September 16, 2021

BizNest: The startup validation platform

Mark Taylor

When athletes race, the winner will be decided long before the crack of the starting gun. Elite performers know preparation is essential - Training. Diet. Race strategy. When the gun fires the athlete should be peaking and ready to hit maximum speed.

This is the same in the startup world.

Aspiring entrepreneurs have game-changing ideas. However, the lack of preparation means even strong propositions can fail. Entrepreneurs are so keen to launch, they omit critical stages.
Like an athlete with massive potential, but tight hamstrings, they'll pull up before they really get going — and lose a race they were meant to win on paper.

To ensure all startups have the best chance to succeed I founded BizNest.
A startup validation platform for entrepreneurs to test the viability of innovative ideas.

Want to learn how? Read on!

This Article Contains:

Why startups fail

So firstly, let’s take a deep dive into the problem, and understand why so many startups fail in the first place.

There are many reasons for startups failing, but the biggest reason (by far) is because they build a product with no market need, as demonstrated from this research by CB Insights:

Source: CB Insights

Ultimately, the main reason startups fail is because they don’t validate the market demand for a product, before diving into building it. So why do many startups build a product without a need in the market? Why is this you ask? There are three main reasons:

1. They don’t know the process

The majority of founders will have gained some form of experience working for an established business (note I said business, not startup).
Established businesses repeat a business model that already works. Subsequently, their main goals are focused on executing a plan, and becoming more efficient.
By contrast, startups are searching for a business model that works. Consequently, the goal of the founder in an early-stage startup is to learn, and not to blindly execute a plan.

This table below, created by The Power MBA shows some of the key differences between ‘Low Uncertainty’ (established) and ‘High Uncertainty’ (startup) businesses:

Source: The Power MBA

The core difference is that in an early-stage startup you are trying to learn what works, and not simply executing a plan of what you believe will work.

This required approach for innovation goes against what many founders have already learnt in the corporate world. Understanding the goal of a startup, depending on the stage it’s at is vital for creating something viable.

2. Proper innovation is hard to manage

Creating an innovative product requires frequent experimentation. The goal is to run small experiments to test your assumptions with real customers. As you can imagine this churns out a lot of data; managing all of these insights, and crucially knowing what to do with them, is tough.
Key insights from customers get lost along the way and founders proceed to build a product that isn’t centered around their customers.

There are also different skill sets required at different stages, which is why having a diverse and competent team is paramount. This brings me to the third reason...

3. They can’t find the right support

Successfully launching a business requires a lot of support. Even a seasoned entrepreneur will need to utilise others for guidance, funding and carrying out certain tasks. Support is a broad area and we define it at BizNest as all of the key people who will support you along your journey. This may include:

  • Co-founders
  • Investors
  • Mentors & advisers

Knowing who to bring on and when is no easy feat, especially if you’re a first-time founder. The way a startup is presented, who is involved, and the traction they have gained all play a big factor in the startup's ability to build its dream team.

Ok, there’s lots of support available, so let’s take a look at what’s already out there to help navigate the startup maze!

What currently exists to help?

For the above 3 points, there are existing solutions that can provide support.


Incubators can provide fantastic support for early-stage founders. They combine a structured program with mentorship, and at the end may even have a ‘demo day’ where program graduates can connect to investors.
Programs typically lasts around 12 weeks and are combined with guidance from experts at certain stages to provide bespoke feedback.

Many incubators will specialise in certain industries e.g. cyber security, AI, or FinTech. Incubator programs can be free or paid and the benefits provided really depend on the nature of the program.


  • Provides a structured program
  • Access to mentors and investors


  • Supply issue - less than 2% of UK startups get into these programs. Over 80% of Incubators in the UK are based in London which leaves many outside of the capital without the required support
  • Typically run in cohorts and therefore require a time commitment which isn’t suitable for aspiring entrepreneurs with full-time jobs

Business Schools

Over the last 20 years or so, there’s been a real insurgence of entrepreneur support programs within business schools and universities. They operate similarly to incubators but tend to be less structured. They focus on providing connections to seasoned advisers and investors who can help to support talented teams of graduates.


  • Access to mentors and investors
  • Great community vibe


  • Can be very expensive
  • Requires significant time commitment

Online Resources

There are a plethora of resources online to help entrepreneurs. Most of these offer guidance on how to develop an innovative product, along with a community to connect with other founders. The main communities that are active and worth their salt are:

  1. Y Combinator Startup School - A startup school created by the famous accelerator; Y Combinator. They provide educational videos and a support community with can help with staying accountable.
  2. Indie Hackers - Active and engaged community of product makers. Quite tech-heavy, but very supportive and offer great support and events.
  3. Startup Grind - You’ll need to have some start with your project to be accepted into the ‘grind’ program but if you do they offer discounts for tools, connections to mentors and global events.


  • Free and accessible
  • Active communities (on some platforms)


  • No digital tool to manage the process of designing, running and analysing experiments
  • Do not let founders take the tangible steps toward validating a startup idea
  • Community aspect only works well if the founders know what they need

The key takeaway

Over 80% of startups are created by first-time founders and the challenge for most entrepreneurs is they don’t know what kind of support they need. We’ve seen many founders with an app idea immediately want to hire a CTO, before conducting any market or customer validation!

