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Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

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Raising and spending capital, hiring and firing, and launching and removing products were all tricky balancing acts. But the phenomenal growth achieved by the tiny cluster of startups that became household names is misleading. It’s all too easy to become overly focused on that next round of funding that’ll give your company its next growth spurt. It's exciting all the way to the end and has a nice mix of entertaining stories mixed with plenty of start-up advice and lessons.

The reason for that is simple: investors expect revenue from startups and know how to take care of their own interests. It makes more sense to learn about building a business from someone who has real-life experience in starting and running one. With this attitude, you can't help but want him to win - and in the long-term I have no doubt he will. This is a MUST read for anyone interested in how business, and startups in particular, function, prosper, grow, exit, disappear or muddle along. It’s still a valuable exercise since it’s these kinds of questions that give you a true sense of your strengths and weaknesses.

It's a rare opportunity to be able to learn so much of what goes into difficult decisions the people we admire make.

The bad: Although fair and raw and truthful, Fishkin’s book is at points riddled with hate and distrust of certain figures in the startup scene “just because”. As someone that's been familiar with the story of Moz and Rand for the last few years, Lost and Founder wasn't a surprise. The refreshingly down to earth, no bullshit and, even though written by American, non repetitive advice on how to build and run a business.Everyone knows how a startup story is supposed to go: A young, brilliant entrepreneur has a cool idea, drops out of college, defies the doubters, overcomes all odds, makes billions, and becomes the envy of the technology world. Rand, provides you with a very honest trip through his time as Founder, CEO and Individual Contributor (IC) at Moz.

He looks back at decisions he might have made differently in retrospect, which offers a lot of experiential insight. This is a somewhat unique business book primarily for its exceptionally transparent view of the life and history of a small-to-mid-sized software startup company, as well as noting some nuggets of wisdom along the way. I found this book profoundly helpful and revealing for my work as the founder and CEO of a small but quickly growing online education business.One example of this is how one of his values he mentions a lot in the book, is being empathetic and looking at things from someone else's point of view. There's a lot of storytelling in the startup world that really idolizes fast growth companies as literal 'unicorns'. Reading this book is like spending a day with Rand and having him tell you about his journey with Moz.

Those who can't compete without a broad product line will disagree, however he makes his case for his business story well.Everyone knows how a startup story is supposed to go: a young, brilliant entrepreneur has an cool idea, drops out of college, defies the doubters, overcomes all odds, makes billions and becomes the envy of the technology world. The most successful businesses have gone from being headed by a university graduate who’s slogged her way up the corporate ladder for a decade or two, to being the brainchild of a Harvard dropout working out of a garage. Now Fishkin pulls back the curtain on tech startup mythology, exposing the ups and downs of startup life that most CEOs would rather keep secret. In general though, if you can get past the minor sections of Rand's self righteousness, this book gives a candid honest look at the behind the scenes of scaling a software startup, and I did enjoy it.

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