Technology Models

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Making Startups Happen

What the product has to do to win in a given market. A scenario that shows how it is used. Component listing and risk analysis.

Originally published 2000

Choosing a Development Target

This is a general picture depicting the relationship between technological feasibility and marketing potential:


  • The potential market for something you can’t do is huge.
  • The competition for something anyone can do is fierce.
  • The left side of the viability box is bounded by practicality
    • What is realistically achievable (e.g. perpetual motion machines)
  • The right side is bounded by the value proposition
    • What people will pay for (e.g. a device that ties shoelaces)
  • The left side represents complex problems with potentially long development cycles, but large returns.
  • The right side represents smaller returns, but shorter development cycles and possible fast-track entry.
  • The point where the curves cross is the optimum.

Components of a Technology Model

The technology model has a few standard components that feed into the overall business plan:

Defines the technology’s buyers. As specific as possible, but as general as necessary. For example, “consumers”, or “consumers who have large amounts of discretionary capital”.
A narrative description that shows the technology in use. Written in the “you” form, it puts the reader in the picture so they can visualize the technology in action.
The basic components of the technology, giving a high level overview of what it’s made of, and what will be used to construct it.
A technological risk assessment. What we don’t know how to do, what we think might be possible, what technologies exist that promise solutions (to minimize the risk).

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