schoolcrossingProfessor Steve Blank, who teaches business courses at Stanford University, sat in with a founder and an investor during a startup pitch and related how asking his students to blog as they started real companies gave him the idea for a startup tool. It would guide them along a better path and keep them connected with investors and mentors. The result of this session was LeanLaunchLab, an integrated view of startup management that has gotten many new businesses on the road to success and has spawned a new market all its own. LeanLaunchLab went live last year and has served thousands of startups.

At the heart of LeanLauchLab is the business model canvas. The idea behind this tool is that a business model is ultimately a make-or-break entity, and therefore anything that helps startup founders map it out, reform it, and strengthen it ultimately gives them a great deal of value. The model encourages startups to take a holistic view of “customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, resources, activities, partnerships, and costs.”

Of course, this model itself is a strong foundation for a startup tool, but other components to success include making progress towards goals and adapting as needed. LeanLaunchLab mixes in auto-population with defined experiments and testable metrics that encourage revision and continual maintenance. Best of all, it acts as a “virtual board meeting” that puts a startup’s adherence to its business model out for every stakeholder to see, meaning that keeping important partners in the loop is easy.