The one framework every sports tech startup needs to apply (besides the Business Model Canvas): imec’s Innovatrix model

3rd Apr 2020

Since its initial development in 2005, the Business Model Canvas (BMC) has spread throughout startup land and quickly became one of the most used business model frameworks.

Compiled of nine different building blocks, it describes a business’ or product's value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances, and thus creates a full overview of the business.

But in the case of many sports tech startups, this creates a few issues.

For example, the BMC is rather static and shows one state of your business; thus implying that you have figured out how exactly your business should run.

Also, if you find yourself still at the start of your startup journey, it doesn’t provide you a way to test and adjust… which is what you probably need when trying to enter the market with a new or innovative product.

And that’s where imec’s Innovatrix steps in.

“There’s a dark place in startup land, which is called ‘the innovation graveyard’. It’s filled with innovative products and businesses that unfortunately died, mainly because they didn’t have the right problem-solution fit,” says imec innovation manager Joris Finck.

“The main reason for that is due to the fact that many starters who are developing product or service ideas tend to assume a lot of things without any form of validation. They make assumptions concerning who their customer is, which problems they encounter, and how the (competing) playing field looks like. If those innovation teams then start creating & developing without testing those assumptions, they might end up building something that is not even desired by the market."

“That's why imec designed Innovatrix; a science backed innovation management tool designed to bring structure and focus to startups, to help them make the right decisions... so that they don’t end up at the innovation graveyard."

"Wether you're a startup with just an idea and lacking a proof of concept or MVP, or you already have a working prototype - you shouldn’t jump into the market unless you have tested and validated your assumptions. As soon as you have the slightest idea of who your customer is, what problems they experience or what needs they get confronted with, that’s the time to start using the Innovatrix tool. It doesn’t matter how clear these aspects are to you at that time; these are exactly the aspects that need to be validated."

“On the one hand, Innovatrix puts the user or customer at the center and pushes startups to map out any assumptions based on shared knowledge within the team. On the other hand, it helps define the current and the future state; what’s the customer’s situation without your solution versus how is his or her life going to look like with your solution?”

“As a startup founder or team, Innovatrix will put pressure on you from different angles and you will get a lot of insights, tricks and advice. But the most important thing that you will get, is focus - which is the most critical element in the course of building a successful startup."

"One of the biggest issues startup founders encounter concerning focus, is the fear that making a certain choice might later show up as a wrong decision. Which actually is an unfounded fear; prioritizing only means making a choice on what comes first. It doesn't mean you won't be able to try the other possibilities, it just means you evaluate the other possibilities depending on the outcome of the first one.”

“So the core of the Innovatrix is providing a dynamic and iterative framework. It’s about mapping assumptions about what we think we know about a certain customer segment, and then perform research and testing on those assumptions through explorative interviews, short customer A/B tests, observations and surveys, etc, all with the end goal of discovering a validated product or service to successfully enter the market.”

Sounds exactly what you need? We're here for you.

At SportUp, we provide early-stage sports tech startups with an acceleration program based on the Innovatrix framework. If you have a sports tech idea or are an aspiring sports tech startup with a link to the Belgian market, we can assist you in your startup dream. For more information, contact SportUp program manager Kristof De Mey.