Steve Blank - Find and define your value contribution

The value contribution of a start-up can be seen in different ways. Technological or market-relevant advantages are equally valuable. There are many options for positioning yourself. The only relevant thing is that you define and develop the right value proposition for yourself and offer it to your customers.

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It runs like a red thread through this series and, basically, through all the undertakings you strive for. The value contribution is so elementary that one can say that the success and continued existence of a company stands or falls with it. It doesn't matter whether you have a technical product, e.g. a software, an operating system, a firmware... or whether you have a physical product, be it a machine, an engine, a heat pump... or whatever it can be in these directions. It won't do you - and your potential customers - much good if you develop something bypassing the market.

I often hear: Uh... Hello? It's probably logical that we only develop things that the market absolutely needs and we, too, in our startup, were subject to such mistakes. Not always is what we perceive as a value contribution also what the customers outside need. The challenge here is to fill a gap, to create a tool that has the greatest possible benefit for others. We don't always get it right the first time. Once we are completely honest, it rarely happens, even if we see countless new things again and again. Very often it happens that the value we supposedly created never sees the light of day.

One could basically say that those who know exactly what they are talking about have the best chance of getting something up and running themselves, and that's conditionally true. On the other hand, people often ask themselves how company A can create value for something that basically does not fall within their area of competence. And that too is conditionally true. The truth lies - as so often - in the middle. Whoever recognizes on the market that something is missing and is familiar with it and then buys competences (we have talked about this several times in the course of this series), will probably have the greatest chance to create a value contribution, which the customers absolutely need.



When I take the train to work and walk from the station to the office, we had two bakeries 3 years ago. Meanwhile there are six, which differ in almost nothing. One can ask oneself what value the founder has created. Of course each of these bakers has its justification, but the financial expenditure to stand out from the competition is much higher. We have only one Alnatura on the same route (this should not be an advertisement for the company!) and it is heavily frequented. The founders have recognized a problem, created a solution and created a very valid value contribution, which has developed into a real branding in the course of time.

Our conclusion is: The better and more unique your value contribution, the greater the chance of success. The smaller it is, the more expensive and costly it will be to stand out from your opponents.


This article is written by our CEO, Bernd Korz. With his experience as an entrepreneur, he shares his vision about the lessons provided by Steve Blank. Join us every week for a new article on Steve Blank’s lectures.

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