Inside the world of high technology he is considered a master innovator, to many others in the world, entrepreneur, conservationist, investor and lecturer. The Master of Innovation – Entrepreneur Steve Blank, his candid voice has given thousands of hopefuls inspiration and with his leadership. He has helped shape those thousands into becoming the reality of what they set out to become. Steve Blank is that and much more. A man of fortitude, his desire to rise to the top not only was met but exceeded on such a large scale that very few individuals can claim and the ones that have are accompanied by the title ‘Icon’. With all the hard work and contributions that he has given to his craft and to those around him, The title Icon comes without reservations.
An epiphany is born
Steve Blank was born to the world in 1953. Growing up in New York City, his parents were immigrants who operated a grocery store in the Chelsea neighborhood. Early on at the age of six, he was dealt one of his first hardships. His father up and left the family to fend for themselves. He and his sister, twelve years his senior,were then raised by his mother, who remained proud and devoted to her two children regardless of the dire circumstances that surrounded her. To this day, a keystone to Steve’s drive and perseverance is based upon his mother’s wish for him to do something that she and his father were unable to do, go to college and graduate.
Upon the wish of his mother, Steve attended the University of Michigan but Steve had a strong distaste for school and then soon dropped out, only after one semester. His adventurous side soon found himself hitchhiking to Miami, where there he took a job loading racehorses onto airplanes at Miami International Airport. During his time at the airport, he spurred an interest in avionics. The 1970’s came calling, which saw him entering a new chapter of his life, the Air Force.
Only at the age of twenty, his leadership skills had its first real debut when he took on and managed 15 electronic technicians within a year and a half, during the Vietnam War. His time in the service proved to be valuable but he had other plans and left to move back to the states, in Palo Alto. Unbeknownst to him at the time, that this sleepy little Californian town was dead smack center in an area that would forge the backdrop of his namesake, Silicon Valley.
In 1978, Steve Blank tipped over the first domino, setting in in motion the beginning of his legacy. Arriving in Silicon Valley at the intro of the great business boom, saw Steve starting his first job there with a startup company that was predominately a US intelligence company, National Means for Technical Verification. The company’s credo was to recognise the Soviet’s technological and arms development, during those years of uncertainty, The Cold War.
During Blank’s illustrious time in the valley, he began and worked with several varied High-Tech companies. Some of these business creations included companies like MIPS computers, Zilog and SuperMac Technologies to name a few. During this era, he was appointed on the board of public entities, Macrovision/Rovi and Immersion. To this day he continues to advise and invest in Silicon Valley. In 1996,he saw the coronation of his 8th and final startup, E.piphany, Eventually retiring in 1999. The 90’s were good to Blank, having created a new concept that dealt the scientific approach that, if applied, could prove to be immensely effective for other startups and entrepreneurs to assist them in bettering their products sales through a more in tune knowledge of their customers.
Blank would eventually develop his renowned customer development methodology, Lean Startup Movement. This approach was Blank at his most finest. His unique and methodical approach had incorporated scientific elements which attracted the attention of entrepreneurs across the globe in their search for the enlightenment of customer approval. His teachings were bordering on genius as it focused mainly on the methods of customer development and learning the startup process.
2005, gave way to the release of his first published work that details his insight on the Customer Development process, ‘The Four Steps to Epiphany‘. The book explains his outlook on entrepreneurship and that it can be practiced, but not as an art and that it must be experienced passively. Five years later, his second work would make it into the bookstores. The book was a memoir of sorts focusing on his life and experiences as an entrepreneur, it was titled “Not All Who Wander Are Lost’. The book proved to be a hit and it’s perspective led the reader into a first hand view of his entrepreneur life. His latest,’The Startup Owners Manuel’ was released in 2012 and is a 608 page reference manual that utilizes his unique approaches to entrepreneurship that voices the vitality of ‘rigorous and repeated testing’. The work dials back to the ‘Business Model Generation’. The book was solely intended to work as a blueprint and encyclopedia to aspiring startups.
In recent years, Steve Blank has created an immensely popular blog that revolves around all the issues of entrepreneurship. Heads were certainly turned in his favour as ‘Welovelean.com’ voted his blog ’10-must read blogs for any lean startup. The popularity got the attention ‘UC Berkeley,’ ‘ Huffington Post’ and ‘VentureBeat’ syndicating the program on their audio podcast. The Wallstreet Journal also has the honour of making Blank a weekly contributor on it’s Accelerator blog. Forbes and Huffington Post also have the pleasure of commentary and opinion on their own blogs.
Looking back at Steve’s huge contribution to the world of entrepreneurism and startups, It’s great to see what he has given to us doers and dreamers with his life’s work and knowledge. Lets look to the future to see how many more revelations and insights are yet to come from the master innovator.