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Founders At Work

Founder At Work Cover

Photo: Andy Crouch

Founders At Work by Jessica Livingston is one of those books I have long meant to read. A collection of interviews with various startup founders about their company’s early days.

Released in 2008, the book covers a very interesting time in technology. The interviews are with company’s which we all take for granted today. Max Levchin from Paypal, Steve Wozniak, Paul Buchheit (Gmail), DHH, Mena Trott and Joel Spolsky are all featured. Some of these services have defined or built modern life as we know it. Gmail, Paypal, Apple, Ruby on Rails. The scope is immense.

There are a handful of obvious lessons that can be learnt from these interviews:

  • Focus - Focus on your core product.
  • Customers define you. Listen to your customers as they are the people that will drive your success.
  • Learn to scale & fast.
  • Be prepared to pivot. A few of the interviewees started with one idea but ended up pivoting to build a successful business.
  • decide on the funding that is right for you. VC’s work out well for some people, some have bootstrapped.

Although dated by the lack of recent high value startups, this book is enjoyable and valuable. Recommended reading for anyone looking to build their idea out to a business.