The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup
Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: Should they go it alone or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising ventur...more
I met Noam for the first time last week when I was at HBS. I was on a panel of VCs (me, Mike Maples Jr., Kate Mitchell, and David Frankel) talking to a room full of HBS alumni who are VCs. Noam and I had exchanged several emails over the past few months and he sent me a review copy of the book but it got lost in my infinite pile of books to read. After seeing him and talking to ...more
The book explores key decisions faced by startup founders throughout the life of a company ... from pre-founding, funding options, initial team and transitional hires, salary negotiations, board management, to exit. I especially liked Wasserman's explanation around th ...more
It’s rigged up as a parallel structure between serious statistical research and anecdotal stories that are meant to guide you, the entrepreneur, in the early decisions that stand to influence the future success of your business.
So you get told “Evan next decided he would only hire junior developers via Craigslist” and then ...more
Boy was I wrong, and this book is what highlighted it. Compiled from the author's extensive research and data set of thousands of startups since the start of the millennium, he is able to draw conclusions about the dilemmas founders face, the possible paths, and what kind of outcomes they lead to. ...more
The central theme of the book is so called RICH or KING dilemma. Which refers to two basic types of founders - motivated to get profit (RICH), or motivated to control and creation (KING).
Of course there is a middle point to which author refers as "Ideal entrepreneur".
The book is longer than it could be, however I'd recommend it for reader who would want to dig deeper in this area. An ...more
The book covers a lot of grounds for startups from co-fouding, to hiring first people, getting investors, and selling the company. The book goes over the decisions founders will face and how they affect long term value or control of the company.
I would not recommend an eBook. There were a lot of footnotes and end of book notes, some of which I felt were really important. Having the book in eB ...more
Didn't read the whole book but skimmed some chapters.
Unfortunately it's more for someone that is thinking about a startup than someone that is already in the middle of one. Found it quite boring to get through, a lot of the book is giving stats about startups which weren't that useful or interesting to me.
I wouldn't really recommend this book unless you are just about to start a startup and want to know what statistically happened between 2000-2009 with 10k startups. How many were solo- ...more
It would be worthy to revisit the book's closing remarks from each chapter to remind yourself what needs to be thought of at the different stages in a startup's journey
The Founder’s Dilemmas is at the same time a fascinating and frustrating book. Fascinating because it’s providing very seldom seen (and mostly unknown) data about founders and high-tech start-ups. Frustrating because it is also seldom providing answers to the dilemmas founders may face. It took me the full reading of the book to finally understand that the answer Wasserman provides is that there is no best solution for a founder facing a proble ...more
This book is based on his research on tech and life-science startups, which means is very much focussed on busine ...more
So I am not going to count this one because I really don't see me finishing it - so it's not done done.
While I do think there is a significant amount of information that I have found very relevant to founding your own business I find this a difficult book to read and assimilate. The book (IMHO) is written ...more
Still there were some useful information for would-be entrepreneurs.
1) For first time, foun ...more
The Founder's Dilemmas draws on a bunch of research and summarizes how things have wo ...more
Building wealth involves tapping weak ties, finding highly motivated and talented cofounders, hiring expensive but skilled workers, pursuing VC funding, and being willing to let a nonfounding CEO t ...more
However, I also found it tedious in many places due to the author's systematic, academic approach. Many of the statistics they rattle off seem like meaningless numbers. Thankfully it's wov ...more
The chapter about negotiating equity splits is especially full of valuable advice. Some quick quotes out of my notes:
- "Ideally, the equity split will approximate each founder’s long-term level of contribution (...)"
- "four sets of criteria emerge that can help sharpen the negotiation and increase the chances of crafting a sustainable agreement. Those criteria ar ...more
Future readers, have in mind that this book is intended for people that are about to get into a new ...more
The most important of these are:
- whether to have co-founders
- whether to raise venture capital
- whether to make expensi ...more
I have to say I always rather enjoyed Noem's book on entrepreneurial dilemmas. It is a dry and fact based read, yet very much a worth while endeavor. The book does a good job of mapping out the decisions and dilemmas implicit in the creation and operation of a startup company using the framework of control verses wealth generation to compare choices and potential outcomes.
I was reminded of late t ...more
However, this strikes me as a prototypical book where someone in academia writes about "entrepreneurship." He leaves out a sizable segment of people who have started their own businesses because they had to, either through a layoff, having to go back to work...entrepreneurs by necessity (p ...more
Built from surveys of startups. Has the raw data. Also anecdotes. The anecdotes are too long and repeated too often for my taste but they do not do enough damage to make me rate less ...more
-Very dry. The author has a database of 10,000 "high potential" startups in biotech and computers and just summarizes statistics about them which is not that exciting.
-In many cases, the key messages and takeaways are not very clear.
-For someone who is thinking about doing their first startup (or even just a regular small business), there are some useful things to think about such as the trade off between control and wealth and how to handle getting outside investment of finding a CEO. ...more
What sets The Founders Dilemmas apart from many business books on startups is the wealth of data it draws from. Wasserman tracked the progress of literally hundreds of startups and their founders over a ten year period to draw his conclusions.
The book presents specific examples to illustrate each decision, ranging from being control-focused to wealth-focused and its implications (hiring more talented people, foregiving more equity, etc), and other trade-offs - since everything in startup life is a t ...more