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Lost and Founder: The Mostly Awful, Sometimes Awesome Truth about Building a Tech Startup

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,779 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Rand Fishkin, the founder and former CEO of Moz, reveals how traditional Silicon Valley "wisdom" leads far too many startups astray, with the transparency and humor that his hundreds of thousands of blog readers have come to love.

Everyone knows how a startup story is supposed to go: A young, brilliant entrepreneur has an cool idea, drops out of college, defies the doub
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Portfolio
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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 ·  1,779 ratings  ·  246 reviews

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Ahmad Abugosh
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it
As a big fan of Rand's work on Moz (especially his pro tips on Twitter and Whiteboard Friday's), this book was a great look behind the curtain on the true nature of running a venture backed SaaS business.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was amazing. The first few chapters of this book reminded me of the type of radical honesty and insight of something written by Derek Sivers. I really enjoyed how Rand shared his story, gave his perspective on the difficulties of starting a b
Stefan Bruun
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Similar concepts to "Anything you want" by Derek Sivers. An honest description of the journey from early idea to startup.
Unfortunately, I think many of the lessons in this book can't be taught via books. The book highlights the softer parts of running a tech startup - parts that are usually ignored as they fall behind more urgent tasks. I, for one, wouldn't have got to the realization of the importance of these elements, had I not experienced the pain resulting from neglecting them - clear valu
Yuliana Oselska
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
Deeply impressed by transparency and honesty of Rand Fishkin, the Founder of Moz. In this book, he shares the true story of how he successfully started Moz and then at some point failed with its growth, why he recently left the company, and what he learnt during these 16 years. He turned down the $25 million acquisition offer from HubSpot and is not afraid to publicly regret this. What’s most important he analyses all the details and outcomes of such decision.

This is not only a startup story but
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Deeply thankful - this is how I feel for this book, for Rand's incredible effort to write it and for the lessons it shares with disarming honesty.

It's a rare opportunity to be able to learn so much of what goes into difficult decisions the people we admire make. This book is exactly this opportunity, delivered with grace, sincerity, and incredible self-awareness.

It inspired me to reflect on important issues, both professional and personal.
It gave me ideas for topics that I believe are valuabl
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The bad: Although fair and raw and truthful, Fishkin’s book is at points riddled with hate and distrust of certain figures in the startup scene “just because”. We get the feeling there’s a deeper story there, but we just read insults and the towards these figures without justification. Even if truthful, I believe every accusation should include ones version of the story. It’s the least you can do.

The good: A refreshing book with a raw and truthful perspective on the problems that plague founders
Oct 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best and most real startup guides I have ever read. Came at an opportune time for me while I was navigating and making important choices from my own startup. I will re-read this over the years to keep the lessons in mind.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The stories in this book are worth 5 or 6 stars. Very well told and candid, and they touch topics that are not often visited in tech/business/startup literature. A true peek behind the scenes and good business lessons told and learned.

But at times Rand shares general if not basic information about the way certain parts of tech companies work, and these bits really slowed the book down for me. So it’s a 4-star review but I still recommend to read it.
Miebara Jato
It makes more sense to learn about building a business from someone who has real-life experience in starting and running one. Lost and Founder is one of that kind of startup books. The author, Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Moz, the online search engine optimisation (SEO) firm, brought to bear his experience in building a business from scratch to a multi-million in valuation. He also smashed some long-held myths about startups and Silicon Valley.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am the CEO of a small company and even though it's not a start-up (btw, I worked for a year in a startup), I was able to take a lot away from this book. First and foremost - everybody makes mistakes and sometimes they result in really bad things. That actually was a huge relief. No kidding. It's so uplifting to hear that it's not only me who that happens to.

Rand Fishkin is very open and honest about success and failure. In the end he states that the "not so much fun times" happened much more o
Jan 26, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An essential read for creators and entrepreneurs

I found this book profoundly helpful and revealing for my work as the founder and CEO of a small but quickly growing online education business. We are facing many of the same pitfalls that Rand faced, and were heading towards some of the same mistakes before I picked this book up. Highly recommended for anyone building a company who wants to learn from the wisdom of someone who came before them.
Marek Zmyslowski
Oct 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This has just landed on the top of the best books about Startups "from Founders to Founders". I feel deep appreciation for the author for sharing his story and insights. ...more
Avtar Ram Singh
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
As someone that's been familiar with the story of Moz and Rand for the last few years, Lost and Founder wasn't a surprise. It's exactly what I expected it to be: transparent, to the point, straight-forward and incredibly useful. The purpose of Lost and Founder is similar to what a number of other entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley success stories (like DHH) are trying to push, which is that startups don't have to be crazy, massively funded, chaotic and run by tyrants.

