Week Two Reflection: The Product Development Model


Steven Gary Blank’s The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win is a useful resource for founders looking to create successful products for the masses and market them appropriately. The book reads more like a manual (and is oftentimes very direct, and very monotonous!!!), but it does delineate each step and further detail how each phase should be enacted to ensure the most success for your enterprise. Blank explains that initially when founders are crafting their companies, they must think of their product development as, “the path hidden in plain view.”

Quoting Joseph Campbell, “A legendary hero is usually the founder of something-the founder of a new age, the founder of a new religion, the founder of a new city, the founder of a new way of life. In order to found something new, one has to leave the old and go on a quest of the seed idea, a germinal idea that will have the potential of bringing forth that new thing.”

Blank goes on to explain that much like heroes in movies, founders must prepare a path for themselves that will allow their startup to be more prone to success. Although this will not eliminate obstacles, it will mitigate risks and increase the chances of the enterprise being profitable for a substantial period of time. Blank asserts that, “startups don’t fail because they lack a product; they fail because they lack customers and markets.” He maintains that before founders worry about first product ship dates or utilize the product development paradigm to predict the future of the enterprise; they must initially “focus on reaching a deep understanding of customers and their problems, discovering a repeatable road map of how they buy, and building a financial model that results in profitability.”

In order for individuals to successfully decimate these obstacles Blank insists that before any of the traditional functions of selling and marketing can happen, the company has to prove that a market could exist, verify that someone would pay real capital for the solutions the company provides, and then go out and create the market.
If founders have effectively answered these aforementioned questions, then they will set themselves on the “hero’s” path, learning about their customers and their problems; and, creating a market that will be lucrative and further substantiate these claims.

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