12 Random Customer Development Tips

Grasshopper Herder

Customer development is hard. Customer Development Lean StartupsIt takes work to get it right and you'll always be improving your technique. Here are a few tips I like to keep in my head while I'm getting out of the building.

Customer Development for Web Startups

Steve Blank

Customer Development is a technique startups use to quickly iterate and test each part of their business model. How you execute Customer Development varies, depending on your type of business. Ash Maurya , the CEO of WiredReach, has extended my work by building a model of Customer Development for Web Startups. Go read both of his posts on Discovery and Validation for web startups. Customer Development In Context.


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Should Your Startup Custom Develop a Site From Scratch?


If you want your startup to stand a chance of achieving brand visibility and attracting new customers, you need to have a website. However, just having a website isn’t enough to make your startup successful. Limited page development. Minimal customer support.

Customer Development in Japan: a History Lesson

Steve Blank

The Japanese edition of The Startup Owner’s Manual hit the bookstores in Japan this week. I asked Tsutsumi-san to write a guest post for my blog to describe his experience with Customer Development in Japan. Back in 1990’s, I was working for one of the leading sogo shohsa (trading company) in Japan, building data communications startups. But customers didn’t agree. Finding a repeatable process for startups. All a startup has are mere hypotheses,” and. “in

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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. I thought they might be worth enumerating here: A Startup Is a Temporary Organization Designed to Search. Pair Customer Development with Agile Development. No Business Plan Survives First Contact with Customers. Not All Startups Are Alike. Startup Metrics are Different from Existing Companies.

How Customer Development Failed Us

Steve Blank

Here’s his story of when Customer Development failed. We’ve been a startup for the past two years or so and we’ve come to a critical point on this crazy roller coaster ride. 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. So how did Customer Development fail us?

Driving Corporate Innovation: Design Thinking vs. Customer Development

Steve Blank

Startups are not smaller versions of large companies, but interestingly we see that companies are not larger versions of startups. Two methods, Design Thinking and Customer Development (the core of the Lean Startup) provide the tactical day-to-day process of how to turn ideas into products. . While they both emphasize getting out of the building and taking to customers, they’re not the same.

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. sgblank Lean Startup Cirle 111909 This movie requires Adobe Flash for playback. Customer Development: Past, Present, Future [.]

Creating Startup Success – Customer Development + Business Model Design

Steve Blank

In previous posts I’ve talked about what the combination of Business Model Design, Customer Development and Agile Methodologies mean to startups and intrapreneurs in large companies; it’s the beginning of entrepreneurship as a science with its own rules and methodologies. My public talk at Columbia University was part of their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Startup lecture series. Filed under: Business Model versus Business Plan , Customer Development.

Raising Money Using Customer Development

Steve Blank

Unfortunately in early stage startups the drive for financing hijacks the corporate DNA and becomes the raison d’etre of the company. Chasing funding versus chasing customers and a repeatable and scalable business model, is one reason startups fail. Product Development – Getting Funded as The Goal In a traditional product development model, entrepreneurs come up with an idea or concept, write a business plan and try to get funding to bring that idea to fruition.

Top 3 Ways to Fail at Customer Development

Grasshopper Herder

Top 3 Ways to Fail at Customer Development: Fail #1 - Talk talk talk Fail #2 - ??????? ???? Customer Development Entrepreneurship Lean startupFail #3 - Being Gullible.

Customer Development Fireside Chat

Steve Blank

I think customer feedback comes in a very unstructured manner, hence it is difficult to apply an algorithm on it. to make sense of the unstructured feedback received from customers. Steve Blanks 30 years of Silicon Valley startup advice.

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 rubble was still bouncing from the dot-com collapse and my goal was to teach students that there might be another way to think about how to build a startup. My intent at the time (as it is now) was not to offer Customer Development as the way but another way.

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.

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. Most startups lack a process for discovering their markets, locating their first customers, validating their assumptions, and growing their business.

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. 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? What metrics do we use to see if we learned enough in Customer Discovery ? Customer Development is unhelpful here.

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

View from Seed

The obvious answer we all give (and receive) in the startup community is to talk to people. 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. With that in the back of our minds, let’s dive into a few of those crucial first-step nuances as you look to gain traction and hold successful customer development conversations.

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.

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.

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. Not All Startups Are Alike There’s an urban legend that Eskimos-Aleuts have more words to describe snow than other cultures. While that’s not true, it is a fact that entrepreneurs only have one word for “startup.”

Customer Development Talk Startup2Startup « Steve Blank

Steve Blank

The Customer Development talk can be seen here. If you’ve never seen Eric’s Lean Startup presentation, take a few minutes to at least watch his part. That said I will be giving a Customer Development talk at TIECON , Saturday May 16th, 1:30 thanks for asking. steve Customer Development is Hard. Blank, he of “Customer Development,&# jokes that, to put it mildly, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, is a difficult read.

Solving the Innovator’s Dilemma – Customer Development in a Big Company

Steve Blank

At times I’ll do what I consider an extension of teaching; a two-day Customer Discovery/Validation intensive session with a large corporation serious about Customer Development at my ranch on the California Coast. We spent two days of analyzing and exploring their customer discovery visits just completed across South America, Africa and Asia. We used what they learned to plan their next steps for additional Discovery, and ultimately Customer Validation.

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.

The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Monday, July 5, 2010 The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits have written a new book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development , which builds upon the foundational work of The Four Steps to the Epiphany , while improving accessibility, updating the ideas, and making it more actionable. I believe it is the best introduction to Customer Development you can buy.

