“In a startup no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.”

Steve Blank

Summary: In Four Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank lays out a customer development process that complements a startup’s product development process. This post includes video and slides where Steve explains the ideas in his book.

About a year and a half ago, Marc Andreessen described The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank as the “best book for tech entrepreneurs this year.” Marc wrote:

“Steve Blank is a super-experienced Silicon Valley technology entrepreneur… a dude with serious street cred…

“In a nutshell, Steve proposes that companies need a Customer Development process that complements their Product Development Process. And he lays out exactly what he thinks that Customer Development process should be. This goes directly to the theory of Product/Market Fit that I have discussed on this blog before—in this book, Steve provides a roadmap for how to get to Product/Market Fit.

“Buy it, read it, keep it under your pillow and absorb it via osmosis.”

I bought it, read it, couldn’t absorb it, put it on the shelf, and ignored it.

Fortunately, I’ve recently found a great talk and slides from Steve Blank that provide a more gentle introduction to customer development. Be gentle Steve

The talk

How Alan Michaels took Convergent Technologies from zero sales to a $400M exit in four years by discovering his customers:

Why most startups don’t need VPs:

Why most startups fail:

(Videos: Acting on Customer Discovery, No VP’s in a Start-up, Assessing Customer and Market Risks)

Go to Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Corner to see the rest of the videos from Steve’s talk. Or listen to audio of the talk, which includes segments you won’t see in the videos.

The Slides

Here are the slides from another talk by Steve. They roughly complement the videos above.

(Slides: The Customer Development Methodology (pdf))

Back to the book

I’m going to take another stab at reading The Four Steps to the Epiphany and I hope you join me. I’ll let you know how it goes—please do likewise!

Update: Also read Eric Ries’ excellent What is customer development?.

Topics Books · Customer Development · Presentations

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