Retooling Early Stage Development

Title: Retooling Early Stage Development
Date: 2008-10-01
Speaker: Steve Blank (Serial Entrepreneur)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
Entrepreneurship is chaotic, unpredictable, and will change from minute to minute.
Out of failure comes success.
Most entrepreneurs are focused on getting to launch and first customership.
Less than 10% of startups fail because the engineers were wrong.
Most startups, in every field other than life sciences, fail (over 90%) because they didn’t find a market and customers.
If you’re doing a web based company you should release often (several times a day).
Get out of your office or dorm room and test two hypotheses about your business: show that there are customers out there and that they will pay you money to solve their problem
The goal of a customer development process is to simply take the hypotheses about your business or product as is and see if there are customers and a market outside of the building.
This process puts you in continuous contact with the customers.
Great ideas are built into companies with continued contact and feedback from customers.
Great engineers understand what customers need.
Customer creation is about how do we create demand for companies.
The people capable of changing strategy need to be the ones hearing good news and bad.
Getting feedback from customers is the most valuable thing you will do as entrepreneurs. It is not outsourceable.
Customer validation sometimes requires you to re-engineer the problem.
Until you have your first customer all of the tips and tricks that big companies do are divide by zero (they don’t work).
Discover what the minimum feature set is and start with that. Do A/B testing on features.
Go for minimum feature set.
You won’t know what the minimum feature set is inside of the building.
In areas where there is market and customer risk customer development, or its equivalent, will become a fundamental part of your toolkit.
Some problems (such as cleantech) are technology risk at first and then become customer development problems.
The job of a great entrepreneur is to become a domain expert–enough to understand a day in the life of their customer, buyer, and anybody else in their organizational chain.