Startup Maturity Checklist

Walking through this gives you a good idea what you have done and what needs to be done next. Check off the items that you have already accomplished or are true today. Please let us know if you think things are missing or any feedback. Please note that this is copyright 2003-2014 SKMurphy, Inc.  but you are free to use it for your own internal assessment of your startup.

Product Development

  1. We have demonstrated expertise and experience in prior relevant projects.
  2. We have working code that can be used on test data.
  3. We have results from running the tool on customer data.
  4. We have an engagement and installation checklist: we know how to get started with a new customer.
  5. We have documentation and training materials.
  6. We have a one page spec for the product.
  7. We have a version control system (e.g. RCS, CVS, Subversion) for our source.
  8. We have a defect tracking system to report and manage defects in the product.
  9. We have a planning process that manages both changes to the current specification and the evolution of new features.

Customer Development

  1. We have a presentation that outlines product benefits.
  2. We have both a presentation and a working demo.
  3. We know what questions to ask to identify pain that the product can address.
  4. At least one Customer is evaluating/using the product.
  5. Customer has achieved a satisfactory outcome using product.
  6. Customer has paid for the product and is using it.
  7. Customer is using the product now, has paid for it, and is planning to use your next release / version when it comes out.
  8. We have made a sale to a friend.
  9. We have made a sale to a friend of a friend.
  10. We have identified ways to reach target rich environments of strangers.
  11. We have made a sale to a stranger.
  12. Two to Four customers have paid for the product.
  13. Five to Ten customers have purchased the product, and we know why.
  14. Ten to Twenty customers have purchased the product and we have a repeatable sales process we can scale.
  15. We have trained a salesperson or channel partner and they have sold the product.
  16. We have a one page spec for the features needed for the next release.
  17. We have an incident tracking system that both development and customer facing employees use to report customer issues.
  18. We have a product roadmap that has been reviewed and approved by key customers for bug fixes and major enhancements.

Business Operations

  1. All of our employees and contractors have signed a patent, invention, and intellectual property assignment agreement.
  2. We have a license agreement that we can include in a sales proposal.
  3. We have successfully negotiated a sale.
  4. We have signed license agreements for our customers and understand what terms are acceptable to the majority of our prospects.
  5. We have outside advisors for legal and accounting issues.
  6. We are incorporated and have the relevant permits and documentation (e.g. Federal Tax ID).
  7. We have an accounting system (e.g QuickBooks) and a process to plan, review, and approve expenses.
  8. We formally review financial and personnel issues at least monthly, and base decisions on data available from our internal systems and procedures.
  9. We have a process in place for hiring and firing employees.

Slide deck versions are also available

Comments (7)

  • SKMurphy » Why NDA’s Are Not On the Startup Maturity Checklist

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    [...] What follows is an e-mail thread converted into a blog entry. I got a suggestion on our contact form related to the Startup Maturity Checklist: Some software companies will require you to sign an NDA before giving a presentation or sharing any other details about the company’s product. You may want to add this to the checklist. [...]

    Reply

  • SKMurphy » Sign-up for Software Startup Checklist Seminar at Silicon Valley Code Camp

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    [...] Follow this link to indicate your interest in attending. It will be based on the Startup Maturity Checklist which is the first module in our “Idea to Revenue” workshop. Code Camp is Saturday October 3 and Sunday October 4 at Foothill College 12345 El Monte Road (Parking Lot 5) Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 As the description indicated, my session is a companion to Athol’s “From Code to Complete Product to Brand” which also looks good: Before you can go out and market your code, you need to productize it. Whether it is for a small downloadable utility or an enterprise application, software seldom sells itself. Even for Open Source, it has to be packaged, promoted and presented correctly… and that is the start of your branding for the long term. For startups, product and company may both be dependent on this proper execution. This overview session will give you the highlights and a check list to do a proper product packaging and launch. For startups, continue this subject with Sean Murphy’s startup checklist talk [...]

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