Incredible story before the 2000 “dot.com” boom illustrating the lack of customer development.
Lesson learnt (by Steve Blank)
– Business plans are the leading cause of startup death
– No Business Plan survives first contact with a customer
– Rapidly changing markets require continuous business model iteration/customer development
– Your ability to raise money has no correlation with customer adoption
At $5.2-billion Iridium was one of the largest, boldest and audacious startup bets ever made. Conceived in 1987 by Motorola and spun out in 1990 as a separate company, Iridium planned to build a mobile telephone system that would work anywhere on earth. It would cover every city, town and square inch of the earth from ships in the middle of the Arctic Ocean to the jungles of Africa to the remote mountain peaks of the Himalayas. And Iridium would do this without building a single cell tower.
How? With an out-of-this-world business plan. First, the company bought a fleet of 15 rockets from Russia, the U.S. and China. Next, it built 72 satellites on an assembly line and used the rockets to launch them into orbit 500 miles above the earth. There the satellites acted like 500-mile high cell phone towers capable of providing phone coverage to any spot on…
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