Customer Development: Past, Present, Future

Steve Blank

The Times Square Strategy discussion I had with Eric Ries , was still top of mind, so instead of my standard Customer Development lecture , I offered my thoughts on: the origin of Customer Development, where we are today, and where does Customer Development go, and how you can help get it there.

Raising Money Using Customer Development

Steve Blank

Chasing funding versus chasing customers and a repeatable and scalable business model, is one reason startups fail. Are there customers for what you are building? No amount of learning how to get a VC meeting or improving your VC demo skills will fix the lack of concrete customer data.

Customer Development is Not a Focus Group

Steve Blank

Customer Development is all about gathering a list of what features customers want by talking to them, surveying them, or running “focus groups.” As the engineers were busy rearchitecting the original Stanford MIPS chip into a commercial product, one of my jobs was to find out what features customers wanted. One of the specific requests from our chip architects was to find out whether customers would want the chip to have data stored as big-endian or little-endian.

Customer Development Fireside Chat

Steve Blank

Reply John Muldoon , on July 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm Said: This was really fabulous to watch. Reply Naveen JP , on July 10, 2009 at 12:18 am Said: Hi Steve, I have been thinking about an earlier comment of yours that `entrepreneurship is an art not a science’ It makes a lot of sense and I thought I will share my perspective on it (the same as yours but in different words). to make sense of the unstructured feedback received from customers.

Customer Development Manifesto: The Path of Warriors and Winners.

Steve Blank

This post describes a solution – the Customer Development Model. In future posts I’ll describe how Eric Ries and the Lean Startup concept provide the equivalent model for product development activities inside the building and neatly integrates customer and agile development.

Customer Development Talk Startup2Startup « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

The Customer Development talk can be seen here. Reply steveblank , on May 2, 2009 at 1:25 am Said: Your welcome. alancommike , on May 2, 2009 at 11:59 am Said: I’m glad the the presentation was recorded. steve Customer Development is Hard.

Customer Development in Japan: a History Lesson

Steve Blank

I asked Tsutsumi-san to write a guest post for my blog to describe his experience with Customer Development in Japan. But customers didn’t agree. in a startup no facts exist inside the building, get out of the building to talk to customers”. Customer Development Education.

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Customer Development Manifesto: Market Type (part 4) « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

In future posts I’ll describe how Eric Ries and the Lean Startup concept provided the equivalent model for product development activities inside the building and neatly integrates customer and agile development. The product development model treats all startups like they are in an Existing Market – an established market with known customers. Handspring’s customers understood what a Personal Digital Assistant was. Customers want to do a “job&#.

The Customer Development Manifesto: The Startup Death Spiral (part.

Steve Blank

This post describes how following the traditional product development can lead to a “startup death spiral.&# In the next posts that follow, I’ll describe how this model’s failures led to the Customer Development Model – offering a new way to approach startup sales and marketing activities. Three to six months after first customer ship, if Sales starts missing its numbers, the board gets concerned. Part 4 of the Customer Development Manifesto to follow.

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. The meaning of alpha test , beta test, and first customer ship are pretty obvious to most engineers.

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. Every startup has some methodology for product development, launch and life-cycle management. So what’s wrong the product development model? Product Development Diagram 1.

Teaching Customer Development and the Lean Startup – Topological Homeomorphism

Steve Blank

I’ve been teaching Customer Development at U.C. Berkeley was brave enough to let me write and teach a class on a subject that no one had ever heard of – Customer Development. The sum of solving for both unknown customer needs and unknown features became the Lean Startup.

The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development

Startup Lessons Learned

I believe it is the best introduction to Customer Development you can buy. As all of you know, Steve Blank is the progenitor of Customer Development and author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Here’s hoping they soon tackle Customer Validation.

Lessons Learned: Combining agile development with customer development

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Monday, March 16, 2009 Combining agile development with customer development Today I read an excellent blog post that I just had to share. In most agile development systems, there is a notion of the "product backlog" a prioritized list of what software is most valuable to be developed next. The breakthrough idea of agile is that software should be built iteratively, with the pieces that customers value most created first.

