity or pricing or something that is unique. Most innovators are not the same people who would go out and raise a million dollar for that idea or even, within a company, figure out how to convince your sales channel to do something different or convince your CEO or your board to invest in a new factory. It takes a different character. Those are entrepreneurs, people who know how to make something happen against all odds. It’s not the same as an innovator. The combination is very rare.

Using internal resources to pivot to an adjacent market

Alex Osterwalder: Is it imaginable to have inside companies corporate entrepreneurs on a salary that get the same kind of results that entrepreneurs get? Take action on venture money or on a salary is very different. Can those two exist or can it only happen outside of the corporate world?

Steve Blank: It can happen in large companies but in a different way. Companies are at a huge advantage when they figure out how to embrace innovation in both strategy and tactical operations getting an innovation pipeline.

For example, Spotify decided that they’ve been looking at the world incorrectly, they shouldn’t just aggregate music, their additional business model should be monetizing podcasts. Both of them are audio and nowadays people listen to music as much as they do podcasts on their mobile devices. It’s just bits. Except that one doesn’t have a gatekeeper (like the music industry). Spotify said why don’t we try to become the dominant player in monetizing podcasts and use the same tools and technology to do that. That’s an amazing example of a company using its internal resources to pivot to an adjacent market and say “we already own 10 of millions of users who are paying us for music, why don’t we just get them over to podcasts”. Just like Apple turned to phones from computers. It was a major pivot for a company but they used what they had: massive brand loyalty, manufacturing resources, supply chain resources.

I see a lot of large companies having a lot of resources but they need to take advantage of these resources. This goes back to leadership. If leadership is just interested in fending off investors, spending money buying their shares back, they don’t give enough time to pivoting.”

An innovator, an entrepreneur, a delivering process?

Alex Osterwalder: How realistic is it to create the role of the entrepreneur inside of a large company to boost innovation culture?

Steve Blank: The difference between giving labels and creating teams. Almost every great product or service begins with this question: Step 1, is there an innovator? Step 2, is there an entrepreneur paired with this innovator who wants to take that idea and expose it to the world? Step 3, is there a process built end to end that helps this team deliver that product or service?

What we need to do first is to develop this process and have a pipeline. If you don’t agree with what the process is, starting with job titles and specifications seems backward. You just want the most passionate people into this.

Companies whose culture is already innovative

Alex Osterwalder: Do you think that the large companies, historic companies of the past never really laid down this process to be adaptable?

Some of the most innovative companies are still being led by their founders: SpaceX, Apple when Jobs was alive, Netflix, Tesla, Amazon.

You must build innovation in your culture and then the process flows down. Life cycles in most industries are compressing.

Large corporations have natural corporate innovators. Do they know where they are?

Alex Osterwalder: What I observe is that it’s not a people problem. Do you think that companies have to work more on their talent recruitment?

Steve Blank: There are more innovators and entrepreneurs in large companies than in the startup world, They just made different career choices but they are there. What they lack is a process that allows them to innovate and execute at the same time. Companies beat out of these people the experimentation and risk-taking mindset.

Where do these creative people go inside your company to pull this off? What’s their goal for delivering stuff and how is it resourced? If you can’t find a space for them in your company, you are going to have a bunch of frustrated people in your company who might leave or might not be contributing up to their potential.

For innovations to emerge

Alex Osterwalder: So it leads us back to these ambidextrous organization. We need to create this physical space, mental space, and incentive program so that entrepreneurs can emerge.

That’s when the horizon model can arise. How does this horizon model H1, H2, H3 from McKinsey apply? Can you elaborate on that because it is very much related to this topic of disruption?

Steve Blank: There are still disruptive ideas which require years to build. A lot of physics and construction experts say it is going to take a couple of years. A lot of things require time but the key idea is that startups and you have realized you could build disruptive ideas with existing components of just reconfiguring the business model. Uber did not require a ton of new technology. They realized they had internet, drivers, here you have a new business model. Airbnb certainly did not require a new set of inventions. They needed software to manage their service but it was a business model innovation. Those type of H3 innovations looked like minimum viable products to large companies, they start the business without all the features… but it’s very disruptive. Or the scooters out there are now billion dollars market cap opportunities. Good enough and disruptive is very different from “I’ve got a 100 000 customers I can’t ship this thing, it didn’t pass the QA and the policy meeting and the strategy committee”. Meanwhile, other people are throwing stuff out and refactoring it and working on their product/market fit in the field. It makes companies incredibly nervous.

