100 Resources Every Startup Founder Should Read (backed by data)

That’s me, editing the Founders Grid newsletter.

From Monday to Friday, I spend 4 to 5 hours each day curating the best resources, news and lessons shared covering tech, startups, business and design, and send 6–8 of the most interesting links out to my newsletter subscribers.

Today I sent the 200th edition, and thought it would be fun to look back through the archives and compile a list of the articles which received the most engagement (in form of clicks) from the 600–800 or so resources I’ve curated and sent out over the past 100 editions.

Find a comfy chair, infuse some tea, and get ready to do some serious reading…


How We Got off the Addiction to Venture Capital and Created Our Own Way to Profits
Learn how and why Skift abandoned their follow-on round of investment after deciding bootstrapping was a better way forward. Make sure you read how they did it towards the end of the post.

Don’t Edit Your Imagination
Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb, on not limiting your imagination to create ideas which can then be edited to provide the logic to make your ideas real. Great post.

Lessons learned from Airbnb’s Email Specialist
A great interview with Airbnb’s email specialist Lucas Chevillard covering what they are currently testing, email KPI’s and more.

The 30 Best Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs in 2015
First Round have published a list of the 30 most “impactful, change-making pieces of advice” drawn from everything they published last year. A must read.

The Ultimate Customer Acquisition Checklist
From content marketing to Analytics to Facebook/Twitter marketing, this is a really well put together check-list for those working on sales and marketing right now.

The 11 digital tools I use every week as Head of Product
Co-founder Pascal Briod shares a great list of products he relies on to head up product at TawiPay.

9 Facebook Ad Campaign Examples Critiqued for Conversion
A must read guide from Unbounce for those involved with running Facebook ad campaigns.

7 must-have Chrome extensions to boost your productivity
A couple of interesting extensions in this list I’ve not come across before. Worth a look.

How We Pay Remote Employees Around the World (and Where the Money Goes)
Great insights from Buffer on international salaries, effective tax rates and how they pay remote employees around the world. I wonder how many know about the advantages of remote working with a Hong Kong company.

The End of Cheap Chinese Labour and Where the Jobs are Going
An interesting look at the new generation of workers in developing markets and the compounding growth at manufacturing costs from 2010.

Why an Ex-Google Coder Makes Twice as Much Freelancing
Forget the fancy offices and the free lunches — more than ever before skilled folks are understanding the true value of more freedom and less bureaucracy.

We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO
Interesting SEO insights from BackLinkio after analyzing 1 million Google search results to answer the question: Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?

Why You Suck at Productivity (and the 5 Minute Fix)
I find most productivity posts wishy washy but this one is good: “The reason you’re not as productive as you should be is because you haven’t learnt the art of prioritizing.”

A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It’s a Process
Excellent advice on building MVP’s the right way from Yevgeniy Brikman: “An MVP is a process that you repeat over and over again: Identify your riskiest assumption, find the smallest possible experiment to test that assumption, and use the results of the experiment to course correct.”

21 Must-Read Sales Blogs (and their best 3 blog posts)
A good list of 21 sales blogs and posts you should have on your radar.

The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made
A great post on managing teams, getting rid of assholes, making tough decisions and not “putting up with someone because your afraid to lose their ability”.

Every tool I use to run a 7+ figure business
Noah Kagan of AppSumo fame lists every product he uses to run his business (and life). It’s a great list.

Becoming a Real Startup — On Growing & Turning an Idea into Something Tangible, Fast.
John Saddington shares the steps he has taken to research, launch and market his startup Tomo over the first 20 days. It’s a recommend read for new startup founders.

14 Useful Design Projects on Github
A look at 14 interesting design projects as Github becomes an increasingly popular repository for designers to open-source their projects.

Growing From 0–12k Organic Visitors by Mapping Content to the Sales Funnel
Detailed look at how Benji Hyam used the google suggested search hack to massively grow search traffic over the past 6 months at ThinkApps.

Why most A/B tests give you bullshit results
A good read from Mixpanel’s Content Marketing Manager, Justin Megahan, on how to improve your AB testing.

