Chapter 9

Reasoning with ideas

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Early stage startup ideas look a lot like this bucket:


Needless to say there is usually a lot of holes in our ideas, and that’s fine. The important thing is finding those holes early, and doing work to plug them.

Challenge Session

A challenge session allows us to get rapid feedback on a concept. We run these both internally with the Ops team, and again with our partners. The idea is to allow everyone to constructively teardown an idea so we can get a better sense of the challenges and assumptions with our ideas.


  1. Allow 5 to 10 minutes present the opportunity and idea. Either from the New Venture Canvas, or a deck.
  2. Allow 2 to 4 minutes for people to write feedback on post-it-notes by themselves.

    Encourage people to base their feedback on the venture scorecard criteria

    Scoring Criteria

  3. Go around the group and let people present their notes.
  4. Decide as a group where the feedback goes on the assumptions matrix.

Challenge grid

Suggested Attendees

Aim for a mix of people who can offer specialist feedback, for example representation from:

  • Growth
  • Venture
  • Product
  • Engineering

Concept Criteria

Below are some criteria we think are important when reasoning with early stage ideas, and can help frame conversations.

Customer need

Do we have a clearly defined problem statement or customer need, along with a specific segment?

Big Market

Is this a worthwhile market for Founders Factory to enter? Do we think we could build a sizeable business here?

Fresh idea

Has this idea been done before? If so do we understand why it didn’t work, and do we have another take on it?

Sector expert

Have we spoken to an industry expert who can vouch for the concept?

Customer waitlist

Did we manage to get any interest from potential customers through a smoke test or some other form of validation?

Partner support

Has one or more of our partners committed to support the project in some form?

Active customers

Did we manage to get customers to pay or actively use the product?

Good timing

Are market conditions right to build this business right now?

Business model

Do we have an idea of potential revenue streams for this concept?


Is there anything about this concept that is defensible?

Execution difficulty

In the context of our Incubator, do we have the ability to execute?

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