Nivi · March 3rd, 2009
If you want to learn customer development, you can take Steve Blank’s course at Stanford, Berkeley, or Columbia. Or you can take his course right here on Venture Hacks. I’m taking the course right now and I’ve posted the audio and slides from the first lecture below.
According to his book, Four Steps to the Epiphany, Steve is a “retired entrepreneur who… has been in 8 startups in operational roles from CEO to VP of Marketing… These startups resulted in five IPO’s, and three very deep craters.” Marc Andreessen calls Steve “one of the most strategic thinkers you will find on the topic of starting high-tech companies… buy [his book], read it, keep it under your pillow and absorb it via osmosis.”
In a nutshell, customer development teaches you how to sell a product before you build it (or while you build it). Unlike a lot of advice from entrepreneurs, customer development isn’t based on Steve’s experience in a single market — it’s based on his experience in a broad set of markets. His companies have made semiconductors, workstations, enterprise software, supercomputers, computer peripherals, military intelligence systems, and video games.
Customer development also works on the consumer Internet. In 2005, Steve funded IMVU on the condition that its founders take his class. We recently wrote about the results of the founders’ experience in How IMVU learned its way to $10M a year.
Each lecture is two hours long. Steve’s war stories alone are worth the price of admission. Let me know if you like these lectures and I will post the rest.
Class 1: Introduction
Topics Customer Development