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Hello, Startup: A Programmer's Guide to Building Products, Technologies, and Teams

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At this very moment, somewhere in the world, two programmers are sitting in a garage and creating our future, one line of code at a time. We are in the era of the high tech startup.

This book is the "Hello, World" tutorial for building products, technologies, and teams in a startup environment. It's based on the experiences of the author, Yevgeniy Brikman, as well as interviews with programmers from some of the most successful startups of the last decade, including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, GitHub, Stripe, Instagram, AdMob, Pinterest, and many others.

If you're at all interested in startups—whether you're a programmer at the beginning of your career, a seasoned developer bored with the politics of large companies, a manager trying to figure out how to motivate your engineers, or just someone trying to figure out what this startup thing is all about—this book is for you. For more info, see http: //www.hello-startup.net"

604 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2015

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About the author

Yevgeniy Brikman

3 books602 followers
Yevgeniy (Jim) Brikman is the co-founder of Gruntwork, a company that provides DevOps as a Service. He's also the author of two books published by O'Reilly Media: Hello, Startup and Terraform: Up & Running . Previously, he worked as a software engineer at LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, Cisco Systems, and Thomson Financial and got his BS and Masters at Cornell University. For more info, check out ybrikman.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews
Profile Image for Tim O'Hearn.
249 reviews1,161 followers
September 1, 2018
What's special about Hello, Startup is how thoroughly the author is dedicated to his craft. Jim's insights into software engineering as a lifelong pursuit and the dynamics of small team building reveal a level of clairvoyance extending beyond the trope of the 'pragmatic programmer'. The writing itself is flawless and reinforces much of the philosophy advocated in Chapter 12.

I often thought back to Soft Skills, which is of the same length with a similarly broad assortment of content (and even some overlap). This book was so much sharper and more genuine. Where Soft Skills' author was filling pages with fluff while highlighting how he fills a daily content quota (quite ironic- and irritating), Jim was sharpening his mastery of the English language while translating his work experiences to sagely advice. There is no fluff, filler, or overreaching as far as the author's own knowledge goes.

As with any book that casts a wide net, it contains chapters that correspond to full books. The closest mappings are Chapter 6 (Clean Code) - Clean Code, The Pragmatic Programmer; Chapter 8 (Software Delivery) - Continuous Delivery; Chapter 9 (Startup Culture) - Zero to One; Chapter 3 (Product Design) - The Lean Startup. If you're intimately familiar with a topic covered in the book, chapters can be skipped with little consequence, however, I really appreciated the unique spin Jim was able to put on each topic and I think that you will, too.

While you might assume that this book is written for those looking to found The Next Facebook, it's actually more of a warning and fairly balanced analysis of all aspects of startup life. I found the lessons applicable to my role as an engineer at a small company and my day-to-day when consulting to startups.

Find this review and others on my blog
Profile Image for Bill.
1 review2 followers
May 16, 2015
Here is what you need to know about Hello Startup. Unless you are currently or have recently worked at a hyper growth tech startup you can benefit from the unique experience and great communication skills used to create Hello Startup. I have read more than a dozen books on startups and many more on business, psychology and programming and I am amazed at the amount of well researched and well thought out explanations of the synergy of good practices of a startup or very focussed company or brach of company. Brikman does a great job of not just expressing opinion but also tempered balance in areas that benefit from analysis and understanding.

The book is in three parts, parts one and three are all things startup and part two is tech including tech stacks and plenty of code for demonstration purposes. I am in the unique demographic of being way past the age of the average tech startup founder but since changing from a successful career in Construction Management and Estimating I have ever so slowly been inching my way towards becoming a programmer. Hello Startup would have saved me at least two years of this process just by helping me understand and compare the benefits and weaknesses of different tech stacks. At the advice of others, I spent almost two years thinking that I could build my concept with Wordpress! That seems like a lifetime ago now.

I have studied what it takes to test if a concept is viable and Brikman's advice here is spot on. Because much of what I have studied about the first stages of the startup process is represented in Hello Startup I trust that the rest is of similar value like how, when and why to hire, how and why to have a cofounder and the management structure of a startup. If you want to get an understanding of the level of passion and applied intelligence the author has just search the web, read his posts, listen to his talks and check out his blog. I have been researching scalable tech stacks and startup concepts for years now and at this point Brikman is in a very elite class of people that both have walked the walk and found a way to communicate it well.

