SG 2016: Steve Blank, Father of Lean Entrepreneurship

We have the profound pleasure of welcoming the second Silicon Valley godfather to the Startup Grind stage for the 2016 Global Conference: Steve Blank, the world-renowned author, entrepreneur, and academic that by laid the foundation for customer-driven product development. See Steve, Clayton Christensen, Chamath Palihapitiya, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy and more in February 2016 - grab your 2 for 1 tickets today!

Read on to get to know Steve, and check out his last appearance in Silicon Valley here.

Steve Blank, International Man of Mystery​

Steve’s story begins like that of many other Silicon Valley founders: after getting an early introduction to business by helping run the family grocery story in New York City, he set off to college to earn the Blank family its first degrees. Finding college to be a poor fit, he drops out - now considered a rite of passage for ambitious young tech entrepreneurs -  to build an empire of his own design. Of course, in the 1960s, there was no pulsing Silicon Valley dream to chase and few bands of pirate hackers to join in creating the future. Instead, Steve learned the ropes of avionics from the ground up, and polished the skill to mastery: he truly earned his management and crisis control chops as a Vietnam War technician manager. By age 20, he was leading 15 electrical engineers in repairing warring and supply aircraft.

When he left the military and chose to move to Palo Alto, his story would take a dramatic turn as the town transformed into the amorphous technology boomtown, “Silicon Valley.” Not landing from military, his first role was, in a fashion, as a spy: he joined ESL, a startup that was helping the US government crack Soviet military cryptography during the Cold War Era. His resulting perspective expressed in the Secret History of Silicon Valley is one backed by the nuances of the money and power behind what became a technology capital: the US government and military.

Thus began Steve’s thirty-plus years of work in innovative technologies and business strategy.

So what exactly can you hope to learn from Steve?

How to Go From Idea to Exit

Steve is a man of many talents with a mix of successes and remarkable failures. Hardly satisfied with a single industry, Steve was an early part of 8 high tech startups, ranging from semiconductors, to workstations and computer peripherals, to supercomputing, and even a video game company. His work in games and supercomputing may have come a bit too early (what Blank affectionally calls “cratering” in case of these two companies), but his great Silicon Valley home run, E.piphany provided some of the industry’s best CRM services, serving customers like Microsoft back when the company was the dominant Silicon Valley player.

In each of these cases, Steve attacked a new industry or niche, built the team and business plan, and acted with ambition, whether it led to ruin or riches. Steve describes his successes as a “number of base hits,” and E.piphany his home run - but really, it has been the transferrable learnings that have been Steve’s greatest gift. His Lean Launchpad and series of books - Four Steps to the Epiphany and The Startup Owner’s Manual - have become the seed and encyclopedia, respectively, for modern day Silicon Valley customer driven entrepreneurship.

You’ll learn how to move your business to the next level from someone who has done it eight times and has taught hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs through classes and materials.

How Entrepreneurship Manifests Around the World

When Steve Blank retired as a founder, he took on the role of training new leaders. He has taught at Stanford, Columbia, NYU, UCSF, as well as Berkeley, where he was presented with a distinguished teaching award. His revised syllabus, "Four Steps to the Epiphany," has become a foundational Silicon Valley tome, also translated into multiple languages and continuously developed by followers like Eric Ries and Trevor Owens. With the launch of the follow up Startup Owner's Manual consolidating an additional decade of experience, in collaboration with Bob Dorf, founder and writer Steve Blank truly went global. One of his most inspiring trips has been to China for the Mandarin book translation, during which he noted the rise of the east. Lean entrepreneurship has spread across the world, and few know better how founders work around the world than Steve.

You'll learn the culture, trends, and ideas of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and across the world.

How You Can be Entrepreneurial without a Startup

Steve spent a large part of his career consulting within startups, the public sector, large corporations and among their best employees, and even for other community organizations serving entrepreneurs. One of the primary focuses of his life has been systematizing the skill set of entrepreneurship - and therefore opening it up to intrapreneurs building products within corporations, governments nurturing new entrepreneurs, and academics hoping to give their students more hands on training.

Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial career, you'll learn more about how you can continue to nurture your entrepreneurial skills -- whether or not you decide to take the plunge into starting something.


Want to get started in learning from Steve? Check out his best startup tools here and see