Best Books for Entrepreneurs
We asked a variety of startup founders to share their favorite books on entrepreneurship. Check out our video below, and continue scrolling for even more startup book recommendations!
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1. Carlo Badini and Anand Chowdhary, Pabio
"So we make everyone read the book Lying by Sam Harris because Carlo made me read it and the book outlines all of these scenarios, like if a terrorist comes to your house or just everything and it tries to make the point that even if you think that lying is not a good idea, ever, even if your wife says, do I look fat in that dress? Or just anything that you would rationalize that it doesn't matter. It's just a tiny lie. Harris makes the argument that it matters. And so that kind of stuck with us, especially because you're a self-managed, fully remote company, but also if you just say I haven't done this because I watched TV today, because I was super tired and I had a long week, that's okay. As long as you're fully transparent, it's all good. And so we've kind of made that one of the fundamental parts of our company."
Visit our full interview with the founder of interior design startup Pabio.
2. Lisa Lane, Rinseroo
“‘The Mom's Inventors' Handbook: How to turn your great idea into the next big thing,’ by Tamara Mosonoff.”
Learn more about pet care and ecommerce startup Rinseroo.
3. Greg Johnson, AquiPor Technologies
“The book Freedom was awesome. In terms of startup books, Zero to One, Peter Thiel's book. I've read that multiple times. I still enjoy it. Steven Pressfield. All things Steven Pressfield. Do the Work, Turning Pro. Gosh. What else? Oh man. The Courage to be Disliked was another good one [and] Tribe of Mentors. ”
Check out our full interview with the founder of eco-friendly startup AquiPor.
4. Marta Fowlie, Phoode
Learn more about food tech startup Phoode.
5. Sol Broady, Leilo
“‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less’ by Barry Schwartz."
Check out our full interview with the founder of beverage startup Leilo.
6. Ken Babcock, Dan Giovacchini, and Brian Shult, Tango
“‘Good to Great’ pushed my thinking on how to continuously ask, ‘How can we be better?’"
See our interview with the founders of enterprise tech startup Tango.
7. Erik Underwood, KillerPolitics
8. Erick Eidus, PupPod
“I definitely recommend a book called Getting to Yes. Yeah, after getting my MBA, that was one of the more useful books I was exposed to. It's all about thinking through negotiation in a way that helps you get to yes. So it's a win-win for both parties. The faster you can get to that and figure out what's important to you and what's important to the other party and both parties feel like it's a win.”
See our full interview with the founder of pet tech startup PupPod.
9. Simon Schillebeeckx, Handprint.tech
“Most useful book I've ever read for me was Mindsight from Dan Siegel, about the neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to rewire itself, and to out learn or outgrow historical triggers, which has been extremely useful for me.”
Learn more about greentech startup Handprint.tech.
10. Rajdeep Dosanjh, Rentround
“‘The Real Deal: My Story from Brick Lane to Dragons' Den’ [by] James Caan is a book that I really enjoyed and took a lot of tips from. It talks about his early days and how he created multiple businesses from scratch.”
Learn more about real estate startup Rentround.
11. Andrew Kwok, ZILIO
“So with books, I'd say if you haven't started reading any books, best one to start would be like Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is really good one. And Think [and] Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. So Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.”
Read our full interview with the founder of fashion tech startup ZILIO.
12. Angelica Kohlmann, Bloom Diagnostics
“It has always been biographies — Steve Jobs' biography has a special meaning, as he was also very much design-focused — design has to have a purpose.”
Learn more about medtech startup Bloom Diagnostics.
Looking for more business book recommendations? Read our list of the best startup books!
13. Valentin Hinov, Thankbox
“In terms of great resources, I can recommend books. I would say "Building a StoryBrand" is one of the best books by Donald Miller, is one of the best books you can get as a founder. It's about how you build your brand, so it's useful to your user. [...] That and "Obviously Awesome" by April Dunford are some of the books that have had the biggest influence for me as a founder and all my thinking. Especially since I'm a technical founder, I come from a techie background and I needed to get myself out of the technical programmer mindset and more into the product focus mindset, and books like that helped a lot."
