Visionary Entrepreneur Steve Blank to Deliver Commencement Speech at NYU Tandon

Noted Entrepreneur and Creator of Lean Startup Movement Will Address Graduates of Engineering School Infused with His Approach to Accelerating Technology

Steve Blank

Steve Blank — pioneering Silicon Valley entrepreneur and creator of the Lean Startup movement — will deliver the commencement address at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s 2016 graduation ceremony May 23 at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn.

"I'm honored to be the commencement speaker at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, an education leader for the 21st century," Blank said. "We stand at the edge of an exciting time of innovation and change in the world, full of ideas and challenges unimaginable just a few decades ago. Tandon has prepared its graduates to embrace a culture of innovation and be agents of change."

“Steve Blank has a long track record of success as an entrepreneur and ground-breaking thinker and is obviously a very suitable person to address our graduates, who have been steeped in an ethos of invention and innovation during their time here,” said Dean Katepalli R. Sreenivasan. “They will be using their knowledge of engineering and technology to make the world a healthier, cleaner, safer, and more sustainable place, and Steve will be an inspiration to them as they embark upon that pursuit.” 

Blank’s work has changed the way startups are built, how entrepreneurship is taught, how science is commercialized, and how companies and the government innovate.  

Over the course of his career, Blank founded or worked within eight companies, four of which went public. His book The Four Steps to the Epiphany, about building early-stage companies, is widely acknowledged to be the first volume to posit that startups are not simply smaller versions of large companies and that new ventures need tools very different than existing ones. Those insights led directly to the Lean Startup movement, a scientific approach to creating and managing new businesses that involves extensive customer testing and rapid product iteration. 

NYU now offers Blank’s Lean LaunchPad, a course that embodies these lean principles. It gives students real-world experience in how to turn an idea into a viable business. Additionally, the guidance and mentoring provided to startups within Tandon’s thriving incubator system is based in large part on Blank’s methodology, and Tandon’s required Innovation and Technology Forum includes key elements of the Lean Startup method, including customer development and product-market fit. Blank notably created the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) curriculum, which helps academic researchers shepherd their innovations to the marketplace and which has an active node based at Tandon.

Blank is also co-author of the best-selling The Startup Owner’s Manual, a step-by-step guide to building a successful company. He has been named one of the top 10 Influencers in Silicon Valley (the San Jose Mercury News), a “Master of Innovation” (Harvard Business Review), and one of the 30 most influential people in tech (Forbes). His 2011 commencement speech at Philadelphia University was deemed one of the 300 best commencement speeches of the last 300 years by National Public Radio.

At NYU Tandon’s commencement ceremony, Blank will receive the Polytechnic Medal, created to commemorate the values that have made the school a home to innovation and opportunity since its inception. 

The school will confer 488 bachelor’s and 1,213 master’s degrees and 45 doctorates this academic year.

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the NYU School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to programs at its main campus in downtown Brooklyn, it is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, and it operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.