Venture Viability Research

By Claire Magat, Evan Porteus, Dennis Rohan
2008 | Case No. E324

The purpose of the venture viability research process is to identify the key questions underlying the viability of a venture, to facilitate reframing of the venture to enhance its viability, and to provide evidence to support the founders’ answers to those questions. The venture viability research process for entrepreneurs is different than the process for established companies. The questions are much broader and more fundamental, the available resources are fewer, and the time urgency is usually greater. In addition, entrepreneurs often have an incomplete understanding of the market for their product and limited direct experience with potential customers. The recommended process includes: (1) prototyping of venture designs, (2) identifying and answering key viability questions, and (3) iterating between steps 1 and 2 and adding detail to both the venture design and key viability questions in the process. Entrepreneurs invariably operate on limited budgets and condensed time lines; therefore prioritization is critical to every step of the process. Viability research demands constant evaluation of the attractiveness of different prototype designs. This note will illustrate the steps above, using a series of examples. It will also provide guidance around how to answer key viability questions, using tools such as expert interviews and various types of market research.

This material is available for download by current Stanford GSB students, faculty, and staff, as well as Stanford GSB alumni. For inquires, contact the Case Writing Office. Download