Steve Blank Offers ‘Lean Approach’ Lessons on Kauffman Founders School

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New Founders School Series Emphasizes Process Over Plan

Customer discovery and development are vital in the early stages of a startup. In a new Kauffman Founders School series, released today, Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and educator Steve Blank, father of the “Lean Startup” movement, describes how early-stage startups can succeed by emphasizing a business model over a business plan. He goes on to advise founders to systematically test their assumptions and look for insights that can shape their business through this process.

Blank’s “The Lean Approach” series encourages entrepreneurs to undertake a process of customer discovery, development and iteration to achieve the right product/market fit. Blank, author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany and The Startup Owner’s Manual, explains the method and several of its crucial elements, providing practical advice about how to implement this approach in a startup.

Presented through a series of videos and supporting materials, Blank teaches startup owners how to:

  •     Seek early contact with customers to discern customer needs that are invaluable in the company’s development stage.
  •     Test their customer development hypotheses through a series of experiments to improve their insights about their products and the market.
  •     Collect and critically analyze customer development data.
  •     Use a “minimum viable product” to test the market, the product and the customer base before investing a lot of time and money in a prototype.
  •     Utilize archetypes to find and acquire customers.

This is the second Founders School series that features Blank. The first series, “Startups,” explains what we know about startups, how they are different from big companies and what implications this has for the role of founders and the founding team.

The Kauffman Founders School is an online education program for startup business owners, enabling them to learn anywhere, anytime, and to immediately apply the lessons to their businesses. Series are presented through videos and supporting learning tools and feature a range of experts teaching best practices in areas not typically covered in other training programs. Other topics include:

  •     Founder’s Dilemmas, presented by Noam Wasserman, who teaches an award-winning course on entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School and is author of The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup.
  •     Entrepreneurial Selling, presented by Craig Wortmann, CEO and founder, Sales Engine, and clinical professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
  •     Intellectual Property, presented by Peter McDermott, partner, Banner and Witcoff.
  •     Powerful Presentations, presented by Nathan Gold, founder, The Demo Coach.
  •     Surviving the Entrepreneurial Life, presented by Meg Cadoux, an author and magazine journalist who has lived the life of an entrepreneur’s spouse.

The online education program is housed on the Kauffman Foundation’s web platform, which offers resources, educational information and tools for entrepreneurs. It can be accessed at or via


About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that aims to foster economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo., and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit, and follow the Foundation on and

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