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Starting a Tech Business: A Practical Guide for Anyone Creating or Designing Applications or Software Paperback – April 10, 2012


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Starting a Tech Business: A Practical Guide for Anyone Creating or Designing Applications or Software + The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses + The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781118205556
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118205556
  • ASIN: 1118205553
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 10 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

PRAISE FOR STARTING A TECH BUSINESS

"Alex's book deploys decades of the best ideas towards a practical, immediately usable recipe for building technology-based businesses. I particularly liked Alex's list of challenges entrepreneurs face across the life of the venture, with playful names like The Lawn Gnome of Indolence, The Hydra of Operational Readiness, and The Whale of Scale, to name a few. I also liked the case study that Alex used throughout the book showing exactly how to use the tools in each chapter. This is a big book. But don't be daunted. It dives into the detail that is missing in most other entrepreneurship books to show you how to do it." —TOM KOSNIK, Professor, Stanford University

"Some books on high tech flirt with the details, but this one goes all the way. Alex shows how attention to a highly manageable set of specifics dramatically increases the effectiveness of a tech venture."—JAN LINDNER, former CTO, Sierra Online Games (a division of Vivendi)

"Readers of this book will steer clear of many, many bumps on the road to success." —SCOTT HOFFPAUIR, CTO, BroadSoft

"Starting a Tech Business is both a primer for first-time entrepreneurs and the book experienced execs should keep handy too." —MARK VOGL, Executive Director, Bay Area Video Coalition

Starting a technology-enabled business is cheaper and easier than ever before. Starting a Tech Business supplies the tools prospective entrepreneurs and managers need to avoid common pitfalls and succeed in the fast-paced world of high-tech business. Get practical checklists and frameworks that business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals can apply to any web-based business idea. You'll learn how to move a product idea to market quickly and inexpensively—and to tap into the stream of wealth that a tech business can provide.

About the Author

ALEX COWAN is the founder and CTO of Leonid Systems, a software company providing solutions to the world's largest communications providers. He has worked with companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100s, improving their competitive advantage in a fast-changing high-tech landscape. He lives in Aptos, California, and can be reached at www.alexandercowan.com.


More About the Author

I've been starting and growing technology businesses for over 17 years. My first endeavor involved fixing broken computers in Santa Barbara, California, for a few dollars an hour. Even then, working as a computer mechanic, the need to couple what the technology could do with what people wanted stood out as a huge opportunity. Since then, I've worked with electrical engineers from Motorola and Sharp, software developers from Pixo7 and Symantec, product designers from IDEO and Tommy Hilfiger, advertising giants from Wieden & Kennedy, and bankers from Goldman Sachs. Speaking Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish gave me the opportunity to work with customers, engineers, and managers on six continents. As a contemporary of many of the dot-com pioneers at Stanford University in the late 1990s (and later in Silicon Valley), I experienced the full force of the dot-com period, its aftermath, and later its commercial evolution. I started Leonid Systems, in 2007, to help communications service providers (phone companies and cable companies) launch and scale next-generation services, like voice and video over IP (VoIP). Leonid currently works with some of the world's largest service providers creating scalable technology systems to manage their operations.

I've always had one foot in the business world and the other in the technical world. Growing as a businessperson and an engineer gave me the perspective I've applied here, one that will help readers sort through the plethora of available technology to arrive at an effective implementation of their idea.

I've personally made every mistake 'Starting a Tech Business' cautions you to avoid. The good news is that they're all avoidable, and this book will help you avoid mistakes and implement most of today's high-tech best practices.
In short, it's the book I wish someone had handed me when I started.

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Customer Reviews

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I've read a few other books in the area which were good, but typically pretty general.
Bearcat01
Alex Cowan's Starting A Tech Business is the most straightforward guide to building a sustainable technology company.
jacobespa
For anyone looking to start a tech business or is looking to transition, this book is incredibly helpful.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By AVC on April 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a venture investor, I think this book is a great step by step, nuts and bolts guide to starting a software business. Rather than a conceptual discussion of agile development or lean startup methods, the author puts the concepts in action by taking the reader through a case study of the product development cycle of a (fictional) software startup. The other useful thing the book does is that it puts the tech development material in context of the business itself with discussions on actually running the business itself, from market sizing to the most crucial element-- hiring the right people.

I found it the book very helpful because it provides investors with a yardstick that that can be used to evaluate the development practices of tech startups. Entrepreneurs who want to start a tech business will like the book because it can serve as cheap tuition that may help them avoid time consuming mistakes or reinventing the wheel as well as help technical and nontechnical founders develop common expectations for the early part of the startup's life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Caner on August 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
My business partner and I are in the process of turning a complicated concept into an online application for the education market. We are both experts in our fields but none of us had the experience of turning an idea into a business. We would meet and talk about different aspects but would eventually be lost about where and how we made progress. We needed a systematic method of starting a business. We got some books on startups and entrepreneurship; which were good for understanding some concepts but did not help us much in making progress because they did not provide a system.

Then we got a hold of Alex's book through one of our mentors and it changed the way we thought about how to start a business. To begin with it was structured for companies that wanted to turn a concept into an actual business and included steps to ask the right questions, validate assumptions and build our prototype in an iterative way. Some of the initial chapters make you challenge your assumptions about your product and market so that we can validate our assumptions not only for our own business but also to create a convincing case for talking to others who might be interested about our company.

Alex also uses personas and the book is significantly in tune with design thinking which forces the entrepreneur to understand the target customers and their needs deeply. Coming from Instructional Design, the personas made a lot of sense to me and we formed and reformed personas based on our research and conversations with our actual target customers. We are still making our way through the book as we make progress in our company but it's great to find a blueprint that shows you how you can do it from conceptual development to scaling your application.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tinkovate on July 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will recommend this book to any techies who are interested to understand how to successfully sell their tech or apps. It provides good tips on how to avoid some mistakes made by startups and some advice on how to minimize your opportunity costs, through various interesting analogies in every chapter.

Being a Computer Science student, this book is particularly helpful for many of my projects as I will treat my team as if I was really running a business; how to delegate tasks to people, how timing is of upmost importance etc.. Even if you are not an inspiring technopreneur, this book gives good tips on about just any business.

Although the shape of the book is odd and it doesn't fit into my bookshelf, I suppose that shouldn't be a limiting factor. 5 Stars for the win, Alex Cowan!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Cohen on July 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Beautifully laid out and illustrated, "Starting a Tech Business" is a terrific guide for entrepreneurs, intrepreneurs, and any team in the business of building new software products. The books steps the reader through taking an idea, validating it in the marketplace, building a business model around it, developing it, and launching it, and scaling the business. The book is easy to read, easy to understand, and filled with valuable lessons. I also liked that each chapter can stand on its own, so it is very easy to just flip to the chapter that addresses the product life cycle challenge you are trying to address at that point in time.
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Format: Paperback
I had the good fortune of being in the audience when Alex delivered a talk based on this book at the Silicon Valley Product Management Association in 2012 - so I had a direct introduction to this book from the author and it was fantastic. What makes this book and Alex's approach unique is that he connects together so many concepts of designing software into a practical system accessible to anyone in the field. Alex gives you confidence that a systematic and scientific approach to understanding customer and user needs and then utilizing the insights gained to design new products actually works! And he has done it! The most important thing for you as a reader is that the book gives you a complete system that you can use as opposed to a bunch of concepts, which is a breath of fresh air as far books on this topic are concerned. And it makes for much easier reading than "The Lean Start-up" and "The four steps to epiphany." Enjoy!
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