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We have learned through our own work and through the Startup Genome Project, that startups that leap from idea to scale tend to fail. Like a building with weak foundations, startups need to discover the mechanics of a business model that customers love before attempting to scale it. Big companies do this all the time.

To manage this, we move companies through a lifecycle we call “Success Core”.


Below are some rules-of-thumb we adopt when working in large enterprise to create new growth,


Team Anyone from the company can decide to run an idea stage project. 1 or 2 people
Purpose To develop a prioritised war chest of ideas to move into Stage 2.
Funding Up to $1,000 can be claimed in expenses.
Activity Develop the first hypothesis and get some customer validation.
Product Lean canvas + lessons learned from customer tests.
Customer Must involve at least 1 customer.
Time 2 weeks. Can be part-time.
Next Share at quarterly ‘Dragon’s Den’ sessions and submit to Innovation Council. Assessed for priority queue into next stage.


  • Lean canvas completed.
  • Some LIGHT evidence that Problem, Customer, Solution OR Unique Value Proposition assumptions on lean canvas are valid through things like:
    • Positive click through from teaser ad campaign
    • LOI from customer
    • Landing page conversion from interested customers


Team Customer Development Team – 2 or 3 people full-time and autonomous.
Purpose To validate that customers find specific value in a solution.
Funding About $200K
Activity Detailed customer interviews. Experiments that show the customer taking action. Prototype building.
Product Simple minimum viable product. No technology choices to take longer than 1 day to get started with. No dependencies.
Customer As close as possible to real customer context. Customer likely knows they are in a trial. May only be one customer.
Time About 3 Months
Next Exit > Stage 3 / Proof of Market
  • What is the riskiest hypothesis and can you prove OK?
  • What would you need to see to invest your own money?


  • Evidence that Problem, Customer, Solution AND Unique Value Proposition assumptions on lean canvas are valid through things like:
    • Successful tender from customer study
    • Pilot customer using a manual version of the experience with metrics showing problem solved. At least crudely.
    • Prototype testing leading to customer signing license deal.


Team Customer Development Team – About 5 people full-time and autonomous + other resources as needed to scale the parts of the business that are becoming known
Purpose Strengthen value proposition to be more sticky and work in other use-cases. Search for channels, revenue models. Proven business model by exit.
Funding Up to $3M
Activity Building higher resolution product, testing model with more customer segments. Search for repeatable and scalable sales and marketing mechanics.
Product Full, high resolution product. Still may have manual processes but the customer should not notice.
Customer B2B – Clear path to $100K monthly revenue. Consumer – Clear path to 100,000 users
Time About 12 Months
Next Exit > Stage 4 / Proof of Scale


  • Evidence that ALL parts of lean canvas are valid through things like:
    • Path to $100K MRR for B2B solutions
    • Path to 100K users for consumer solutions
    • Proven, repeatable acquisition channels.
    • Known cause and effect for growth,
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