The problem is the people who are implementing those disruptive strategies building disruption out of H1 existing tools are not the incumbent, they’re the attackers. They have nothing to lose, no legacy to support, no infrastructure to support and no customers and brand to worry about.

The minute where you hear your legal team who says “you can’t do that” you realize you don’t have the fast track innovation pipeline where the focus is speed, emergency, and product delivery.

From business model writing class to experiential class

Alex Osterwalder: What are the most important things we need to teach entrepreneurs or corporate entrepreneurs?

Steve Blank: The capstone class in big universities often was “how to write a business model with a 5-year forecast” but we know that no business model survives first contact with customers. That’s not how the world worked. Of course, you need an operating plan. There is no way that sitting in your office you could pre-compute customer needs and desires. So I came up with this line “there are no facts in the building so get outside!” and that became the heart of customer discovery and customer development. The classes have now been adapted. They are team-based, they are experiential, students go talking to customers, and built around hypotheses testing of your business model canvas. You think that’s your customers, run tests and find out. You think that’s the 10 features they’re gonna want? Let’s build an MVP. In the classes I teach, these teams talked to 150 clients in 10 weeks and build an MVP every week!

I figured if students could do that, this could be the core of what could be the innovation pipeline inside a company. Surround that with innovation sourcing, prioritization, problem curation and then figuring how you can integrate this stuff with the rest of your organization, you’ve got a plan.

Investing in skills training to transform an organization

Alex Osterwalder: Experiential is important. When we work with teams, we train them and then they go back to the execution engine and we get a new team so they don’t accumulate enough experience with this process to really stick to it and they go back to the execution process.

Steve Blank: Seniors don’t realize how much you must invest on corporate entrepreneurs/innovators for them to really become professional.

We want to build successful entrepreneurs and innovators inside companies that are not afraid to experiment and learn and discover. This goes back to this culture of failure. In Silicon Valley, if you have an honest failure, we call that experience.

Make sure that you have a culture that supports successful innovation and entrepreneurship, not just that you deliver something at speed emergency, it’s about that “did you rapidly gather enough insights to kill your project”?

I see a lot of Zombie projects that never die. Because there are no internal metrics and there are no kudos to be able to shut down your own project because you’re afraid you’ll never get another chance at it. With ambidextrous organizations where the culture and pipeline process are very different from a stage gate and execution process, you will get ahead.

This pipeline I describe for Horizon 3 companies can also be implemented inside Horizon 1 and Horizon 2 organizations. It just has a very different focus inside those organizations. In those organizations, these pipelines become very tactical and focused on incremental revenue gains for quarterly stuff but it’s the same process, it just has a different focus and culture.

A startup is a matter of survival — Large corp can never get there

Do entrepreneurs move from startups to large companies or are they not the same people?

Steve Blank: In a large company if you think you are doing a startup, you are wrong. You’re innovating but you are still in a place where the lights won’t go out if you don’t succeed. You are still going to pay your mortgage and put your kids to school if your idea fails.

A startup is a year and half of terror. If you don’t find product/market fit or you don’t raise enough at the next round, you’re out of business. In a company, that sword over your head doesn’t exist so it changes the nature and motivation and the amount of risk you’re willing to take.

I’m not suggesting that one is better than the other, but as much as you try to emulate a startup in a company, you just can’t get there exactly.

And for small-size companies?

Alex Osterwalder: How can small and medium-sized companies deal with this topic?

Steve Blank: Whether you are large or small, you still have to think about your customers, the product-market fit and should be running these exercises continually. Lean Startup is an invaluable toolset whatever your scale. However, you must be wary of what you read. When you get venture capital that allows different scales compared to small capital. If you are a small business, be careful not to compare apples and oranges.

If you want to learn more about how to think and move like a startup, contact me on Tango.

