The Essential Startup Reader: 10 Lessons in Entrepreneurship


As a blogger, I spend most of my time writing. But it’s time spent reading that’s most satisfying. Here’s a short (and by no means a complete) list of 10 articles that encapsulate the art of the startup. Most were published during 2009, and I found them educational and full of practical tips that we’ve applied to our business. They’ve also helped me think differently about startups and entrepreneurship. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

1. “What Startups Are Really Like” by Paul Graham: This has to be the single best essay I read during 2009. Every entrepreneur should begin the startup journey with this essay. It bottles every essence of entrepreneurship and startups, and is chock-full of practical advise and tips that are applicable to anyone who dares to dream.

2. “Milestones to Startup Success” by Sean Ellis: Ellis explains the need for minimum viable product, aka MVP, and then outlines how startups can go up his startup pyramid to find success.

3. “Myth: Entrepreneurship Will Make You Rich” by Eric Ries: “One of the unfortunate side effects of all the publicity and hype surrounding startups is the idea that entrepreneurship is a guaranteed path to fame and riches. It isn’t,” Ries writes in this no-holds-barred essay about the challenges and pitfalls of being a startup founder.

4. “What Is the Minimum Viable Product?” by Venture Hacks: A great audio conversation on the Venturehacks blog including a slide show.

5. “The Power of Continuous Improvement” by Mike Speiser: In a guest post for us, Mike talks about the importance of metrics, feedback and how they can drive continuous improvement. Mike’s rules have found eager takers among our team.

6. “Getting Comfortable With People Who Make You Uncomfortable” by Mike Speiser: In this article, Mike addresses the need for people who challenge conventional wisdom and make everyone around them uncomfortable — which is why every company needs them.

7. “The Funnel Principle: Software & Making Money” by Tony Wright: It’s good to build great products, but in order to build great companies one needs to have more — a clear path of monetization, an attention magnet, and in general excellence at things beyond product development.

8. “Does Every Startup Need a Steve Jobs?” by Andrew Chen: A dissection of how insanely great products are built by combining desirability, feasibility and viability. Read this post after reading Wright’s “Funnel Principle.”

9. “Designing for Social Traction” by Josh Porter

10: “Startup Killer: The Cost of Customer Acquisition” by David Skok: A definitive essay on startup business models, the perils of overoptimism, and the importance of cost of customer acquisitions. Skok is a 3-time entrepreneur with a lifetime of experience.

Bonus links:

* Self-serving: “What Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Derek Jeter” and “What Makes DJ Tick.”

* Every startup guy should listen to Jobs’ speech before embarking on their journey.



Great list, Om. I just sent it on to one startup and have two more to be sent. Some of these are in the hints and tricks category where you adapt to the situation, know what to expect more realistically, etc., more than strategy. Why would that be?


I like the structure of your blog, you have the numbered bulleting of blog like Rohit Bharva and nifty color thing in the heading and lots of rich media too.


This is great collection for the new entrepreneur avoiding creating a job for itself and get into success. To be entrepreneur that is more than just technical skills. In fact you need problem solving skill and human relationship in most of time.

Marc Perramond

Great list of articles. We try to stay current on posts & presos by Andrew Chen, Sean Ellis, and Eric Reis. Thanks for making us aware of several others I should be reading.


Excellent articles, some of which I’ve read as you highlighted them and others that I have on my action items to read this week.

Really enjoy this blog particularly in the first year of running our startup. I love reading about the realities of being in business as it makes me feel sane that we’re not the only ones going through the rollercoaster ride.

Every entrepreneur can learn from one another. These articles inspire me to write better articles on my experiences and for female entrepreneurs in general.

Looking forward to a fantastic 2010 of more insights and learning experiences.

Daniel DiRico

Thanks Om. I’m usually fairly current on Apple and Steve Jobs related info, but I had actually never seen that commencement speech before. Not sure how I could have missed that one.

Watching that re-charged my internal startup battery, which has been at about 10% lately. I can’t think of a better way to start the first workday of 2010.

Tim Griffin

Wonderful collection. I stopped at the “Designing for Social Traction” slides. Very strategic! Reading through these and improving plans for 2010 will be very helpful!

Ian Harris

Excellent list of articles. Thank you very much.
Especially the one about getting people on your board who make you feel uncomfortable.

Denny K Miu

I particularly enjoy the article by Mike Speiser. What I have learned in my last two startups is that diversity is really important for success. Ultimately, your co-founders are the ones who would protect your proverbial back and the more that they bring to the table (that are not already on the table), the better. In fact, the less that you have in common initially with each other, the less baggage that you each would bring to the partnership. Over the years, I have learned painfully that in addition to learning to work with people who are different from you and would initially make you uncomfortable, we need to refrain from starting our company with family and friends. Starting a company together is the quickest way to destroy friendship. Starting a company with family (or hiring family into your company) is the surest way to alienate your business partners. Sex and startups, two things in life that are best to pursue outside your gene pool.


Thank Om – some great articles I hadn’t seen (still plowing through them). And thanks for including my article in the mix.

Om Malik


It was a pleasure including you in the list. I have enjoyed reading your stuff and look forward to new writings from you.

Michael Kelly

Great list, Om. I just sent it on to one startup and have two more to be sent. Some of these are in the hints and tricks category where you adapt to the situation, know what to expect more realistically, etc., more than strategy. Why would that be?

Michael Kelly

Great list, Om. I just sent it on to one startup and have two more to be sent. Some of these are in the hints and tricks category where you adapt to the situation, know what to expect more realistically, etc. category, more than strategy. Why would that be?

Entreprneurs Blog

Thank you for the links there are some cracking articles in there. Have bookmarked the page so I can come back and finish them all. Have seen the Steve Jobs vid before before it never gets old…


Om – There are some very clear, action-oriented insights and lessons in these posts so thanks for sharing. I’ve shared with several fellow entrepreneurs and our team. Happy new year.

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