Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Straight Talk for Startups: 100 Insider Rules for Beating the Odds--From Mastering the Fundamentals to Selecting Investors, Fundraising, Managing Boards, and Achieving Liquidity Hardcover – June 5, 2018
|New from||Used from|
Inspire a love of reading with Prime Book Box for Kids
Discover delightful children's books with Prime Book Box, a subscription that delivers new books every 1, 2, or 3 months — new customers receive 15% off your first box. Learn more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
“Straight Talk for Startups is filled with real, raw, and fact-based ‘rules of the road’ that you need to know when diving into our ultra-competitive startup world. A must read and a re-read!” (Tony Fadell, Coinventor of the iPod/iPhone & Founder of Nest Labs)
“Not only one of the most useful and fun books ever written for founders, but these 100 rules will help any manager become wiser and more effective—and anyone with a passing interest in the human side of business will find this book a delight to read.” (Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss)
“It’s never easy to launch a new venture, but this book accelerates your learning with advice from experts who’ve been there and done that. Read it cover to cover to save yourself from making rookie mistakes that upend all too many big ideas.” (Elaine Paul, Chief Financial Officer, Hulu)
“Straight Talk generously shares the collective wisdom of decades of startup leadership and investing.” (Mihir Desai, Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School)
“Aspiring entrepreneurs are hungry to combine knowledge with experience, mentorship, and character. Straight Talk for Startups provides a PhD in entrepreneurship.” (Professor Tom Byers, Endowed Chair Entrepreneurship Education, Stanford University)
“Straight Talk’s venerable best practices provides global startups outside the US with the advantages of a Silicon Valley insider.” (Jennifer Li, CEO of Baidu Capital)
From the Back Cover
Best practices for successful startups—from veteran venture capitalist Randy Komisar and startup executive Jantoon Reigersman
In today’s world, everyone seems to aspire to be an entrepreneur. Brilliant, multimillion-dollar ideas are a dime a dozen, and huge success appears inevitable. But when it comes to transforming that idea into a lucrative business, most people fall short. The excitement of starting a company quickly fades when budding entrepreneurs face a stark reality—they lack the know-how and experience to get the job done.
Randy Komisar and Jantoon Reigersman are the knowledgeable mentors every entrepreneur needs. With decades of experience, they know firsthand what works—and what doesn’t. In Straight Talk for Startups, they share the knowledge, tips, and tricks they’ve gleaned from years of being on both sides of the table.
Their list of 100 rules will give insight into every part of the process, tackling topics from “Mastering the Fundamentals” and “Selecting the Right Investors” to “The Ideal Fundraise,” “Building and Managing Effective Boards,” and “Achieving Liquidity.”
Straight Talk for Startups includes such vital rules for founders as:
- The best ideas originate from founders who are users.
- Create two business plans: an execution plan and an aspirational plan.
- Net income is an opinion, but cash flow is a fact.
- Don’t accept money from strangers.
- Raise capital in stages as you remove risk.
- Personal wealth doesn’t equal good investing.
- Small boards are better than big ones.
- Add independent board members for expertise and objectivity.
- Conflicts of interest and conflicting interests are elephants in the room.
- Choose an acquirer; don’t wait to be chosen.
- Success is not linear.
- Learn the rules by heart so you know when to break them.
Filled with helpful real-life examples and specific, actionable advice, Straight Talk for Startups is the ideal handbook for anyone running, working for, or thinking about creating a startup, raising venture capital, or just curious about what makes high-potential ventures tick.
- Item Weight : 14.6 ounces
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 006286906X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062869067
- Publisher : Harper Business (June 5, 2018)
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.01 x 8.25 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #415,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
First, a few words of disclosure and opinion. I’ve known co-author Randy Komisar for many years. In fact, he was the lead investor in one of the startups I’ve worked for. He is a world-class investor, coach, and all-around human being. He brings a wealth of experience and insight from his years as an operating executive and active board member. He and Reigersman have collected here 100 “rules” for startups, but I’d encourage the reader to think of them more as highly informed, but generalized “thoughts” to be considered by aspiring entrepreneurs. Each journey is different and no two problems will require precisely the same remedy. Keep that in mind as you digest the many pearls of wisdom that Komisar and Reigersman offer here.
