Startup MVPs
November 9, 2022

Introducing Day One

There is an idea you’ve been thinking about. You even think it may work. It’s time to take the plunge— to risk it all. You know you have to work to do. Small problem though: you don’t know where to start. What looked like a clear go/no go decision suddenly looks blurry, obscure. You don’t know what to do.

That is what the typical scenario for most first-time founders is. One of confusion, uncertainty (more than the usual), and waning confidence.

Upon performing the research for the Day One framework, one of the most recurring pain points from interviewees, who were usually first-time founders, was: we took a class, then a workshop, and we don’t know what to do next.

It became routine to hear “everything just feels like it’s chaotic, like I don’t know what I am doing; it’s overwhelming; I honestly regret starting”. Many people say startups die due to poor marketing, bad timing, and a myriad of other reasons. While those are true to some degree, there are two fatal pills that kill startups: lack of cashflow, and death of the founding team’s motivation—a withering of the burning flame, falling of the petals of the flowery dream—the beginning of the end of what could have been. Motivation is extremely important to the longevity of a startup. The reason for this is because motivation drives momentum, arguably the single most important element every startup should strive to have. In the context of starting businesses, I see motivation as a two-ton elephant. When you ride it, you feel on top of the world, when it rides you, you’ll be lucky to survive it. A startup team without motivation is like Winter—cold—with employees dragging themselves to a soon to be non-existent workplace. A startup team with motivation is like Summer—warm—with employees feeling like they are doing themselves a disservice for not being outside (not being at work).

What is Day One?

Day One is a framework created to take a technology enabled business from a state where the business is a ghost town, with no one else but the founding team, to a future state where there are customers waiting to use a de-risked/validated product. Day one is a step-by-step process of idea validation and value creation which aims to create clarity, motivation, and momentum for founders starting businesses or working on new internal ideas.

We've also written an article on the top 7 ways to 10x your startup success, the main diagram (below) of which has strong correspondence to this framework. You can read that article here.


How Does it Work, and is it Simple?

The Day One framework is broken down into 18 bite-sized individual modules. Each module has examples to illustrate the Day One framework in a concretized form, removing the abstraction intrinsic to entrepreneurship.

The examples are in the form of a story, with the heroine, Jane, a new graduate with 3 ideas who is uncertain which to work on. Each example flows in tandem with the modules. i.e the examples flow naturally, in story form, from module to module.

An Overview of the 18-Part Day One Framework (Day One to your first 100 Customers)

1 ~ One or Many

Stage one deals with evaluating the idea based on team-market-opportunity fit. The goal here is to separate the wheat from the chaff as regards your team’s uniqueness (skill set, goals, desires, and aspirations).

Dependent on if one or many ideas are being pursued, different approaches will be taken. They are variations on the same theme. Therefore, they only differ slightly.

2 ~ Get it out of your head

This module simply deals with the articulation of your idea in a clear and concise manner. The goal of this module is to help you understand the idea better.

3 ~ Sniff Test (A)

Sniff Test (A) deals with informally talking to family and friends about your articulated idea in an actionable manner. The goal is to gather feedback from your family and friends. A key note here is they must not know you own this idea, so as to give non-biased feedback.

4 ~ Sniff Test (B)

Sniff Test (B) deals with informally talking to potential customers about your articulated idea in an actionable manner. They must also not know you own this idea.

5 ~ Fermi Estimate & Growth Targets

A fermi estimate is used to calculate orders of magnitude in physics. In entrepreneurship, a fermi estimate can be used as a quick filler to understand what metrics you will need to hit your goals/targets.

6 ~ Business Model (A)

A new business idea typically goes through a process of discovery of important truths. To discover these truths, a Lean Canvas is used to understand the business on a high level. A Lean Canvas also helps in verifying the different facets that make your business what it is—it helps you see your business as a whole, rather than the individual parts. We made some interesting modifications to how we look at the lean canvas, we quantified it.

