Sunday, October 31, 2010

Steve Blank's Core Ideas

Much has be written about Steve Blank's customer discovery process.  The following is written more for myself, but it might be helpful to others.  This is what I see as the core to Steve Blank's customer discovery process as described in his book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany.

The challenge.  Thousands upon thousands start business ventures but only a small fraction succeed.  Startups face high risks and often limited resources.  Therefore, they are not smaller versions of larger companies and they need a very special process which fits the challenge.

The process.  You begin with an inspired vision and ideas about your customer, product, and market.  First, extract and clarify your hypotheses.  Second, turn your guesses into facts through interaction with actual customers (customer discovery process).  Third, when facts prove your guesses wrong or imperfect, pivot by adapting your business model and product to fit the new facts.  It's an iterative learning process.  The costof not iterating is discovering too late that customers don't want and/or wont buy your product.

Focus on visionary customers and a minimum feature set.  Focus on selling to a small segment of customers: visionary customers who need what you have, get what your are doing, will buy your products, and spread the good word.   Second, build the minimum features needed to get your visionary customers to buy.

In order to test facts, it is important to get out of the building physically or virtually to interact with customers or get feedback from customers about your hypothesis.  This should be the beginning of a continuous interaction with customers that continues throughout the life of your company.

Once you've developed your product having cusomers pay is further important validation.

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