Learn more about employee engagement startup Thankbox.
14. Andrew Lockhead, Stay22
“‘Delivering Happiness’ [by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh]”
Check out our full interview with the founder of events startup Stay22.
15. Jake Aronskind, Pepper the App
"I love Shoe Dog. I think it's such an incredible book. Because a lot of these founder stories, they are very proud individuals, and they should be, but that kind of shields us from really seeing the raw perspective of what they went through. It's always like, "Yeah, I failed here, but then I learned all of this and then I made an unbelievable company." And you're like, okay, I don't think that's going to work out for everybody. But Shoe Dog gives you the most raw story, where you're standing next to Phil Knight as he's selling shoe by shoe, going through all of the situations that he has to go through. To the point where you actually forget you're reading about Nike. You're like, "Boo Adidas, they're the big stars in the space." And you realize, wait, Nike's worth hundreds of billions of dollars for a reason. Can't suggest that enough."
Learn more about social media startup Pepper.
16. Joshua Bowlin, Autimely
17. Jamie McCroskery, Bluebird Climate
"There's actually a really great book on this called Traction by the Duck Duck Go Founder, who talks about paralyzing both product development and essentially the ground distribution because the idea being we'll do a great product you can't figure out how to distribute it. What's the point? And vice versa. And actually was a new way of thinking for me, because I'm a product person."
See our interview with the founder of sustainability startup Bluebird Climate.
18. Raffaele Mautone, AaDya Security
"Project Phoenix is one of my favorite books. It describes the startup, even though it's a more mature company, and how everyone's wearing different hats, and if they don't work together, it all falls apart. And it's true. We're all working together in such a small team. I one person is not in the game, or is thinking of leaving or doesn't like it, or is a cancer, derail the whole thing. And it almost happened to us twice in year one."
Learn more about cybersecurity startup AaDya Security.
19. Constantin Vermoere, SMOVE.CITY
"I have three books that I would recommend. One of the books that had an impact on me is The Steve Jobs Biography, that really had a big impact on me. The book from Peter Thiel, Zero to One, I really love that book. I really like the way Peter Thiel thinks, because in a way I think the same way, and he really explains things simple. Peter Thiel will explain Google in like one sentence that's amazing. And I mean, Google basically owns the whole internet, so it's almost impossible to explain that in one sentence, but Peter Thiel can do it."
Learn more about mobility startup SMOVE.CITY.
20. Rohit Srinivasan, Trashbots
"It's a book called The Mom Test. The reason the book is called The Mom Test is, "How do you get feedback that's not biased from your own mother on a startup idea?" because obviously, the idea is... If I were to ask my mom if Trashbots were a good idea, she's going to say yes because she doesn't want to hurt my feelings. But there's a way that you can get advice from your mother that is not biased that can actually lead to very, very good advice. There's a certain set of rules on how you should ask those questions and get really good feedback."
Learn more about edtech startup Trashbots.
21. Adrian Ferrero and Alberto Acedo, Biome Makers
“Peter Thiel's ‘Zero to One’ is a favorite."
Visit our interview with the founders of agtech startup Biome Makers.
22. Courtney Werner, KOYA
“I highly recommend reading ‘Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets’ by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney. You won't regret giving this book your time.
I [also] highly recommend reading ‘The Mom Test’ by Rob Fitzpatrick. This would have saved us time and money. It teaches people how to conduct user interviews, throw up a landing page, and scope out potential demand before building a product. This has been a game-changer for our team.”
Learn more about tech startup KOYA.
23. Lizia Santos, Citycatt
“‘Aligning the Dots’ by Phillippe Bouissou.”
See our interview with the founder of travel startup Citycatt.
24. Steve Edwards, Premier Virtual
“‘Scaling Up’ by Verne Harnish.”