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Lessons Learned: What is customer development?

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Saturday, November 8, 2008 What is customer development? But too often when its time to think about customers, marketing, positioning, or PR, we delegate it to "marketroids" or "suits." They almost always fail for lack of customers.

Vertical Markets 4: Putting it All Together « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

In the last three posts, we drew the relationship of market risk and invention risk with vertical markets and pointed out verticals where customer development would be useful. How does product development differ in communications hardware versus enterprise software, etc.

The Story Behind the Secret History Part II. Getting B-52s through.

Steve Blank

Getting B-52s through the Soviet Air Defense System Posted on March 29, 2009 by steveblank This is post II of how I came to write “ The Secret History of Silicon Valley “ 1974. Reply Calvin Chin , on April 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm Said: Great war stories, Steve.

Story Behind “The Secret History” Part III: The Most Important.

Steve Blank

If you are a practitioner of Customer Development, ESL was doing it before most us were born. By 1961 its customers now included our intelligence agencies. The “customers’” contracts funded the company. The “customers” in Washington had never seen anything like it.

Lessons Learned: Customer Development Engineering

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Sunday, September 7, 2008 Customer Development Engineering Yesterday, I had the opportunity to guest lecture again in Steve Blank s entrepreneurship class at the Berkeley-Columbia executive MBA program. In addition to presenting the IMVU case, we tried for the first time to do an overview of a software engineering methodology that integrates practices from agile software development with Steves method of Customer Development.

SuperMac War Story 9: Sales, Not Awards « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

Customers went into the store either looking for the SuperMac product by name (if our demand creation activities had been effective) or went in unsure of which brand of board to buy. Reply Bill Allred , on May 1, 2009 at 10:46 am Said: This is a really common pitfall.

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The “Good” Student « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

College Dropouts - Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison These guys realized that customers don’t ask for your transcript. Reply Jesse Farmer , on April 7, 2009 at 8:53 am Said: Customers don’t ask for your transcript.

It’s Not a Conversion Problem, It’s a Customer Development Problem

ConversionXL

I feel like “conversion rate optimization” is in 2013 what “social media marketing” was in 2009. The most common mistake startups make is assuming they can operate the same way big companies do, and expect success with little to no feedback from potential customers.

Are Business Plans Still Necessary?

Both Sides of the Table

That died with waterfall software development. It should talk about how many customers you think you will acquire and how much you’ll charge for your product. I care about the thought that you’ve given to the customer problem.

Building a Company with Customer Data – Why Metrics Are Not Enough

Steve Blank

Gathering real-world feedback from customers is a core concept of Customer Development as well as the Lean Startup. When I asked him if he actually had personally left the building and talked to these potential customers, or even had gotten them on the phone, he sounded confused. “We’re We’re a web startup, all our customers are on the web. Customer Development suggests that founders have continual and timely customer, channel and market information.

Am I a Founder? The Adventure of a Lifetime. « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

Posted on June 11, 2009 by steveblank When my students ask me about whether they should be a founder or cofounder of a startup I ask them to take a walk around the block and ask themselves: Are you comfortable with: Chaos – startups are disorganized Uncertainty – startups never go per plan Are you: Resilient – at times you will fail – badly. Passionate – is the company/product/customers the most important thing in your life? Get customers first.

Founders and dysfunctional families « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

Founding a company is a sheer act of will and tenacity in the face of immense skepticism from everyone – investors, customers, friends, etc. Next, you have to deal with the daily crisis of product development and acquiring early customers.

Epitaph for an Entrepreneur « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

Out of Stanford Business School she went to work for Apple as an evangelist and then joined Ansa Software , the developer of Paradox, a Mac-database. My ideas about Customer Development started evolving around these concepts. thanks Reply Ben Yoskovitz , on June 18, 2009 at 7:13 am Said: Steve – Great post. Reply Rob Di Marco , on June 18, 2009 at 8:05 am Said: Thanks for this wonderful post. on June 18, 2009 at 10:38 am Said: [.]

