Customer Discovery Primer

with Steve Blank

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Customer Team

Founders should spend 20%+ time out of building with customers.

Steve Blank

8x Entrepreneur, Author, Customer Development Expert

Lessons Learned

Founders need to run the customer development team.

Do not hire a VP of Sales on Day #1.

How do customers problems and needs match with the feature set that you are building?


Lesson: Customer Discovery Primer with Steve Blank

Step #5 Customer Team: Founders should spend 20%+ time out of building with customers

Now the last interesting thing that's a holdover from thinking about startups as smaller versions of large companies is kind of the hardest to get your height around. And that's large companies, they've got VP of sales, what we need of VP of sales on day 1. Large companies, they have had some marketing. I need to have a market. In large companies, they have biz dev and all those external organizations. We need those too. Without ever thinking about, what's the point? Why is it that we want to duplicate these same organizations? Cause if you're a founder like I was, boy, you really want someday to see you on top and look at all these nice silos working for me. Isn't this great and look, they're all doing their jobs, etc. I have to tell you if this is your vision on day 1, you're already out of business. Cause we now know that functional organizations actually are the wrong way to set up sales marketing and biz dev on day 1. What we now know is that the founders need to run what's called the customer development team. And a customer development team says, "Listen, we're not going to have sales marketing and biz dev on day 1. We're not going to hire a VP of sales on day 1. We're actually going to have the founder get out of the building." And later in this lecture, we'll explain why. It's a really big idea to understand for organization, you need the founders spending at least 20% of their time outside the building, understanding customer's problems and needs, and figuring out how that matches with the features that your building before you start organizing in functional organizations and silos. The other thing I mention which I'll expand on later in this course is that one of the mistakes that we've also made for decades is confusing the titles, sales marketing and biz dev with the job specifications. It turns out that the title "VP of Sales" has a very different job spec in a large company than it does on a startup. A VP of marketing does very different things in a large company than they do in a startup and for years, we could never explain why is it that incredibly competent executives who have been executing business models in large corporations collapse in startups when they're company is smaller than their administrative staff in their large corporation. It turns out that job specification, what we do day to day has nothing similar.

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