Resources for Entrepreneurs
Since our work is primarily focused in areas where the startup ecosystems are just beginning to grow, we often get questions that have been answered by more veteran investors or founders in more established markets. Inspired by John Gannon’s blog and instead of finding them one-by-one in my bookmarks, I’ve decided to start compiling them here in order to make sharing easier.
The resources I post are ones that have helped me throughout my career or have been recommended several times over by established founders or VC’s. Much like John’s blog above, I’ve posted resources that are also geared to VC only because it’s impossible to sell to anyone whom you don’t understand well.
If I am missing anything or you’ve found a resource you’d like me to add please comment below. I’ll be editing the list regularly as I come across interesting content and subtract the outdated ones.
Must Read Books
Venture Deals by Brad Feld – considered by most to be the bible of startup fundraising
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz – a16z partner and co-founder Ben Horowitz discusses the ups and downs of running a business
Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston– a collection of stories about the day-to-day activities of startup founders
Venture Capitalists at Work by Tarang and Sheetal Shah – a collection of stories about the day-to-day activities of venture capital investors
The Lean Startup by Eric Reis – the book that codified running a startup in a way that is nimble and able to learn from customer feedback quickly
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – memoir of Nike founder Phil Knight, a story of pure hustle and perseverance
The Business of Venture Capital by Mahendra Ramsinghani – similar to Venture Deals, but more in-depth (Brad Feld wrote the foreward)
Deep Work by Cal Newport– strategies about how to focus your day and keep control of your schedule, very important for anyone who will be pulled in a million directions
High Output Management by Andy Grove – considered the Silicon Valley handbook for organizing, directing, and developing employees
Zero to One by Peter Thiel – the PayPal and Palantir co-founder discusses how to create enough value and more importantly how to capture it
Contagious by Jonah Berger – how do you make things catch on and go viral? Berger takes a systematic approach to the process of virality
The Outsiders by William Thorndike – 8 different stories on CEO’s who were great at capital allocation using rational blueprints
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely – insights on behavioral economics and consumer tendencies
The Everything Store by Brad Stone – the story of Amazon’s creation and what makes it great
Creativity Inc by Ed Catamull – leadership book by former Pixar CEO whom Steve Jobs credited with his growth as an executive
*full transparency, the links for books are affiliate links from Amazon*
Blogs / Medium Posts
HaystackVC – Semil shares why he made each investment + several interesting insights on markets outside the Bay Area
Elizabeth Yin – one of my favorite blogs, Elizabeth does an amazing job with transparency from all angles of the startup world
Feld Thoughts – author of Venture Deals, Brad has been investing since 1987. Look for a lot of thoughts on the mind of great founders and what questions they should consider
Above the Crowd – Bill Gurley is one of the best VC’s ever, and THE resource if you are building anything marketplace related
50 Things I’ve Learned About Product Management – how you manage a product, and the product that makes the product matters
John Tough – my mentor, Chicago based, great perspectives on the Midwest and the path from VC to operator and now back to VC
Thomas Tunguz – data-driven approach to issues facing startups, from product to fundraising and everything in-between
Hunter Walk – VC at Homebrew, previously a Product Manager at Google where he led YouTube, great perspectives from an operator turned VC
First Round Review – one of the best, if not the best, seed stage investors in the country takes a look at management, fundraising, product and other topics from an operational viewpoint
Fundraising / Pitch Decks
Alexander Jarvis Pitch Deck Collection – widely considered the original pitch deck guide with the biggest collection assembled
Dconstrct– company looking to build upon Jarvis’ work to create a searchable database of pitch decks
Why You Should Have a Data Room – the team at Kiddar Capital looks at why you need a data room for fundraising and what should go into it
How We Raised $7M from Foundry – Adam Healey, CEO of Borrowed & Blue provides a 7-step guide to fundraising from a major VC
First Round Review – Fundraising – the fundraising section of First Round’s blog above
Great Story = Great Pitch – all great pitches are actually great stories, it’s not only about what you do but it’s why you do it and why it’s important that counts
Getting Your Head in the Fundraising Game – Mark Suster from Both Sides of the Table offers 10 tips on how to be a more effective fundraiser. His blog is another great resource.
How to Communicate with Investors – Reza Khadjavi, CEO of Shoelace walks founders through the process of taking dots and turning them into a trend line. A great, execution focused look at raising capital
Font Series A Deck – Mathilde Collin, co-founder and CEO of Front, shares their series A deck, a few thoughts on the process and best of all critiques her own deck
Business Models / Strategy
Financial Modeling For Startups: The Spreadsheet That Made Us Profitable – Startups.co provides a great starting point for building a financial model and even better it’s one that comes with an execution story behind it
Metrics that Matter – Part 1 – Jeff Jordan, Anu Hariharan, Frank Chen, and Preethi Kasireddy provide 16 (and then 16 more) metrics that matter for growing startups. It’s impossible to raise if you don’t know which of these metrics are important to your business and how you are going to improve upon them.
Metrics that Matter – Part 2 – a continuation of part 1
How to Analyze Your Startup – Tunguz takes a look at how to evaluate your startup from a VC’s perspective. Additionally, he’s right, frameworks rule:
This Week in Startups – Jason is one of the first investors in Uber and got his start as a VC scout. His new book is Angel. And as the podcast description says, “Need strategies for improving your business of motivating your team? Just want to catch up on what’s happening in Silicon Valley and beyond? Your journey begins here.”
Masters of Scale – Silicon Valley investor / entrepreneur Reid Hoffman tests his theories of growth with famous founders. Hoffman is most well-known for PayPal and LinkedIn.
The Pitch – A show where real entrepreneurs pitch to real investors—for real money. If you are going to pitch investors there is only one way to learn, by doing. But this show is a close second.
The Official Saastr Podcast – Jason Lemkin and Harry Stebbings host operators from various SaaS companies focusing on scale and hiring. They host the occasional investor as well where the focus turns to the metrics that matter for capital raising.
The Twenty Minute VC – Venture capital’s youngest star, Harry Stebbings, interviews VC’s from across the country. Here you learn what VCs are focused on, how they invest, and the traits that make entrepreneurs succeed or fail. You can also find Harry at Mojito VC.
a16z – a16z’s partners discuss the biggest trends in tech with industry experts, business leaders, and other interesting thinkers and voices from around the world.
Other Important Resources
Y Combinator – the original Startup Library with tons of great resources dating back to 2008
Crunchbase – easy and free place investors often glance at to check high level business info
Angel List – you should absolutely have one for recruiting and fundraising
Product Hunt – great place to get your product featured at launch