top of page

10 Books Every Startup Founder Should Read

Updated: Apr 19

Starting a successful startup demands creativity, determination and a solid understanding of what it takes to not just start but also to scale your company’s product, team and market traction. In order to grow your company, it’s useful to learn from others who have been in your shoes before - so you can avoid potential blindspots during your journey.

Attending events such as Startup Boston Week is a great way to learn from and network with others who have been in your shoes before and, additionally, reading books from other founders and startup leaders - that share their learnings and failures - can help you during your climb as well.

Below, we’ve curated a list of 10 books that startup founders and leaders should check out - and perhaps throw in your bag on the way to the beach this summer! Check them out below:

1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

“The Lean Startup” has become a seminal book for entrepreneurs and has had a significant impact on the startup ecosystem. It offers a practical and systematic approach to building companies that are more capital efficient, customer-centric and adaptable.

Whether you're a first-time founder or an experienced entrepreneur, this book provides invaluable insights and strategies for navigating the unpredictable journey of startup entrepreneurship.

2. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

The central premise of "Zero to One" is that true innovation lies in creating something entirely new rather than simply improving existing products or services. Thiel argues that going from "zero to one" signifies the creation of entirely novel concepts and ventures, which he believes is crucial for achieving long-term success and creating significant value.

This book challenges readers to think bigger, to question established norms and to aim for ambitious goals. It is a must-read for entrepreneurs who want to create truly innovative businesses that have the potential to shape the future.

3. The Startup Owner's Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

This comprehensive guide provides a step-by-step framework for building a successful startup, covering topics like customer development, product-market fit, and scaling.

Overall, "The Startup Owner's Manual" serves as a roadmap for startup founders, guiding them through the entire lifecycle of building a company. It equips entrepreneurs with the knowledge, tools and mindset needed to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship and increase the odds of building a successful and sustainable business.

4. Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

Livingston presents a collection of interviews with successful startup founders, sharing their experiences, challenges and lessons learned while building their companies. Through these interviews, readers gain a deep understanding of the founders' experiences, their thought processes and the lessons they learned along the way, delving into topics such as the process of ideation, the importance of team building, the role of perseverance and the significance of adapting to changing market dynamics.

This book offers a refreshing perspective on the harsh realities of entrepreneurship, highlighting that success is not always guaranteed and that leaders must be prepared to face tough decisions and daunting obstacles. Horowitz’s book discusses various hardships a startup founder could go through, including layoffs, difficult conversations, raising more capital and managing the pressures of leadership.

6. The Startup Playbook by Rajat Bhargava & Will Herman

This book provides practical advice and strategies for entrepreneurs looking to build successful startup companies, breaking down the intricacies of product development and emphasizing the need for continuous iteration and customer feedback.

Throughout the read, you’ll learn about different strategies for attracting and retaining customers, building effective sales and marketing strategies and leveraging partnerships and distribution channels.

7. Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

"Venture Deals" is a valuable resource for entrepreneurs seeking to understand the intricacies of venture capital and navigate the fundraising process successfully. It equips readers with the knowledge and tools needed to negotiate favorable terms, make informed decisions and build productive relationships with investors.

Whether you're a first-time entrepreneur or a seasoned founder, this book serves as a comprehensive guide to venture capital financing and helps demystify the often complex world of startup funding.

8. Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler

"Predictable Revenue" outlines a systematic approach to building a scalable and predictable sales process for businesses. This book is a valuable resource for sales leaders, entrepreneurs, and anyone involved in sales and business development.

Within Ross and Tyler’s book, you’re offered a systematic approach to building a scalable sales process, generating consistent revenue and driving business growth.

9. Hooked by Nir Eyal

"Hooked" explores the psychology behind creating habit-forming products and services. The book presents a framework for building products that can capture users' attention and keep them engaged over time. This is a great read for product managers, designers and entrepreneurs looking to create engaging and habit-forming experiences.

You’ll take away practical insights into human behavior and a framework for designing products that capture users' attention and create long-lasting habits.

10. Measure What Matters by John Doerr

"Measure What Matters" introduces the concept of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as a powerful framework for setting and achieving goals within organizations. Doerr, a renowned venture capitalist, shares his insights and experiences in implementing OKRs at companies like Intel, Google, and more.

The book highlights the importance of aligning organizational goals and individual efforts to drive performance and success and provides a step-by-step guide to implementing OKRs, along with insights and best practices from successful companies.

What other books should be on this list?

What are your favorite books to read as a founder, startup leader, startup employee or venture capitalist? Let us know in the comments below!


bottom of page