If You’re Going to Do Something, Go All In
Why you should do things well, whether you’re being creative or going travelling, a great read from ChopDawg founder, Joshua Davidson.

Five things I will do different for my next startup
From scaling slower to burning less, five useful startup tips with insightful commentary from Appcellerator co-founder, Jeff Haynie.

Startup Founders’ Favorite Interview Questions to Judge Early Team Fit
NextView Ventures asked a group of founders to share their favorite interview questions when they build new startup teams. Some great questions here that are worth saving for later reference.

Product management tools for startups
A very useful look at product management tools from Songkick’s Dan Quine, including why Pirate Metrics is the best framework for startup metrics, the power of the 80:20 rule and looking for the aha moments in your product.

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Product management tools for startups
A very useful look at product management tools from Songkick’s Dan Quine, including why Pirate Metrics is the best framework for startup metrics, the power of the 80:20 rule and looking for the aha moments in your product.

The Most Innovative Companies of 2016
A list of 2016’s most innovative companies as judged by FastCompany’s writers, editors and machine intelligence. Interesting to see Taco Bell in the top 10…

Resources for Digital Nomads & Location Independent Entrepreneurs
A killer list of resources and advice for anyone interested in being a location independent entrepreneur, from books to read for building a business to sorting out work and travel visas.

Which Type of Exercise Is Best for the Brain?
Enlightening article from the New York Times about a Finnish study comparing the effects different forms of exercise, such as weight training and long distance running, had on rats brain tissue. Hint: it might be time to start pounding the pavements.

14 Must Have Sales Tools For Small To Medium Sized Startup
Involved with sales? Here’s a selection of 14 tools that can help you manage and close more sales leads.

The Most Powerful Lesson I’ve Ever Learned In Business
Great post from Flipboard co-founder and CEO Mike McCue on how to lead from first principles when everything is at stake and why they’re a bigger, more powerful force than anyone in the company, including the founders and CEO.

The Tools Early-Stage Startups Actually Need to Understand Their Customers
Interview with Segment co-founder and CEO, Peter Reinhardt, on the build-versus-buy debate, recommendations on which tools to consider across eight distinct categories, the pitfalls to avoid when choosing tools and when to declare tools successful.

I dared two expert hackers to destroy my life. Here’s what happened.
A fascinating article and documentary about what happened when Kevin Roose asked two elite hackers to do their worse, from tracking down his social security number to getting access to his mobile phone account and finding his passwords.

Startup Revenue Milestones
A look at key revenue milestones that K9 share with their portfolio, from $1K a month at the start of product-market fit, to $250–500K when scaling, along with advice to founders on how to reach them.

How This Company Makes $70 Million Selling Random Stuff on Amazon
Interesting look at the incredible success of Amazon Marketplace company Pharmapacks, thanks in no part to their development of proprietary algorithms, and a look at the general rise of companies selling through third-party marketplaces.

Slack, I’m Breaking Up with You
Samuel Hulick covers the challenges and the downsides of using using Slack perfectly: “You’re splitting my attention into a thousand tiny pieces”

The 75 People Who Make $1M A Year From Airbnb
Analysis published by consultancy LearnAirbnb claim that at least 75 U.S. hosts on the Internet home-sharing service are grossing more than $1 million in rental income a year. That’s $2,739 a day or $19, 230 a week.

Microinteractions: The Secret of Great App Design
A great look at microinteractions (contained product moments that do one small task), why they work and are one of the best techniques for giving delightful feedback in app design.

How a language app got 110 million users without spending a dollar on marketing
A great read about how language learning app Duolingo got 110 million users by using a task-based, gamified platform that helps users get up to speed on learning new languages.

Finding Product Market Fit
Peter Reinhardt, co-founder and CEO of Segment.io, shares some of the wisest words on finding product/market fit I’ve ever read. A must read.

How Too Much Networking Almost Killed My Startup
A salient reminder from Allen Gannett, CEO of TrackMaven, of the negative aspects of networking: drinking watery beer and eating supermarket cheese with other people who aren’t getting anything done, either.

