LAC02: The Lean Canvas for Apps

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I dont like to create a large over-engineered business plan for any kind of project, so here I’ll be using the lean canvas for apps. For this first xamarin app challenge I didn’t want to get too caught up in researching the viability of the idea as that wouldn’t really align itself with my goals, so the lean canvas fits perfectly.

You could argue that I don’t need a business model at all, but I think its a good exercise to go through – it literally takes 20 minutes to put together and can help with decision making and keeping focus.

Lean Canvas for Codenutz Comics

I created the codenutz comics canvas using lean stack – its a great tool and for a single product you can use it for free.

Codenutz Comics Lean Canvas 01 Preview

You can download the full pdf here: Codenutz Comics Lean Canvas 01

Here’s a quick run down:

Customer Segments

I’ve limited my market to comic collectors for my customer segment – its something that could be possibly be expanded to things like comic shops, collectors of other things or a more general collection catalogue tool, but right now its staying simple and focussed.

I have also identified you (the readers of codenutz) as potential early adopters – whilst the venn diagram of readers of this blog that also collect comics is probably pretty small, its an audience I can reach at little cost! I also identified that other bloggers might be interested in trying out the app.


I wanted to keep this really simple som I identified 2 main problems:

  • I need easy access to my comic collection info when on the move.
  • I need to keep track of what comics I have and where they are

Its plenty to get started with an already identifies a small feature I didn’t think about in the first post – that being the location of my comics.

In terms of existing alternatives I see 4 main options:

  • Not doing anything
  • Homegrown solution (probably a spreadsheet)
  • (a website where you can catalogue your comics)
  • Collectorz (a desktop app for cataloguing your comics)

Looking at the existing alternatives I can definitely see that none are really addressing the first of my 2 problems that well. Both collectorz and comicpriceguide are awesome and feature rich, but there is an opportunity there.


The channels for the first MVP really need to be low cost as I’m not planning on making any money from it! That means no paid search and no paid advertising. I can however leverage:

  • App Store Optimisation (ASO)
  • General search results
  • Blogging
    • Readers of Codenutz
    • Outreach to other comic bloggers
    • Possibly starting my own Marvel comic blog (something I’ve been thinking about doing)


The solution was really quick givent he problem – a simple app with some kind of sync with a cloud based back-end. I have noted here that there will probably be multiple apps for different platforms, and maybe even the web at a later date.

Unique Value Proposition

There’s not a great deal to say about my unique value proposition:

Simple way to keep track of your comic collection, available on the move, across all devices, and safely backed up.

I figure this will evolve over time, but for now highlights th important parts of my app, and what differentiates it. I also added a high level concept:

Gmail for comic collections

I wanted to highlight with this that you can access it anywhere and it’ll just there, in sync – like gmail. This will also likely evolve, but for now its fine.

Revenue Streams

Given my goals this is a little woolley – right now making a profit on this is not my primary concern. So I’ve added a token revenue stream regarding a possible subscription for the cloud storage. I’m really not too worried about this, although I have had a few other thoughts:

  • Freemium model where the free version is limited to a maximum number of comics
  • Advertising income
  • A comic sales marketplace with income coming from a comic sales percentage.

Cost Structure

As for revenue streams its not my primary concern, but I have acknowledged that the hosting of the cloud based element will have a cost – which will most likely be Microsoft Azure.

Key Metrics

For the key metrics I always like to use AARRR – not just because its for pirates, but because it breaks it down and provides really meaningful metrics:

  • Acquisition: Download and install the app
  • Activation: Create first comic collection
  • Retention: Sign up for an account
  • Referral: Possible referral program and social media shares
  • Revenue: Pay for cloud service

Obviously this is going to change as the app develops.

Unfair Advantage

The unfair advatage section is always the most difficult and I’ve left it blank. Right now I cant see any real unfair advantage that I have, but its definitely something that I’ll be thinking about.

Next Steps

So I’ve laid out the challenge, decided on what problem I’m tackling and made a lean canvas business model. Next I should be looking at the riskiest part of my plan and designing an experiment to test it. As my main goal is learning and working with Xamarin I’m going to skip ahead to developing a first stage MVP.

As I mentioned in my previous article, I have already given my first MVP a little thought, and the bare minimum it needs to do is:

  • It must list out all comic series.
  • It must allow me to add new collections.
  • It must allow me to list which comics I own in those collections.
  • Each collection and its contents must be editable.
  • NEW It must allow my to record locations of comics within my collection

As you can see there’s a new one in there regarding recording of locations – this is something I realised when completing the initial lean canvas.

So next I need to get on with designing and developing!

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