There is much more I could say about this but I have to get back to deciding if and how much Reactjs I want to use for my prototype!

If you have read this review to this point then you would benefit from the book, buy it today and be sure to come back and thank me :)

As far as cons... I am comfortable saying read the book to find out for yourself. I am not aware of a better book that accurately covers so much, to this depth, while being readable.
Profile Image for Alireza.
37 reviews27 followers
March 3, 2016
Some people would think this book is only worth reading if you're thinking of initiating your own startup, but if you're receptive, you can learn way beyond that. Most of the discussed principles in this book have applications in all areas of life. I specifically recommend reading this book to other graduate students who would like to plan ahead and strategize their efforts in the grad school.
Profile Image for Alexander Walsh.
53 reviews2 followers
December 19, 2022
This book is pretty daunting to get through, but it's worth it. The book spans a wide range of topics necessary to build/scale a software start-up (ideation, clean code, scalability, deployment & culture/hiring). If you aspire to build technical products, I’d recommend giving this one a read.
212 reviews7 followers
January 4, 2022
This book is thick, but actually a quick read. It gives a good overview of running a software business from a point of view of culture, business savvy, marketing and sales, programming practices, and more. Having only worked at a few companies in the past, my experience is rather limited; reading the book made me feel like I understand more of the landscape of how different companies work, and also gave me better perspective on business aspects (whereas my everyday focus is on programming only).

I believe that the best innovations in our field (software engineering) are in methods of collaboration: we excel in working together to continually improve and grow a complex system. The book gives a good introduction to how we do this, including system design (decoupling, dependency injection, etc.), process (code reviews, pull requests, automate everything, etc.) and communication. I would recommend this book to any programmer, which I believe is the intended audience. I'm not entirely sure how it would be received by a non-programmer, but it's also pretty skimmable, so it's worth a shot.
August 9, 2019
Áhugaverð og gagnleg handbók um stofnun og rekstur nýsköpunarfyrirtækja. Höfundur skiptir bókinni í þrjá hluta: vörur, tækni og teymi. Fyrsti hlutinn stendur upp úr og er gagnlegastur. Í öðrum hluta missir hann sig hins vegar í gríðarlega ítarlega umfjöllun um forritun með óteljandi dæmum úr Java tungumalinu. Þriðji hlutinn er síðan stuttur og ber þess merki að höfundur hafi viljað ljúka verkinu af.

Það er ókostur þegar bækur verða of nákvæmar og fara að fjalla of mikið um smáatriði í staðinn fyrir grunnprinsipp. Annar hlutinn fellur tvímælalaust í þá gryfju.

En ég mæli með fyrsta hlutanum fyrir þá sem hafa áhuga á viðfangsefninu.
Profile Image for Emanuele Blanco.
5 reviews12 followers
July 2, 2018
Great all rounder book for people with technical background

I’ve been working roughly for 2 years in startups after a few years in corporates and consulting, and I’ve enjoyed this book from first to last chapters. Learning about products, ideas, and how to train creativity is invaluable and something that you cam and should apply in your everyday life. Startups are a different world and lots of what you learned before doesn’t apply. Even if you are already aware of modern software development practices this book also offers a nice recap. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Mengyi.
53 reviews4 followers
May 18, 2019
Unlike other startup books, this book doesn't tell stories. It contains concrete knowledge about every aspect of building a tech startup as an engineer, covering topics of products, technologies and teams.
It is a great read to finish from cover to cover, but also a book that I will always refer back to.
2 reviews1 follower
February 21, 2016
The book keeps its promise from the title - it is a guide to building products, technologies and teams. It also touches on building yourself as well. It explores all the challenges and aspects of building a startup - from how to come up with an idea to how to start working on it and how to grow it over time. Although, it is targeted for startups, most of it applies to any company out there, even established ones, who may have slowed down with some of the recent ideas of how to run a software business.

Honestly, most of the things I knew from various articles I have read over the last couple of years, but this book combines all of them in a package, which you can go through at once instead of having a teaspoon sips here and there.

This book is a must-read for a developers, who are just starting their careers. It doesn't matter if they want to work for a startup or not, the ideas explored in it will help junior developers better see the big picture - what is the role of an engineer in a business, what it takes to create an environment where an engineer can thrive and how to become a better engineer. For the last one, become a better engineer, it probably starts with this book.

