Start Up toolkit

Start-Up toolkit

Review these courses, videos and literature.

NOTE! This is NOT an exhaustive toolkit. There are many other aspects of business. This toolkit is primarily created for first stage start-ups, but others might find it useful.


Taking an idea and turning it into a business, is going to be more about ‘the business’ than ‘the product’.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur includes some important issues – these are some of them:

  • You build a business, based on an idea
  • The idea – ’the technology or service’ – is something you that you might understand, but other people you have never met before, e.g. investors, might only want to understand ‘the business’ side of it
  • So for instance, pitching ‘your idea’ to someone, then is in fact ‘pitching the business around the idea’ – and not only ‘the product or service’.
  • Customers, partners, investors etc. are more interested in hearing ‘how you are going to turn the idea into a business’ than they are interested in the product or service that you want to provide.

So, at the AAU Start Up Program, we are focused on getting you ‘out of the building’ to collect information that help you ‘build the business’. Information such as; who are the customers, what are the competitors doing etc.? Of course, you have to develop your product and service and dedicate resources for that, but for most entrepreneurs the processes of ‘getting the business organised’ will be just as important as building the product or service itself.

We have created document, which contains some of the basic advice we give all teams - download here.

Courses and inspiration

Steve Blank’s Customer Development – how to create a new business:

Business Model Canvas – visit the Udacity Youtube channel

Business Model Canvas – Nespresso – an example of how to compete through the business model – and not the product:


Why pitching is important:


Pitching, and other things – some inspiration:


Useful terms to know (google them if you do not know them, or find someone to help you):

  • Time-to-market
  • Lean Start Up
  • Customer Development
  • Business Model, Value Proposition, Pains and Gains
  • Economics
  • Team
  • Networking
  • Testing, experimenting and pivoting



Within 4 months of starting in the program, there is an opportunity to pitch your business. The panel who will listen are external business professionals, who will assess if you have sufficient data to support your idea.

What will the panel be looking for?

Every new business is different, but the primary points of interests are:

   A. Are there customers for it?

   B. Can you reach those customers profitably?

Regarding point A:

  • ‘Customer development’ is the part, which you should focus on in the first 3 months and it is where you engage your target audience:
  • The questions that you should be able to answer at the panel include:
  • “Who is the primary customer and where are they?”
  • “Do they actually want what you aim to deliver?”
  • “Have you tested if you can get your customer to actually buy your solution?”

Regarding point B:

You start by investigating the business setup from the beginning. However, after 3 months the work should focus even more on this.

The questions that you should ask yourself, and work to answer include:

“Who do I need in my organisation to make the business work?”

“Who do I need to partner with, outside my organisation, to make the business work?”

“Who or what other Best Practices can I learn from?”


After a total of 9 months

After about 9 months, you should have learned who your customers are, and how to reach them profitably.

You might not have finished your product at this point, but you have learned if ‘the business’ seems sound.

Where do you go from here?

You should consider launching your business. There might be a number of different ways to do that:

  • continue in the AAU Start Up program
  • seek investors
  • seek accelators
  • or other.

The whole point for the 9 months is to figure out if there are good enough reasons to launch your business. And thankfully there are a number of AAU Business Developers, mentors and others that are there to support you.

What is your responsibility?


There are no exams. The market decides if you will be a success.

What if I need help?

That is common in business.

The whole point of succeeding in business is first to understand that we all need help to answer the questions we cannot answer ourselves. Business failure often happens when the entrepreneur tries to answer all question by herself – she might actually get the answers, but it takes up to much time and resources for it to become profitable. Worse still, it takes too long so that competitors have turned up and beaten her to it.

AAU Business Developers can help, but please remember to bring your own potential solution to a problem with you when you ask for help. For example: if you want feedback on how to do ‘Customer Validation’ then prepare a plan of how you think to do customer validation, as best as you can before a meeting with the AAU Business Develop

Useful links and literature


REcommended videos

Exponential Organizations - Salim Ismail, at USI (42:26 min.). Published July 9 2015, USI Events.
Salim Ismail is a sought-after speaker, strategist and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley and Global Ambassador at Singularity University.
Salim Ismail’s USI talk is about the new breed of Exponential Organizations. Our environment is changing through technologies and globalization, becoming more and more transparent and open. However, companies are still following an old business model : hierarchy, centralization, top down, ownership. Following Salim Ismail, it’s time to disrupt this model, those industries and change how business has to be done in the future.

