Steve Blank, Burck Smith & Fred Wilson

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Fred Wilson (partner, Union Square Ventures in NYC) is one of my favourite bloggers at He writes pretty much every day, his topics are usually interesting, and the highly active community makes for great discussions.

Steve Blank writes at far less frequently but equally interestingly about a more narrow focus - successful startup building. Steve is a real legend in the startup community, the author of the transformational "Four Steps to the Epiphany," and gave one of the best video talks I have seen, on the Secret History of Silicon Valley. He also teaches the "Lean LaunchPad Entrepreneurship Course" at Stanford.

Burck Smith is the founder & CEO of the higher education disruptive firm StraighterLine. While some universities offer online classes, often to much fanfare, Burck is trying to disrupt (viz. Clayton Christensen) the actual degree-granting market. For those who have read the fascinating futuristic novel "The Unincorporated Man," the future gets so efficient, that the epitome of waste, which people mock, is one who gets "a Harvard degree."

How do all of these come together? Steve's course is about determining the minimum viable product that will work in the marketplace, the fastest learning possible, and then scaling out. Test your assumptions. A few months back, Steve partnered with Fred to do a week-long minimum viable product of his Lean LaunchPad course at Columbia Business School. How short and effective could they make the course, thus opening it up to non-full-time students.

My response to this was that Steve should also take a different approach: how much could he open it up to people who can give time over the traditional 13 weeks of a semester, but not get to one location. In other words, how could he make it available to full-time++ busy professionals (like me). The methodology, obviously, is online, the instructor must be Steve, and Burck shows the way in online learning.

Steve says he is working on it; I encourage others who would be interested to reach out to him on his blog and express interest.