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A RETIRED EIGHT-TIME SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR, Steve's insight that startups are not small versions of large companies is reshaping the way startups are built and how entrepreneurship is taught. His observation that large companies execute business models, but startups search for them, led him to realize that startups need their own tools, different than those used to manage existing companies.
Steve's first tool for startups, the Customer Development methodology, spawned the Lean Startup movement. The fundamentals of Customer Development are detailed in Blank's first book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany (2003), which together with his blog, www.steveblank.com, is considered required reading among entrepreneurs, investors and established companies throughout the world. His second book, The Startup Owner's Manual, was published in March 2012. It is a step-by-step guide to building a successful company that incorporates the best practices, lessons and tips that have swept the startup world since The Four Steps was published.
Blank teaches Customer Development and entrepreneurship at Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School and Columbia University, and his Customer Development process is taught at Universities throughout the world. In 2011, he developed the Lean LaunchPad, a hands-on class that integrates Business Model design and Customer Development into practice through fast-paced, real-world customer interaction and business model iteration. In 2011, the National Science Foundation adopted Blank's class for its Innovation Corps (I-Corps), training teams of the nation's top scientists and engineers, to take their ideas out of the university lab and into the commercial marketplace.
Steve is a prolific writer and speaker who enjoys teaching young entrepreneurs. In 2009, he earned the Stanford University Undergraduate Teaching Award in Management Science and Engineering. In 2010, he earned the Earl F. Cheit Outstanding Teaching Award at U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business. The San Jose Mercury News listed him as one of the 10 Influencers in Silicon Valley. Despite these accolades and many others, Steve says he might well have been voted "least likely to succeed" in his New York City high school class.
Eight startups in 21 years
After repairing fighter plane electronics in Thailand during the Vietnam War, Steve arrived in Silicon Valley in 1978, as boom times began. He joined his first of eight startups including two semiconductor companies, Zilog and MIPS Computers; Convergent Technologies; a consulting stint for Pixar; a supercomputer firm, Ardent; peripheral supplier, SuperMac; a military intelligence systems supplier, ESL; Rocket Science Games. Steve co-founded startup number eight, E.piphany, in his living room in 1996. In sum: two significant implosions, one massive "dot-com bubble" home run, several "base hits," and immense learning that resulted in The Four Steps to the Epiphany.
An avid reader in history, technology, and entrepreneurship, Steve has followed his curiosity about why entrepreneurship blossomed in Silicon Valley while stillborn elsewhere. It has made him an unofficial expert and frequent speaker on "The Secret History of Silicon Valley."
In his spare time, Blank is a Commissioner of the California Coastal Commission, the public body which regulates land use and public access on the California coast. He also serves on the Expert Advisory Panel for the California Ocean Protection Council. Steve served on the boards of Audubon California, the Peninsula Open Space Land Trust (POST), and was a trustee of U.C. Santa Cruz and a Director of the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV). Steve's proudest startups are daughters Katie and Sarah, co-developed with wife Alison Elliott. They split their time between Pescadero and Silicon Valley.