My Year in San Francisco’s $2 Million Secret Society Startup
A fascinating read about Lydia Laurenson’s indoctrination into a very San Francisco secret society, complete with swipe card invitations and miniature libraries and populated by artists, that was actually run by a startup.

Facebook Advertising Basics
Great post on how to approach Facebook advertising, with a look at tactics that work at scale, how they work or don’t work for earlier stage startups, and useful advice on how to leverage Facebook auto-optimization to what your bidding strategy should be.

How a hacker’s typo helped stop a billion dollar bank heist
Fascinating story about a hack involving the Bangladesh central bank and the New York Feds in which suspicions were only raised when the name of a Sri Lankan non-profit organisation was misspelled in a transfer request. While transactions totalling $850-$870 million were stopped, they still managed to get away with $81 million…

These 39 Sites Have Amazing Stock Photos You Can Use For Free
A very useful list of 39 sites with killer stock photos ready for to you use for nada.

Why Six Hours Of Sleep Is As Bad As None At All
Getting six hours of sleep a night simply isn’t enough for you to be your most productive. In fact, it’s just as bad as not sleeping at all.

Build Your User Base with These Human Behavior Hacks
A fascinating look at behavioral economics and the bad habits, human foibles, misjudgments and knee-jerk reactions that pretty much determine everything we think and do, from confirmation bias to hyperbolic discounting.

How I Built 180 Websites in 180 days and became a YC Fellowship Founder
A fascinating read on how Jen Dewalt quit her job to learn how to code by building 180 websites in 180 days, who is now going on to build a much larger company with both code and growth hacking skills she has learned.

How Google’s AI Auto-Magically Answers Your Emails
Fascinating article about Google turning its AI to the browser-based version of Inbox, which can now answer your emails for you. Choose from three responses suggested by Google’s AI or you also can use the suggested responses as starting points, editing or adding text as you like…

Infographic: The 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape
Fascinating look at Marketing Technology companies in 2016. With an infographic of nearly 4000 companies that’s a huge leap from the 150 featured in 2011, along with a very useful breakdown of the market.

All 60 startups that launched at Y Combinator Winter 2016 Demo Day 1
An interesting look at YC’s 60 startups this year, notable for including hardware, engineering, alternative energy and enterprise offerings, from smart oven, Tovala, to PetCube, a dropcam for Fido.

How Instagram’s First Investor Struck Gold As A One-Man Deal Machine
A fascinating profile of Instagram’s first investor, Steve Anderson, who runs one of Silicon Valley’s most successful and smallest investment firms and likes to do things differently.

5 Things I Wish Somebody Told Me Before I Founded My SaaS
A very useful post from Freckle founder Amy Hoy, on the five things she wish she’d known when starting in SaaS, from the fact that there is always another inflection point coming to focussing on your best customers 100% of the time.

One of Silicon Valley’s Most Esteemed VCs Says Start-ups Are “Mostly Crap”
A fascinating interview with Chamath Palihapitiya, a Sri Lankan immigrant who escaped a civil war in his homeland before eventually landing a job at Facebook then starting one of the most formidable VC firms in the Valley.

How to Decrease the Odds That Your Startup Fails
Great post from Mark Suster on the key questions you should be asking yourself before launching a startup, from knowing your potential market size and its structure to the strengths and weaknesses of the incumbents.

A Side Project Helped Jumpstart My Career
A great post about the benefits of starting side projects from Dave Gerhardt: “Looking back two years later, starting Tech In Boston — a side project — was the single best thing I could have done for my career.”

Unintuitive Things I’ve Learned about Management
A great read for all managers from Julie Zhuo, product design director at Facebook: “Having all the answers is not the goal. Motivating the team to find the answers is the goal.”

Want to Create Things That Matter?
Great article about how ignoring “shallow work” makes one appear lazy or distanced, but is actually the trait that enables great creatives to do work that matters.

How Reporters Pulled Off the Panama Papers
Fascinating Wired piece about how an anonymous whistleblower was able to spirit out and surreptitiously send journalists a gargantuan collection of files, which were then analyzed by more than 400 reporters in secret over more than a year before a coordinated effort to go public.

