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2 Challenges of Startup Customer Development & How to Get Great Feedback Instead

View from Seed

Customer development” has become its own skill and body of knowledge, and there are some crucial nuances to understand up front before beginning your customer dev discussions. It’s too easy to lead the witness in the way you ask a question, or get a reaction that tells you very little about a customer’s core needs or problems.

Lessons Learned: What is customer development?

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Saturday, November 8, 2008 What is customer development? They almost always fail for lack of customers.

The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development

Startup Lessons Learned

believe it is the best introduction to Customer Development you can buy. Here’s hoping they soon tackle Customer Validation.

When Hell Froze Over – in the Harvard Business Review

Steve Blank

To fill this gap I wrote The Four Steps to the Epiphany , a book about the Customer Development process and how it changes the way startups are built.

It’s Time to Play Moneyball: The Investment Readiness Level

Steve Blank

Lean Startup methodology offers entrepreneurs a framework to focus on what’s important: Business Model Discovery.  We think we can do better.

How To Think Like an Entrepreneur: the Inventure Cycle

Steve Blank

This framework allows us to parse the pathway, describing the actions and attitudes required at each step along the way. How do you get them?”

The 6 Books That Actually Saved Our Startup

Vinicius Vacanti

couldn’t believe how powerful a framework Django was and, within months, we were building and launching our own prototypes.

Why Real Learning is Outside the Building, Not Demo Day

Steve Blank

Given something tangible, customers were able to start gauging their willingness to use and pay.  Customer Development Lean LaunchPad Teaching

Search versus Execute

Steve Blank

When does a new venture focus on customer development and business models ? And when do business planning and execution come into play?

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

Steve Blank

Berkeley were heavily funded to develop Cold War weapon systems. Starting in the 1950’s, Stanford’s engineering department became “outward facing” and developed a culture of spinouts and active faculty support and participation in the first wave of Silicon Valley startups. Customer Development works outside Silicon Valley.

Why Innovation Dies

Steve Blank

But the minute the memo started talking about a Policy Team developing detailed implementation plans, it was all over. The Strategy Committee.

Qualcomm’s Corporate Entrepreneurship Program – Lessons Learned (Part 2)

Steve Blank

Doing so meant they would have to take risks for IP acquisition and customer/market risks outside their experience or comfort zone. Epilogue.

When Do You Throw in the Towel On Your Struggling Project?

Vinicius Vacanti

You Need a Framework. customer development process data analysis startupsFirst-time reader? Hope you enjoy the posts! Sunk cost.

How To Build a Web Startup – Lean LaunchPad Edition

Steve Blank

As part of our Lean LaunchPad  classes at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia and for the National Science Foundation, students build a startup in 8 weeks using Business Model Design + Customer Development. Get customers to the site. Test the “problem” with customer data. One of the problems they run into is building a web site.

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The Customer Development Manifesto: Reasons for the Revolution.

Steve Blank

After 20 years of working in startups, I decided to take a step back and look at the product development model I had been following and see why it usually failed to provide useful guidance in activities outside the building – sales, marketing and business development. So what’s wrong the product development model?

A New Way to Teach Entrepreneurship – The Lean LaunchPad at Stanford: Class 1

Steve Blank

Even if they did, what if the assumption – that we had developed a better approach to teaching entrepreneurship – was simply mistaken?

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How to Know if You’ve “Done Enough” Customer Development to Start Building

Kevin Dewalt

Frequent Question – When am I “done” Doing Customer Development? Here’s why I stopped doing Customer Development.

Visualize Your Website to Crystallize the Value Proposition and Target Market

Instigator Blog

It also gives you a better framework for testing your assumptions (is this the right value to the right market?), and can lead to more calculated and focused pivots, if need be. Startups customer developmentIt’s quite common for early startups to lack clarity around their core value proposition and target market(s).

No One Wins In Business Plan Competitions

Steve Blank

But until now I haven’t been able to articulate a framework of why or had a concrete suggestion of what to replace them with. Now I do.

Lean LaunchPad for Life Sciences – Value Proposition and Customers

Steve Blank

The class has talked to 1,440 customers to date.). Therapeutics customer = pharma and biotech companies. It Takes A Village. Diagnostics.

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The #CustDev Whiteboard

Market by Numbers

What if your customer ends up being a medium-sized business that requires SaaS product distribution? But how much is necessary to get going?

