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Methodology Matters: Inside the Origins of Lean Startup with Steve Blank

On Tuesday, 1776 hosted author and Silicon Valley veteran Steve Blank at its Crystal City campus, packing the house with excited entrepreneurs on an otherwise-dreary D.C. evening. During the event, a fireside chat with 1776 Cofounder and Co-CEO Donna Harris, Blank shared his background as an experienced entrepreneur, as well as tales of startup success and failure along the road to what is today known as the lean startup methodology.

Blank’s casual charm captivated the audience, who loved his first-hand insights into the startup experience. Blank explained that many entrepreneurs end up being seen as the “crazy idea person,” rather than the “execution person.” Working from a methodology—such as lean startup—can help alleviate the perception issue, he said.

Once the methodology is in place, the company has a framework upon which it can build. When it moves from an idea or concept stage into the customer development stage, Blank’s advice was clear: “Get out of the building.” Although a founder or a company’s team may be subject-matter experts within their office or building, they can’t beat out the collective intelligence of their customers—especially if there’s an urgent need for a startup’s solution among those customers.

And if you start running out of cash, that’s okay, too. Startups may find that lack of money helps refine a team’s efforts.

Often, Blank explained, the first question after an entrepreneur has failed in one venture is, “What will your next company be?” And that’s great news for today’s creatives, because they’re living in a culture that accepts and even encourages entrepreneurial endeavors.

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Melissa Steffan

Melissa is the former assistant editor for 1776, where she worked on the media team to create compelling, idea-driven content and reporting. A Seattle native, she graduated from Seattle Pacific…