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Steve Blank
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Steve Blank has had a 33-year career as a successful businessman, conservationist and teacher. As a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Steve was part of or founded eight venture-backed companies. Four of his eight startup companies went public. After he retired, he started new careers in conservation, public service, and teaching.

After retiring, Steve moved from being an entrepreneur to teaching entrepreneurship to both undergraduate and graduate students at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University and the Columbia University/Berkeley Joint Executive MBA program. Steve wrote a book about building early stage companies called Four Steps to the Epiphany. The “Customer Development” model that he developed in his book is one of the core themes for his classes at Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, Columbia University and the National Science Foundation. In March 2012, he published The Startup Owner's Manual, a step-by-step guide to building a successful company.

In 2010, he was awarded the Earl F. Cheit Outstanding Teaching Award at U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business. In 2009 Steve was awarded the Stanford University Undergraduate Teaching Award in the department of Management Science and Engineering. In 2007 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Steve to serve on the California Coastal Commission, the public body which regulates land use and public access on the California coast.

Entries by Steve Blank

Organizational Debt Is Like Technical Debt - But Worse

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2015 | 1:07 PM

Startups focus on speed since they are burning cash every day as they search for product/market fit. But over time code/hardware written/built to validate hypotheses and find early customers can become unwieldy, difficult to maintain and incapable of scaling. These shortcuts add up and become what is called

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Episode 3 on SiriusXM Channel 111: Kathryn Gould, Mar Hershenson, Sophie Lebrecht

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2015 | 10:33 AM

My guests this week on Bay Area Ventures on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM Channel 111 were:

  • Kathryn Gould co-founder of Foundation Capital
  • Mar Hershenson co-founder of the VC firm Pejman Mar Ventures
  • Sophie Lebrecht co-founder and CEO of Neon Labs

All three of my guests...

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Doubling Down on a Good Thing: The National Science Foundation's I-Corps Lite

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 10:00 AM

I've known Edmund Pendleton from the University of Maryland as the Director of the D.C. National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Node (a collaboration among the University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins). edmund pendeltonBut it wasn't until seeing him lead the

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Why 'Build, Measure, Learn' Isn't Just Throwing Things Against the Wall to See if They Work

(1) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 1:16 PM

I am always surprised when critics complain that the Lean Startup's Build, Measure, Learn approach is nothing more than "throwing incomplete products out of the building to see if they work."

Unfortunately, the Build, Measure, Learn diagram is the cause of that confusion. At first glance, it seems like a...

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How One Startup Figured Out What Could Really Help Deaf People

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 12:01 PM

Thibault Duchemin and his team applied for our Lean LaunchPad class at UC Berkeley in 2014. We accepted them because it was clear Thibault was driven to solve a very personal problem -- he grew up in a deaf family, the only one who could hear. His team project was...

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Hacking for Defense in Silicon Valley

(1) Comments | Posted March 31, 2015 | 9:55 AM

Lead, follow or get the heck out of the way

In peacetime the U.S. military is an immovable and inflexible bureaucracy. In wartime it can adapt and adopt organizational change with startling speed.

BMNT, a new Silicon Valley company, is combining the Lean Methods it learned in combat...

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Getting to 'Yes' for Corporate Innovation

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 12:03 PM

I've been working with Roberto, the Chief Innovation Officer of a diversified company I'll call Sprocket Industries.

I hadn't heard from Roberto in awhile and when we caught up, it was clear his initial optimism had faded. I listened as Roberto listed the obstacles to the new innovation program at...

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Fear of Failure and Lack of Speed in a Large Corporation

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2015 | 10:19 AM

I just spent a day working with Bob, the Chief Innovation Officer of a very smart large company I'll call Acme Widgets.

Bob summarized Acme's impediments to innovation. "At our company we have a culture that fears failure. A failed project is considered a negative to a corporate career. As...

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I'm on the Air - on Sirius XM Channel 111

(1) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 1:50 PM

Starting this Monday, March 9th 4-6pm Pacific Time I'll be on the radio hosting the Bay Area Ventures program on Sirius XM radio Channel 111 -- the Wharton Business Radio Channel.

Over this program I'll be talking to entrepreneurs, financial experts and academic leaders in the tech and biotech industries....

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Blowing up the Business Plan at U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 9:48 AM

During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, science and engineering at both Stanford and U.C. Berkeley were heavily funded to develop Cold War weapon systems. Stanford's focus was Electronic Intelligence and those advanced microwave components and systems were useful in a variety of weapons systems. Starting in...

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Life Science Startups Rising in the UK

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 10:07 AM

Stephen Chambers spent 22 years in some of the most innovative companies in life science as the director of gene expression and then as a co-founder of his own company. Today he runs SynbiCITE, the UK's synthetic biology consortium of 56 industrial partners and 19 academic...

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What Do I Do Now? The Startup Lifecycle

(0) Comments | Posted February 12, 2015 | 8:32 AM

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Last week I got a call from Patrick an ex-student I hadn't heard from for eight years. He was now the CEO of a company and wanted to talk about what he admitted was a "first world" problem. Over breakfast he got me...

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When Krave Jerky Showed up in Class With a $435,000 Check

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2015 | 12:05 PM

I remind my students that I'm teaching them a methodology they can use the rest of their careers, not running an incubator.

Every once in awhile, a team ignores my advice and builds a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hershey just bought Krave Jerky, a team...

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It's About Women Running Startups

(1) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 12:29 PM

Just before the holidays I had coffee with Anne, an ex-MBA student running a fairly large product group at a search engine company, now out trying to raise money for her own startup. She had an interesting insight: existing content/media companies were having the same problem as hardware companies that...

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The Big Bang: The Lean LaunchPad Explodes at University of Maryland

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2014 | 8:53 AM

The University of Maryland is now integrating the Lean LaunchPad® into standard innovation and entrepreneurship courses across all 12 colleges within the University. Over 44 classes have embedded the business model canvas and/or Customer Discovery including a year-long course taken by every single one of its bioengineering majors.

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Impact! NYU Scales the Lean LaunchPad

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 11:56 AM

NYU has adopted the Lean LaunchPad® class as a standard entrepreneurship course across twelve different schools/colleges within the University. Over 1,000 students a year are learning lean startup concepts.

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In August 2011 I received an email from someone at NYU I...

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Why Corporate Skunk Works Need to Die

(0) Comments | Posted November 11, 2014 | 9:16 AM

In the 20th century corporate skunk works® were used to develop disruptive innovation separate from the rest of the company. They were the hallmark of innovative corporations.

By the middle of the 21st century the only companies with skunk works will be the ones that have failed...

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Born Global or Die Local -- Building a Regional Startup Playbook

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 10:59 AM

Entrepreneurship is everywhere, but everywhere isn't a level playing field. What's the playbook for your region or country to make it so?

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------- Scalable startups are on a trajectory for a billion dollar market cap. They grow into companies that define...
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The Business Model Canvas Gets Even Better -- Value Proposition Design

(0) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 10:56 AM

Product/Market fit now has its own book. Alexander Osterwalder wrote it. Read it.

The Lean Startup process builds new ventures more efficiently. It has three parts: a business model canvas to frame hypotheses, customer development to get out of the building to test those hypotheses and...

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Watching My Students Grow

(0) Comments | Posted October 3, 2014 | 3:39 PM

"You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself." Galileo Galilei

One of the great things about teaching is that while some students pass by like mist in the night others remain connected forever. I get to watch them grow into their careers and...

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