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on September 10, 2013
The kindle version of this is NOT the same as The Startup Owner's Manual! Instead you get the Startup Owner's Strategy Guide, which is a very condensed version. I bought this for a class and was super frustrated to find that it wasn't the same as the original hardcover book. I am going to try to get a refund because it's not what was advertised to me. Ugh.
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on October 30, 2012
I have no doubt that this book is written by really cool people, who actually know what they are taking about.

Running a small startup myself, I however would never find time to actually read a book this size - let alone filling out the 42 different checklist at the end. This book suffers, from what we in Europe would call what could be translated to the "American texbook disease". You guys are paid per word when you write stuf, and that shows.

So please Blank & Dorf - next time look to your friend Osterwalder (Businews Model Generation) to se how you can make deep insights easy acessible. I have have no doubt that you're brilliant people, but either you haven't done the Customer Development yourself this time - or startup owners are just not the intended customer.

If you could write something quickly accessible (i.e. shorter), i would be happy to pay the same amount - or even more for such a book. - Just to give you some customer feedback :-)

Best Regards (and I mean it)

Uffe Thorup Thomsen
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on December 12, 2013
Misleading product information for Kindle version. If you buy the Kindle version you do not get the book shown. You get a different (albeit related) book, "The Startup Owner's Manual Strategy Guide".

I feel sort of bad leaving such a low-star rating but people looking for the Kindle version need to something to alert them.
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on June 18, 2012
Having started 8 business and invested in over 50 more, I wish I had this resource a long long time ago. It is an entrepreneur's job to manage the risks of their enterprise, and to allocate resources where they are most needed. Before The Startup Owner's Manual, most of us were left to our own devices, randomness, and serendipity. The near-death experiences of most successes have been glorified with the buzz word "pivot". But what does that really mean, and can you expect to learn when, why and how to iterate successfully? The answer is yes; the recipe calls for equal parts of the business model canvas and customer development, with a healthy dose of constant agile development and customer interactions. Combining the right ingredients in the right order is a process, and how to best navigate that process is revealed in this invaluable guide book for anyone who wants to figure out if their great idea can become a great business. It also gives angel and venture investors an edge in evaluating proposals, looking to see if the team has gotten out of the building enough to know their target market, can articulate a compelling value proposition, and know how to get, keep and grow customers.
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on April 14, 2013
The first qualm I have with the book is simply its formatting. The book is fairly short but appears in the Amazon description as a very large text because it is essentially repeated. There is one subset of the book for web or app startups and another version for physical channel startups. There is very little difference between the two, so most of those two versions are redundant. Its not expected that a person reads both sections, from what I understand. But the formatting isn't really mentioned anywhere in the start of the book or even the kindle index. So it comes as a surprise when you're about 50% through the book and it ends, in effect.

The second thing that makes me lower my rating is simply that the information isn't very original. Steve Blank's book on the four steps to Epiphany set the groundwork for the concepts, but more importantly the "lean startup" methodology is espoused by Eric Reis' book of the same name which was published in September 2011. The book "Running Lean" came out the same week as this book (early March 2013) but goes in to MUCH more depth on how to execute the lean startup methodology in practice.

So, in summary, its decent material but strangely organized. And my suggestion is to read Eric Reis' "Lean Startup" for the concept, and then "Running Lean" for specific execution guidance.
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on June 17, 2012
I was tempted by this from an excerpt I saw on the web. Sadly, it follows the usual pattern of business books: an interesting idea that could be explained in a couple of pages, expanded by means of much repitition and many almost identical anecdotes, to fill a complete book. The idea is sound enough: don't build a plan and then execute it slavishly, thereby ending up with a product nobody wants. Instead, find yourself some customers early on, continuously get their feedback, and be prepared to reinvent your product and company, possibly several times. There, I just saved you the purchase price. All the examples are drawn from Web 2.0 type businesses, and the title should really be "The Web Service Startup Owners Manual". Web-delivered services, such as social networking, lend themselves very well to continuous revision - there is no deployed software to update, and changes are cheap and easy. This of course is why such companies are so fashionable amongst VCs. The concept is much harder to apply to a traditional software or infrastructure company, and pretty well impossible with hardware or silicon.
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on December 1, 2012
Blank's book contains nothing that will be news to seasoned startup entrepreneurs and VCs. It's not up to the hype.

The book is aimed at startups that eventually will seek VC cash. It expects a startup to have a board of directors, and sneers at so-called "lifestyle" businesses. Blank disparages businesspeople in what I take to be a crass play for popularity among his geek audience.

Overall I cannot recommend it as a primary text, although it's fine to read in accompaniment.

