Startup Mom
A blog based on my experiences building ParentScheduler and Frever

What The Books!

A review of startup related books I’ve read and my key takeaways from each

06 Sep 2020, 3 minutes read

I’ve always loved books. I’ve been reading fiction from a young age, mostly sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day I prefer reading to other forms of consuming information. That’s why, when I decided to set out on this voyage of building a startup, I naturally started reading about it. This is my current list of books I’ve read and my key takeaways, I’d love to hear your own thoughts on them! Also feel free to connect on goodreads, I love talking about books :)


  • Lean Startup - a classic! I’ve been working in Agile for over a decade, yet reading the book was incredibly insightful. I also found it engaging and easy to read.
    • Topic: process
    • Favorite quote:

      Most entrepreneurs’ biggest fear is not that their vision will prove to be wrong. More terrifying is the thought that the vision might be deemed wrong without having been given a real chance to prove itself. This fear drives much of the resistance to the minimum viable product, split testing, and other techniques to test hypotheses. Ironically, this fear drives up the risk because testing doesn’t occur until the vision is fully represented. However, by that time it is often too late to pivot because funding is running out.

    • Key Takeaway: well, there’s the obvious short iteration cycles for learning, but I think what was most influential for me was to have a concrete process, described by a technical founder.
  • The Startup Owner Manual - a great resource and I recommend reading the parts that are relevant to your business. After all, it’s a manual!
    • Topic: business
    • Favorite Quote:

      Startups tend to collect a list of features that, if added to the product, would get just that one additional customer to buy. Soon a 10-page feature list evolves just to sell to 10 customers. That’s a plan for failure. The goal of Customer Development is not to collect features from customers. It’s to understand what not to ship.

    • Key Takeaway: the business model canvas. While I fell out of updating it in the last little while, it’s perspective and layout were invaluable. If you are not familiar with it I recommend trying it out.
  • Traction - a must for technical founders! This book describes a process for finding the right marketing strategy.
    • Topic: marketing
    • Favorite Quote:

      Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.

    • Key Takeaway: much like lean, one of the great things about Traction is that you are left with a sense of direction and a plan of action. It will all get murky once you actually start going down that way, but starting as I did, with no knowledge of marketing, this book was invaluable in both content and helping me feel less lost.
  • Shapeup - this less known book was written by the owner of Basecamp and is an interesting read into the process of selecting, designing and building features. It presents itself as an alternative to agile but I think of it as a variation of the same concept.
    • Topic: process
    • Favorite Quote:

      We reduce the risk in the building process by integrating design and programming early. Instead of building lot’s of disconnected parts hoping they’ll fit together in the 11th hour, we build one meaningful piece of the work end to end early on and then repeat.

    • Key Takeaways: plan features based on aptitude - how much will this feature take and do we think it’s a good investment for the amount of time.
  • The Mom Test - another must for technical founders! what a great book!
    • Topic: user testing
    • Favorite Quote:

      you’re never going to be perfect, but it always helps to be better.

    • Key Takeaway: always have your three big questions for users and if they don’t scare you they are not the right questions!
  • Hooked - I just started this one so no quotes or takeaways yet. It seems like it will be a great book to help form my thinking on the user experience I want to create.

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