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What “lean startup” got wrong about how to build companies

Daniele Simonelli for Quartz
  • Walter Frick
By Walter Frick

Executive editor

Published Last updated on

In 2005, an entrepreneur named Steve Blank published a book in which he argued that most startups fail because they don’t understand their customers. He was speaking from experience. Blank had co-founded four startups and advised or worked at several others.

Based on what he learned at those companies, and from the many failures of the dotcom bust, Blank believed the difference between the successes and the failures was a willingness to get outside the office and test ideas and products by talking to the very people you hoped would buy them.

The success of his book, Four Steps to the Epiphany, landed Blank a gig teaching entrepreneurship at Berkeley. Six years later, one of his students, an entrepreneur named Eric Ries, published his own book with a similar thesis but a better name: The Lean Startup.

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