Startup Books Every New Founder Should Read

If you’re a first time or student founder, or simply looking to learn more about starting a company, here’s a curated list of best startup books to read to get you up to speed.

Based on his experiences as a founder, employee, and advisor, Eric proposes the lean startup strategy, a methodology used by top startups today which suggests shorter product development cycles through hypothesis-driven experimentation aimed at meeting the needs of early customers. This methodology forged a path for the lean startup movement, with annual conferences and meet-ups throughout the world.

HBS professor and businessman Clay Christensen outlines the dilemma that many companies face even when they seemingly do everything “right.” Christensen first coined the term “disruptive innovation,” outlining an S-Curve to describe the many iterations a product will make to provide value to customers.

Acclaimed psychologist Daniel Kahneman details his research on the two types of thought: those that involve instinct and emotion, and those involving slower, more deliberate logic. Kahneman shares examples of common biases in decision making based on basic principles of human behavior.

This book is an insiders guide to venture financing, covering topics such as fundraising, negotiation, and understanding the VC model. Authors Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, Managing Directors of Foundry Group demystify legal jargon and common misunderstandings associated with term sheets, cap tables, and letters of intent. A must read for any founder fundraising for the first time!

Through a series of essays, co-founder of Viaweb and venture capitalist Paul Graham examines commonly held assumptions about programmers and hackers, helping to showcase characteristics and tell important stories around the renaissance if the programming language, or the Open Source Movement, drawing parallels between two art forms: hacking, and painting.

Jessica Livingston, founding partner at Y Combinator shares a collection of interviews from early stage startups that she has worked with throughout her career. Livingston covers topics including the importance of a founding team, or managing early funding from entrepreneurs such as Steve Wozniak (Apple), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin (PayPal), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail).

Donald A. Norman, cognitive scientist and usability engineer, and former Director of the Institute for Cognitive Science at the University of California asserts that the communication between an object and a user is optimized by design. Through use cases, Norman explores what makes good and bad design, while proposing design principles such as user-centered design.

Former CEO of Intel, Andrew Grove provides a guide to the art and science of management, covering topics such as creating managerial leverage, running effective meetings, or motivating employees. The book serves as a practical guide for new founders exploring management techniques for the first time.

Academic and HBS professor Noam Wasserman draws upon his research to explore common early decisions made by founders and how to avoid pitfalls associated with them. Drawing on anecdotes from Evan Williams of Twitter and Tim Westergren of Pandora, Wasserman explores topics including splitting equity with friends or family, or being an adaptable leader.

Moore details a startup’s journey in the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, explaining why a chasm between the early adopters and the early majority, and how to narrow this chasm in pursuit of accelerating business adoption.

Writer, educational activist, and entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss provides a blueprint for streamlining specific business actions and eliminating distractions, with the idea that 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your time.


If you’re a first time founder,we’d love to learn what what books have been most influential for building your company. If you’re a student looking to take your startup, company or project to the next-level, drop us a line & let’s explore what we can build together.