A very small percentage of bus
Philip Joubert
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tech-history
Reading this book is like spending a day with Rand and having him tell you about his journey with Moz. It's a rare opportunity to dive into one founder's experience.

What makes the book work is that Rand is super honest and talks openly about his successes, failures and the tough decisions he had to make.

Don't mistake the 5-star review for an endorsement of Rand's views. I disagree with a lot of what Rand thinks. The guy seems pretty damn sour about the fact that he didn't accept an early acquisi
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
After Ben Horowitz's "The Hard Thing About Hard Things", if there's another business book that I'd recommend people, it'd be this. Because if the former talked about how to deal with precarious situations in business, the latter talks about how to deal with the precarious yourself while leading a business.

As people have proclaimed about it, it's truly a painfully honest, unadulterated and transparent take by Rand on building Moz. Covering everything from his unhealthy decisions, his own unstable
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With no intention to start my own business anytime soon, I still enjoyed myself a lot reading the book., partly because the book confirms many of my doubts about popular startup quotes about the fake it until you make it mentality, and about the go big or go home mentality, by giving examples based on the author's startup experience as an ex-CEO, partly because the book is written in a very light and personal tone, so it's very easy and fun to read for me.

The book introduced about the reality of
Filip Kis
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A highly recommended read for any startup founder. And a must-read for any SaaS founder/manager.

The refreshingly down to earth, no bullshit and, even though written by American, non repetitive advice on how to build and run a business. It's told through honest and reflective recount on Rand Fishkin's own triumphs and, more importantly, failures building Moz - a leading company in field of SEO marketing with millions in revenu.

This is a book I'll probably read parts of over and over again.
Ashe Magalhaes
Jan 20, 2022 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this; author was refreshingly frank and emotional at times. The advice was helpful and made sense, although nothing earth-shattering. May have been helpful for author to put lessons he's taking into his next start up in beginning as well, so we could look out for red flags with traditional VC backed approaches from start. Great read, especially if you're building something new and thinking about scale. ...more
Diego Gomes
Some interesting stories, just not “my kind of book”

I really admire Rand and Moz, and follow both for several years now. I love his transparency, but I tend to think he just sees stuff in a somewhat pessimistic way, most of the time. I also think the moment in which he wrote the book left a “unfinished tale” taste in it. Anyway, I’ll buy the next one. #gomoz #gosparktoro
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve followed Rand Fishkin’s content and have used Moz in the companies I co-founded. His transparency and knowledge sharing is visible in all of that content, Moz’s software and now this book. This is a candid memoir of all things a founder goes through at a personal and professional level. Highly recommended read.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You may not always personally agree with Rand or have made different decisions, but this book is refreshingly honest. There is a lot to be learned from this amount of transparency.

Personally I applaud the focus on values and diversity.
Kaspars Koo
A unique and fresh take on building startups by Rand Fishkin, CEO & Co-Founder of SEOmoz. Honest, funny and more down to earth and closer to what an average successful start-up journey looks like - his company is a very successful business, but it's not Facebook or Google.
Enjoyed it a lot.
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Factful guide to the start-up world. Honest analysis of hyped tools & techniques and Silicon Valley pop culture. Insightful part on fundraising and the diverse consequences for a business and the founders. Sometimes a little dark, overall definitely a good read.
Susana Machado
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Usually I find founder books moderately interesting and obviously ghost written (in a bad way). This was very different Fishkin is very candid and transparent throughout the book, I felt like I was genuinely learning things that apply to the startup I work at. Definitely would recommend this to anyone working in the startup world.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very honest story and enlightening. A bit of a bleak view on his situation. But a good contrast to the great amazing view that is always presented by other successful startups.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really great insight about entrepreneurship, particularly about fundings, with a great transparency about the available funding paths.
Étienne Garbugli
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, tech, startups
Probably the best book to understand how startups *really* work.
Gabriel Stein
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Deeply respected and appreciated the transparency from Rand. I wish there were more books like this.
Tõnu Vahtra
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
A story of a startup that can be considered successful (revenues in tens of millions) but the knowledge sharing part felt quite mainstream and methodically there wasn't so much novel about the recommendations. Mainly it felt like the company was well positioned and took advantage of the rise of SEO industry. Probably valuable book for those who are new to startup scene but does not stand out compared to origin stories of the big global tech unicorns. ...more
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best, cliches free books about startups and culture building books ; with many controversial but interesting points of view
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m not sure why I read this book. I know Rand and Geraldine but just barely. I know nearly nothing about Moz. I don’t work in tech. And although I work in marketing I have just surface knowledge of SEO. But I decided to preorder this book for a couple of reasons: my father-in-law is the CEO of a startup, and I wanted to understand what he’s gone through. And I read some article or blog post about Rand’s depression, and I appreciated the honesty - and I’m glad to see that vulnerability as a them ...more
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