The Lean LaunchPad Online

You may have read my previous posts about the Lean LaunchPad class taught at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, Caltech and for the National Science Foundation.

Now you too can take this course.

I’ve worked with the Udacity, the best online digital university on a mission to democratize education, to produce the course. They’ve done an awesome job.

The course includes lecture videos, quizzes and homework assignments. Multiple short video modules make up each 20-30 minute Lecture. Each module is roughly three minutes or less, giving you the chance to learn piece by piece and re-watch short lesson portions with ease. Quizzes are embedded within the lectures and are meant to let you check-in with how completely you are digesting the course information. Once you take a quiz, which could be a multiple-choice quiz or a fill in the blank quiz, you will receive immediate feedback.

Sign up here


Why This Class?

Ten years ago I started thinking about why startups are different from existing companies.  I wondered if business plans and 5-year forecasts were the right way to plan a startup.  I asked, “Is execution all there is to starting a company?”

Experienced entrepreneurs kept finding that no business plan survived first contact with customers. It dawned on me that the plans were a symptom of a larger problem: we were executing business plans when we should first be searching for business models. We were putting the plan before the planning.

So what would a search process for a business model look like? I read a ton of existing literature and came up with a formal methodology for search I called Customer Development.

That resulted in a new process for Search: Customer Development + traditional product management/Waterfall Engineering. It looked like this:

This meant that the Search for a business model as a process now could come before execution. So I wrote a book about this called the Four Steps to the Epiphany.

And in 2003 the Haas Business School at U.C. Berkeley asked me to teach a class in Customer Development.  With Rob Majteles as a co-instructor, I started a tradition of teaching all my classes with venture capitalists as co-instructors.

In 2004 I funded IMVU, a startup by Will Harvey and Eric Ries. As a condition of my investment I insisted Will and Eric take my Customer Development class at Berkeley. Having Eric in the class was the best investment I ever made. Eric’s insight was that traditional product management and Waterfall development should be replaced by Agile Development.  He called it the “Lean Startup.”

Meanwhile, I had said startups were “Searching” for a business model, I had been purposefully a bit vague about what exactly a business model looked like. For the last two decades there was no standard definition.  That is until Alexander Osterwalder wrote Business Model Generation.

This book was a real breakthrough. Now we understood that the strategy for startups was to first search for a business model and then after you found it, put together an operating plan.

Now we had a definition of what it was startups were searching for. So business model design + customer and agile development is the process that startups use to search for a business model.

And the organization to implement all this was not through traditional sales, marketing and business development groups on day one. Instead the founders need to lead a customer development team.

And then to get things organized Bob Dorf and I wrote a book, The Startup Owners Manual that put all these pieces together.

But then I realized rather than just writing about it, or lecturing on Customer Development, we should have a hands-on experiential class. So my book and Berkeley class turned into the Lean LaunchPad class in the Stanford Engineering school, co-taught with two VC’s – Jon Feiber and Ann Miura-Ko. And we provided dedicated mentors for each team.

Then in the fall of 2011, the National Science Foundation read my blog posts on the Stanford version of the Lean LaunchPad class.  They said scientists had already made a career out of hypotheses testing, and the Lean LaunchPad was simply a scientific method for entrepreneurship. They asked if I could adapt the class to teach scientists who want to commercialize their basic research. I modified the class and recruited another great group of VC’s and entrepreneurs – Jim Hornthal, John Burke, Jerry Engel,Bhavik Joshi and Oren Jacob – to teach with me.

We taught the first two classes of 25 teams each, and then in March of 2012 trained faculty from Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan how to teach the class at their universities. Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan faculty then taught 54 teams each in July of this year and will teach another 54 teams in October.

We then added four more schools – Columbia, Caltech, Princeton and Hosei – where our team taught the Lean LaunchPad. We also developed a 5-day version of the class to complement the full semester and quarter versions.

Then last month we partnered with NCIIA and taught 62 college and university educators in our first Lean LaunchPad Educators Program.

And now we’ve spent weeks in the Udacity studio putting the lecture portion of the Lean LaunchPad class online.

Sign up and find out how to start a company!

