Steve Jobs and the Vertical Method
The Six Percent Entrepreneur
Steve Jobs and the Vertical Method
March 27, 2021
In this episode we talk about how Steve Jobs was way ahead of his time back in 1997 with the Vertical Method.
I recently came across a video of Steve Jobs speaking at the worldwide developer Conference for Apple back in 1997 to give you a little bit of context. Steve Jobs had been ousted from Apple from his own company. He was fired and he was pretty much in an asylum, where he was working on his own startup project. And whatever he was building, Apple actually wanted to acquire that so they brought Steve Jobs back into Apple. 

And this is the first time Steve Jobs is back in the apple. And he's giving a keynote at the Worldwide Developer Conference. And while he's giving his keynote, there is a troll in the audience and the troll asks him, says "Steve, You are a brilliant man". And Steve Jobs says, "Oh, boy, here it comes" because you can tell there's an insult coming. And the Troll says, "Whatever you're saying about Java, it doesn't make sense. Sometimes I wonder if you really know what you're talking about". 

And this troll was talking about how Java doesn't work with part of Steve Jobs' vision, etcetera and the crowd kind of was silent and they were like, "Oh, wow, how is Steve going to answer this?" And Steve started to start speaking and he started saying, "You know, you can please some of the people some of the time..." and then he just stops and he thinks about the question for a moment. He takes about eight seconds to pause, and he thinks, and he comes up with a brilliant answer. I don't have the quote in front of me, so I'm going to paraphrase it. But it's something like this, he says:

You know, when you're building companies, the difficult part is trying to figure out how you're going to move $8 billion worth of product or $10 billion worth of product. The mistake is to start with the technology and get into the nitty-gritty of how the technology might work, of how Java might work, for example, instead of starting backwards from the audience. So what Steve Jobs was saying is he starts with the customer set first, and then he builds a technology to that customer. 

So he was alluding to the vertical method where we used the GPDS framework where we grow a customer list first. Then we pre-sell a minimum viable mockup/ Steve was talking about it back in 1997 way ahead of his time. And as I've said, the vertical method isn't something that's profound or something that's brand new. I feel that most seasoned entrepreneurs who are going through their entrepreneurial journey after they fail a couple of times, they figure this out. They figure "You know what? I have lost so much money in these different ventures. How am I going to get my next venture back off the ground?" 

And this is the way you do it. This is the way you can get a venture off the ground without having to go to investors without having a look for co-founders, you are empowered to build your business on your own terms using the vertical method. And Steve Jobs was alluding to that vertical method back in 1997 saying that, yes, you start with the customer first. The mistake would be to start with the technology first, because Steve Jobs says, How do you know what the customer is going to want if you start with the technology first? It is a huge mistake to start with the technology first and then try to find buyers for it afterwards. So Steve is more concerned about the bigger vision and how that fits for his audience than he is with the technology and what he actually wants to build. And I think that is a really important lesson from Steve and...

Boom. Bam. I'm out. 

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