Phil Morle 🖖🏻

Feb 24, 2022

The Venture Science Canvas: my 'napkin' for starting a new company with advantage

When we start a new Venture Science company at Main Sequence, we design advantage into the company from the founding moment.

We've been using a variation of the Business Model Canvas to think through the design.

Introducing the Venture Science Canvas.

The canvas describes the first sprint to proof. On the left had side are elements that describe conditions for success and the right hand side shows expected outcomes.

We create these companies with founders who have the means to deliver the impact of the canvas. Corporates that can deliver go-to-market, insights, supply chain access. Research organisations that can feed decades of R&D into Day 1.

In the end, we want to look at a completed canvas and assess whether or not we have what we need to begin.

It helps us be specific about what we each bring to Day 1.

Let's walk through each cell.

#1: Planetary Need

What is the mega trend that this company will rise from?

More than 'a problem' but a condition of profound need that we have no choice but to address as a planet.

#2: Breakthrough Technology

What is special about our technology that no one else has?

Given that we are starting with a research organisation with depth in this area, what can we build that other's can't?

#3: Build Advantage

The core science is one thing, building it at any scale is often hard.

How will we demonstrate our technology working at any kind of scale? Do we have facilities in the founding team that can be instantly deployed to build?

#4: Funding / Resources

Do we have what we need to demonstrate a step change without compromise?

Deep tech companies may need more capital and will certainly require special access to resources. On Day 1, we want to be obsessed with proof delivery not rummaging around for the resources we need to get it done.

#5: Unique Value Proposition

At the centre - make it pop! What is the one line description will attract people to the company?

This should reflect the rest of the canvas.

#6: Billion $ View

These companies are hard. We don't like to start unless there is a potentially large version of the outcome.

Describe what the company looks like when it reaches a billion $ valuation.

#7: GTM Advantage

Like the Build Advantage on the other side, how will our founders deliver rapid go-to-market?

We want to surprise people. 'You did it HOW FAST?'

What infrastructure and customer base does this company have on Day 1?

#8: Customer Focus

What will the company already be doing with customers in this sprint?

Deep tech companies often stay focused on the lab work in Day 1.

We don't want to do that because we know customers teach us what to build.

The sooner we start working with them, the sooner we generate 'pull' from the market that will help this company grow.

#9: Metrics / Targets

How will we measure proof?

How do we convince ourselves that we can do this and what will we show next round investors that impress?


Give the canvas a try and let me know how it goes.

I write about my work building deep tech venture most days on Twitter.

Phil Morle 🖖🏻

Partner at Main Sequence - VC purpose-built to create global companies from scientific ideas with the inventors who imagine them.