Last week, several InSITE fellows (David Lerman, Zack Schwarzman, Ed Rayner, Richard Liang, John Anderson and myself) participated in Steve Blank´s week class LEAN LAUNCH PAD organized by Murray Low of the Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia University. It was one of the best weeks I’ve had in school so far.
Professor Blank is a retired serial entrepreneur (x8) and author (The Startup Owner’s Manual and Four Steps to the Epiphany) who teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia.
For those of you who don’t know him, you should definitely check out his amazing website Steve Blank.com, which is full of great resources.
The tagline of the class was ‘Build a team. Design a product. Create a company. All in one week’. It seemed crazy. And crazy it was. In 5 days, 24 teams composed of over 100 students from various faculties across Columbia University (business, engineering, education, science, etc.) learned the essential tools on how to build successful start ups and, most importantly, on how to fail less as entrepreneurs.
In Blank´s own words: “the LEAN LAUNCH PAD encapsulates everything we now know about hot to build a successful start up. Fort the last 50 years we got it wrong. We thought of start ups as a small version of a large company. We now know that a start up is something very different, very unique”.
Before the class, we had to come up with a business idea and a team, and draw a business canvas (watch the on-line video of Osterwalder explaining the Business Model Canvas).
Every day after class, we ‘got out of the building‘ (as Steve liked to say), and talked to potential customers, partners, competitors, etc. to test our business ideas and validate our hypothesis. And each day we presented to the class what we’d learned the day before, and adapted the business canvas accordingly. After 5 days, the teams collectively had ~1,200 face-to-face customer interviews, with another 1,000+ potential customers surveyed on-line.
It was an incredibly intense and exhausting week, but I was amazed by how much one can learn in only 5 days.
Thank you Steve and all other professors who were part of the teaching team:
- Bob Dorf, – Co-author “Startup Owners Manual”, serial entrepreneur
- Murray Low Director – Eugene Lang Center of Entrepreneurship, Columbia University
- Clifford Schorer – Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University
- Brendan Burns – Adjunct Professor, Columbia University
- David Lerner – Director of Venture Lab, Columbia Technology Ventures, Columbia University
- Jack McGourty – Director of Community & Global Entrepreneurship, Columbia University
- William O’Farrell – Adjunct Professor, Columbia University
I hope many other InSITE fellows will be able to take this class next time he comes to NY, in the Spring.
Lila Pla Alemany. MBA 2013 Columbia Business School