The Open Incubation Canvas

The Open Incubation model is a governance model for lean venture teams to enable effective collaboration between participants during the journey of a start-up: from incubation (project) to incorporation (company). The starting point of the Open Incubation model is the Open Incubation Canvas, which venture teams fill-in together. The canvas consists of 4 building blocks described below.

I.    Role & Contribution

The rights and obligations of the venture team members are governed through six pre-defined roles, each reflecting their role and contribution to the venture.The Open Incubation model recognizes the following roles:
  1. Founders
  2. Founding Investors
  3. Friends, Family & Crowd
  4. Key Team Members
  5. Venture Partners
  6. Investors
In addition, there is a Leaver category for those who no longer contribute to the venture.
The Roles & Contributions of the venture team is the first building block of the Venture Governance Canvas. Starting with the six roles, venture teams discuss and write down the expected contributions of the venture team members.

II.  Rewards

Rewards is the second building block of the Open Incubation Canvas. Based on their envisaged roles and contributions, the venture team will discuss their expected rewards. The Open Incubation model recognizes the following rewards:
  1. Leadership (e.g. voting rights, function such as CEO, CTO or CCO)
  2. Ownership (e.g. shares)
  3. Cash (e.g. management fee, revenu share
  4. In kind compensation (e.g. IP rights, future products or services)

III. Venture team values

Before agreeing on the Rules of Agreement, venture teams write down the key values of their venture on the Open Incubation Canvas. The values of a venture team will give direction to motivational questions such as ‘what is important to us?’, ‘what is our purpose?’ and ‘why this venture?’ but also drive the culture of the venture.

IV. Rules of Engagement

Rules of Engagement are a set of rules that are applied by a venture team to establish an effective collaboration. Often the Rules of Engagement are following the venture values.
Two  important rules for venture teams often considered are:
One Man, One Vote
The Founders, Founding Investors and sometimes Investors will each obtain one vote following the ‘one man, one vote’ principle in the Venture Board. This principle is important to safeguard the continuation of spirit of the collaboration during the incubation phase up to and sometimes beyond the incorporation phase. Why should you completely change the venture governance at the moment of the incorporation?
Full Transparency
To ensure full allignment of the venture team members over the course of the development of the venture, founders realize they need to give early-on guidance on the roles, expected contributions and rewards of the participants. Full transparency on the venture governance will serve as an enabler of trust in the venture team.
To apply the four building blocks of the Open Incubation model, venture teams need to review, discuss and update the Open Incubation Canvas on a regular basis. The ferquency of the evaluation depends on the pace of the pace of the venture development.
Note: Once the venture has been incorporated, some participants may become shareholder. Like in the initial incubation phase their shareholding and the associated rights & obligations remain directly linked to their role at the venture. Role based ownership is further detailed in the Venture Governance framework and covers topics such as vesting, no-exit, drag & tag along, and information & voting rights.