Bob Dorf - 7-time entrepreneur and co-author with Steve Blank of the Startup Owner's Manual
Co-hosted by the Creative Destruction Lab
, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
Bob Dorf is likely the second most knowledgeable Customer Development expert on the planet, second only to his business partner, co-author and friend of 20 years, Steve Blank, who developed the methodology after retiring from his eighth startup, E.piphany, when it achieved a market cap of $8-billion. Dorf helped Steve Blank deploy and test the Customer Development process when E.piphany opened its doors with five employees in 1996. Dorf later critiqued the earliest versions of Steve’s Four Steps to the Epiphany mercilessly along the way, and they’ve been friends and colleagues ever since.
In March, 2012, along with Steve Blank, Bob published The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-‐by-‐Step Guide for Building a Great Company, two years in nearly-‐fulltime research and development. The 608-‐page, painstakingly detailed guide is the most comprehensive, rigorous step-‐-‐-‐by-‐-‐-‐step roadmap that is guiding startup founders throughout the world. The Owner’s Manual builds on Blank’s groundbreaking Four Steps, with parallel Customer Development pathways for companies in the web and mobile channels, as well as traditional physical goods and enterprise software startups; it also includes in-‐depth web marketing tutorials.
Bob Dorf travels the world, helping startups, foreign governments, and major corporations learn how to effectively deploy Customer Development process through intensive 8-‐-‐-‐10 week Lean LaunchPad sessions, as workshops and hands-‐on consulting that he conducts repeatedly in Russia, Latin America, and the US. He teaches the Lean LaunchPad program at Columbia Business School, where he is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, and has led training sessions at Tech de Monterrey, Mexico, Skolkovo Business School in Moscow, Moscow State University and many other Universities. Bob’s deep experience consulting to Fortune 500 companies and service, retail, and web businesses balances Steve’s VC and software-centric experience. He’s counseled dozens of nonprofits pro bono as well.
Entrepreneurial from the age of 12, Bob received his last W-2 almost 40 years ago, when he left a great news editor’s job at WINS Radio in New York to launch his first major startup. Since then, he has personally founded seven companies, including—as he puts it—“two homeruns, two base hits, and three solid tax losses.” His 24 personal investments included 7 IPO’s, six colossal failures, and, -as he puts it -“everything imaginable in between.” His founded his first startup, later named Dorf+Stanton Communications, in his living room at age 22. It grew from a staff of two—Bob and a St. Bernard—to more than 150, when Bob sold it in 1989.
Bob co-‐founded Marketing 1to1 (later Peppers&Rogers Group) in 1993, growing it to 400+ people. The March 1999 Fortune magazine raved about The One to One Fieldbook he co-authored, saying, "if your company is launching a customer-‐focused strategy…it sets the agenda." As founding CEO, Dorf spearheaded major strategic customer programs at a veritable “who’s who” of companies including 3M, Bertelsmann, Ford, HP, Jaguar, NCR, Oracle, and Schwab. Bob has published dozens of articles including an in-‐depth Harvard Business Review CRM treatise. Dorf lives in Stamford with his wife Fran, a therapist and thrice-published novelist. An avid bicyclist and skier, Bob’s proudest startup by far is daughter Rachel, a psychologist who recently made him a grandpa.