7 ~ Semi- Structured Interviews

Semi-structured interviews are a form of interview wherein the interviewer asks the interviewee a series of questions, thereby following an interview script, but has the freedom to deviate or go off-script if relevant information will be revealed from the interviewee by that course of action. The goal of a semi structured interview is to gain deep insights to user’s problems, possible solutions, and how to market the idea. The truth is, if you know how to interview people, they will tell you unimaginable things, people will tell you everything.

8 ~ Surveys

A survey is a method of data collection used to gain opinions, thoughts, and feelings from people. The goal of the survey is to expand the scope of your interview. While it may take weeks to interview 100 people, you can get a survey to 100 people in minutes. Ideally, the survey will help validate what you learnt from the interviews.

9 ~ Data Analysis

This encompasses the analysis of data received from customer discovery. The goal here is to use empirical evidence to discover and define problems, solutions, ways to market, etc. As said above, people will tell you everything, you just need to ask the right questions.

10 ~ Business Model (B)

The second business model update comes after you have understood and empathized with the problems your customers are facing, how to solve them, and there’s ample knowledge on who the early adopters are and where to reach them. The second business model update is a reality check to the initial business model.

11 ~ Solutions

In the solution phase, you want to ideate on how to solve identified problems. Ideally, you want to focus on problem frequency and intensity. The goal is to discover the most painful and recurring problems.

12 ~ Viability Test

The viability test is a financial forecast to determine if the business will be economically viable. i.e. will the business, in the long-run, make enough revenue to cover its cost? If so, when, and how may units need to be sold. The goal is to discover if the business is viable in the long term and the resources needed to create viability.

13 ~ Build Prototype (Fake)

This stage requires building something minimal which presents potential users with a glimpse of what the solution is. The goal here is building something for users to see what a potential solution will encompass.

14 ~ Test Prototype (Fake)

This stage encompasses testing the fake prototype with potential users. An important factor here is that they can take an action important to your business model. Important actions include things like; buy now, sign up, etc. The goal here is to see if people care about your solution, and if they are willing to do what you want them to do, ideally a revenue generating activity.

15 ~ Build Prototype (Real)

This entails building a fully formed interactive prototype which looks and feels like what the actual product will look and function like. The goal here is to build what you think the solution is to the most painful problems customers face.

16 ~ Test Prototype (Real)

This stage encompasses testing the prototype with target customers to gain insights on if the prototype solves their problems. The goal here is to get feedback from users on if the prototype provides high utility to their lives, and if the problem is being solved in ways that are easy to understand or familiar to them. This stage is like a usability test.

17 ~ Build The MVP

****This encompasses building the minimum viable product that solves the most painful customer problems that will drive a key change in their habits and generate revenue for your business. The goal here is to build something important enough to a customer that they try it and stay. And something that also tests the key revenue generating/important actions of your business model. After testing the prototype (see 16 above), iterations would have been made from customer feedback which increases the success ratio of the product/business.

18 ~ Track MVP Progress, & Metrics

This encompasses tracking key statistics and metrics that are important to your business model. Platforms such as MixPanel, and Segment are particularly good at tracking such metrics. The goal here is to pay close attention to what is working, and what is not. Yes, people may tell you things, but product analytics will tell you what they do, rather than what they say they do. The goal here is to understand key customer behaviours and optimize your product for stickiness based on what you learn.

Who Does Day One Help?

  1. Founders

Day one helps founders (not just first-time founders) starting companies. It helps founders stay more organized, reduces the confusion and chaos intrinsic to new business development, and creates clarity on what to do, and how to do it at each stage, with examples.

  1. Product Teams

Day One can also help product teams stay more organized and systematically create and track new product or feature development.

How Can I Get Access to the Full Day One Framework?

This scientific layer to the art of entrepreneurship is presently a work in progress, but you can gain access to our more detailed version by sending our a team a message in the chatbox. It’ll be unrefined so we welcome your feedback!

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