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The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups Hardcover – September 27, 2012
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“Y Combinator is a national treasure, a Silicon Valley seed fund that is mass-producing new startups. Randall Stross’s behind-the-scenes look at YC offers a rare glimpse into what it really takes to conceive an idea and get it to market as quickly as possible. The Launch Pad is a must-read for anyone interested in the realities of modern entrepreneurship.”
—Eric Ries, author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup
“The Launch Pad is an intimate look at the white-hot center of the new Silicon Valley star tup ecosystem. Stross’s account of the best new entrepreneurs and the exciting companies they’re building at startup schools is a great read for founders and would-be founders alike.”
—Marc Andreessen, cofounder, Andreessen Horowitz
About the Author
Randall Stross writes the “Digital Domain” column for The New York Times and is a professor of business at San Jose State University. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including eBoys, Planet Google, and The Wizard of Menlo Park. He has a Ph.D. in history from Stanford University.
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Luckily, I was completely wrong.
This book is a MUST READ for any programmers, entrepreneurs, and aspiring business people hoping to start their own company, work hard, and build something great.
This book is essentially an accounting of the experiences of a particular YC group. The book talks about:
- How YC works.
- Who the founders are (what are their backgrounds, how did they meet their co-founders, what are their personalities like?).
- How these companies got into the program.
- What advice is offered to the companies when they first get started.
- How the companies cycle through ideas, trying to find a perfect business niche to pursue.
- How conflicts cause issues (some founders don't heed YC warnings, some founders have family commitments that end up causing lots of personal issues, etc.).
- How these companies mature as they're working on their products.
- How the YC program works, in great detail (what advice is offered, how to raise money, how these companies should deal with investors, etc.).
- The final progress that each company makes before the important YC 'Demo Day'.
- How some companies raise money from investors, while others are unable to do so.
- And lots more.
What really makes this book great is that you (as a reader) are essentially getting a fly-on-the-wall, intimate view of YC, from start to finish. The author wrote this book while sitting in with YC companies, going to all of the YC dinners, meetings, office hours, etc., and essentially picking the most important parts of these meetings and condensing them down into a great story that anyone can benefit from.
The book reads like a movie (almost)--you'll be introduced to the founders and their personalities, then you'll learn about YC and how it works, then you'll be taken on an adventure through the ups and downs of each company as they make their way through the program--all of them striving to do something great.
I found this book extremely motivational. While reading through the book, I could see myself struggling with the same problems as these YC companies: working tirelessly, trying to beat the odds, attempting to stay optimistic even with the realization that the odds are greatly against you.
If you plan on building a successful company, and aspiring to greatness, this is an extremely intimate book that serves to encourage and inspire you--definitely worth your time.
The majority of YC stories have come out on blog posts through hacker news that mostly seem to be building links for YC companies.
The author had access to interviews that nobody else had access to, and he tells stories that help you understand the economics and attitude around accelerators.
If you were trying to get into Y-Combinator, I would read it to help set your expectations, but don't expect any grand secrets to be reveled within the pages of this book.