I’d encourage any entrepreneur to read this book cover-to-cover and keep it handy for periodic check-ins throughout the life of your business. That said, here are the “rules” that I have found most important based on living the life of a Silicon Valley startup and acquiring them on behalf of billion-dollar tech companies.
Rule 16: Use financials to tell your story. In a perfect world, this would be true. However, many young companies will find that you’ll need to lean on other tangible, but non-monetary metrics to tell your story. For instance, many venture capitalists are most interested to see rapid customer acquisition growth and high user retention for our innovative mobile web browser, Cake Browser, understanding that monetization is relatively easy for that type of product.
Rule 20: Unit economics tell you whether you have a business. Amen! Startups need to get a clear and early understanding of average customer acquisition cost (known as CAC) and the long-term value of each retained customer (known as LTV). This CAC to LTV ratio will be the linchpin of your business case and investor pitch. Allocate significant time and energy to getting it right.
Rule 31: Avoid venture capital unless you absolutely need it. Always remember that 90% of venture-backed companies fail. Moreover, if you’re successful, the “cost of capital” of venture financing will be enormous given how much equity you will be giving up. Lots of people treat tier 1 venture-backing as a source of pride and achievement (e.g. “Benchmark led our A-round…”), and to a certain extent that’s understandable, but keep in mind that venture capital is a means to an end and should never be treated as an end in itself. If you can bootstrap your company and/or fund operations responsibly out of personal savings, do it.
Rule 35: Choose investors who think like operators. Admittedly, this is a personal bias. I don’t put much faith in the opinions of investors who’ve never run a product or built a business themselves. You’d think that entrepreneurial experience would be required to work at a leading venture firm, but you’d be wrong. Lots of investors are what I like to call “book smarts” – gilded academic pedigrees, MBAs from top-ranked schools, and a few years at leading investment banks or strategy consulting firms. Those people are, in my opinion, great targets for recruitment to corporate strategy and development teams at big tech firms, but not venture firms.
Rule 36: Deal directly with the decision makers. This one is easier said than done. Even after decades in the Valley with lots of VC contacts, I still find myself pitching junior partners in the hopes of getting to the decision makers eventually. My two cents for beginners here is that getting meetings, even with junior folks, is harder than you might imagine. Once you get your foot in the door, you’re working to get the next meeting. Always be sure to temper your expectations, because a highly enthusiastic response from an associate analyst doesn’t mean much. And when the firm tells you that they are passing, more often than not they don’t provide much in the way of reasoning or feedback. All that said, the authors are correct that you’ll need to get a general partner on your side if you have any hope of closing the deal. Eventually, that partner will become an ally working to convince the rest of the firm to approve the investment.
Rule 41: Strategic investors impose unique challenges. This is another personal bias of mine. In short, I hate strategic investors (i.e. the venture arm of large corporations). One of the startups I’m associated with has raised significant strategic venture money and perhaps it will pay off eventually, but I’ve found that those investors are slow, overly cautious, and have an inherently muddled business model. Moreover, the lead “investors” are often “wannabe” VCs who lack both valuable operational experience (see Rule 35) and internal clout. In a perfect world, I’d avoid strategic investors altogether.
Rule 50: Never stop fundraising. This is important because, as Rule 52 states, fundraising takes more time than you think. By the time your A-round closes, it’s time to start thinking about your B-round raise. Why? Because you need to figure out which investors are good fits and then figure out how to get to and eventually win over the senior decision makers (see Rule 36). It’s no exaggeration to say that fundraising will consume 50% of a startup CEOs time over the first few years of operation. Plan for it.
Plan 53: The pitch must answer the fundamental questions about the venture. Komisar and Reigersman have put together here a fantastic outline for a great venture pitch. Use it.
Rule 54: Make it personal. As much as metrics will ultimately tell your story (see Rules 16 & 20), whenever possible include personal anecdotes in your pitch. For example, when pitching Nav, a startup that seeks to help small business owners understand and leverage personal and business credit scores, we had our CEO tell stories for when he owned and operated a neon and awning business in Idaho and was denied loans because of poor business credit ratings. These stories made our pitch more tangible and more memorable. It also helped convince our eventual investors that we were genuinely passionate about the problem we were tackling because we had lived it ourselves.
