What is Lean canvas

Lean Canvas is a way of effectively tracing the most important hypotheses regarding business development whose creator is Ash Maurya. It is presented in the form of a table that consists of nine divisions but we will speak of them a little bit later. Lean canvas is specially structured for entrepreneurs to write down main points of their business models. It is also useful, as it ensures us that we had acknowledged all the areas, highlights problematic sections and finally helps us with risk identification.

In this particular article, we will look at development of a mobile application using the lean canvas model.

Lean canvas model

This is the way lean canvas model looks:

lean canvas model

Now, let’s look at each of nine divisions separately:

1. Customer Segments: who is your target audience?

2. Problem: certain problem of your target audience that you are solving by creating an app.

3. Solution: the way you are going to solve this problem.

4. Unique Value Proposition: What is your app, why is it unique and why should somebody buy or use it?

5. Channels: the way your app will be distributed on the market?

6. Revenue Streams: the way you monetize your app.

7. Cost Structure: what will be the price for using your app?

8. Key Metrics: how will you know whether your app was successful or not?

9. Unfair Advantage: which qualities of your project can not be repeated?

This is the adviced order of filling the lean canvas model, but if you prefer to fill it in a different order you can do so. Also, it is absolutely fine to leave some sections blank – it indicates that this is an area of specific risks and it needs to be given more attention.

Creating the lean canvas for app development

Before talking about creating lean canvas for mobile startup, you have to find a suiting lean canvas to work on. Here are some suggestions:

• Use the Lean Stack – a free app that will provide you with online version of lean canvas.

• Use Balsamiq (it is a part of the App Creation Toolkit).

• Print out the canvas and simply write everything down on paper .

Now that you have chosen your lean canvas, let’s take a closer look at each of the nine parts of the table. Here you will also find many useful tips that are going to help you creating Lean canvas for an app. Here we go!

Customer Segments

creating lean canvas

No doubt, it is hard to create a product, if you are not familiar who your users and customers are. Moreover, it is impossible if you do not know the difference between the user and the customer.

“A customer is someone who pays for your product. A user does not.” (Ash Maurya).

A user can end up as your customer by using your paid app. On the other hand advertising partners can also be your customers. Do not use too broad concepts, such as “a person with a smartphone”. Try to take into account more diverse factors, such as preferences, geographical location, family status and so on. A good example in this case would be “a man of 30 years who loves his dog” or “a young mother from San Francisco.” Perhaps you can come up with several portraits of representatives of your target audience, write them all down and let’s continue.

Problem

In this section, try to clarify as briefly as possible the problems that can be solved with your app. Most likely, there will be several such problems, but it is not worthwhile to describe them for too long, try to reduce the amount of them to 3 for each representative of your target audience.

Solution

In this section, you need to present how you are going to solve the problem of your consumer. Here, too, it is important to be concise and to ensure that the number of solutions is not too large. If the number of solutions is accustomed to 5 or 6, I advise you to return to the problem and delete the unnecessary moments. There are two reasons for that:

The first reason is that the product with a huge description of the features will be hard to sell. The customer most likely does not want to read into the long list of functions and add-ons, he needs to quickly understand how the application will solve his problem. The second reason is that the solution is likely to change when you get to know your customers more closely and start developing the actual app.

Unique Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition has to be a one-sentence statement that describes your app and what it is about. Now it may seem that this is the last important section of the table, but it is one of the most relevant. As we have already figured out, the customer will most likely give quite a bit of time to the description of your product , so having read your unique value proposition, he must understand that he found exactly what he needs. Most likely it will be difficult to write uvp right from the beginning and most likely it will change in the course of your business plan matures and you getting closer to the target audience, but it’s definitely worth trying.

Finally, you can also use such a tool as high-level concept. Basically it is one short sentence in which you compare your app with another one that you customer know well. For example Instagram – Twitter for photos. It is not that relevant, but it can still help you with finding your customer.

Channels

One of the hardest parts of developing an app is selecting channels. Many developers believe that if they created a certain application and put it on the marketplace, then it will quickly find its customers. There can be no greater mistake. The struggle for top places in the rating on the market is very harsh, so you should count on a few channels, at least at the very beginning. In the early stages, you will understand which features are the most important for your users and how much they are going to pay for it.

So look for other channels that can support your first channel:

• Inbound Channels (pull messaging)

• Blogging & Social Media

• Outbound Channels (push messaging)

• Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising

• Cold calling

• Friends and family

• Customer interviewing

• Others: print advertising and trade shows

Revenue Streams

lean canvas for mobile startup

The pricing structure is also a moment, which is important to think of in advance, because otherwise you risk simply to spend your time and energy developing an application that does not bring you absolutely no profit. Perhaps your first impulse will be to put your product on the marketplace for free, because you do not know how many of your future customers are willing to pay for your product. But it will be a mistake. There are many reasons for the existence of free applications, beginning with the fact that some of them are beta versions, ending with the fact that entrepreneurs do not know what price to charge for their goods. So I advise you to think carefully about that.

Cost Structure

So, there are several points, that you should keep in mind while creating your cost structure:

• The actual cost amount.

• How often will the consumer pay for using your application.

• Fixed vs Operating Costs.

At this point, it is important to write down two things:

1) How will you profit from your application?

2) How much do you need to sell to break even?

Key Metrics

Here you need to specify how you will measure the success of your project.You may find your app successful when you will earn a certain amount of money, or maybe when you will get a special kind of feedback from your users, it is really up to you here.

Unfair Advantage

Here you must describe the specific qualities of your project, which can not be repeated by your competitors. Such things can be for example unique features of your app.

But be careful, there are also things, that can’t be an unfair advantages:

• Being the first on the market. First does not mean the best, someone better can come every day.

• Lowest price. Again, someone can always make their price lower.

• The best quality on the market. You can’t always be the best.

So, now you know how to create lean canvas for a mobile app. Hope, you will succeed.

Read also: How to Pitch Your App Idea to Investors

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