Lean Startup: Impact pour nos Grandes Entreprises


Venu de l’ingénierie de la Silicon Valley, le Lean Startup est en train de révolutionner la façon de créer les startups. Mais pas que. Cette approche pratique et systématique commence à faire son chemin dans nos grandes entreprises françaises.

Le Lean Startup reconnait que la réussite d’un produit passe simplement par son adoption par le marché. Les clients et utilisateurs sont au centre de la démarche dont le but est de comprendre comment créer, livrer et capturer de la valeur pour ses clients.

Face à la planification de développements souvent sans fin, elle prone des itérations rapides sur une version minimal du produit (MVP = Minimum Viable Product) qui permette de mesurer les comportements des clients et à terme de mieux comprendre leur besoins et attentes. Partir d’une idée de service, construire un premier proto avec le minimum d’efforts, mesurer les comportements des utilisateurs, apprendre ce qui marche et qui ne marche pas et itérer. C’est le cœur du Lean Startup, la boucle build-measure-learn.

Le principe est simple : comme la voie du succès est ponctuée d’erreurs, autant les faire le plus vite et à moindre coût afin de pouvoir réorienter ou faire « pivoter » le concept autant de fois que nécessaires.

Aujourd’hui leadées par quelques spécialistes visionnaires (peut-être même illuminés aux yeux de certains), les grandes entreprises en France adoptent le Lean Startup.

    Dans l’entreprise le Lean Startup sert:

  • aux directeurs innovation qui cherchent à équiper leurs équipes de méthodes
  • aux product managers qui utilisent ces outils pour comprendre les besoins clients et faire évoluer leur produit en fonction
  • aux départements marketing qui comprennent les limites des études de marchés et cherchent à renouer le contact direct avec leurs clients

Dans ce monde en constante évolution, le Lean Startup émerge comme l’approche business adapté à notre temps.

How to use surveys to learn from your customers

Too often I have seen entrepreneur trying to understand their customer need by sending them … a survey.

“Please rank those feature in order of preference”

Because surveys capture what people say – which is different from how they behave – they don’t provide insightful data.
Worst, they provides data that too is easily misinterpreted and lead wrong insights…
The most useless survey question I have ever seen:

How much will you pay for a service that does such and such…

Whatever the answer, make sure you ignore it.

I have seen 2 rare occasions of useful surveys:

  1. to (scientifically) pick the best domain name
  2. to measure the customer pain. An entrepreneur sent a very long and boring survey his potential early adopters. When the results came back, he did not look at the actual answers but at how many people actually finished the survey. A direct measure of how much trouble they are will go through to get a closer to the solution to their problem. A measure of their pain. He then identifies the most eager early adopters.

Both of those examples are about validation, not discovery.

What do you think ? Do you have other examples of survey that worked ?

Which Canvas for My Project ?

So, RIP the business plan, long live the business model canvas. A new light and fresh tool that helps brings ideas into business. Now canvas and boards are popped up every where on the radar. This will help decide which one works best for your:

The Business Model Canvas
proposed by Alexander Osterwalder
Mother of them all, it’s the original canvas used the business model generation book. The canvas most widely used and documented.
To use this tools, describe your business on each of the 9 sections of the canvas (value proposition, customer segment, channels, customer relationship, key activities, key resources, partners, cost structure and revenue stream). You then treat what you have in each sections of the canvas as hypothesis. And those hypothesis might be true or false and your job is go out and learn from the field, with practical experiments which hypothesis are valid and which are not. With what you have learned, you will then change your canvas and do the same thing, until your business model is validated. Overtime, you end up with many different versions that you can overlay to see the evolution of your idea.

Download the Business Generation Canvas in PDF.

The Lean Canvas
proposed by Ash Maurya


The lean canvas is the cousin of the business model canvas coming from the ‘lean start-up’ business family. Compared to the business model canvas, it focused on the product and the market. It brings to the front the problems you are solving, the top 3 features and the key metrics you should track, leaving on the side the ‘how’ to deliver the solution. To use, this canvas, again, write down you best answer on each section, then test and iterate. This is a guide on how to create your lean canvas (pdf).

I have found this canvas is best suited for early stage business.

The Validation board
proposed by Lean Startup Machine


I found this one the most practical to quickly validate and iterate on your project idea. As the lean canvas, the problem / the customer approach and forces you to test systematically, report on results and iterate on the very same sheet and on different versions of a canvas.