Entrepreneurs are Everywhere Show No. 21: Grant Warner

Steve Blank

We did do a lot of … customer discovery. We did a lot of talking to customers, trying to understand who really had the need.

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Crossing the Lean Startup Chasm

Market by Numbers

In fact, some early adopters of Lean Startups — those who have already bought into the framework to the extent that they’ve applied its practices into their high tech startup — might be a tad disappointed. What if it turns out that the customer doesn’t want the product we’re building? Poor Customer Support?

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Pivot, don't jump to a new vision

Startup Lessons Learned

Each has its own iterative process: customer development and agile development respectively. The hardest part of entrepreneurship is to develop the judgment to know when its time to change direction and when its time to stay the course. IMVU had a roughly two-month-long development cycle. Both are lethal outcomes.

A new model for understanding the stages of a startup

The Startup Toolkit

The language we use for startup stages (discovery, validation, customer creation, company building) is abstract. The lines are blurry. Helpful?

Times Square Strategy Session – Web Startups and Customer Development

Steve Blank

In it, I got asked a question I often hear: “What if we have a web-based business that doesn’t have revenue or paying customers? Great quote.

Melt: PHP Framework From Sweden


Melt is a newly announced PHP Framework from Sweden. Another motivator for the framework was the need to pivot web apps.

The Customer Development Manifesto: Reasons for the Revolution.

Steve Blank

This post describes how the traditional product development model distorts startup sales, marketing and business development.  In the next few posts that follow, I’ll describe how thinking of a solution to this model’s failures led to the Customer Development Model – that offers a new way to approach startup sales and marketing activities.

Book Short: Is CX the new UX?


Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business , by Harley Manning and Kelly Bodine from Forrester Research, was a good read that kept crossing back and forth between good on the subject at hand, and good business advice in general.  “Customer Experience is a journey, not a project.

Innovation – something both parties can agree on

Steve Blank

While I was developing the class at Stanford, it was my counterparts at the NSF who had the vision to make the class a national program. 

When Hell Froze Over – in the Harvard Business Review

Steve Blank

It was not only my secret weapon in thinking about new startup strategies, it also gave me a view of the management issues my customers were dealing with. The articles about innovation and entrepreneurship, while insightful felt like they were variants of the existing processes and techniques developed for running existing businesses.)

How to optimize web apps with KISSmetrics

Venture Hacks

KISSmetrics lets you calculate customer LTV. Hiten: You can use them in all of them, because when you have economics in place it means that you’re charging customers and that you need to understand things like how different price points affect your revenue. that’s a framework that he came up with years ago. Thanks.

Lessons Learned: When NOT to listen to your users; when NOT to.

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Monday, October 6, 2008 When NOT to listen to your users; when NOT to rely on split-tests There are three legs to the lean startup concept: agile product development , low-cost (fast to market) platforms , and rapid-iteration customer development. Or to some passionate customers. Were doomed!

Learning Through Reflection

Steve Blank

using the business model canvas as the framework. Quotes from customers that illustrated learnings and insights. Reflection Week.

Episode 5 on Sirius XM Channel 111: Pete Newell, John Kuhn, Matt Weingart, Takashi Tsutsmi and Masato Iino

Steve Blank

Matt Weingart, program development manager in the Strategic Development Office at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The Big Bang. The Lean LaunchPad explodes at University of Maryland

Steve Blank

Now the students spend time in customer discovery and learn why validating the business model for their device is so important. As What’s Next?

How a Seed VC Approaches Pre-Product Startups

View from Seed

Editor’s note: At a recent team meeting at NextView, we looked at the high number of startups we invested in which were pre-product at the time.

The Democratization of Entrepreneurship

Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur

His methodology of customer development is in my opinion mandatory reading for any entrepreneur.

Why Your Startup Needs a Sales Methodology

Both Sides of the Table

But before you achieve product / market fit you’re often in “consultative sales” mode where your objective is to tease out customer needs.

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300 Teams in Two Years

Steve Blank

It’s curriculum is built on a framework of business model design, customer development and agile engineering – and its emphasis on evidence, Lessons Learned versus demos, makes it the worlds most advanced accelerator. This month we’ve crossed ~ 300 teams in the first two years through the program. The U.S.

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