Events & Media: Steve Blank

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



Steve Blank
California Coastal Commissioner

Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Columbia University


Tuesday, April 12, 2011
5:00 - 6:00 pm

Bren Hall 1414


"Why Accountants Don't Run Start-ups:
Getting Eco-Entrepreneurship Right"

Hosted by Emily Chan

After fifty or so years of venture capital-backed start-ups, we've now learned a few things. One is that start-ups are not smaller versions of large companies — large companies execute a known business model, while a start-up's early days are about its search for a business model. This search is at the heart of what a start-up is all about — a start-up is a temporary organization designed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model. This talk will focus on how to build successful start-ups using Steve Blank's "Customer Development" model.

Steve Blank retired in 1999 after spending 21 years in eight high-technology companies. He co-founded his last company, E.piphany, in his living room in 1996. His other start-ups include two semiconductor companies, Zilog and MIPS Computers; a workstation company, Convergent Technologies; a consulting stint for a graphics hardware/software spin-out from Pixar; a supercomputer firm, Ardent; a computer peripheral supplier, SuperMac; a military intelligence-systems supplier, ESL; and a video game company, Rocket Science Games. Total score: two large craters (Rocket Science and Ardent), one bubble home run (E.piphany) and several base hits.

After Blank retired, he took some time to reflect on his experiences and wrote a book Four Steps to the Epiphany (actually the text for his class) about building early-stage companies. In 2001 he moved from being an entrepreneur to teaching entrepreneurship to both undergraduate and graduate students at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and the Columbia University/Berkeley Joint Executive MBA program. The “Customer Development” model that he developed in his book is one of the core themes in these classes. In 2009, Blank was awarded the Stanford University Undergraduate Teaching Award in the department of Management Science and Engineering. The same year, the San Jose Mercury News listed him as one of the 10 Influencers in Silicon Valley. In 2010, he was awarded the Earl F. Cheit Outstanding Teaching Award at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. In 2007 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Blank to serve on the California Coastal Commission, which regulates land use and public access on the California coast.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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