For those who don’t have a Silicon Valley area code, Steve Blank likely doesn’t have much name recognition. But amongst the Apples, Googles and Facebooks of the world, Blank enjoys iconic status. Blank says he gets asked for autographs just walking down the street in Palo Alto, where he teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford. Some young entrepreneurs reverentially refer to the 59-year-old as: “The Godfather.”
How did Blank earn his celebrity status? First, he is a successful serial entrepreneur, having started eight venture-backed Silicon Valley companies, including software company E.piphany, which raised $66 million prior to going public in 1999. Second, Blank’s first book, “Four Steps to the Epiphany”, became a handbook for every budding tech entrepreneur and spawned the term “customer development” that sparked the “lean startup” movement.
Blank’s blog has become a must-read among entrepreneurs and is widely syndicated, regularly appearing on The Huffington Post. Recently, Blank launched an online version of his customer development course, called “The Lean LaunchPad”, which he says has more than 50,000 registered users.
The following is an abridged transcript of a recent interview Reuters did with Blank that covered everything from the definition of an “entrepreneur” to how people should use his latest book: “The Startup Owner’s Manual”.
In terms of a neophyte that is maybe a Stanford student or someone who is not even in an entrepreneurship course but just wants to start their own business, can they pick “The Startup Owner’s Manual” up and use it as a blueprint?