The Mom Test: doing great customer development

The Equity Kicker

When I started with Forward Partners I went out to speak with a bunch of our target customers, entrepreneurs, and I learned a bunch of stuff which helped shape our strategy of empowering great entrepreneurs with minority stake investments and real-world useful help – but I’d have learned much more if I’d read this book first. It’s surprising how easy it is to ask bad questions during customer development. Forward Startup general interest

Create Your Business Case Using Customer Development

Street Smart Product Manager

A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Modev MVP Conference and the Lean+Agile DC Conference about using a bootstrapped Customer Development approach to pursuing a new product idea in an existing company. I talked about how the traditional product innovation process of writing a business case with long-term financial projections, then writing a big … Continue reading Create Your Business Case Using Customer Development.

4 tips to make customer development surveys suck less

The Next Web

Tenoch Esparza is the co-founder of Sensory Percussion, a next-generation electronic drum startup. As Steve Blank preaches in his book The Startup Owner’s Manual, you need to get out of the building for customer discovery interviews and see your customers’ pupils dilate when they see your product. Nothing beats meeting face-to-face with a customer. Yet, asking the same questions of potential customers over and over again is tough.

Book Short: Deep Dive on Customer Development


Book Short: Deep Dive on Customer Development. I continue to be on a tear reading books about startups as I finish and get ready for the publication of Startup CEO ( now available for pre-ordering at Amazon ). This week’s selection was The Startup Owners Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company , by Steve Blank and Bon Dorf. It doesn’t get into the last two steps at all, Customer Creation and Company Building.

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.

Free Reprints of “Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything”

Steve Blank

The Harvard Business Review is offering free reprints of the May 2013 cover article, “ Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything “ Available here. Filed under: Big Companies versus Startups: Durant versus Sloan , Business Model versus Business Plan , Customer Development , Customer Development Manifesto , Lean LaunchPad , Teaching , Venture Capital.

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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." Many of us are not accustomed to thinking about markets or customers in a disciplined way. Steve Blank has devoted many years now to trying to answer that question, with a theory he calls Customer Development. What is customer development?

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. It’s the antithesis of the Lean Startup. Startups wrote business plans, generated expansive 5-year forecasts and executed (hired, spent and built) to the plan.

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Create Your Business Case Using Customer Development

Street Smart Product Manager

A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Modev MVP Conference and the Lean+Agile DC Conference about using a bootstrapped Customer Development approach to pursuing a new product idea in an existing company. I talked about how the traditional product innovation process of writing a business case with long-term financial projections, then writing a big … Continue reading Create Your Business Case Using Customer Development.

What Can A Startup Do in 5 days? Watch this

Steve Blank

Customer Development Lean LaunchPadWith a terrific crew of instructors, TA’s, and mentors, we successfully concluded Session 1 of our Hacking 4 Recovery summer series – with 20 teams sharing their final presentations last night. Slides for these presentations are in this folder , and we will be editing and sharing videos of each presentation shortly. Alivia – Telemedicine service bringing healthcare to middle income people in Peru.

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Why Innovation Heroes are a Sign of a Dysfunctional Organization

Steve Blank

It was a development process that would’ve taken three weeks in a startup, but inside this agency took 10 months (which was considered fast.) Customer DevelopmentA week ago I got invited to an “innovation hero” award ceremony at a government agency.

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


Most startups fail. The product or website (be it software, e-commerce, or a service) might be awesome , but if it puts itself in front of the wrong market, or packages itself so the right market can’t figure out why it’s awesome, the startup will fail. 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. So What is Customer Development?

Steve Blank on Customer Development

The Entrepreneurial Mind

He has been writing, talking, and teaching about business model development since retiring from active entrepreneurship -- he also has a great blog. Here is a talk he gave recently to a conference called the Start-up Lessons Learned Conference (it runs about 44 minutes, but is well worth the time): Watch live video from Startup Lessons Learned on Justin.tv (Thanks to John Wark for passing along this video).

How to Find a Market? Use Jobs-To-Be-Done as the Front End of Customer Discovery

Steve Blank

Modern entrepreneurship began at the turn of the 21 st century with the observation that startups aren’t smaller versions of large companies – large companies at their core execute known business models, while startups search for scalable business models. Customer’s Job-to-be-Done.

Your Product is Not Their Problem

Steve Blank

I just had a call with Lorenz, a former business school student who started a job at a biotech startup making bacteria to take CO2 out of the air. The conversation got interesting when I asked, “How are you going to describe the product to potential customers in the concrete industry?”

A Quick Course on Lean

Steve Blank

No Business Plan Survives First Contact With Customers. How did we build startups in the past? How to Get, Keep and Grow Customers ? What is Customer Development. What is Customer Discovery and Why Do it? Customer Validation.

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Lead and Disrupt

Steve Blank

You think startups are hard? Do they have better sales, marketing, or product development groups? What the winners start with is the realization that in a world of continuous disruption, they have only a few years to develop new capabilities or be pushed over the brink.

Customer Development Diagram | Steve Blank | #leanstartup

Campus Entrepreneurship

Artist is @Agentfin : Customer Development in a Diagram « Steve Blank. Lean Startup Steve BlankFrom Steve Blank.

A Path to the Minimum Viable Product

Steve Blank

Having just retired from a career as an entrepreneur I had started thinking about why startups were different from large companies. Over the last two decades Shawn has seen hundreds of startups use the Lean Methodology. Step 2: Customer Archetypes. Customer Development