Nail the Customer Development Manifesto to the Wall

Steve Blank

When Bob Dorf and I wrote the Startup Owners Manual we listed a series of Customer Development principles. Pair Customer Development with Agile Development. Success Begins with Buy-In from Investors and Co-Founders.

How Customer Development Failed Us

Steve Blank

Here’s his story of when Customer Development failed. We were lucky to learn about Customer Development early on in the life of our startup. More importantly, we’d witnessed Customer Development’s massive success at another local startup. We bought Steve’s book , started product development and began reaching out to customers ins search of our first earlyvangelists. So how did Customer Development fail us?

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.

Times Square Strategy Session – Web Startups and Customer Development

Steve Blank

I was in New York last week with my class at Columbia University and several events made me realize that the Customer Development model needs to better describe its fit with web-based businesses. What metrics do we use to see if we learned enough in Customer Discovery ?

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.

Time For Founders School

Steve Blank

Kauffman just launched Founders School - a new education series to help entrepreneurs develop their businesses during the startup stage by highlighting how startups are different from big companies. 2:21: Accounting Metrics in a Large Company vs. Metrics that Matter in a Startup.

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.

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

ConversionXL

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. But for a new coffee shop, things like customer service, atmosphere and selection, will make or break the company.

Is the Lean Startup Dead?

Steve Blank

Reading the NY Times article “ Jeffrey Katzenberg Raises $1 Billion for Short-Form Video Venture, ” I realized it was time for a new startup heuristic: the amount of customer discovery and product-market fit you need to find is inversely proportional to the amount and availability of risk capital. Jeff Katzenberg has a great track record – head of the studio at Paramount, chairman of Disney Studios, co-founder of DreamWorks and now chairman of NewTV.

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Why vanity metrics are dangerous

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Wednesday, December 23, 2009 Why vanity metrics are dangerous In a previous post, I defined two kinds of metrics: vanity metrics and actionable metrics. In that post, I took it for granted that vanity metrics are bad for you, and focused on techniques for creating and learning from actionable metrics. In this post, Id like to talk about the perils of vanity metrics. My personal favorite vanity metrics is "hits."

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

Steve Blank

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. And we can offer investors metrics to play Moneyball – with the Investment Readiness Level.

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

conversionxl.com

It’s Not a Conversion Problem, It’s a Customer Development Problem. 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. The Key To Customer Loyalty.

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. I called the founder and noted that there are SAT tests that are shorter than the survey. 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.

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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The Lean Analytics Cycle: Metrics > Hypothesis > Experiment > Act

Occam's Razor

To win in business you need to follow this process: Metrics > Hypothesis > Experiment > Act. We are far too enamored with data collection and reporting the standard metrics we love because others love them because someone else said they were nice so many years ago.

Lean Innovation Management – Making Corporate Innovation Work

Steve Blank

Gore , I’ve found two corporate strategy tools developed by other smart people helpful in bridging Lean Startups with Corporate Innovation. Here the company executes a known business model (known customers, product features, competitors, pricing, distribution channel, supply chain, etc.)

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How Investors Make Better Decisions: The Investment Readiness Level

Steve Blank

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. Filed under: Customer Development Manifesto , Investment Readiness Level , Venture Capital.

Fear of Failure and Lack of Speed In a Large Corporation

Steve Blank

And worse, even if someone does manage to start something new, our management structure has so many financial, legal and HR hurdles that every initiative needs to match our existing business financial metrics, processes and procedures. Bob looked wistful, “Our founders built a company known for taking risks and moving fast. They’ve found product/market fit (what products customers want to buy). There are financial metrics (Return on Investment, Hurdle Rate, etc.)

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Entrepreneurs are Everywhere Show No. 45: Dan Miller and Brian Zuercher

Steve Blank

How to recognize when it’s time to pull the plug on your startup idea, and why founders can’t operate afford to operate in a vacuum were the focus on today’s Entrepreneurs are Everywhere radio show. The show follows the journeys of founders who share what it takes to build a startup – from restaurants to rocket scientists, to online gifts to online groceries and more. Dan Miller , co-founder of Level Therapy , provider of mobile therapy sessions.

Entrepreneurs are Everywhere Show No. 45: Dan Miller and Brian Zuercher

Steve Blank

How to recognize when it’s time to pull the plug on your startup idea, and why founders can’t operate afford to operate in a vacuum were the focus on today’s Entrepreneurs are Everywhere radio show. The show follows the journeys of founders who share what it takes to build a startup – from restaurants to rocket scientists, to online gifts to online groceries and more. Dan Miller , co-founder of Level Therapy , provider of mobile therapy sessions.

Beware of Vanity Metrics (for Harvard Business Review)

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Monday, February 8, 2010 Beware of Vanity Metrics (for Harvard Business Review) The next article in my series on entrepreneurship for Harvard Business Review is live today. Once again, we revisit the topic of Actionable metrics and their nemesis: Vanity metrics. Any entrepreneur with a decent reality distortion field can find metrics that make it look like theyre being successful. But how do we know which metrics to look at?

Lean Goes Better with Coke – the Future of Corporate Innovation

Steve Blank

For most big, established companies like us, our business models were developed years—even decades ago. in developing these new models. It only emerges after an intense business model design and search activity based on the customer development process.

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9 Deadliest Start-up Sins

Steve Blank

The excerpts, which appeared first at Inc.com , highlight the Customer Development process, best practices, tips and instructions contained in our book. Assuming you know what the customer wants. The model leaves little room for error, learning, iteration, or customer feedback.