My credentials: successful VC and software company founder.
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on July 22, 2012
How can you debate systemic, venture innovation rooted in common-sense? I mean that. When you get at the root of Lean Process & Agile Software Development - which is where Blank is pulling alot of the fundamental principles on which this book is based - it is centered around the reality that no one can accurately predict the future based upon the exact same set of assumptions for an extended period of time. Attitudes change, ideas develop and evolve; resources shrink and grow in abundance. Couple this with the fact that you must satisfy a customer dilemma - known or unknown, need or high desire - in a manner that they feel is effective, relatively efficiency and worth compensation. This book helps entrepreneurs & business leaders focus on using feedback from marketplace to develop both product/service improvement as well as create branding and buying with potential purchasers. This just makes sense right? Almost common sense, no? I mean what is more effective than identifying your potential early adopters and getting them to participate the in the "refactoring" process? Why it took so long for this book and Business Model Generation to be written, I will never know. All I know is that when you put them together with Lean Startup & Service Design Thinking , You really start to understand the meaning of the phrase "Game Changer". Because after reading them, you won't do anything that doesn't position yourself as a Game Changer yourself, ever again. Seriously.
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on March 22, 2012
The Startup Owner's Manual along with Steve Blank's Lean Launchpad class syllabus [...], his blog and his many lectures captured on video, are part and parcel of Steve Blank's vision to disrupt how entrepreneurship is taught worldwide.

The Startup Owner's Manual delivers on that vision by virtue of disruption from the inside out. It looks, feels and smells like a textbook, yet it is a Trojan Horse that is carefully designed to deliver the killing blow to ubiquitous totem of entrepreneurial education, the 40 page business plan.

The book is easy to read and comprehensive, it manages both the macro-meta and the micro topics amazingly well.

Building on his earlier work The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win and Alexander Osterwalder's Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, The Startup Owner's Manual successfully abstracts strategies and tactics for searching for a repeatable, scalable business model.

It is still early days in the worldwide entrepreneurial renaissance happening around us -- a few years from now, we will look back and see The Startup Owner's Manual as a seminal text in the new experiential and inquiry-based methods of entrepreneurship education.
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VINE VOICEon April 28, 2013
Steve Blank's and Bob Dorf's "The Startup Owner's Manual" captures the lean start-up techniques Blank has been showcasing in his Lean LaunchPad program at the University of California at Berkeley's Haas Business School. Blank gained his insights as a serial entrepreneur while Dorf, the "midwife of Customer Development," befriended Blank as he critiqued early versions of Blank's "Four Steps to the Epiphany." Lean LaunchPad which emerged from their collaboration provides new business development tools tailored exclusively to the needs of early stage companies.

Blank, the father of the "Lean Startup" Movement," gained an insight while developing and teaching customer development methodology. He realized that there are critical differences between early stage companies and large companies. "Startups are not smaller versions of large companies...while larger companies execute a business model, start-ups look for one. This distinction is at the heart of the lean start-up approach. It shapes the lean definition of a start-up: a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model."

"The Startup Owner's Manual" was written as a manual for small business entrepreneurship, scalable startups, buyable startups, large company entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurs focused on reducing market/customer risk (vs. invention risk).

Blank and Dorf have organized the book around "Customer Discovery" and "Customer Validation." The authors urge the reader to start with the glossary at the end of the book since the core of the book centers on customer development which has a language of its own. The first two chapters which are devoted to the philosophy of customer development can also be useful to align company stakeholders from day one - - cofounders, initial employees, investors, and advisors.

Finding success as a start-up is a "relentless search to refine its mission and idea and to make changes in every aspect of the business invalidated during the search process. Entrepreneur seeks to test a series of unproven hypotheses (guesses) about a startups business model. The young company's focus is on searching for the answers to what makes a repeatable and scalable business model." "The Startup Owner's Manual" provides a step-by-step method that will maximize the company's potential for success.

Another book that would be complementary to "The Startup Owners Manual" is "The Entrepreneur's Manifesto" which shows how to apply Clayton Christensen's principles on disruption to the business model of an early stage company. Choosing a disruptive business model increases the success of an early stage company significantly. "Manifesto" is useful in insuring a successful grand strategy, while "Owner's Manual" is useful in insuring successful execution.

Blank and Dorf are changing the landscape with their cutting edge work. "MBA programs are adopting their techniques and the business plan competitions that have been a celebrated part of the MBA experience for over a decade are being replaced by business model competitions. (Harvard Business School became the latest to make this switch, in 2012.) Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, and Columbia are leading the charge and embracing the lean start-up curriculum. Blank's Lean LaunchPad course for educators is now training over 250 college and university instructors a year."
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