Startup Monday: Startup Leaders You Need To Know – Steve Blank

Good morning and welcome to another Startup Monday here on! I thought today would be a good day to introduce one of the major mover-and-shakers in the startup world, Steve Blank. If you’re interested in the lean startup space then Steve is one of the people you should really get to know. I heard Steve speak my first time earlier this year at the Startup Lessons Learned Conference and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.


What really impressed me about Steve is that he’s not afraid to do things different. In his talk Steve talked about how so many parts of the startup process had stagnated over the years. Things like a business plan and keeping VC’s up-to-date about what you are doing have been stuck in the past while companies are moving into the future. Steve sees a new framework for startups, an evolution for how entrepreneurs plan their business, attract venture capital, and work with investors.

I’m always the most impressed with people in a space that do things differently, people who challenge the norm and look towards innovation – Steve is one of those people. So who is Steve Blank?

Well let’s start at the beginning. Go back in time and Steve was actually repairing fighter jets in Thailand during the Vietnam war. After the war Steve made his way to the Silicon Valley in the late seventies. He spent the next 21 years at eight different high-tech companies before retiring in 1999. Steve has helped to create an innovative video game company, two semiconductor companies, a supercomputer firm, and more. Spanning multiple industries Steve doesn’t just know one niche, Steve knows business, period.

That’s what impresses me the most about an entrepreneur like Steve, he has not started businesses in multiple niches. Sure, not every single one was a runaway success but enough were that he was able to retire over ten years ago. When Steve retired he wrote a book that has become required reading in the startup world – Four Steps to the Epiphany.

After retirement Steve decided it was time to switch gears and began teaching entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley, Stanford, and a join MBA program between UC Berkeley and Columbia. Steve Blank puts a strong focus on Customer Development, a major tenant of the Lean Startup process. He teaches entrepreneurs how to really understand their customer and build businesses that solve a real problem for real customers. Four Steps to the Epiphany is considered a Customer Development Bible and Steve hasn’t stopped there.

At the Startup Lessons Learned conference he debuted a new piece of software to streamline the communication between entrepreneurs and VC’s. Steve thinks outside of the box, challenges the status quo, and is one of the most influential people in the startup space today. This is why Steve is on my short list of Startup Leaders You Need To Know!

Daina and I will be seeing Steve Blank speak this week at UCLA as part of the Lean Los Angeles MeetUp group. We can’t wait to see Steve again and of course I’ll share some of the highlights of his talk with all of you.

If you want to learn even more about Steve just watch the video below!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton