Archive for July, 2007

Steve Blank Speaking at TiE on Wed Aug-15-07

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, Events, skmurphy

Steve Blank serial entrepreneur, author of “Four Steps to the Epiphany,” and a lecturer at the UC Berkeley Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will be speaking at TiE on Wednesday August 15, 2007. The event starts at 6pm and ends by 10pm, it will be held at the TiE Conference Center, in Suite 108 of 2903 Bunker Hill Lane, Santa Clara, CA 95054

Register here.

Steve is an insightful and energetic speaker. His focus is on what he calls the “customer development” problem in startups, which is parallel to the product development problem, but much less well understood. Most engineering heavy startups focus primarily on technology and product development risks, ignoring that customer adoption, market size, and share of market are almost always the most significant risks a startup faces.

I am a huge fan of Steve and his book, and have blogged about him several times. He has the best methodology that I am aware of for startups who are in product definition and early market exploration. His techniques will also work for established firms launching new products. Tickets are $20 for members and $50 for non-members, cheap at twice the price as far as I am concerned. I hope to see you there.

Related posts:

  • Twelve Books For Busy CEO: includes Blank’s Four Steps to Epiphany which outlines customer development.
  • Sean Murphy SDForum Interview with Barbara Cass where I observed:

    “What I tend to see are startup teams who have a firm grasp on technology and product development issues but are less clear on one or more of the key concepts for successful new product introduction. Bill Davidow’s “whole product” paradigm from his “Marketing High Technology” book is fundamental to understanding the different between selling an invention and marketing an innovation. Geoffrey Moore’sCrossing the Chasm” framework, best expressed in his “Inside the Tornado” book is the solid explanation of the evolution of technology markets. Clayton Christensen’s “sustaining vs. disruptive innovation” model in his “Innovator’s Dilemma” book is the best “anatomy lesson for a karate student,” explaining to startups how and where to attack an established firm. Steve Blank’s “Four Steps to the Epiphany” is filled with detailed checklists for how a startup team must distinguish between product development and customer development as they explore a new market.

  • Getting Early Customer Feedback
  • W. J. King’s “Unwritten Laws” Are Business Rules of Thumb.

    Develop a “Let’s go see!” attitude Throughout your career people will approach you with all manner of real-life problems resulting from your work. A wonderfully effective response is to invite them to have a look with you–in other words, “Let’s go see!” It is seldom adequate to remain at one’s desk and speculate about causes and solutions and hope to sort it all out.

    Steve Blank makes a similar point in “Four Steps to the Epiphany” when he says “there are no facts inside of the building, only opinions.” We often tell clients “You need to leave the BatCave (and not only talk to but listen to strangers!)

Ready, Set, Launch: Taking the Product to Market

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Events

This evening, I attended the SVPMA event featuring Chris Shipley Co-Founder and Chairman, Guidewire Group, Inc. The title of the presentation was Ready, Set, Launch: Taking the Product to Market. Surprisingly, Chris brought two additional speakers with her; Steve Larsen, Co-founder and CEO of Krugle and Arya Barirani, Marketing Manager, HP Software Global Campaigns. This was a great panel presentation where I took away two key insights from the question and answer discussion.

1. The Importance of Product Management Experience
2. The Difference Between Product Management and Product Marketing

You often see teams of developers build in house tools inside of big companies. The tool is widely adopted throughout the company so there must be a market for it. This is not always true, but naive teams of developers leave the big company and try to form a business. Without effective market research they are basically just throwing something out there and hoping it sticks. Sometimes this works, but overall it is not an effective strategy.

Steve Larsen recommends that if you want to be a CEO start your career through product management. As a product manager you work with all parts of the business. Every departments success relies on product management. Product managers work with engineering to develop the product, help with sales and marketing, talk to customers, help finance with budgets and forecast. The secret to being a good product manager and a future CEO is make everyone feel like they own the idea.

Arya Barirani talked about his experience as a Director of Product Management for Mercury Interactive before the company was acquired by HP. He was responsible for working with the product managers, product marketers, and developers. He had to convey a vision and look beyond the release, the launch, the roadmap, and figure out customer acquisition. He had to work hands on with the sales people to figure out why the product was not selling. It was not because sales did not know how to sell it.

Product management always wants to wait until the product is perfect, meanwhile product marketing is always ship now. The biggest challenge for both departments is when is it ready? Launch is when we have a meaningful value proposition that allows us to sell in the market place. Revisions are when we have enough feedback from customers and high demand.

Unlike HP, Krugle and for the most part all startups do not enjoy the luxury of having product managers and product marketers on staff. Founders have to play the roles of both. Most importantly, they need to sell. No one understands the technology better than they do. Therefore hiring a sales guy before the product is robust and the messaging is accurate, will be a waste of time and capital. Founders need to talk to prospects and understand in their customers language the benefits of the offering. In addition, it is important to keep the product lean and mean by only developing features that customers will pay for. We often see startups spend too much time over developing compared to selling.

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