Friday, October 24, 2008

Review: The Art of the Start

The Art of the Start (kindle edition) is Guy Kawasaki's short book for entrepreneurs.

The important thing to note is that Guy Kawasaki got his start as an evangelist for Apple during the 1990s. He's not an engineer, so his perspective from start-ups is that of a marketing and branding person. That's pretty valuable, but he's not going to tell you how to build product other than to build a good one.

The details are pretty interesting. For instance, in an FAQ, he tells you how much you should pay for a board of director member (0.25-0.5% of the company, 1-2% for a super-star). That kind of important benchmarking is very important for most founders, who make the mistake of not being generous enough to early employees or (rarely) being too generous. It would have been nice to see that kind of stuff in a table somewhere, but I guess if I want to see that, maybe I'll have to write a book.

Overall, this will be a useful book when you've already built a product and want to start selling it or bootstrapping or raising money to launch the company. It won't, however, tell you whether your product is any good, or what kind of company structure you should have. During the Web 2.0 boom, lots of companies launched plenty of web-sites with the idea that if you got users first, the monetization would follow. I'm not sure that's going to work going forward, and I'm glad that Guy Kawasaki points out that both Apple and Microsoft were not venture-funded startups --- they bootstrapped themselves into profitability.

Given how short this book is, it's worth reading, but then again, so's Paul Graham's startup essays. Both have their own biases, and perhaps one of these days, someone will have to write a book to temper the ra-ra startup enthusiasm with a bit of realism. Mildly recommended --- check it out from your library rather than pay Amazon price for it.
Post a Comment