Monitoring Startup Progress – Are We There Yet?

Dec 2, 2013 Startup Science 0 comments


In a startup, you and your co-founder are constantly under pressure and always have too many things to do! So how can you ensure that you’re focusing your energy and resources on the right activities?

Well, it is often said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and one way to keep your attention focused on the right things and judge progress is to identify metrics that make sense for your company, and then monitor your performance against these.

At JFDI we use a metrics board inspired by Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas as a measuring device and to highlight the part of the business model that our teams need to de-risk. It’s basically a grid with a list of items running down the left hand side.

So, which metrics are used exactly?Once a team has proven that they are performing as well as required against a specific metric, that portion of the metrics board is highlighted green as an indicator.

Over the next couple weeks we will post articles exploring the value to startups of each metric contained in the board, and list tools and resources to help startups deliver on each metric. This will provide those interested in participating in the next bootcamp with some insight into what to expect if accepted onto JFDI’s accelerator program.

Without listing every metric, we’re generally checking how well the teams have thought about the following:

  • problem – have they found one worth solving?

  • customer – who needs their solution?

  • channel – how will they reach customers?

  • money – are they making any?

  • sustainability – is the model potentially sustainable?

We have weekly check-in meetings built around this board, and obviously teams are eager to turn some of the blocks on the board to green; they’re pretty proactive in providing evidence to support their claims!

One team in our current bootcamp – Skimbl – is generating revenue by charging restaurants for their analytics tool. They have achieved this with outbound sales, and by building a solid understanding of their customers’ profile (expat owners in China). In their opinion, the next business risk they need to unfold is the funnel to inbound sales. JFDI has been working with this team to decide whether or not they have sufficient evidence to back up their claim.

Ultimately, as entrepreneurs, they are in the driving seat, and will need to dig through qualitative and quantitative notes to make decisions.

The metrics board is a work in progress and has evolved over the last couple of bootcamps that we’ve run and will continue to evolve. We keep the board projected all around the team working area; this serves as a gentle reminder for teams to focus their time and resources on what’s important!

Francois, CEO from team Healint (who are also in the current bootcamp) says:

“The board is good because it does actually represent the activities that will take place during the course of the 3 month bootcamp; and it’s a dynamic board – you know that when you look at it again in two or three days, it will have changed.”

We’ll post articles examining the value of each metric to startups and how they can improve their performance against each, over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in finding out more about our next program (March 2014), please do drop by to our Open House every Friday for a friendly and informal chat or leave us your email here.

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