Steve Blank Podcast
Summary: Steve Blank, eight-time entrepreneur and now a business school professor at Stanford, Columbia and Berkeley, shares his hard-won wisdom as he pioneers entrepreneurship as a management science, combining Customer Development, Business Model Design and Agile Development. The conclusion? Startups are simply not small versions of large companies! Startups are actually temporary organizations designed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model.
Startups focus on speed since they are burning cash every day as they search for product/market fit. But over time code/hardware written/built to validate hypotheses and find early customers can become unwieldy, difficult to maintain and incapable of scaling. These shortcuts add up and become what is called technical debt. And the size of the problem increases with the success of the company.
I’ve known Edmund Pendleton from the University of Maryland as the Director of the D.C. National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Node (a collaboration among the University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins). But it wasn’t until seeing him lead the first I-Corps class at the National Institutes of Health that I realized Edmund could teach my class better than I can.
I am always surprised when critics complain that the Lean Startup’s Build, Measure, Learn approach is nothing more than “throwing incomplete products out of the building to see if they work.” Unfortunately the Build, Measure, Learn diagram is the cause of that confusion. At first glance it seems like a fire-ready-aim process.It’s time to update Build, Measure, Learn to what we now know is the best way to build Lean startups. Here’s how.
Thibault Duchemin and his team applied for our Lean LaunchPad class at UC Berkeley in 2014. We accepted them because it was clear Thibault was driven to solve a very personal problem – he grew up in a Deaf family, the only one who could hear. His team project was to provide automated aids for the hearing impaired. Here’s his story.
In peacetime the U.S. military is an immovable and inflexible bureaucracy. In wartime it can adapt and adopt organizational change with startling speed. BMNT, a new Silicon Valley company, is combining the Lean Methods it learned in combat with the technology expertise and speed of startups.
I’ve been working with Roberto, the Chief Innovation Officer of a diversified company I’ll call Sprocket Industries. I hadn’t heard from Roberto in awhile and when we caught up, it was clear his initial optimism had faded. I listened as Roberto listed the obstacles to the new innovation program at Sprocket...
I just spent a day working with Bob, the Chief Innovation Officer of a very smart large company I’ll call Acme Widgets. Bob summarized Acme’s impediments to innovation. “At our company we have a culture that fears failure. A failed project is considered a negative to a corporate career. As a result, few people want to start a project that might not succeed. 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.
During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, science and engineering at both Stanford and U.C. Berkeley were heavily funded to develop Cold War weapon systems. Stanford’s focus was Electronic Intelligence and those advanced microwave components and systems were useful in a variety of weapons systems. Starting in the 1950’s, Stanford’s engineering department became “outward facing” and developed a culture of spinouts and active faculty support and participation in the first wave of Silicon Valley startups.
Stephen Chambers spent 22 years in some of the most innovative companies in life science as the director of gene expression and then as a co-founder of his own company. Today he runs SynbiCITE, the UK’s synthetic biology consortium of 56 industrial partners and 19 Academic institutions located at Imperial College in London. Stephen and SynbiCITE, just launched the world’s first Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology program. Here’s his story.
Last week I got a call from Patrick an ex-student I hadn’t heard from for 8 years. He was now the CEO of a company and wanted to talk about what he admitted was a “first world” problem. Over breakfast he got me up to date on his life since school (two non-CEO roles in startups,) but he wanted to talk about his third startup – the one he and two co-founders had started.
I remind my students that I’m teaching them a methodology they can use the rest of their careers, not running an incubator. Every once in awhile a team ignores my advice and builds a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
When Krave Jerky Showed up in Class with a $435,000 Check
“Why is it so hard for a woman to still get taken seriously by a venture capitalist?”
It’s About Women Running Startups
The landscape for how to turn life science and health care technologies into viable companies has changed more in the last 3 years than in the last 30. New approaches to translational medicine have emerged. Our Lean Launchpad® for Life Sciences is one of them. But a new class of life science/healthcare co-working and collaboration space is another.