Millennials are being dot.conned by cult-like tech companies
“HubSpot’s leaders were not heroes,” says Lyons, “but rather sales and marketing charlatans who spun a good story about magical transformational technology and got rich by selling shares in a company that has still never turned a profit.”

Being tired isn’t a badge of honor
A great reminder from Jason Fried at Basecamp: “Sustained exhaustion is not a rite of passage. It’s a mark of stupidity.”

How to manage your personal tasks with a project management app
Putting everything in one place helps you coordinate your life and accomplish the things that need to get done so you have more time for the passion projects that really matter to you. Here’s how you can start using project management apps for life management.

Notes on Branding
Excellent piece on branding from Daehee Park, founder of Tuft & Needle — The mattress company that’s on track to do $225m/yr.

Designing a Browser that isn’t a Browser
Excited about the launch of Tofin, a series of experiments and explorations on what a browser could look like when its fundamental paradigms are invented in 2016 instead of 1996.

This 25-Year-Old Is Turning a Profit Selling Pencils
One year in, Caroline Weaver’s tiny empire of Blackwings and Ticonderogas seems to be going strong. Who’s buying?

Designing More Efficient Forms: Structure, Inputs, Labels and Actions
An excellent guide with practical guidelines on designing better forms from UX designer Nick Babich.

Building a mobile game that hit the #1 spot in the App Store & $700k
An excellent overview of launching a successful game on iOS from Amir Rajan, builder of ‘A Dark Room’, along with full financials and some great advice for aspiring indie app developers.

What does Unsplash cost to run?
A great breakdown of the services and costs associated with running one of the largest photography sites in the world.

We spent $5k to find that most Facebook Ads convert the same…with a few exceptions
One of the best in-depth reports covering advertising on Facebook I’ve yet to come across. A must read for all those advertising on the Facebook platform.

The Way We Build : Airbnb Design
A great read from Alex Schleifer, VP of Design at Airbnb: “By focusing on the methods of working across disciplines, building better tools, and creating a unified system, we can use our time to apply creativity to solve bigger challenges.”

8 Product Designers share what’s most challenging about what they do
Great insights from Geoff Teehan — design director at Facebook, Alexander Mayes — product designer at Instagram, and more on what they find most challenging in their day to day roles.

The first rule of pricing is: you do not talk about pricing
A must-read piece read on pricing strategies from Tom Whitwell. “It is not your customer’s job to set pricing. An optimal price is one that is accepted but not without some initial resistance.”

The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss
Kim Scott, an acclaimed coach for companies like Twitter and who has previous experience with Google and Apple, shares her experiences of leading teams into ideas you can use to help the people who work for you love their jobs and do great work.

Inside OpenAI, Elon Musk’s Wild Plan to Set Artificial Intelligence Free
An interesting look at OpenAI, the artificial intelligence company launched by Elon Musk, founder of electric car maker Tesla, and Sam Altman, president of tech incubator Y Combinator.

How Uber conquered London
A brilliant, insightful and extensive piece from Sam Knight at the Guardian on how Uber conquered London.

Entrepreneur Craig Wright identifies himself as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto
Wright has provided technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin’s creator. His admission ends years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas underlying the digital cash system. Also worth reading is Jon Matonis’s ‘How I Met Satoshi’.

Finding Side Project Ideas
Ali Mese at Crew lays down some excellent advice for founders wanting to create side projects now that 62% of Crew’s revenue is generated from their own side projects.

Engineering Intelligence Through Data Visualization At Uber
An interesting look at Uber’s data visualization team, who keep tabs on billions of GPS locations every day and millions of mobile events every minute.

Inside A Secret Chinese Bitcoin Mine
In China, savvy entrepreneurs are making millions a year by mining bitcoin. BBC’s Danny Vincent visited one of the world’s biggest facilities of its kind to film the activity and people within.

Web Design Trends 2016: The Definitive Guide
UXPin’s visual guide to web design trends in 2016 is beautifully put together (no surprise there!), and is a must read for all founders and designers alike.

Dropbox cut a bunch of perks and told employees to save more
“The company wrote in the email that employee perks in total have been costing Dropbox at least $25,000 a year for each employee. Based on Dropbox’s roughly 1,500 headcount, that would translate to about $38 million a year.”

