“For those of you who think startups are a job, you ought not to do them. They are a calling.”
– Steve Blank while speaking at Columbia on November 12

Continuing an excellent Friday trend, I saw Steve Blank speak at Columbia this morning. I’m biased, but I thought his presentation was fantastic — engaging, tongue-in-cheek, and very much spot-on. ~85% of the 150+ person audience worked in startups; only two admitted to working in venture capital. (I was one of them.)

Steve spoke about the “lifecycle” of web startups and their “solution stack” of customer development and agile/lean development. I found the lifecycle ideas more compelling, only because I was less familiar with them.

One of the most important characteristics of a startup seems to be whether it is designed to become a small business or a large company. It informs who the company should hire, what those people will do, and what “success” means. (“There are no 12 year-old startups,” Steve said. “Only two year-old startups with 10 years of failure.”) Randy Komisar (and potentially others) have advocated having different CEO types for different stages in a company’s lifecycle, but to my knowledge, no one beside Steve has applied the same logic to other positions at a scalable startup. (Check out this blog post for more.)

A variation on the slides I saw at Columbia are available on steveblank.com; though the two decks are different, the base ideas are very similar.


My notes from Steve’s talk: