After eight tech ventures Steve Blank, who’s credited with launching the “lean startup” movement, turned to teaching entrepreneurship at some of America’s top universities.
FORBES: If you were starting a company today, what type would it be?
Steve Blank: Something meaningful that changes the world. By that I mean SpaceX, Tesla, something that people think is impossible that is meaningful. I think it’s something that would advance the human race…SpaceX changes an entire industry and actually might be something for the survival of the human race, so if we wipe it out here, we might at least be somewhere else. Those are huge ideas.
FORBES: What industry is most in need of change?
Blank: They’re all in need of an entrepreneurial overhaul. It’s very rare that large corporations continuously innovate past the innovative founder. GE managed to do it for 100 years. Jack Welch rules, which made all the sense in the world in the 20th century, would put you out of business in the 21st. Number two is government itself. It needs to be more responsive and faster because the world’s changing that way — specifically our department of defense and intelligence communities. Young entrepreneurs tend to be fearless and have no respect for the status quo, and that’s exactly what you need in an environment where the status quo is going to put you out of business.
FORBES: Is there one way you see young entrepreneurs waste the most money?
Blank: Being the 15th-whatever app in social media is kind of nice, and it might make you some money, but having the nonconsensus idea that turns into Airbnb or Uber or SpaceX is more interesting. I wish our young entrepreneurs would be thinking and going in places that are not where the crowd is.
FORBES: What’s the most important area for spending right now?
Blank: We’ve been constantly surprised about machine intelligence and drones in the last couple years, and I think the next big thing we’re going to be surprised about in the life sciences is CRISPR-Cas9 editing of the human genome.
FORBES: What advice DO you give young startup founders?
Blank: Don’t believe your own b.s. It’s real easy to confuse funding with success.