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Steve Blank
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

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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Watching Larry Ellison Become Larry Ellison -- The DNA of a Winner

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 12:04 PM

In Oracle's early days Kathryn Gould was the founding VP of Marketing, working there from 1982 to 1984. When I heard that Larry Ellison was stepping down as Oracle's CEO I asked Kathryn to think about the skills she saw in a young Larry Ellison that might make...

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The Woodstock of K-12 Education

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 10:45 AM

Describing something as the "Woodstock of..." has taken to mean a one-of-a-kind historic gathering. It happened recently when a group of educators came to the ranch to learn how to teach Lean entrepreneurship to K-12 students.

We Can...

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How to Find the Right Co-Founders

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 1:01 PM

How do you figure out what's the right mix of skills for the co-founders of your startup?

Surprisingly if you've filled out the business model canvas you already know who you need.
I was having breakfast with Radhika, an ex-grad student of mine who wanted to share...

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Why Translational Medicine Will Never Be the Same

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 8:36 AM

There have been 2 or 3 courses in my entire education that have changed the way I think. This is one of those. Hobart Harris, Professor and Chief, Division of General Surgery at UCSF

For the past three years the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps has...

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How to Think Like an Entrepreneur -- The Inventure Cycle

(1) Comments | Posted September 9, 2014 | 9:37 AM

The Lean Startup is a process for turning ideas into commercial ventures. Its premise is that startups begin with a series of untested hypotheses. They succeed by getting out of the building, testing those hypotheses and learning by iterating and refining minimal viable products in front of potential...

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Why Founders Should Know How to Code

(1) Comments | Posted September 3, 2014 | 9:52 AM

"By knowing things that exist, you can know that which does not exist." Book of Five Rings

A startup is not just about the idea, it's about testing and then implementing the idea.

A founding team without these skills is likely dead on arrival.
I was driving...

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Pioneering Women in Venture Capital: Kathryn Gould

(0) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 9:21 AM

I met Kathryn Gould longer ago than either of us want to admit. Kathryn has been the founding VP of Marketing of Oracle, a successful recruiter, a world class Venture Capitalist, a co-founder of a Venture Capital firm, a great board member, one of my mentors and most...

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Driving Corporate Innovation: Design Thinking vs. Customer Development

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 9:47 AM

Startups are not smaller versions of large companies, but interestingly we see that companies are not larger versions of startups.

I've been spending some time with large companies that are interested in using Lean methods. One of the conundrums is why does innovation take so long...

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Getting Lean in Education -- By Getting Out of the Classroom

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 10:06 AM

This week the National Science Foundation goes Lean on education by providing $1.2 million to educators who want to bring their classroom innovations to a wider audience.


The I-Corps program started when the U.S. National Science Foundation adopted my

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The Path of Our Lives

(0) Comments | Posted July 8, 2014 | 11:11 AM

"Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not?" Robert Kennedy/George Bernard Shaw

I got a call that reminded me that most people live their life as if it's predestined -- but some live theirs fighting to change it.

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How Investors Make Better Decisions: The Investment Readiness Level

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 9:41 AM

Investors sitting through Incubator or Accelerator demo days have three metrics to judge fledgling startups - 1) great looking product demos, 2) compelling PowerPoint slides, and 3) a world-class team. Other than "I'll know it when I see it," there's no formal way for an investor to assess project maturity...

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I-Corps @ NIH - Pivoting the Curriculum

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2014 | 10:11 AM

We've pivoted our Lean LaunchPad / I-Corps curriculum. We're changing the order in which we teach the business model canvas and customer development to better-fit therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices.


Over the last three years the Lean LaunchPad class...

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Why Lean May Save Your Life - The I-Corps @ NIH

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 9:30 AM

Today the National Institutes of Health announced they are offering my Lean LaunchPad class (I-Corps @ NIH ) to commercialize Life Science.

There may come a day that one of these teams makes a drug, diagnostic or medical device that saves your life.
Over the...

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Hostages Strapped to the Tank: Coastal Commission Stories - Lesson 2

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 11:31 AM

"Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception." Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

For six and a half years I served as a public official on the California Coastal Commission.

Since it's been a year since I resigned, it's time to tell a few stories...

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Farming for Developers: Coastal Commission Stories - Lesson 1

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 10:57 AM

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive." Walter Scott, Marmion

Last week I got an email last week from a New York VC asking for advice about building a house in the California Coastal Zone. For six and a half years I served as a...

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Three Things I Learned on Commencement Day

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 12:11 PM

In the last five years I've been at Commencement Day at universities around the world -- a few times to receive awards and three times as the commencement speaker. But attending both my daughters' college graduations this year helped me to see how things look from...

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Innovating Municipal Government Culture

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 11:47 AM

D.R. Widder is the Vice President of Innovation and holds the Steve Blank Innovation Chair at Philadelphia University. He's helping city government in Philadelphia become more innovative by applying Lean startup methods and Philadelphia University's innovation curriculum. I asked him to share an update on his work on...

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Corporate Acquisitions of Startups: Why Do They Fail?

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 10:45 AM

For decades large companies have gone shopping in Silicon Valley for startups. Lately the pressure of continuous disruption has forced them to step up the pace.

More often than not the results of these acquisitions are disappointing.

What can companies learn from others' failed efforts to integrate startups into large...

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New Lessons Learned from Berkeley & Stanford Lean LaunchPad Classes

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 2:33 PM

Our Stanford and Berkeley Lean LaunchPad classes are over for this year, and as usual we learned as much from teaching the teams as the teams did from us.

Here are a few of the Lessons Learned from these two classes.
Have each team talk to 10...

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