Podcast #99 – The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development


For episode #99 of the podcast, I'm talking with the authors of the book The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development: A cheat sheet to The Four Steps to the Epiphany. My guests are Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits. Both are experienced entrepreneurs from California. We had a great discussion and I'm happy to bring a topic that will stretch the minds of Lean thinkers in many industries… so be sure to listen in even if you're not an entrepreneur…


In this podcast, we discuss their book and the “Customer Development” methodology that was first published in Steve Blank's book The Four Steps to the Epiphany. This methodology is often used as part of the “Lean Startups” methodology and can be contrasted to a traditional “product development” approach.

The high-level model looks like this, moving from left to right:

The model is not so much linear as it is built on iterative loops, similar to a PDCA (or Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle, as shown here:

Their book is available on Amazon in traditional paperback form, but if you want to buy a DRM-free PDF of the book, you can do so at  www.CustDev.com, using my discount code: LEANBLOG to get 20% off.

We discuss points including:

  • What is the “customer development process”?
  • How does tie into the lean startup methodology and MVP (“Minimum Viable Product”?
  • How is this different than classical entrepreneurial product/service development or the traditional product development model?
  • Why is it critical to get out of the office to go do customer discovery?
  • What examples can you point to of companies or products that came about through this CDP?
  • Do you think this approach could be used to develop new products in older, larger companies?

To point others to this episode, use the simple URL: www.leanblog.org/99.

For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS or via Apple Podcasts.

If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at leanpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 993-0630 or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. A very to-the-point book on developing your idea and getting it in the hands of interested people. I was mislead by the “Four Steps” as this really only talked about one: Customer Development. However, this books brevity and foundation in real applications kept me interested. A good read for those thinking of entrepreneurship.


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