“Lessons Learned” – A New Type of Venture Capital Pitch

Steve Blank

Rather than a traditional VC pitch I suggested that they do something unconventional and tell the story of their journey in Customer Discovery and Validation. The heart of the Cafepress presentation is the “ Lessons Learned from our Customers ” section.

A Wilderness of Mirrors

Steve Blank

Filed under: Secret History of Silicon Valley « Agile Opportunism – Entrepreneurial DNA Rocket Science 2: Drinking the Kool-Aid » 2 Responses Ben , on July 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm Said: Great post Steve.

Vertical Markets 3: Reducing Risk in Startups « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

Reducing Risk – Simulation versus Customer Development If you remember the first part of this discussion, startups face two types of risk; invention risk and/or customer/market risk. And the holy grail of the biotech business is another simulation process called computer aided drug discovery , which someday might be used to streamline the drug discovery and development process. The Customer Development Process I teach and write about is designed to do just that.

The Secret History of Silicon Valley Part V: Happy 100th Birthday.

Steve Blank

Berkeley Haas Business School was courageous enough to give me a forum teach the Customer Development Methodology. scott Reply Daily Links #54 | CloudKnow , on April 20, 2009 at 11:42 pm Said: [.]

Lean Startups aren't Cheap Startups

Steve Blank

For those of you who have been following the discussion, a Lean Startup is Eric Ries ’s description of the intersection of Customer Development , Agile Development and if available, open platforms and open source. Who’s the customer? What’s the customer acquisition cost?

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Relentless – The Difference Between Motion And Action

Steve Blank

Oh, and we had no installed customer base. Entrepreneurs are Relentless Jim’s goal was to get other companies to put their software on an unfinished, buggy computer with no customers. Martin , on November 9, 2009 at 6:41 am Said: Hmm… Not to get too meta here… But if the point of this post is to teach us how to distinguish motion from action (even partly), I didn’t get much help. Reply steveblank , on November 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm Said: You got it.

Pivot, don't jump to a new vision

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Monday, June 22, 2009 Pivot, dont jump to a new vision In a lean startup , instead of being organized around traditional functional departments, we use a cross-functional problem team and solution team. 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.

Gravity Will be Turned Off « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

Reply chris , on May 13, 2009 at 6:38 am Said: That was magnificent. Reply TJIC from SmartFlix , on May 13, 2009 at 6:49 am Said: Gravity turned off – outstanding! Reply Steve Blank Suspends Gravity: Context And Authority , on May 13, 2009 at 9:23 am Said: [.]

Out of the Ashes - Something Isn't Quite Right

Steve Blank

I began to gain an appreciation of how world-class venture capitalists develop pattern recognition for these common types of problems. “Oh

SuperMac War Story 2: Facts Exist Outside the Building, Opinions.

Steve Blank

Or offer some real insights into our customers? It wasn’t a lack of competence or skill in her job; it was just that as far as she was concerned, her job had no connection to the rest of marketing, our customers or our ultimate success as a company. “We OK, let’s start with the basics, who does marketing think our customers are?” So I asked the fatal question, “Has anyone ever looked at the customer registration cards? Has anyone ever spoken to a customer?”

Fun For Hours

Steve Blank

Martin , on October 11, 2009 at 7:16 am Said: If only the FCCcould stick to its original purpose of keeping it tidy.

I'm From the Government and I'm Here to Help You

Steve Blank

Something you can appreciate if you’ve read my class text on Customer Development.)

The Secret History of Silicon Valley 11: The Rise of “Risk Capital.

Steve Blank

These technology startups had no risk capital – just customers/purchase orders from government/military/intelligence agencies. Reply Allen Smith , on October 26, 2009 at 12:29 pm Said: The first VC were indeed from the Boston area but they predated Doriot by more than 100 years.