6 Innovative Projects That Are Making Cities Better — That Other Cities Should Steal
The Knight Cities Challenge just gave out $5 million to winning ideas from civic innovators to help 26 particular American cities, from Detroit to Macon, Georgia. Here are six of the 37 winning projects that other cities might want to steal.

Marc Andreessen’s Best Advice: Build Your Passion Before Your Startup
“There are products that become startups, and then there are startups that try to build a product. Products that become startups tend to do much better overall where you have a founder that has built something, often in an academic setting or on nights and weekends, that is now working, and needs to be turned into a company to continue.”

Silicon Valley’s new vanity metric is profitability
“Ask a tech entrepreneur these days about the company’s financial performance, and there’s a good chance they’ll talk about their “path to profitability” before growth. The problem, though, is that entrepreneurs often pick a definition of profitability that suits them.”

Funded vs Bootstrapped: Comparing the Metrics of 37 SaaS Companies
Great stats and comparisons of Micro SaaS, Bootstrapped SaaS and Funded SaaS startups from Clement Vouillon at Point Nine Capital.

This Company’s CEO is a Computer Program, and It Just Made $131 Million
DAO (a company that needs no office, no employees, and no president) is ruled by a computer program. And they just raised $131 million…and counting.

The 10 Biggest Announcements from Google I/O 2016
The Verge offers a great breakdown of the major highlights from Google’s I/O 2016 keynote including Android N, Google Daydream, Android Wear 2.0, Google Home (a competitor to Amazon’s Echo) and the new Allo and Duo (messaging) apps.

Things to make your home office legit
Get your Credit Card ready as the team behind the excellent review site WireCutter have published a great guide to setting up the perfect home office.

Jeff Bezos explains why the Fire Phone disaster was actually a good thing
Jeff Bezos on experiments and failure: “If you think [the Fire Phone] was a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now. And I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip”. Also worth reading is VC Fred Wilson’s take.

Bill Gates’ recommends 5 books to read this summer
“The five books are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep. As a result, this is an eclectic list — from an 800-page science fiction novel by a local legend to a 200-page nonfiction book on how Japan can get its economic mojo back.”

Average Annual Salary for a Spotify Employee: $168,747
According to Spotify’s annual report, the average employee, from receptionist to CEO, earns an average salary of €151,180, or $168,747 in current exchange rates.

Steve Blank on the Tech Bubble: ‘VCs Won’t Admit They’re in a Ponzi Scheme’
Interesting perspective from Steve Blank, creator of the “lean startup” movement, explaining how the role of venture capital has shifted over time, and why it doesn’t bode well for startup founders.

Facebook’s director of product design: Websites may be a dying business
A great insightful interview with Jon Lax, director of product design at Facebook, on where mobile and apps are headed.

Elon Musk Confessions: All the Stupid Things Tesla Has Done
A great recap of Tesla’ held its’ annual shareholder’s meeting: “We’ve always had the right motivations. We say the things that we believe even when sometimes those things are delusional.”

Elon Musk thinks we need brain-computers to avoid becoming ‘house cats’ to artificial intelligence
Musk believes that as AI continues to advance, humans will be left behind, and that even in the most banal situation, we’ll be treated like pets by artificial intelligence.

Advice for building great products, from the VP of product at Facebook
A must-read from Julie Zhuo, VP of product at Facebook: “A product succeeds because it solves a problem for people. This sounds very basic, but it is the single most important thing to understand about building good products.”

A Founder’s Guide to Growth Hacking
From leveraging the Bullseye Framework to a list of 19 customer acquisition channels worth exploring, startup accelerator Dreamit shares this great guide to growth hacking and digital marketing aimed at seed stage startups.

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results
Excellent reporting from ViperChill on how just 16 core companies are dominating the most popular industries online and “how that situation is going to get a whole lot worse.”

The unsexiest trillion-dollar [freight shipping] startup
A great read on how shipping containers made the world smaller and how SaaS startup Flexport continues to streamline the complexity of international freight shipping.

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