A blog from our Executive Director, Ben MacMinn.
I often get asked why we use the CO.STARTERS Canvas instead of the Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas when working with entrepreneurs. As we continue to support more entrepreneurs, this question gets posed more and more, so I wrote this blog to help answer some of those questions.
First, I want to help define a few terms.
Business Model Canvas
The Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a great tool to help individuals take a business plan and model and summarize it in nine categories on a visual chart. In 2008, Alexander Osterwalder publicly released the Business Model Canvas idea to help businesses describe how they do business without the complex details of strategy, systems, and processes. The nine categories on the Canvas include: key partners, key activities, key resources, value propositions, customer relationships, channels, customer segments, cost structure, and revenue streams.
In 2010, Ash Maurya adapted the Lean Canvas in contrast to the Business Model Canvas. When revising this Canvas, Ash wanted to ensure that it was intuitive, easy to understand, and accessible to people who don’t have a degree in business or MBA. In addition, this model is designed to focus more on early-stage startups and innovations by prioritizing the “customer-problem-solution” as the foundation of the business. In the end, the Lean Canvas is more straightforward, practical, and actionable than the BMC.
In 2008, entrepreneurs in Chattanooga, Tennessee, created, pioneered, and tested the CO.STARTERS curriculum, which reached more than 1,000 people in a short four years. To date, the CO.STARTERS network consists of thousands, ranging from small businesses to high-growth startups.
In 2019, StartUP Columbus adopted the CO.STARTERS program and Canvas as a part of our offerings. CO.STARTERS is a ten-week business development program designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs put ideas into action and turn passions into sustainable, thriving small businesses. We do this by encouraging participants to focus on their [business] idea and prepare it visually on the CO.STARTERS Canvas during a three-hour weekly cohort gathering in our Incubator Space in Uptown Columbus. The CO.STARTERS Canvas maintains the customer-problem-solution foundation of the Lean Canvas, but it is structured in a manner that is even more accessible for all entrepreneurs. It is approachable and uses simple, easy-to-understand language that addresses the full range of learning styles. It is practical, offering a tangible process for identifying customer problems, testing solutions, and adapting business assumptions to create a viable startup. It is collaborative by bringing people together to learn from one another instead of the typical instructor-classroom setting.
When we say the CO.STARTERS Canvas is approachable by using simple language, we mean it. The curriculum caters to a grade-school-level vocabulary to ensure the language is easily understood and well-received by all participants, regardless of educational background. No Ph.D. required! Because let’s be honest, some of the most outstanding startups came from those without a “formal education.” Throughout the CO.STARTERS Canvas, you’ll find robust vocabulary like problem, solution, benefit rather than rigid vocabulary like value proposition. Pairing the simplicity of this Canvas with the collaborative work of the CO.STARTERS program, our graduates are well prepared to turn their ideas into thriving businesses.
I want to conclude with this: I do not want to take away from the importance of the Lean Canvas, Business Model Canvas, or others out there–They each have a unique purpose and provide a different value to the reader. What we have found, though, is that when our starters complete the CO.STARTERS Canvas and program, they also gain the foundational pieces needed to complete any other Canvas and business plan should they need it.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, or a seasoned entrepreneur looking to launch a new product or service, CO.STARTERS is for you. Apply for our Fall Cohort today by clicking the button below. If you’re still on the fence about taking a chance on this opportunity, schedule a 15-minute chat with me by clicking the button below. We can’t wait to meet you!