The Validation Board helps you:
1. Formalise your customer segment and problem statement
2. Test assumptions one by one – starting with the riskiest one
3. Design your experiment (or MVP) and the success criteria (before you run the experiment)
4. Track the results of your experiments overtime
5. Focus only on the problem and customer segment at the beginning (later include the solution)

Here is how to use it:

Download the Validation Board in PDF.

The Happy Canvas
by Laurence McCahill


The happy canvas brings an interesting angle to the list. Like the others, it captures the problem, the solution, the early adopters and the value proposition.
What’s new is the Purpose & Vision, Value and Story. Ok, I can see how those are important for a startup business. Important to define and agree on with the other founders, but surely not something you want to iterate on every day or week.

Maybe I had a Happy Canvas in 2002 before starting RVR System, it would have saved lots of disagreement with the other co-founders. One of the reason startup fails is because of co-founder disagreement, and many be this ‘Happy Canvas’ help avoid that.

Download the Happy Canvas in PDF.

Lean Startup Machine experience

I recently attended the Lean Startup Machine workshop in London.

WOW. What an experience. 2.5 days of immersion to develop an idea into a viable and meaningful product, searching potential customers and refining the idea. A lot more excitement than what many of us get in our day job.

This workshop provides an opportunity to work on a real case, in the safety of the sandbox, guided by very helpful and insightful mentors. In teams, we practice the running experiments, building MVP, invalidation assumptions, pivoting, and ultimately doing customer development.

If you have read the Lean Startup book, this workshop is very much in the continuity and applying the theory to a practical business idea. Definitely recommend for anyone who has enjoyed the book.

Here are photo photos of the event:

Rafael explaining why you get out of the building and talk to people.
Rafael explaining why you get out of the building and talk to people.

Tim and the mentors
Tim and the mentors

My Team, working on the Public Democracy concept, with Luca and Stuart.
My team (Public Democracy concept) with Luca and Stuart and our Validation board.

Spring in Tunis

Earlier this spring, I was in Tunis. I took this opportunity to listen to people’s opinion on the changes that Arabs springs brought, two years after the events.

My first probe is with the taxi driver. He says, the revolution is great, people can speak freely now. With democracy it’s all for the better. And changes the conversation, pointing out cars on the road: look, this is the Renault ‘Symbole’ this car is not ‘allowed’ in France – and this one, it’s a bigger Twigo, also not allowed in France. Ok, then, it’s better and happy here.

The next day, I ask the question the people I came here to work with. Well, one of them says, the country is adapting, everyone is excited about the change and welcoming democracy with a newly found sense of freedom. But he says, people don’t known exactly what democracy means yet – and everybody have their own interpretation. He says it creates some of chaos – as some think that democracy is doing whatever you want. And he tells me this story of his friend that asked for a beer at the airport bar. The bar tender replied ‘No, I don’t want to serve you’. He complained to the boss who replied that he is powerless, he can’t control his employes anymore. They do what ever they want.

Democracy, freedom, rebellion, revolution ? Or just spring ?

A Tunisian demonstrator holds a sign during a protest against the Islamist Ennahda movement in Tunis

WordPress as a base for building web applications quickly


WordPress has grown a lot in the past years to become on the most popular platform for web application. TechCrunch runs on it, and it’s used by CNN and other high traffic websites.

From a software development perspective, it provides out of the box a lot of the standard features a web application needs – such as sign-up, login, forgot password, navigation, content editing, photo sliders.

This leads me to consider using wordpress as a base for building web application. It does provide the standard feature a web app needs and can be extended to support more features.

Here are some of good articles I have found on the case:

What is business ?

Dad : I want you to marry a girl of my choice
Son : No !!
Dad : the girl is Bill Gates’ daughter
Son : oh.. okay

Dad goes to Bill Gates
Dad : I want your daughter to marry my son
Bill Gates : No !!
Dad : my son is the CEO of World Bank
Bill Gates : oh.. okay

Dad goes to the President of World Bank
Dad : appoint my son as the CEO of your Bank
President : No !!
Dad : he is the son in law of Bill Gates
President : oh.. okay

This is value creation!