(Correction: This new video, uploaded 9/8/10, reflects an edit to Steve's book)
I first saw Steve Blank at a TIE conference in Silicon Valley last year. At the time, I assiduously wrote everything he had to say about customer development methodology when building a startup. After all, I am an entrerpeneur. As the author of "The Four Steps to the Epiphany," Steve has been instrumental in ushering a new way of thinking about building companies. Along with his student Eric Ries, who has become a leading evangelist of the "Lean Startup" movement (Eric coined that term), the two are shaping a whole new generation of startup entrepeneurs, who are dismissing the old way of building companies and embracing and applying a more prudent, customer-oriented, and learning-based methodology to their startups.
In this interview, Steve and I talk about how the idea of focusing on the customer, deploying the minimum viable product, quick iterations and staying lean came to be such a force in Silicon Valley. A lot has to do with the recession, and the restrictions the economy put on investors and startups alike, he said.
Steve also said that entrepreneurs are essentially, "starting a faith-based enterprise." The only real fact that a person knows is that they don't know if a product will be truly embraced by a customer. To this end, why wait to release in a year, or six months or 90 days? Wouldn't it behoove a startup to put out a product quickly and get feedback and thus confirm his/her views or hypothesis?
"Rapid innovation puts traditional thinking at such a disadvantage," said Steve. Quick iterations that help confirm faith-based assumptions put startups who follow this methodology and approach at an advantage.
If you're an entrepreneur, you need to learn from Steve. He's had rich experience as an entrepreneur and teacher. Watch the rest of the interview to hear Steve's explanation on how startups can iterate faster and what happens if a startup doesn't adopt this methodology.