Steve Blank Profile

Steve Blank electrifies corporate audiences with actionable tips for how to drive continuous innovation sharing the same battle-tested processes that Lean Startups use to achieve success.

Steve is the father of modern entrepreneurship, a serial entrepreneur-turned-best selling author and educator who has changed the way startups are built, how entrepreneurship is taught, and how big companies and the U.S. government innovate. He is the author of the startup bibles The Four Steps to the Epiphany and The Startup Owner’s Manual, books that entrepreneurs of all stripes rely on to build successful ventures and corporate and government organizations use to deal with disruption. His Harvard Business Review cover story, Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything, explained how companies could use the Lean Startup to implement innovation at speed.

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    Put to a vote, I might have been chosen “least likely to succeed” in my New York City high school class. My path has taken me from repairing fighter planes in Thailand during the Vietnam War (a member of the Society of Wild Weasels), to spook stuff in undisclosed location(s), and I was lucky enough to arrive at the beginning of the boom times of Silicon Valley in 1978.

    After 21 years in 8 high technology companies, I retired in 1999. I co-founded my last company, E.piphany, in my living room in 1996. My other startups include two semiconductor companies, Zilog and MIPS Computers, a workstation company Convergent Technologies, a consulting stint for a graphics hardware/software spinout Pixar, a supercomputer firm, Ardent, a computer peripheral supplier, SuperMac, a military intelligence systems supplier, ESL and a video game company, Rocket Science Games.

    Total score: two large craters (Rocket Science and Ardent), one bubble home run (E.piphany) and several base hits.

    After I retired, I took some time to reflect on my experience and wrote a book (actually my class text) about building early stage companies called Four Steps to the Epiphany. It’s been called the book that launched the Lean Startup movement. My latest book, co-authored with Bob Dorf, The Startup Owners Manual integrates 10 years of new knowledge (and fixes lots of typos.)

    I moved from being an entrepreneur to teaching entrepreneurship to both undergraduate and graduate students at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, Columbia University, Caltech and UCSF. The “Customer Development” model that I developed in my book is one of the core themes in these classes. In 2009, I was awarded the Stanford University Undergraduate Teaching Award in the department of Management Science and Engineering. The same year, the San Jose Mercury News listed me as one of the 10 Influencers in Silicon Valley. In 2010, I was awarded the Earl F. Cheit Outstanding Teaching Award at U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business.

    In 2011 at the request of the National Science Foundation I modified my Lean Launchpad class and it became the curriculum for the NSF I-Corps. Science wrote an article about the I-Corps and so did Nature, the Economist, and Forbes. National Public Radio did a story on the class here and so did the San Jose Mercury. I testified in front of Congress about the success and future of the program.

    In 2012 the Harvard Business Review listed me as one of the “Masters of Innovation” and I was the keynote at the National Governors Conference. My talk was on C-Span. I write weekly for the Wall Street Journal Accelerators blog and occasionally for Forbes, the Huffington Post and in Japan for NikkeiBP.

    In 2013 Forbes listed me as one of the 30 most influential people in Tech. The May 2013 Harvard Business Review cover story was my article, “Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything” and in June I won the 2013 Silicon Valley Visionary Forum award, and the same month my wife and were honored with the 2013 Northern California Environmental Leadership award.

    All my coursework, syllabuses, and presentations can be found here. In 2012 I put my Lean LaunchPad class on-line and over 150,000 students are taking it.

    In 2013 I partnered with UCSF and the National Science Foundation to offer the Lean LaunchPad class for Life Science and Healthcare (therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital health.)

    I also followed my curiosity about why entrepreneurship blossomed in Silicon Valley and was stillborn elsewhere. It has led to several talks on The Secret History of Silicon Valley.

    I served on the California Coastal Commission, (the public body which regulates land use and public access on the California coast,) California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), the Expert Advisory Panel for the California Ocean Protection Council as well as on the boards of Audubon California (and its past chair), the Audubon National Board as well as the Peninsula Open Space Land Trust (POST) and as a trustee of the U.C. Santa Cruz foundation.

Steve Blank Speaking Videos

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Steve Blank's Speech Descriptions

Innovation @50x

Moving Companies at Startup Speeds: How big companies can use Lean Startup techniques and processes to remain innovative.


Dealing With Disruption

How culture, process and people need to adapt and adopt in the world of continuous disruption.


Entrepreneurship vs. Innovation: What is the Difference and Why Does it Matter?

Steve explains why innovation inside an existing company or the government is different from building a startup, highlighting the different tools and mindsets needed to be a successful innovator or entrepreneur.


Harnessing Your R&D Department: How every federal research agency adopted Lean Startup methods to commercialize science

1,500 teams of our best scientists and counting – and learn how your company can as well.


Creating an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Silicon Valley’s role as an entrepreneurial powerhouse has its roots in the Cold War, not a Palo Alto garage. Steve explains how the Silicon Valley came to be and how you can create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in your region.


Lean Launchpad

At the request of the National Science Foundation Steve Blank modified his Lean Launchpad class and it became the curriculum for the NSF I-Corps. Science wrote an article about the I-Corps, as did Nature, The Economist, and Forbes. Additionally, both National Public Radio and The San Jose Mercury News presented stories on the class. Blank has testified in front of Congress about the success and future of the program.


Secret History of Silicon Valley

Steve Blank offers a detailed, complex "Secret History" of Silicon Valley, ranging from the Vietnam War to the founding of Stanford University to the rise of venture capitalism and tech start-ups. Fueled by his own natural curiosity and personal experience in each of these areas, this program is a wonderful secret shared.

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“Best Fireside Chat we’ve ever heard. My company learned a lot about dealing with disruption. We made changes right after the conference.”

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“Steve Really Helped Define the Role of Chief Innovation Officer and how to think about an innovation pipeline.”

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Books by Steve Blank:

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company

More than 100,000 entrepreneurs rely on this book for detailed, step-by-step instructions on building successful, scalable, profitable startups. The National Science Foundation pays hundreds of startup teams each year to follow the process outlined in the book, and it’s taught at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia and more than 100 other leading universities worldwide. Why?

The Startup Owner’s Manual guides you, step-by-step, as you put the Customer Development process to work. This method was created by renowned Silicon Valley startup expert Steve Blank, acknowledged catalyst of the “Lean Startup” movement, and tested and refined by him for more than a decade.

This 608-page how-to guide includes over 100 charts, graphs, and diagrams, plus 77 valuable checklists that guide you as you drive your company toward profitability. It will help you:

· Avoid the 9 deadly sins that destroy startups’ chances for success

· Use the Customer Development method to bring your business idea to life

· Incorporate the Business Model Canvas as the organizing principle for startup hypotheses

· Identify your customers and determine how to “get, keep and grow” customers profitably

· Compute how you’ll drive your startup to repeatable, scalable profits.

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The Four Steps to the Epiphany

The bestselling classic that launched 10,000 startups and new corporate ventures – The Four Steps to the Epiphany is one of the most influential and practical business books of all time.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany launched the Lean Startup approach to new ventures. It was the first book to offer that startups are not smaller versions of large companies and that new ventures are different than existing ones. Startups search for business models while existing companies execute them.

Packed with concrete examples of what to do, how to do it and when to do it, the book will leave you with new skills to organize sales, marketing and your business for success.

If your organization is starting a new venture, and you’re thinking how to successfully organize sales, marketing and business development you need The Four Steps to the Epiphany.

Essential reading for anyone starting something new.

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