Alexander Osterwalder: Tools for Business Model Generation [Entire Talk], Uploaded Feb 6 2012, Stanford eCorner
If you do not know what a business model is, we recommend you to check out this video from the Swiss business theorist and Ph.d., Alexander Osterwalder, where he explains The Business Model Generation: Entrepreneur and business model innovator.
Alexander Osterwalder discusses dynamic, yet simple-to-use tools for visualizing, challenging and re-inventing business models. Osterwalder articulates how to use the visual language of his business model canvas framework, and shares stories of how this approach helps organizations of all sizes to better create, deliver and capture value.

Sam Altman from Y-Combinator: How to Start a Startup: Lecture 4 & 5 (52:22 min. and 50:17 min.)
If you would like to get inspiration about developing an idea, forming the perfect team, doing market research, conforming customer development interviews, raising money, sales, marketing, etc. we recommend you to watch these videos.
Everything we know about how to start a startup, for free, from some of the world experts. How to Start a Startup is a series of video lectures, initially given at Stanford in Fall 2014.


ABOUT Disruption

What is Disruptive Innovation? (16 pages)
Christensen, Clayton M.; Raynor, Michael E. and McDonald, Rory. Harvard Business Review, December 2015 Issue. Harvard University.


About innovation

Innovation - a New Guide (46 pages)
Fagerberg, Jan - No 20131119, Working Papers on Innovation Studies from Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo
- Online access through Aalborg University Library or here.

Into the Surge of Network-driven Innovation: Extending the Historical Framing of Innovation (15 pages)
Claus Møller Østergaard, Claus Andreas Foss Rosenstand, Frank Gertsen and Johan-Ulrik Lervang
Proceedings of The XXIV ISPIM Conference - Innovating in Global Markets: Challenges for Sustainable Growth Conference, 16 June 2013
- Online access through Research Portal, Aalborg University

Into the Surge of Network-driven Innovation: Extending the Historical Framing of Innovation (16 pages)
Østergaard, Claus Møller; Rosenstand, Claus Andreas Foss; Gertsen, Frank; Lervang, Johan-Ulrik.
Proceedings of The XXIV ISPIM Conference - Innovating in Global Markets: Challenges for Sustainable Growth Conference. 2013. Publication: Article in proceeding
- Online access through Research Portal, Aalborg University

The process of innovation (43 pages) – scroll down and find the article under Archive – 2003
Pavitt, Keith - SPRU Electronic Working Paper Series, August 2003, The Freeman Centre, University of Sussex

Search strategies for discontinuous innovation (24 pages)
Bessant, J., & von Stamm, B. In Creating Wealth from knowledge: Meeting the Innovation Challenge (pp. 203-227). Edward Elgar: Cheltenham (2008)
- Full text online access through Aalborg University Library is not possible


About entrepreneurship and business plans

What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial? (9 pages)
Sarasvathy, Saras D. University of Virginia - Darden School of Business, 2004 (access through Aalborg University Library).

What do investors look for in a business plan? A comparison of the investment criteria of bankers, venture capitalists and business angels (21 pages)
Mason, Colin and Stark, Matthew. In "International small business journal”. Volume 22, issue 3, 2004, page 227-248
- Online access through Aalborg University Library or here.

Entrepreneurship as Method: Open Questions for an Entrepreneurial Future (24 pages)
Sarasvathy, Saras D.  and Venkataraman, Sankaran In “Entrepreneurship: Theory & Practice”. Jan2011, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p113-135. 23p. 1 Chart.
- Online access through Aalborg University Library or here.

Discontinuous innovation and supply relationships: strategic dalliances (11 pages)
Phillips, Wendy · Lamming, Richard · Bessant, John · Noke, Hannah In ”R&D Management”. Sep2006, Vol. 36 Issue 4, p451-461. 11p. 1 Diagram, 4 Charts.
- Online access through Aalborg University Library or here.


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