Listen to the post here: Download the Podcast here

53 Responses

  1. Love it. Been waiting a while for you to do this. Already signed up for udacity course.

    But the experiential part is missing. In your Stanford classes, classmates work together on teams putting together new ideas, and testing in the real world. I really enjoy looking at the business model development decks you post here.

    Any chance that piece will be added, now or in the future?

  2. Great job as usual Steeve!
    How if I want to teach that course in a University in Portugale / EU

  3. Steve, I’m a first-time entrepreneur in Lima city, Peru. Got your book, really excited here to be part of the class. When you guys thought of democratizing education, you went beyond all records with your work. Congrats!

  4. Oh, have you considered having your books translated into spanish?

  5. Steve, Your discovery in Customer Development along with Eric Ries (Lean Startup) and Alexander Osterwalder (Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition) have developed the holy grail of business start-ups! Looking forward to the New Learn Launchpad Online class on 14 Sept! Love the idea of adding the experiement (get out of the building) section.

  6. Steve,

    I agree with Avi. I would totally be interested in the experiential portion. Udacity it is.

  7. This course is perfect timing for me – signed up and looking forward to learning/applying!

  8. Would it still benefit me to take the course if I’ve already started my company? I think I’ve found my business model as well although I’m still struggling to find paying customers.

  9. +1 for having an experiential portion.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  10. Agree with others on the experiential comments…True testament to what is being taught in the class is driven through actually going out and doing it.

  11. agree with the comments about the experiential learning aspects…i feel that a true testament to what this course is all about is actually going out and putting it into practice.

  12. +1000 for the experiential portion, it’s very important during the learning process

    • Any votes on how/where an experiential part should be delivered?

      • I haven’t taken your course ye (obviously), so I don’t know how you structure it inside. But my MBA courses at Duke were structured around teams, spread across the world – which they put together.

        The teams arranged with each other how and when to schedule the work, with the deliverable dates set by the course instructor.

        I do not know what interim deliverables you will set in the course, and different teams may need different staggering of schedules due to life schedules, but something in that structure would work.

        The real challenge is “getting out of the building” when 5 members of a team are split between New York, Palo Alto, London, Tel Aviv and Tokyo.

        Does this help?

      • Yes, I am interested in making this course as experiential as possible, to test out my team’s startup idea.

        I took another Udacity course a short while ago, so I know that there will be a forum for Lean Launchpad where students can post their questions and comments.

        My suggestion is that the forum should be made available before the course starts, so that students can post their startup ideas and start looking for team members with matching business interests, to work together on customer development.

      • I am mentoring a student for this course, which we had expected to be held in person next year. The prep consisted of teaching the student another course relevant to their start-up topic. Business Model YOU was used to front end the course material to prepare a personal canvas, and a canvas of the dominant competitor in the market space.
        The developed concept was then used to prepare a questionnaire for
        major customer types seen as buyers of the product/service. We hope to have results for this second customer cycle by start of EP245.

      • GoogleDocs offers reasonably good (and free) e-workgroup support. There are other free providers as well.

        About teammate identification, my goal is to launch a social enterprise which simplifies leading happiness research in a manner which equips people to maximize their greatest personal and collective happiness. I immediately started recruiting fellow “happiness innovators” & social entrepreneurs in my life to join me in the course on a great team learning adventure.

        If there is a way to connect with others who are interested in pro-social topics, that would be fantastic. Thx

        • mlennon123 – I am also interested in social entrepreneurship and have been working on a business concept the past few months. My initial thought is to offer the socent community products and services that will promote their businesses and help them get funded and recognized. I am taking the online class and hope to evolve the concept into a more concrete business.

          I will try to connect with you via twitter. I am @jeannecallahan

      • Hi Steve, why are you still doing customer discovery when you already have a well thought out solution?

        I felt the pain of trying to learn CustDev with just your book. I felt the post-Startup Weekend void (ie, “now what?”). I felt the frustration of being half-way around the world and $$$ away from your Lean LaunchPad classes. I’m sure thousands around the world feel the same. In one fell swoop you guys are solving these problems! Thank you!

