Assessing the potential for success of an early-stage venture

I have used this set of questions for the past 20 years and it has helped me, and the entrepreneurs that I have worked with, a great deal. When I was working as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at bCatalyst in 2001, I would hear these questions on a daily basis.

I was also heavily influenced by a book by a very successful entrepreneur turned "Mentor Capitalist" named Rob Ryan. Most of the questions below are taken from his book "Smartups".

In addition, the Business Model Canvas has been incredibly useful as well as Steve Blank's entire body of work.

1. Problem Being Solved - What problem is your company solving and how great is the pain or waste?

2. Customers - Who are your potential customers? Does the product or service directly impact your customer’s bottom line?

3. Value Proposition - Write down precisely how much your customer makes or saves by using your product. Does it save a measurable amount of money?

4. Sales and Marketing Strategy - Please identify the market size and market segments. How will you attract customers? Address distribution channels and how the company plans to
achieve market penetration.

5. Business Opportunity - Write down precisely how your company makes money. Describe
the revenue streams, and include a yearly projection of revenue, expenses, net income, and
funding requirements for the next three years.

6. Uniqueness - How do your customers use this product today? Who else does the same
thing you're doing today? Who else could be doing it tomorrow?

7. Barriers to Entry - Is your product defensible? Does your product, once built, throw up
sufficient barriers to entry? What patents, copyrights, trade secrets, etc. protect your product
from duplication?

8. Competitive Differentiation - What is the competitive landscape? Discuss companies that can be viewed as competition in the market segment. Please explain the key points of
differentiation between your product and competitors products.

9. Company Founders - Give a brief description of your key employees with respect to
leadership, education, background, and work experience.

10. Timing - Why is this the right time to solve this problem?

11. Scalability - Build a list of where your product might grow within your client company (and its supply chain and sales channels) or among client users.

12. Strategic Partners - Please identify any strategic partnerships required for the company to be successful. Explain the value each partner adds. If competitors already have partnerships, please list them in the competitive analysis section.