Home The Startup Toolkit: A Canvas For You to Sketch Your Business Framework

The Startup Toolkit: A Canvas For You to Sketch Your Business Framework

When Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey spoke at the 99% Conference in April, he shared some tips that he found key to the successful development of his own business ideas. One of Dorsey’s suggestions was to “draw it out” – to commit your ideas to paper well before you start to worry about committing those ideas to code.

This impulse to “draw it out” lies behind the Startup Toolkit, a project started by Rob Fitzpatrick. The Startup Toolkit is an web-based collaboration tool, where founders can write, revise, and share their business plans and ideas.

Worksheets for Startups

The Startup Toolkit is based on the worksheets that fill Steve Blank‘s book The Four Steps to Epiphany. A proponent of Blank’s ideas, Fitzpatrick found that as he worked through these worksheets, it was sometimes difficult to track and revise information. He says, “Going through his documentation process was eye opening, but I found it very difficult to keep the documents updated. I mean, there are nearly 50 pages of them. And when you’re learning fast and changing beliefs all over the place, it’s hard to stay on top of the implications of those changes for your business.”

Visualizing Your Business Hypotheses

The Startup Toolkit then takes these worksheet questions and answers and arranges them in a spatial canvas. This method provides both an overview and a visualization for progress. Snapshots of the canvas can be saved, and there’s an offline PDF version as well.

“As founders, we get stuck in the day-to-day details and lose sight of the big picture,” says Fitzpatrick. “My core belief for the product is that by writing down your business hypotheses (or leaps of faith or risks or whatever you call them), you focus yourself on the correct questions, which is how to validate the big mysteries as quickly and cheaply as possible. That with just that tiny touch of scaffolding, we can make smarter decisions and be more successful.”

Fitzpatrick hopes that the toolkit will help translate dense business texts into an accessible format, so that startup teams can work through some of these frameworks together and can easily report on their progress to investors.

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