As of the writing style, I found it to be easy to read, without any struggles to understand any part of it, but there are some ideas, which are repeated over and over with little or no change. But this didn't affect the overall feel for the book.

I think the book is good, but not great simply because it doesn't provide any big insights into the realm of startups or provide big new ideas, it is just a collection of ideas and knowledge, which is already provided out there and nicely summarized.
Profile Image for Kaspars Koo.
348 reviews39 followers
February 18, 2017
Great book and a good start for everyone, who
- have ideas and want to make them happen
- have already founded a startup
- are planning or have joined a startup in early stage
- are thinking whether to join a startup

or anyone else who has ideas, wants to learn or do some career choices, needs to hire people, wants to know more about product design or data driven development, wants to improve his coding skills or technical knowledge and so on.

This book gives the main notions and best practices in all aspects of an early stage startup life and gives suggested resources, where to do some more digging later for most interesting topics.

Another great thing is the books webpage, where you can find resources, tools and suggested reading for all the topics the author touches: http://www.hello-startup.net/resources/
If you don't want to read the book, but are interested in some topics, should go there and check it out.
Profile Image for Luis Poletti.
6 reviews3 followers
November 8, 2015
This book is PERFECT for anyone who is venturing into the world of programming and digital startups. It's written for programmers of course but myself, as someone who is just picking up his first programming language and getting familiar with tech stacks/frameworks/git etc... it was densely informative and a great read. The book is full of clever analogies, powerful quotes and examples from top industry experts to really drive points home. The last chapter on learning is a huge bonus, with a compilation of lessons learned from an impressive list of experts. The book is rather long, at over 500 pages but definitely worth the time to read.
Profile Image for Muhammad.
16 reviews42 followers
September 13, 2022
Fantastic source of information.

The book is called "Hello Startup" - a play on "Hello World" which is the first program everyone writes when they are learning to code. This book focuses on learning how to build a startup and it does this very well.

Yevgeniy talks about three approaches in this industry: working at a large corp, working at a startup or founding your own. Whilst all three are recommended, a preference is given to startups for growth in this book (obviously). Unless someone there is something one is extremely passionate about, the author suggests doing stints in multiple startups - this hedges your bets in a similar sense to an investment portfolio by not putting all your eggs in one basket. For example, the 100th engineer at Facebook made more than 99% of Silicon Valley entrepeneurs.

With that in mind, a lot more information is given about how to build a startup and goes into a little more detail on the technical side also such as how to pick your technology.

There is a lot of information in the book, instead of elaborating further, I'd just recommend to get it and see the value yourself.

My favourite quotes:
* I want to remind you that financial success is not the only goal or the only measure of success. It’s easy to get caught up in the heady buzz of making money. You should regard money as fuel for what you really want to do, not as a goal in and of itself. Money is like gas in the car — you need to pay attention or you’ll end up on the side of the road — but a well-lived life is not a tour of gas stations.

* The most successful people I know make a deliberate effort to regularly seek out feedback. They send all of their work in an early and unfinished form to a trusted group of friends. They take each bit of feedback and fold it into the project, making it better, bit by bit. The end result is the collective work of many minds and far better than what any one person could accomplish. To do this, you have to see criticism not as an attack on your character, but as someone taking time to help you improve. You have to learn to not misinterpret “this is stupid” as “you are stupid.” And you have to realize that every great essay starts with a rough draft, every great book needs an editor, and every great athlete needs a coach.
Profile Image for Max Wolffe.
153 reviews13 followers
November 11, 2018
I highly recommend this book to any new software engineer, computer science student, or anyone interested in the world of tech startups.

It's a well-organized peak into the world of successful programmers and offers excellent suggestions for how to organize a tech stack, company, team, or your career to be more successful.

Some sections which I really enjoyed, to give you a sense of the structure of the book:
1. Choosing a tech stack - in which Brikman walks through the various choices engineers have to make about what technology to use (database, web framework, programming language), the things you should never build, and when to build in-house vs. leveraging open source vs paying another company.
2. Clean Code - If you've read Bob Martin's "Clean Code" this is a condensed version for the startup software engineer - just the gems.
3. Learning - how did the most successful programmers get to where they are. It's fairly obvious that they put the time in and worked hard, and this chapter gives some good suggestions on how to get there such as dedicating time to intentionally learning and build things frequently. It's also nice to be reminded that everyone starts as a noobie.

