Topic Reading Lists

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Managing Startups: Best Posts of 2012

Here's my compilation of 2012's best posts about managing startups. I assembled similar lists at the end of 20112010 and 2009. Many thanks to all of the authors. The generosity of the startup community is amazing, and these insights are invaluable to those of us who teach and coach aspiring entrepreneurs.

Apologies to authors whose work I've omitted. Please use comments below to suggest additional posts. Happy New Year!

Lean Startup
Business Models
Customer Discovery and Validation
Marketing: Demand Generation and Optimization

Sales and Sales Management
Viral Marketing
PR Strategy
Branding/Naming a Startup
Product Management/Product Design

Business Development
  • John O'Farrell of a16z describes how quality trumps quantity and clarity regarding mutual objectives is crucial in doing business development deals, using Opsware's transformative distribution agreement with Cisco as a case study.

Funding Strategy
Founding Process
  • My colleague Noam Wasserman published his book, The Founder's Dilemmas, that describes tradeoffs that founders confront when deciding when/with whom to found, how to split equity, how to divide roles, etc.
  • Blake Masters' summary of Peter Thiel's Stanford CS183 lecture on the importance on early founding decisions.
  • Charlie O'Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures on questions that co-founders must address ASAP and the concept of the "minimum viable team," i.e., the smallest set of skills needed to get traction in an early-stage startup.
Company Culture, Organizational Structure, Recruiting and Other HR Issues
Board Management
Startup Failure
Exiting By Selling Your Company
The Startup Mindset and Coping with Startup Pressures
  • Paul DeJoe of Ecquire on managing the pressure that comes with being a startup CEO.
  • Steve Blank on why it matters how co-founders fight.
  • Blake Masters' summaries of Peter Thiel's Stanford CS183 lectures on the role of luck in startup success and on "founder as victim, founder as god." Fascinating stuff! 
  • Steve Blank on the challenge of distinguishing between vision and hallucination in charting a startup's course.
  • Andrew Chen on dealing with the "trough of sorrow" following a big bump in traffic after a TechCrunch story.
  • Paul Graham of Y Combinator on "black swan farming," i.e., coping with the facts that: 1) the vast majority of returns are concentrated in a few startups, and 2) the most successful startups often don't look very good at the outset/
  • Graham on how to get startup ideas and on generating/coping with frighteningly ambitious startup ideas.
  • 50 startup lessons learned by James Maskell, founder of Vinetrade; startup lessons learned by Vin Vacanti.
  • Andreas Klinger of LOOKK on how/why founders lie to keep doing things in their comfort zones
  • Serial entrepreneur/angel investor Jason Calacanis on the two biggest questions founders need to ask: Will customers recommend my product, and will they remember it?
  • Investor James Altucher on how to survive your 1st year as founder/CEO.
  • Chris Dixon: once you take outside money, the clock starts ticking.
  • Jason Calacanis with advice for seed-stage entrepreneurs facing the "Series A Crunch" [Jason wrote this on Jan. 2, 2013, so it doesn't officially qualify for this "Best of 2012" -- but the advice is just too good and too important to wait a full year before including it next year's compilation!]
Management Advice, Not Elsewhere Classified
Career Advice (Especially for MBAs)
Startup Hubs
  • Brad Feld of Foundry Group and TechStars has published the book Startup Communities, a guide to building an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Tools for Entrepreneurs
  • Beyond Steve Blank's Startup Owner's Manual, a book he co-authored with Bob Dorf, here is a list of the fantastic resources Steve has made available to the startup community -- mostly for free.