The Founder’s Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman
Note: I don’t review substandard books. I make time to read a lot, but I don’t have a lot of time to review books, so what I do share, I’m sharing because the book has been very influential and helpful to me in my life, and I believe it will also help others. If you are a marketer or entrepreneur, these are must reads.
- Buy the book >>
- My Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
- I wouldn’t invest in a startup team that hadn’t read this book.
- Author Twitter Profile
- Tags: Startups, entrepreneurship, team building, founders, founding teams, leadership, equity.
How to know if this book can help you:
- You’re starting a business.
- You’re thinking of bringing on a partner for your existing business.
- You think you can raise funding as a solo entrepreneur without a partner.
Last night I was at a Startup Grind Hong Kong event and a techie who has developed some nice virtual reality technology asked me how to pitch VCs. Not that I’m a VC or have ever pitched VCs, but I got the impression my advice would be more helpful to him than no advice, so I figured I’d play along. The first question I asked was “What does your team look like?” He responded that he had a mentor who was a Fortune 500 exec and the “business guy” on his team. Other than that, he has nobody else on his team. Would this exec be a full time employee of the company? No, just a mentor. Then I asked him why he needed VC money. “I don’t need money,” he said,”Except that I need to do deals with big companies and I think they want to see that I have VC money in order to do deals.” I told him he didn’t need VC money, he needed a dealmaker on his team, and that with the right dealmaker he could sell his product even if he didn’t have a product yet. “But I don’t want to give up 50% of my company to a sales guy,” he said. At this point, I realized this guy needed more answers than I would be able to give him in a few minutes, so I asked him if he had read this book. I already knew the answer before he admitted he hadn’t heard of it. “Go read it,” I said. “If you need money, then you need to read this book. If I were an investor I wouldn’t invest in a team where every member of the team hadn’t read this book.” And I added, “But it doesn’t sound like you need VC money–you need a bizdev partner, in which case you still need to read this book.”
If you’re starting a company, this is THE BOOK on what to do and what not to do when creating your leadership team. Those decisions can make or break companies. One thing I love about this book is that while it’s nice to have anecdotal advice from an experience entrepreneur or VC telling you the ins and outs of founding teams, this book is based on data and research. It’s not just “I’ve seen this 20 times and trust me, you don’t want to do XYZ…” it’s “Out of the 5,000 founding teams we examined, those that survived more than two years did ABC.”