  13. Market research and prospective customer interviews can be part of a business plan ?

  14. Reblogged this on Life Textures and commented:
    A different life texture, but one essential to a solid corporate foundation. If i can find time, i want to take this course.

  15. Just got our encryption patent, about to complete our first product to encrypt traffice behind the corporate firewall. Really looking forward to the course & wondering how it fits enterprise software sales.
    @ezra Great suggestion to open forum for team-building. We’re looking for teammates too. :Dani

  16. Steve, firstly I want to say that you’re an inspiration for entrepreneurship & I’ve got both your CD & StartUp Manual books with me via Amazon all the way to Malaysia!

    Having an experimental portion where we can network with others on similar ideas / passion & come up with some brilliant product / service idea would be awesome. Interesting to see how we would validate our BMs living in different global markets where the variances can be tricky and make a single BM to work. Perhaps a few deviations of the same core BM needs to be deployed.

  17. +1 on experimental section of course.

    Any guidance on setting up local study groups would be appreciated.

  18. Steve, is there a Chance to get the Startup Manual as ebook?

    • In 30 days.

      • Steve, i am trying to find an audio version of the startup owner’s manual. is it yet available? where can i get a copy?

      • Steve, We have a questionnaire ready to go for a third cycle of customer discovery for novice users (we just received responses from expert users). Based on prior info from Kahlil’s class, we are advised to have some type of prize for questionnaire respondents. Would you consider offering 1 to 3 copies of your forthcoming e-book as prizes in a random drawing of all received responses? Also please advise the best way to put up the questionnaire if NOT a discussion question.

  19. Steve,

    If you are using the Startup Owner’s Manual as the text for the course, any chance of it being ebook anytime soon? When stationary it is great, but those of us who travel will want to take it with. Easier on a Kindle or iPad.

  20. I was thinking about how to sneak into your class at columbia university this fall. But this is much better. I can return my ninja suit and grappling hook now. Thank you Steve.

  21. […] list here, download your very own Lean Canvas, keep the learning going with Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad Online course and get yourself a copy of Eric Ries’ startup bible The Lean […]

  22. Steve, it might be useful to ask Chuck Eesley and the nreduce guys for their experience in running a massive flipped classroom / experiential learning for startup teams.

    Worst case scenario for us: our local startup community is planning organize mentoring and presentations to peers to complement your lectures. These seem to be extremely important for the learning based on my attempt to adapt your curriculum to non-tech undergrads

    You can’t imagine how much we’ve been waiting for this! Thank you!

  23. Hi Steeve,
    I am enrolled at the class on the web site bur can’t access the course. Is it normal?

  24. at what time will it be available? I’m really looking forward to start it!

  25. Hi All,

    We have setup a Facebook group for the Lean LaunchPad class at:

    Do come and Join.

    • I am a student of the Udacity Entrepreneur class. I tried joining the Facebook group but received a message that the group is closed to non students. How do I join?

  26. […] list here, download your very own Lean Canvas, keep the learning going with Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad Online course and get yourself a copy of Eric Ries’ startup bible The Lean […]

  27. Hi Steve,

    thanks for creating the course on
    I have enrolled in your class. Now that I have received “The Startup Owner’s Manual” I am ready for a great learning experience.

    Cheers from Italy,

    P.S. I already own 3 copies of “Business Model Generation”: Black version, White version and Italian edition 🙂

  28. tip – hire steve and nob as consultants 🙂

  29. […] Note that Steve Blank has an extremely good online video-based course available (for free). Here is his blog post introducing the course.The Lean LaunchPad Online « Steve Blank […]

  30. […] pronounced “Startup Weekend Next” also represents his try to take his Lean (Startup) LaunchPad march to a subsequent level. The hint of Blank’s proceed is to get entrepreneurs out assembly a […]

  31. […] Steve Blank’s Lean Launchlab course provides a template for how this can work. Ask the startups to write down the top 3 problems they are solving and top 3 solution features. […]

  32. […] This is an amazing resource and I highly recommend that all entrepreneurs dig into it. Today the best place to start is probably the udacity Lean LaunchPad on-line course. […]

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