Beyond Startups — Using Lean to Solve Real-World Problems

Pete Newell

February 5, 2021

Steve Blank and I have been on a mission to make the world a better place by changing the way innovation happens in companies and the government for the last six years — Steve even longer, so naturally, he was a fitting guest to kick off this season of the Innovators Radio Show and Podcast I’m co-hosting.

A retired serial entrepreneur who created the Lean Startup movement, Steve is a good friend and co-creator, with me, of the Hacking for X methodology that the Defense Department and other government agencies are using to rapidly solve critical real-world problems.

I knew listeners would be in for a treat when Steve agreed to join me and Bay Area radio personality Tom Dioro on the show. We talked about how the first Hacking for X class — Hacking for Defense — came to be; how it has created a new platform for national service; how the program has grown and what it is accomplishing; why curiosity is the single most important trait an entrepreneur can have; and why the future of entrepreneurship is mission-driven.

Listen to the full episode here or go to the time stamps below to hear portions of the interview.

1:30: What’s mission-driven entrepreneurship

3:36: Hacking for Defense: Solving real problems, making a real impact

5:55: First things first: Curating the problems

7:37: The 5-minute meeting that lasted 3 hours

10:25: Innovation from the battlefield to the boardroom

11:55: Why entrepreneurship education needs to be experiential

13:31: The hardest course students will ever take

16:52: Same method changed the way science is commercialized in the U.S.

18:06: The Red Queen Conference: Driving innovation in the Defense Department and Intelligence Community

25:21: Why we need a common language and process for defense innovation

32:10: In retirement, still working to change the world

38:27: This is what gives world-class entrepreneurs an edge

43:18: Why we keep it real in the classroom

The Innovators Radio Show and Podcast highlights the best and brightest mission-driven entrepreneurs — people dedicated to making the world a better place. The show airs Mondays at 11 am PT/2 pm ET on Stanford University radio station KZSU, 90.1 FM and is streamed at, Past episodes are archived here.

Tune in June 18 when our guest will be Eric Shapiro, CEO and cofounder of ArcTouch.

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