Survival to Thrival: Building the Enterprise Startup - Book 1 The Company Journey Hardcover – April 16, 2018
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-- Aaron Levie,
CEO & Founder, Box
"Everyone talks about product-market fit, but just as important for any enterprise startup is Go-To-Market Fit. In defining this construct and outlining a clear playbook, the book does a great service to B2B entrepreneurs and B2B leadership teams everywhere."
-- Clara Shih,
CEO & Founder, Hearsay;
Board Director, Starbucks
"Survival to Thrival is an analytical yet practical guide to build enterprise startups. I wish I had access to this knowledge when I was a founder."
-- Young Sohn,
President & CSO, Samsung Electronics;
Chairman of the Board, Harman
"There's no better 'how-to' manual for creating your own enterprise startup. Bob and Tae Hea share practical insights and examples that de-mystify what it takes to succeed, covering everything from culture to equity splits to early sales. "
-- Aaref Hilaly,
Partner, Sequoia Capital
"Tinker and Nahm substantively explain B2B entrepreneurship: unlocking growth with Go-To-Market Fit, navigating the change from startup to growing company, and dealing with the inevitable setbacks. Survival to Thrival is practical advice and real-world challenges for anyone starting, scaling, and winning in a B2B technology startup."
-- Rob Siegel,
Stanford GSB Professor;
Partner, XSeed Capital
"Survival to Thrival is the real world of B2B entrepreneurship. Every entrepreneur should read it."
-- Neil Patel,
Co-Founder, Crazy Egg; Co-Founder,
KissMetrics; King of Online Marketing
From the Back Cover
Sameer Dholakia, CEO - SendGrid
Huan Ho, Co-founder and CTO - RallyTeam
Mark Leslie, Lecturer - Stanford GSB, Founder and CEO - Veritas Software
Aaron Levie, CEO & Co-founder - Box
Jon Miller, Co-founder & CEO - Engagio, Former Co-founder - Marketo
Mark Templeton, Former CEO - Citrix
Tien Tzuo, CEO and Co-founder - Zuora
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The book not only nails the macro (by outlining a 5-step roadmap for building a category-defining company), but also delves into the micro (the critical, nitty-gritty tactics around sales/hiring/product development) of building a successful B2B company.
I attribute this achievement to the unique and complementary combination of the authors’ backgrounds.
Bob - a 3x enterprise founder who grew MobileIron from 0 to 1000 employees - focuses on the takeaways and the tactical steps it takes to take a company from the survival stage (finding product-market fit and go-to-market fit) to thrival (becoming a B2B company with $1B in revenue). Tae Hea - a prolific Silicon Valley VC and founding partner at Storm Ventures - provides broader frameworks and models to lay out what the 7-10 year journey for founders looks like. Both intersperse examples from their real-world experience that bring their advice to life.
This has been a critical resource for me as I’ve built my own enterprise startup. In just a few weeks, the book has been marred by my highlights, re-highlights, and marginalia :)
The “gravity test” for founding ideas
Objective markers of product-market fit for enterprise startups
Navigating the balance between focusing on the core founding idea and being open to adjacent opportunities
How to work with your early teaching customers
Deconstructing the step-by-step process of building a Go-To-Market Playbook
Specific ways to create category leadership after achieving GTM fit
**And some key quotes:**
On distinguishing between consumer and enterprise product-market fit (PMF):
“Enterprise PMF isn’t just about adoption and usage. It’s also about paying reference customers. That is, good customers who (1) pay you money, (2) actively use your product, and (3) are willing to recommend you to others. Paying reference customers are the essence of enterprise PMF.”
On technical debt as a side effect of pursuing PMF:
“If a startup pursues perfection by building the perfect original product, it will be late to market, never find PMF, run out of cash, and die quickly. Alternatively, if after finding PMF with the experimental features, the startup accelerates development without repaying the tech debt, the startup can die slowly. It’s a balance.”
Generally good life and business advice:
“Celebrate every milestone. Savor every victory.”
Starting a company can feel like an exercise of forging a path through the wilderness. One wouldn’t use a chainsaw to forge a way through high brush or a machete to cut down a tree — but on the entrepreneurial path, when you’re holding a hammer, everything starts to look like nails.
Here’s how it is: this book doesn’t have all the answers. In fact, it has almost none of the answers, if you’re looking for that, my suggestion is to look elsewhere.
Rather, this book provides a framework of understanding what is the point of it? And at 126 pages, it’s a fairly light read that’s worth the time. The book isn’t really a game changer - but more of a rulebook and a basic strategy guide.
Working in many startups from their early stages, this book is a gem. I read it three times in the past six months, and every time I take another point to think and implement.
The authors, Bob Tinker, and Tae Hea Nahm wrote a great book with examples and logical step by step guide to help any founders and management teams to move from survival mode to ongoing successful one.
I hope the second book which talks about the people will be released soon as I know it will be useful as well.
The authors uniquely coined the “Go to market fit” concept that many of us felt and described in different ways. Now we have an agreed taxonomy and framework to address the post PMF phase.
Many companies and CEOs struggle with this phase. I’m convinced this book will help them immensely.
A must read for every enterprise software entrepreneur.