<3ed it.
Profile Image for Antoine.
24 reviews8 followers
January 15, 2018
This was a good read. I learned a lot of things that I think are generally applicable irrespective of someone's intention of working at or founding a startup. A financier or novelist could probably gain some useful things from this book.

The only thing that really made me hold back that fifth star was the more technical middle portion. I have a degree in an unrelated field, and therefore lack a more intuitive understanding of code, databases, and libraries. I'm a bit of a slow coder at this juncture and have to patiently reason my way through even the simplest problems. When the author described tips for cleaner code, or writing good automated tests, I frequently had to call on two or three resources other than the book itself to understand exactly what he was describing.

With a little more experience I feel I would have understood him better but I'd have preferred if he'd talked to me as though I were an idiot. Other than that he does a good job of pointing out unknown unknowns for us novices. One of the pitfalls of learning a new thing without structured guidance is that you really don't know what you don't know.
Profile Image for Sardar.
14 reviews
October 2, 2022
This book reads like a summary of 50+ books on wide range of topics. Still, highly recommended.

Every chapter hits a different topic starting from organizing a startup & riscs to design (including fonts and colours), to technical aspects (security, performance, scalability, storage etc), to getting a job at a startup and hiring people, to how become a better developer. Every topic reads like a summary of one or more books with actual references (there are 455 references to books and articles!). Yet all these chapters follow a coherent narrative and are fun to read in sequence.

Usually these kinds of books are boring and don't bring much to a table. However, the author is really good at distilling the essence and conveying it using clear and concise language.
Profile Image for Ahmad hosseini.
271 reviews65 followers
September 29, 2019
This book is a tutorial for building products, technologies, and teams in a startup environment. It’s based on the experiment of the author, as well as interviews with programmers from some of the most successful startups of the last decade. The focused of book is primarily on tech startups and provides good advices for overwhelming over challenges and issues. Book also provides knowledge across multiple disciplines, including business, design, marketing, software engineering, operations, culture, and hiring.
I recommend this book to anyone working in tech-based startups.
28 reviews
July 5, 2020
I'm a big believer in the collective wisdom of the crowd is almost always better than any single person. In a sense, that's what Hello, Startup is - a distillation of experiences and insights from many engineers and authors in the industry.

While this book is undoubtedly about startups, that's just the entry point Yevginiy has chosen in sharing how to think about your career. You probably won't create a startup after reading this book, but you will come away with a better understanding of your goals and career path.

Profile Image for Random.
5 reviews
March 6, 2017
Excelente material para quienes desean conocer temas cruciales dentro del trabajo en una startup:

* Elección de tecnologías según el estado de crecimiento de la startup.
* Nociones de buenos manejos de la base de código.
* Búsqueda de talento en TI.
* Definición de la dirección y los valores importantes para la empresa.
* Búsqueda de oportunidades de trabajo dentro de startups.

No tiene desperdicio.
September 28, 2019
A really well written book.
I think this would be beneficial for everybody who is working in the tech industry.

It does not matter if you are a programmer or not. It will give you a lot of insights and even more resources how a tech company works, how engineering tick, what motivates people, how to ship your product and much more.

Even if you are not interested in startups just read this. It is well worth your time.
Profile Image for William Yip.
253 reviews2 followers
May 8, 2023
The number of typos increased in the latter half of the book. The book recommendations should have been in their own section. Overall, I enjoyed the book. The author provided a high-level overview of startups: the reason to create them, how to create good designs, how to obtain user feedback, how to get people interested in the product, what tech stack to use, how to scale out the infrastructure, and how to form a culture.
Profile Image for Angel.
140 reviews10 followers
May 25, 2019
Overall I'd say it's a great manual on startup building and management. It condenses many of the great practices of the industry and while it can't go too in depth on them, I think it covers the main points really well.

Definitely will read again sometime.
Profile Image for Joe.
105 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2018
great read! It was full of great info on tech, teams, design, and all other aspects of startup culture.
Profile Image for Lino.
148 reviews5 followers
April 7, 2019
It's a compilation of stuff around working on startups. No complaints. It's great. Direct, no fluff, with just enough text to convey the message.

I would blindly buy whatever else he publishes.
Profile Image for Kundan Sarraf.
11 reviews
March 12, 2020
The book gives overall knowledge to a budding entrepreneur, from idea generation to software deployment. A good book for nom tech founders too.
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