Rule 62: Don’t take rejection personally. You’re likely going to be rejected – a lot. You’ll get frustrated that investors don’t share your view that your business idea is a sure winner. Keep your head up and keep plugging away at it.
Rule 71: Each director must commit to spending meaningful time. Don’t get caught in the trap of recruiting celebrity directors. If someone can’t commit to attending 75% of meetings and showing up prepared, save them for your “advisory council.” More often than not, the more famous your directors the less you’ll get out of them. If you ever find yourself getting “board of director envy” just remember the case of Theranos.
Rule 88: Individuals need liquidity, too. If all goes well, your company will be a success and you and your colleagues will soon be paper millionaires. Remember that there’s a reason for the qualifier “paper” before millionaire. Many leading executives will take significant pay cuts in order to work for your startup. In the absence of a liquidity event, you’ll eventually need to consider how (and if) they can cash out at least a portion of their paper fortune. The same will likely hold true for you and your co-founders.
Rule 96: Build a relationship with potential acquirers; don’t cold call. Inexperienced entrepreneurs will fret that getting too close with potential acquirers risks giving away trade secrets. That’s hardly ever the case. Do your best to meet and build relationships with the corporate development executives at the companies most likely to acquire your business. You’ll likely find that you’ll learn more from them than they will learn from you. Moreover, you want those teams to like you personally and believe that you and your business will be a great fit in their corporate structure. Never underestimate the power of personal connections.
In closing, “Straight Talk for Startups” is a treasure trove of pointers for entrepreneurs. Hopefully, my additional insights help add even more value to the book. Best of luck to you and your team!
I have known Randy since we attended Harvard Law School together from 1978 to 1981 and he has been a thought leader in Silicon Valley for decades. Randy has played every role in Silicon Valley from founder to CEO to board member to investor. He has distilled this multi-dimensional experience into this book and made the advice very accessible. You can easily dip into it for the particular problem that you are facing, rather the need to “distill” advice from traditional business advice books. One of the most important decisions of a founder is the selection of the right investor (given the current time to exit, you are likely to be working with them for 10 years) and Part 2 about how to choose investors is invaluable.
If you want to understand (and succeed) in the venture ecosystem, this book will be an invaluable guide for you.
I particularly enjoyed that the book is broken into 100 simple rules that are each only a couple pages long. A few of my favorites are:
- Conduct your hiring interviews as if you are were an airline pilot
- Don't accept money from strangers
- Chose investors who think like operators
- Venture capital moves in cycles
- You should be operational rather than administrative
- Review director performance regularly
I enjoyed the book enough that I've bought it for a few investors and entrepreneurs. I know it will save them learning various lessons the hard way, or worse yet, never learning them!
Randy Komisar has literally see almost all of the games, lies and tricks out there. He has funded companies (at KPCB), run companies (as President of Lucas Arts) and seen the inside of tech companies such as Apple. The book is written in a clam, easily understood and well thought out fashion. Unlike most “business” books you don’t have to drag yourself though chapter after chapter to get a morsel of insight. Straight Talk is different. I think it is like having an arm chair conversation with the experts that only want to help you. The format of this book is a breakthrough in “business” books. I would suggest reading the introduction, the epilogue and any relevant rule you need right now. After that I’ll bet you keep going back to this book for new rules as you confront new issues in the business.
You can literally read a couple of relevant pages before going to a meeting and avoid big mistakes by just letting to Randy and Jantoon be your guide through these murky waters. Or another way to look at it is think of these waters as shark infested and you don’t want to chum, let the authors help.
Just my thought, but I like the book and how easy it is to use.
Top reviews from other countries
This book is neither. Komisar and Reigersman have been in the trenches for longer than many of today's entrepreneurs have been alive, and they've produced a book that is informative and entertaining, that smart entrepreneurs will come back to again and again (if the notes and dog-ears on my copy are any indication).
Highly, highly recommended!