Innovation does have a clear process, which is taught successfully in top Incubator programs. The lack of this process in a digital environment means that founders are left feeling lost and overwhelmed from online resources. Connections created online are suboptimal as the stage and current challenges of a founder are not fully understood.

There are Incubator programs and University Business Schools providing fantastic support, but only 1.8% of UK startups get into Incubator programs and Business Schools require a significant fee and time commitment. This leaves the majority of entrepreneurs without the necessary support.

What BizNest is and how we are different

So what exactly is BizNest?

We are a startup validation platform that helps early-stage startups and innovation teams to properly undertake the process of building an innovative product. Specifically we help them to:

  1. Identify the key risks associated with their venture
  2. Systematically test these risks by planning and running experiments
  3. Manage all of the insights they’ve collected in one central location
  4. Connect to key people who can help them to grow faster such as investors and experienced advisors
  5. Network with like-minded founders in an active community

This is achieved by combining three core offerings:

BizNest reproduces the core services from the worlds best Incubators, online.

Providing a Process

We created our workflow by combining the best practices from Innovation Frameworks such as Design Thinking and Customer Development.
Essentially, an Innovation Framework outlines the required steps for creating an innovative product, and are typically applied depending on the stage of the startup, as indicated by this graphic from Gartner:

Source: Gartner

My team pleaded with me not to include the above infographic, but I thought it helped to illustrate the point that one framework does not fit all and the best approach to building a startup is to use a blend of the best practices.
How, why and where we’ve used different frameworks for the BizNest workflow is something we are going to cover in more detail in a further post, so watch this space!

There have been many Innovation Frameworks created and whilst they differ in some ways they typically share one core principle:

All innovative startups are surrounded by risks. To make the venture a success the founder/s must successfully identify the key risks and then test these in the market with real customers.

With this in mind, here are the 3 main steps we took when creating our workflow:

  1. Developed a list of all key risks innovative projects must consider. These risks were adopted from the Customer Development Framework and the Three Lenses of Innovation.
  2. Created core tasks with dependencies that entrepreneurs should finish before jumping into subsequent ones, which helps to promote focus.
  3. Outlining the goals that an entrepreneur should achieve for each stage.

This is what we’ve ended up with:

The key steps required to go from an idea to Product-Market Fit

At each phase in the workflow, the founders must focus on validation by identifying and testing key risks with the market or customers.

Making Management Easy

Don’t get me wrong, education is important, but it only solves part of the problem. The web is full of guidance on how to build a startup but very few resources that actually provide a tool to make tangible progress.

We’ve embedded into our platform a mechanism for running experiments and then storing customer and market insights all under one roof:

Our repeatable process for validating startup risks

This key feature ensures that as founders move through the workflow they actually move the needle towards validating their idea.
Exactly how is done will be covered in our next post, which will be focused entirely on the first step of Risk Identification. (Subscribe below

Management might sound dull, but we promise this process will be fun and engaging! Imagine building a viable startup being as fun as playing a game.
Something we are looking into...

The Ultimate Support Network

We are building a network of mentors and active investors to help support startups. Connections are made based on the startups’ stage, industry, market type and their current challenges. Our workflow gives context to connections; all users within the ecosystem will have a more detailed understanding of how and where to find the right support.

You may have heard the expression ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ - this could not be more applicable than in the startup world.
A diverse and experienced team is much more likely to build a successful business. Period. Our skills matrix outlines the core skillsets required to build an innovative product. Once founders have mapped out their own attributes, they can then identify gaps that need filling and source these via our network.

Startup teams tend to consist of core skill sets and characteristics and while our matrix is still in R&D mode, I can reveal we’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the ‘Hipster, Hacker, Hustler’ personality types:

  • Hipster - Responsible for DESIGN: User experience, branding, customer experience. They are creative.
  • Hacker - Responsible for TECHNICAL: Builds the product, architecture, hosting, security. They are problem solvers.
  • Hustler - Responsible for BUSINESS: Vision, team formation, customer acquisition, fundraising. They are leaders.
“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team”.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn

Our vision

The vision for BizNest is to create a better world.

Innovation is the primary force that’s improving life on earth and we want to accelerate this by democratising the tools and support network for entrepreneurs.
This democratisation will empower entrepreneurs in all corners of the world to fulfil their potential, in-turn creating a better existence for everyone.

Our dream is to give the single mum in Ghana access to the same resources as the MBA graduate in Silicon Valley.

Is this for me?

You will benefit from BizNest’s platform if you:

  • Have an idea for an innovative business such as an app, hardware or other physical product.
  • Want to take a lean approach to validating your idea.
  • Are in the early stages of your venture and your primary focus is on understanding your customers needs and the market landscape.

What’s coming next?

We are launching our Beta product in October 2021! If you’d like to sign up to our waitlist, and stay in the loop about future blog posts then please sign up below:

Our next post will outline how an entrepreneur can use BizNest to reach the first milestone in our product: ‘Customer-Problem Fit’. This first step ensures that founders test the problem they are solving is valid, and identify their early adopters.
This stage is frequently overlooked and is one of the core reasons for startup failure!

Until next time!

The BizNest team

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