Check out our full interview with the founder of SaaS startup Premier Virtual.
25. Sabrina Noorani, ClearForMe
“‘15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership’ by Jim Dethmer.”
Learn more about beauty tech startup ClearForMe.
26. Ankit Gupta, Bicycle Health
“One of my favorite books on entrepreneurship is ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, a private American venture capital firm – and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs. His book offers practical wisdom about the tough decisions all CEOs face and how to build a great organization that many want to learn from. I have read this book cover to cover many times and applied its insights to my decision-making throughout my entrepreneurial journey.
The biggest takeaway from this book is that things are difficult for all sorts of reasons – there is no one black-and-white answer to solving the world’s problems. Throughout the book, Horowitz talks about his journey and its hardships and how he works through difficult decisions he has to make. This book offered me some great insights as a ‘look-ahead.’ As I read, I ask myself questions like, ‘what problem did this renowned entrepreneur solve, and how can I apply this to me?’
I feel great comfort applying his learnings to my career knowing this entrepreneur has achieved so much by applying these insights to his everyday decisions. One way I have applied Horowitz’s teachings to Bicycle Health is being strategic about who I work with and asking: do they understand the goals and mission of this company? Do they have the right intention working for me? Can I depend on them to understand the messaging of this company? I apply questions like these to vet the right people who will contribute to Bicycle Health’s impact on the community while optimizing financial return."
Visit our interview with the founder of telemedicine startup Bicycle Health.
27. Joe Roets, Dragonchain
“‘Zero to One’ [by Peter Thiel]."
See our full interview with the founder of blockchain startup Dragonchain.
28. Dr. Sajani Barot, The Skin Consult
“‘Monetizing Innovation’ [by Madhavan Ramanujam and Georg Tacke]."
Learn more about skincare startup The Skin Consult.
29. Rachel Cossar and Neal Kaiser, Virtual Sapiens
Visit our interview with the founder of AI startup Virtual Sapiens.
30. Alex Iceman, Genium
“I think the best investment was a book by Dale Carnegie, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ [I] purchased it for $10, and using the knowledge, I was able to earn $10,000. Pretty good story. I love negotiation books and Chris Voss’ work ‘Never Split the Difference.’ Really helps to be at your best game when talking about difficult deals.”
Check out our interview with the founder of tech startup Genium.
31. John Taylor Garner, Odynn (Previously Card Curator)
“My favorite entrepreneurial books are ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth and ‘Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World’ by David Epstein. My favorite podcast is the ‘Wharton FinTech’ podcast.
Bruce’s favorite books are ‘Steve Jobs’ by Walter Isaacson, ‘The Wright Brothers’ by David McCullough, and ‘The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power’ by Daniel Yergin.
As for Anuj, his favorite entrepreneurial book is ‘Principles’ by Ray Dalio, and his favorite podcast is NPR’s ‘How I Built This.’”
Read our interview with the founder of fintech startup Odynn (Previously Card Curator).
32. Devon Copley, Avatour
“I don’t commute anymore, so I don’t listen to podcasts much these days. I do read a lot, though, and it’s hard to pick just one favorite. ‘Crossing the Chasm’ and ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ are well-deserved classics at this point. ‘The Lean Product Playbook’ was a great guide as we were trying to figure out what our product was; ‘Monetizing Innovation’ is the only book you need to read about pricing, and lately, I’ve been particularly inspired by Reed Hastings’ ‘No Rules Rules.’”
Learn more about communications startup Avatour.
33. Reuben Swartz, Mimiran
"‘The 4 Steps to the Epiphany’ is great, even if I managed to misapply a lot of its wisdom.”
Check out our full interview with the founder of SaaS startup Mimiran.
34. Cindy Jin, Metapoly
“My favorite book is ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg. My life partner, and also co-founder of Metapoly, gave me this book a few years ago as a gift.”
Read the complete interview with the founder of metaverse startup Metapoly.
What's your favorite startup book? Let us know in the comments!
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