Bob Dorf

  • Allegedly retired serial entrepreneur & Co-Author of The Startup Owner’s Manual. Bob Dorf is often called the “midwife of Customer Development,” helping Steve Blank deploy it when Blank’s eighth startup, Epiphany, opened its doors with five employees in 1996. Dorf later critiqued the earliest versions of Steve’s Four Steps to the Epiphany mercilessly along the way, and they’ve been friends and colleagues ever since.

    In March, 2012, along with Steve Blank, Bob published The Startup Owner’s Manual: a step-by-step guide to Building a Great Company, two years in nearly-fulltime research and development. The 500-page, painstakingly detailed guide is much more than an update of Blank’s groundbreaking Four Steps, with parallel Customer Development pathways for companies in the web and mobile channels, as well as traditional physical goods and enterprise software startups, and web and channel marketing tutorials.

    When Bob and Steve aren’t writing, Bob runs the Four Steps consultancy, helping major corporations and startups alike effectively deploy Customer Development process through workshops and hands-on consulting. Bob’s deep experience consulting to Fortune 500 companies and service, retail, and web businesses balances Steve’s VC and software-centric experience. This spring, Bob begins lecturing a full-semester course at Columbia Business School, “Introduction to Venturing,” on getting startups right.

    Entrepreneurial from the age of 12, Bob received his last W-2 almost 40 years ago, when he left a great news editor’s job at WINS Radio in New York to launch his first major startup. Since then, he has personally founded six companies, including – as he puts it – “two homeruns, two base hits, and two solid tax losses.” Dorf + Stanton Communications, founded at age 22 in his living room, grew from a staff of two – Bob and a St. Bernard – to more than 150, when Bob sold it 1989. He has since invested in and/or advised more than a score of startups on customer Development and “get customers” sales and marketing strategy. He’s counseled dozens of nonprofits probono as well.

    Bob co-founded Marketing 1to1 (later Peppers&Rogers Group), growing it to 400+ people. The March 1999 Fortune magazine raved about The One to One Fieldbook, he co-authored, saying, “if your company is launching a customer-focused strategy…it sets the agenda.” As founding CEO, Dorf spearheaded major strategic customer programs at a veritable “who’s who” of companies including 3M, Bertelsmann, Ford, HP, Jaguar, NCR, Oracle, and Schwab. He has spoken before scores of U.S. and international audiences, conducted in-depth workshops, and published dozens of articles including Harvard Business Review indepth treatise.

    Dorf lives in Stamford with his wife Fran, a therapist and thrice published novelist. An avid bicyclist and skier, Bob’s proudest startup by far is daughter Rachel, a psychologist who recently made him a grandpa.

  • New York

    August 15, 2013

    The conference will feature guest speakers sharing insights into startup fundraising, investment stategies, running a company, new startup trends, and finding technical talent for your startup.

    register for the event 

  • Conference program


    • August 15, 2013
      • 9:00 am - 9:50 amCheck In
      • 10:00 am - 11:00 amHow to Validate a Product Idea on $100 or Less
      • 11:00 am - 12:00 pmListening to your Users and Finding Your First True Fans
      • 12:00 pm - 1:00 pmLunch
      • 12:30 pm - 1:15 pmBreakout Sessions/Startup Clinic