The four steps to epiphany as described in Steve Blank’s book, The four steps to the epiphany: successful strategies for products that win are: Customer Discovery, Customer Validation, Customer Creation and Company Building. As I have been exploring the concept of the Customer Development Model, it boils down to identifying and developing a customer base while you are developing the product. These parallel lanes create a win-win situation for the startup.
Step 1 – Customer Discovery starts with locating the customers that buy into your solution for their problem. It’s time to hit the streets and identify your repeat buyers. That does not just consist of surveying the land to see if there is an interest, but “Instead [being] out in the field listening, discovering how [the] customers worked and what their key problems were.”(Blank, 2013, p. 28) How often is the product or service shopped instead of shopping the problem and learning consumer behaviors?
Step 2 – Customer Validation is the GPS for sales and marketing. “The sales roadmap is the playbook of proven and repeatable sales process that has been field-tested by successfully selling the product to early customers.” NY Daily News reported that in 24 hours, pre-orders for the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus set a new record at 4 million. The previous year, Apple sold 9 million in 3 days. They were almost at half with pre-orders for the new version. (2014)
Step 3 – Customer Creation is the foundation for your first sales. “Its goal is to create end-user demand and drive that demand into the company’s sales channel.” (pg. 29) Now you can pour dollars into marketing. But be mindful that the type of branding depends on your unique start-up. Marketing is not a cookie-cutter generic fit. It is determined by what type of market you are entering.
Step 4 – Company Building is where you move out of the “discovery-oriented team” into the “formal departments with VPs of Sales, Marketing and Business Development…with a focus on building mission-oriented department exploiting the company’s early market success.” (pg. 29) You have a firm footing and understanding of your niche; growth demands your executive assignments.
Daymond John, CEO of FUBU (FOR US BY US hip hop apparel) and Shark Tank Host, saw a popular style of wool hat being sold for $120. He sewed 90 that were similar and sold them for $10 each in front of a coliseum and made $800 that day. His mother invested $100,000; with the help of three friends for production and one popular rapper friend, LL Cool J, as spokesperson, FUBU now has over $6 billion in global sales. (Celebrity Net Worth) He started in the basement, built a following by believing “customers first” and then created an empire. Customer Discovery, Validation, Creation and Company Building at its best! Watch this video and be inspired!
Blank, S. G. (2013). The four steps to the epiphany: successful strategies for products that win. California: Steve Blank
Daymond John Net Worth. (2016, October 02). Retrieved February 04, 2017, from http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/ceos/daymond-john-net-worth/
Apple: iPhone 6 pre-order sales smash records. (2014, September 15). Retrieved February 04, 2017, from http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/apple-iphone-6-pre-order-sales-smash-records-article-1.1940172