Innovation to Launch (I2L) – Connecting new venture stages with WHY, WHAT, HOW, and WHO

Introduction – Innovation to Launchtm  framework integrates lean entrepreneurship methods with traditional business management methods in order to reduce the risk of long term startup failure. 

The Innovation to Launch (I2Ltm) framework for organization creation was developed while I was at Alaska Pacific University  and working with professor Rachael Miller. The framework is a model based on contemporary work in “lean” venture creation methods and traditional business management topics that are integrated in order to examine the process of venture creation.  The model considers how an early startup search moves through iterations leading to becoming a stable, successful, sustainable venture.  Development of the framework led to awareness of a typical missing step that focuses on strategy assessment and development before business planning and fund raising. Further work has led to a long term focus on continued research in the varied and evolutionary planning processes and tools needed at each point in the framework, including in the launch phase and the need for increased prioritization of initial updated organizational planning immediately following fund raising together with strategies for organization and culture development in order to reduce the risk of venture failure.     

The “Goals”, added to the framework below, provide a perspective to see the intent of each stage as the founder(s) design the business and transition from a “Search” phase to the “Execute” phase and company building. (Reference to Steve Blank’s Four Steps to Epiphany.) 

I2L Stage Activity Goal Starting Point Outcome Business Results
Ideation Exploration (Ideation, Design Thinking, Sprints) Customer WHY Need, Challenge, Opportunity Customer validated value proposition Early Team, Prototype
Model Testing Business – Business Model, Lean Launch, SuWeekends Business WHAT Outcome Above Business Model Validation, Mentors Founding Team, MVP, Early Rev
Strategy Testing Market
Mentoring, Advisory Board, Customer engagement
Business HOW Outcome Above Market Validation, Strategic Partners Advisory Board, Strategic pilot projects, customer revenue
Plan Designing Path –, scaling goal(s), internal and external resource requirements Business WHO Outcome Above Business Operating and Finance Plan Investible (Team, Backend, Pitch) & Target Investors
Finance Creating Stakeholders  – Pitching, hiring, agreements/intent Secure Business Resources Outcome Above Funding Round Min Close Product, Sales, Cash Milestones
Launch Execute – Running the business! Stable, sustainable, functioning enterprise Outcome Above Return on investment objectives – investable Secure working capital, ROI

Application – The model was created between 2014 and 2016 in a series of iterations and engagement with the Alaska startup ecosystem.  The model has provided a way to discuss, assess and plan startup venture and community activities.  I’ve had some positive feedback using this with entrepreneurs to help them understand the path they will be following, for others this is too conceptual and process oriented.  It remains my intent that this will grow in to a framework to support assessment, training and education, research, startup accelerator and incubator program design, investment community growth and overall startup community coordination and vitality.  But, I have modest goals (J). If I had to boil down how this framework is best used at the moment, it is to look at the current situation in a startup or community and ask, ‘what do we do next’. I am proposing the addition in this framework of the “Goals” in order to clarify a discussion and decision on what the next best step is. 

A driving question behind this work is why after all of the improvements that “lean” and design thinking has brought to startups, we are not seeing any significant improvement in startup success after five years.  

I would appreciate questions and suggestions. 


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