Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Steve Blank’s Required Reading

strategy+business, July 20, 2016
by Theodore Kinni 
From black ops to lean startups, it seems there has never been a dull period in Steve Blank’s career — except, perhaps, the one semester Blank spent at the University of Michigan before dropping out and enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, where he did a stint repairing avionics in Thailand during the Vietnam War.

Blank landed in Silicon Valley in 1978, where he did classified intelligence work for ESL, a government contractor in national reconnaissance. He quickly internalized the entrepreneurial ethic of the valley. By the time he retired two decades later, he had been involved with eight startups, including software company E.piphany, which he cofounded in his living room.

Like an increasing number of baby boomers, Blank didn’t actually retire. He invested in and advised new startups. He wrote a book about building early-stage companies, The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win (K&S Ranch Press, 2003), which is now in its fifth edition. It details Blank’s “customer development process,” a parallel process to product development aimed at ensuring that startups discover viable markets, locate their first customers, validate their product assumptions in their targeted markets, and adapt their products when necessary. And he began teaching classes in entrepreneurship at the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University.
These strings all came together when Blank invested in a company cofounded by Eric Ries, who read his book and took his class. Ries incorporated and popularized Blank’s thinking as a cornerstone in the lean startup movement. Blank, to his own surprise, became something of a guru. He wrote a second book, with Bob Dorf, The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company (K&S Ranch Press, 2012), and a third, a collection of his articles titled Holding a Cat by the Tail: Lessons from an Entrepreneurial Life (K&S Ranch Press, 2014). Read the rest here

No comments: