What is a Lean Startup Canvas?

The Lean Startup Canvas (or Lean Canvas) adapts the Business Model Canvas to the Lean Startup method. It’s an ideal tool for entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs looking to formalize or iterate on new business ideas. The canvas is made up of nine sections to be completed in the following order:

  1. Identify your target customers
  2. Call out the user problems your product will address
  3. Hone in on your product’s unique value proposition
  4. Illustrate how your product’s features will solve user problems (from Step 2)
  5. Highlight the marketing channels you’ll use to promote your product
  6. Establish your product’s potential revenue streams
  7. Develop your product’s suggested cost structure
  8. Select the key metrics you’ll use to measure success
  9. Identify the unfair advantage your product has against the competition
Lean Startup Canvas Illustration

The Lean Startup Canvas methodology is perfect for launching new and innovative products. It creates a simple, yet comprehensive framework for building a clear vision, establishing a problem-solution hypothesis, and identifying the key metrics that will ultimately be used to measure a product’s long-term success.

It’s important to note that this technique is 100% iterative. Your Lean Startup Canvas should be updated regularly throughout the product development process to ensure that the product hypothesis takes into account everything you’ve learned in between iterations.

What does the Lean Startup method entail

First introduced by Eric Ries in his best-seller, “The Lean Startup”, this methodology was designed specifically to help entrepreneurs avoid wasting time building products that nobody wants. The primary goal of this framework is “to figure out the right thing to build—the thing customers want and will pay for—as quickly as possible.”

The Lean Startup method is essentially a feedback loop made up of three key stages:

Lean Startup Canvas loop Illustration

In addition to these three stages, Ries calls out two more elements that are critical for completing the full feedback loop effectively:

Lean Startup Canvas diagram Illustration

As a final thought on how to leverage the Build-Measure-Learn feedback look, Ries explains:

“Although we write the feedback loop as Build-Measure-Learn because the activities happen in that order, our planning really works in the reverse order: We figure out what we need to learn, use innovation accounting to figure out what we need to measure—to know if we are gaining validated learning—and then figure out what product we need to build to run that experiment and get that measurement.”

Suggested resources to learn more about the Lean Startup Canvas