Photo Credit: Pioneers
Steve Blank is one of the key figures behind the Lean Startup movement. He is an icon and pioneer of Silicon Valley, a serial entrepreneur, a bestselling author, a professor, and a prolific thought leader with a wide reach. He has a marked global influence on all things startup, that spans continents, and was recently received to share his thoughts on the startup scene in Vienna.
Affable, friendly, and excited to regale the receptive audience at Impact Hub Vienna with his Silicon Valley experiences, Steve Blank explained the mindset and tools needed in order to become a successful entrepreneur. He shared the hard-learned lessons he took to heart during his entrepreneurial days and provided key insights for founders. Here, we’ve put together a list of some of our takeaways from an evening with Steve Blank:
1. Your hypothesis of your customers’ wants on day one is only a guess.
Whether it’s your product, customers, pricing, or channels, there are no facts inside your building. You can only learn by leaving the office and talking to your customers.
2. You must build and test a minimum viable product
A minimum viable product is not a prototype, but it can lead you to one. It’s whatever you build and gets you the most amount of learning at a point in time. It could be a wireframe or a powerpoint presentation or a spreadsheet. Use it to build layer after layer as you get feedback from customers.
3. The Lean Startup method is not THE method but A method
The Lean Startup method grew out of a reaction to everything before it and the belief that startups are just smaller versions of large companies. It is up to us to use it, modify it, and build on it. It’s not supposed to be the endpoint. It’s a springboard to what we’ll learn in the coming years.
4. Just because you have the information, it doesn’t mean you have the wisdom
It’s not about smarts. There are some things you just won’t know until you try it and fail. Reading about something isn’t the same as going out there, putting it all on the line, and doing it.
5. Improve your entrepreneurial ecosystem by learning from each other
Pay it forward. Share with each other. Ask someone how they screwed up? What would they’ve done differently? Who’s the best VC? Give back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem because creating successful startups and a thriving community requires everyone to participate. Find mentors and when you’re ready, become one yourself.
6. Ask your mentor valuable questions
Don’t ask your mentor for answers you could’ve found on Google. Show you did the work and you still need their unique perspective to help with a few things. These conversations are fun and valuable for both parties.
7. Any successful entrepreneur has likely failed at some point
Failure is a part of the process. The culture of failure is the nature of startups, and people need to be open and understand that it is key to entrepreneurship. Most startups fail, and you’ll likely feel pretty miserable. But out of the ashes can rise even greater successes.
8. Don’t believe your own bullshit
Also known as hubris, Steve Blank was hit by this and it resulted in his greatest disaster. He shared his biggest failure by explaining how he raised 35 million dollars for a video game company, marketed the hell out of it, and lost it all. There were warning signs along the way, but he ignored them. It took him a while to accept what had happened but when he finally did, when he finally reflected on his failure and chose to learn from all the ways it went wrong, that’s when the first seeds of the Lean Startup method came to be which is arguably his greatest success.
9. Show up
80% of entrepreneurship is showing up more than everybody else. Show up for your customers, show up for your investors, and show up for talks and conferences because showing up creates opportunities that you would’ve never found otherwise.