Week Three Reflection: The Customer Development Model


In Chapter 2 of Blank’s, The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win, the tone is much the same…and the struggle remains real to stay alert for Blank’s tips! While the information is certainly useful, it is delivered with no enthusiasm and leaves the reader wearied at times. However, Blank does a tremendous job of adding in fascinating narratives about startups who ultimately failed because in some way, shape, or form, they did not follow the advice (whether they were knowledgeable or not) presented in this book.
Upon delving into another chapter, I am always reminded of Jay-Z’s lyrics from the song, “Guns and Roses.” Jay-Z, Hove, Hova, Sean Carter, or whatever you want to call him clearly states, “You can get a return on investment if you just pay attention!” Seriously, did you get that play on words? Well, that’s exactly what Blank does in each chapter…if and only if the reader can stay woke to comprehend his command, he/she will be enlightened as to how to begin the customer development process and any other business process known to man!

Once individuals have identified their profitable problem to be “real,” the goal of customer discovery is finding out who the customers for your products are and whether the problem you are solving is important to them. Blank asserts that many startups fail because they simply burn through their cash with staff that should not have been hired. Early in the game, he asserts that a minimal number of employees are necessary and that will allow the company to conserve their capital.

Most importantly, Blank maintains that customer discovery entails getting outside the building to learn and discover your users and customers, learn what customers problems are and what it is about your product that solves their problems. Furthermore, the objective of this stage is to build a repeatable sales road map for the sales and marketing team to follow later down the road when it does become necessitous to make those changes.
Blank upholds that product development and customer development are parallel processes. “While the customer development group is engaged in customer-centric activities outside the building, the product development group is focused on product-centric activities that are taking place internally.”

Blank, S. G. (2006). Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win (3rd ed.). Cafepress.com.