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Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website Hardcover – September 3, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Whatever industry you may be involved in—whether it be architecture, medicine, or technology—scaling up your business can be one of the most difficult endeavors you may ever face. And in most cases, as the company grows, so will your role in it. Being a CEO is an incredibly complex job at any size company, but it can be especially challenging if you're part of a startup. In this case, you really don't have the luxury of making costly mistakes while learning on the job.

Back in 1999, author Matt Blumberg, a technology and marketing entrepreneur started a company called Return Path that later became the driving force behind the creation of his blog, OnlyOnce—because "you're only a first-time CEO once." Now, with Startup CEO—the third book in the Startup Revolution series—Blumberg shares his experiences that led up to that point and discusses the details of this extremely difficult and unique job. Whether you're currently the CEO of your own company, an aspiring entrepreneur, or thinking about your own career development, the insights found here will put you in a better position to succeed.

Divided into five comprehensive parts, this reliable resource skillfully puts the essential elements of this endeavor in perspective—from the startup stage, through the revenue stage, and into the growth stage. Along the way, you'll gain valuable knowledge on:

  • Part I: defining your vision of the startup and effectively communicating it to all stakeholders
  • Part II: running the people side of your company, from creating a culture and the full cycle of employment—recruiting, hiring, and retaining or firing—to the growing challenge of managing remote employees
  • Part III: the key elements of execution, including the specifics of financing the company and budgeting, running great meetings, and setting goals
  • Part IV: the main aspects of managing a board, from recruiting members to working with them on potentially thorny topics like their performance or your compensation
  • Part V: managing yourself so you can manage others, including creating your own operating system; working with an executive assistant, executive coach, and a peer group; and balancing family and work life

Startup CEO puts an emphasis on practical application. To that end, this book provides readers with exclusive access to a companion website filled with supplementary materials, allowing you to continue to learn in a hands-on fashion long after closing the book.

Being a startup CEO is one of the hardest jobs you'll ever have. But if you're motivated, creative, and enjoy building things, it's also the best job in the world. Startup CEO will show you what it takes to make it in this position—and while it may not have all the answers, it can help you figure out the questions you should always be asking.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Startup CEO

"One of the key principles of the Lean Startup movement is that entrepreneurship is management. In Startup CEO, Matt Blumberg provides a comprehensive guide to every facet of entrepreneurial management. An essential and practical guide for entrepreneurs everywhere."
—Eric Ries, author, The Lean Startup

"There's no silver bullet for building a great company. Startup CEO deciphers the challenging, complex, uncertain, and oftentimes lonely role of a first-time CEO without oversimplifying it."
—Ben Horowitz, cofounder and General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz

"I've been on Matt's board for more than a decade, and I've watched him develop into one of the finest CEOs I've had the pleasure to work with. With Startup CEO, Matt allows other entrepreneurs to profit from his years of experience and emulate his remarkable example."
—Fred Wilson,
cofounder, Union Square Ventures

"There is the one-in-a-million company that catches lightning in a bottle and grows like a weed without care and feeding. For the rest of us, there's Startup CEO, the how-to manual for getting there the old-fashioned way. This book will be your coach, mentor, and advisor in any situation you or your company are likely to encounter."
—David Rosenblatt, CEO, 1stdibs