Is Your VC Founder Friendly?

Steve Blank

So if you’re the founder of a startup, you may want to consider who you take money from. Is Your VC Founder Friendly? Do they “get&# Customer Development ? How many of their founders are still with their company? Will they tailor your vesting to your contribution as a founder? Do They Get Customer Development? Have they heard about Customer Development ? And a sign that their ex-founders still like them.).

Early-stage Regional Venture Funds–part 2 of 3 of Bigger in Bend

Steve Blank

Over the years Dino and I brainstormed about how Lean entrepreneurship would affect regional development. Success depends on finding startups that have identified acute customer pains in large markets where conditions are ripe for a new entrant.

How We Fight – Cofounders in Love and War

Steve Blank

I often get asked about finding cofounders and I usually give the standard list of characteristics of what I look for in a founder. But Jessica Alter , Cofounder & CEO of FounderDating , pointed out that co founders did not mean two founders in the same room.

Perfection By Subtraction – The Minimum Feature Set

Steve Blank

One of the principles of Customer Development is to get out of the building and understand the smallest feature-set customers will pay for in the first release.). I can’t get more than one of ten potential customers to think that this is something they’d buy.”

No Accounting For Startups

Steve Blank

Putting together a financial model and having the founders understand the interrelationships of the variables that can make or break a business is a worthwhile exercise. As a founder you are testing a series of hypotheses about all the pieces of the business model: Who are the customers/users?

Two Giant Steps Forward For Entrepreneurs

Steve Blank

Two years in the making and literally ten years in development, I’m proud to announce that my new book, The Startup Owners Manual , goes onto the printing press next Tuesday. In fact, you could say that all that remains from my last book are the four steps of Customer Development. Integrates Alexander Osterwalders “Business Model Canvas” as the front-end and “scorecard” for the customer discovery process.

Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out – The Startup Genome Project

Steve Blank

The email continued, &# The problem I’m working on is that many founders are either making uninformed decisions or inefficiently learning the new skills they need. The solution I’m exploring is a just in time learning methodology that accelerates founders’ learning curve by aggregating relevant content, peers and mentors.&#. Solo founders take 3.6x Balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30% more money, have 2.9x

Death By Competitive Analysis

Steve Blank

Trading emails with a startup CEO building an iPhone app, I asked him why potential customers would buy his product. Most competitive analyses are: 1) sales documents for investors and/or 2) an attempt to rationalize the founders assumptions. Where Are the Customers?

Lessons Learned: The metrics and levers of engagement.

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Tuesday, March 24, 2009 The metrics and levers of engagement, presentation on Engagement Loops for Facebook Developer Garage SF Ill be presenting a talk at the Facebook Developer Garage SF Wednesday evening.

Founder personalities and the “first-class man” theory of management

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Friday, July 9, 2010 Founder personalities and the “first-class man&# theory of management At any given time, something like four percent of the US population is engaged in some form of new-company-creation.

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. Some startups avoid getting customer feedback for precisely this reason: they are afraid that if early reactions are negative, theyll be "forced" to abandon their vision. IMVU had a roughly two-month-long development cycle.

Support the Startup Founders Visa with a tweet

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Saturday, September 19, 2009 Support the Startup Founders Visa with a tweet Its been an exhilarating first day here in Washington DC for the Geeks on a Plane tour. We can remedy it by creating a special visa for startup founders. Letting just 10,000 startup founders into the country each year could have a visible effect on the economy. Lets use 2gov.org to raise awareness of the Startup Founders Visa movement in congress.

Things to Avoid When Recruiting Co-founders

grasshopperherder.com

Q: “What will be your best channel for customer acquisition?&# How many customers have you spoken to? If you’re waiting for a technical co-founder to put up a landing page with signup form, you’re lazy. I just need a co-founder to web enable it!"

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The Superbowl ad test

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Monday, September 13, 2010 The Superbowl ad test I am a firm believer in the danger of vanity metrics , numbers that give the illusion of progress but often mask the true relationship between cause and effect. Vanity metrics are generally bigger.

Women 2.0 » FounderDating: How I Found My Co-Founder

www.women2.org

female founders. founder friday. Lessons learned from female founders and women entrepreneurs. Startup Quote: Wendy Tan White on Building a Successful Startup » FounderDating: How I Found My Co-Founder. Tweet By Elizabeth Knopf (Co-Founder & CEO, Sorced).

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. The most common need is becoming more customer-centric. They need to incorporate customer feedback into the product development and business planning process.

Learning is better than optimization (the local maximum problem)

Startup Lessons Learned

At least, not in the traditional sense of trying to squeeze every tenth of a point out of a conversion metric or landing page. Instead, we try to accelerate with respect to validated learning about customers. You don’t get a gold star for listening to what customers say.

Document Your MVP for a Developer

SoCal CTO

I was talking with an early-stage founder who has a product vision and wants to get it built. He wanted to get input from me on what he's doing, and he wants to begin to ask developers what it would take to build his product. Founder : Ummm. Founder : Umm.

Lessons Learned: The three drivers of growth for your business.

Startup Lessons Learned

Master of 500 Hats: Startup Metrics for Pirates (SeedCamp 2008, London) This presentation should be required reading for anyone creating a startup with an online service component. Daves done a great job of articulating the key metrics you want to look at in each of these five areas, and I wont bother repeating them here (go read the presentation already). He also has a discussion of how your choice of business model determines which of these metric areas you want to focus on.