"Startup CEO is the definitive book for any CEO—first time or otherwise—of a high-growth company. While dozens of books have been written about starting businesses, it's time for entrepreneurs to focus on scaling them. Matt shows them how."
—Brad Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118548361
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118548363
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Saddly, I was disappointed in this book. Considering I read just about every book that had the name of Brad Feld associated with somehow (and still looking forward to more of Mr. Feld's books), I was really looking forward to reading this book. Although its detailed and well explained, apart from small sections here and there, the book lacks substance. First, the section on boards is way too long and the author goes into much details about hiring and managing a board. In addition, the author assumes that practically all companies have VC's which exercise great power over them. However, many companies, even some relatively large ones do not have boards and many do not have VC's either. The author seems to have tried to create a list of things to do as a CEO, from hiring people, managing your calendar and your time to travelling, but most of the information is much too basic for anyone which has previously held a managing position. While reading, I felt that the book always wanted to take off and provide great insight for newly appointed CEO's but fell flat at each chapter. I barely managed to finish reading it. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that I was looking for a source inspiration to help scale a business, not management 101. This book is probably good for young people fresh out of college that create a new start-up but if you are already in a managing position, especially if you ever worked and lived the corporate life and need advice to become a CEO, even for a start-up, this book is probably not for you as some of the info is so basic that it would be best reserved for junior analysts when they join companies.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am the CEO of a startup; I've been doing it for a few months and have a dozen employees. Before that I was a Director of software development at a company that successfully IPOed; I lead a distributed team of about 50 developers and was regularly involved in strategy and leadership discussions for my product family.

This is just to give you some context when I—like another, earlier reviewer—say I found this overly basic without much that was useful for me. I understand that many startup founders have no substantial management or leadership experience when they get started and perhaps the book is more useful for them.

Why do I say it was too basic?

Take the chapter on hiring, "Fielding a Great Team". If you've done any hiring before the advice it gives won't blow your mind: pay attention to cultural fit, find outstanding specialists, complement your weaknesses, don't get suckered in by resumes, let your team have input, on-boarding new hires is important.

There are sections on running a productive offsite, on having skip-level meetings, on weekly 1-1s, on how to run a great meeting (have an agenda, start & stop on time, have clear next steps at the end), on OKRs, on terminating employees, on managing remote employees, on how to handle promotions, and more.

The advice given isn't bad at all but it is all things that I think most people with previous non-startup leadership experience will already know. If you've lead a team of 50 then chances are you've had remote employees, you've been to many offsites, you've had to fire underperformers, etc.

What I would like to see improved or changed to bring more value?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My favorite things about this book:

* It's written in a pragmatic and engaging style, without jargon or filler.
* It includes actionable tips and frameworks for all aspects of managing a company.
* It has soul. It's not just about increasing wealth. It's about doing that while being mindful of your emotional and mental health. It doesn't leave out the team either. It's written with the full understanding that we're people, not just entrepreneurs.
* It's got a lot of great contributions from other experienced entrepreneurs, so you don't feel caught up in tunnel vision.
* It's humble. This is very hard to do when you're writing a book about ways to be a great CEO. Matt has pulled it off. It's written from an earnest and earned perspective. There is no arrogance.

It's proven a great resource so far, and I've recommended it to non-CEOs too.

Thanks for writing this Matt. It's helped a lot already.
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Format: Hardcover
Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business is a monumental book that comes from the heart of Matt Blumberg. You can tell by the author's self-effacing and genuine style that he had the reader in mind, as he pours it all for you. It doesn't get more authentic than that.

Matt draws on the depth of his 360 degrees of experience, having founded Return Path in 1999, and grown it to over 400 employees, across 12 global offices, and $100+ million in revenues.

This isn't just a startup CEO's book. It's a book that will specifically resonate with any first-time CEO who is about to scale their company, and hasn't done it before. That was Matt's experience, which he sporadically chronicled on his blog, Only Once ([...] but the book isn't about his blog.

Founder-to-CEO transitions are tricky. Every founder assumes they will become a successful CEO one day, but that's not the case in reality, especially if you're a CEO for the first time. Compound the typical risks of startup failures with the risk of CEO transition failures, and the percentage of successful founders that end-up being CEOs, and leading a successful startup dwindles down.

That's where this book comes in. It is the book Matt wished someone had given him on his first day as a CEO of Return Path, 14 years ago. But this isn't a book you will skim over. I thought I could do that, but I couldn't. This is a book with close to 400 pages, so you will need to read it diligently, and "return" to it often.

The book is organized into 5 parts: Story Telling, Building the Company's Human Capital, Execution, Building and Leading a Board of Directors, and Managing Yourself so You can Manager Others.

This is not a prescription book that tells you there is only one way to do this or that.
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