I compiled a list of my favorite BOOKS on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, BLOGS and PODCASTS for startups and entrepreneurs. In the TOOLS section, you find my favorites about productivity, acquiring, activating and retaining customers and some hidden gems.
NOTE: Book links are Amazon affiliate links. They are hand-selected. I read all of them and the ideas of each author helped me to be where I am today.
- Guy Kawasaki: The Art of The Start 2.0
- Peter Thiel: Zero to One
- Brad Feld: Startup Life | Startup Communities | Startup CEO | Startup Boards | Do more faster
- Steve Blank: The Startup Owner’s Manual
- Alexander Osterwalder: Business Model Generation
- Eric Ries: The Lean Startup
- Ash Maurya: Running Lean
- Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz: Lean Analytics
- Jessica Livingston: Founder’s at Work
- Ben Horowitz: The Hard Thing About Hard Things
- David Cummings: Startup Upstart
- Reid Hoffmann: The Start-up of You
- Chris Guillebeau: The $100 Startup
- Jason Fried, David Heinemeier, Matthew Linderman: Getting Real | Remote | Rework
- Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Workweek
#Innovation & #Tech
- Clayton M. Christensen: The Innovator’s Dilemma
- Geoffrey A. Moore: Crossing The Chasm
- Tom Kelley: The Art of Innovation
- Kevin Kelly: What Technology Wants (video here) | The Inevitable
- Nicholas Carr: The Big Switch
- Ray Kurzweil: The Singularity Is Near (video here)
- Steve Case: The Third Wave
- Clay Shirky: Cognitive Surplus (video here)
#Society & #Economy
- Seth Godin: Tribes – We Need You to Lead Us
- Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers: The Story of Success
- Richard Florida: The Rise of the Creative Class
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The Black Swan
- Thomas Piketty: Capital in the Twenty-First Century
- Chris Anderson: The Long Tail
- Sir Ken Robinson on Changing Education Paradigms (video)
- Steve Jobs on Stay foolish. Stay hungry. (video)
- Simon Sinek on How great leaders inspire actions (video)
- Daniel Pink on Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (video here)
- Tina Seelig: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20
- Patrick Lencioni: The Five Temptations of a CEO | The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
- Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends & Influence People
- Jim Collins: Built to Last
- Bill Walsh: The Score Takes Care of Itself
- Daniel Goleman: Emotional Intelligence 2.0
- Robert B. Cialdini: Influence
- Chip Heath and Dan Heath: Made to Stick
- Alexander Osterwalder: Value Proposition Design
- Nir Eyal: Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
- Laura Klein: UX for Lean Startups
- Jeff Gothelf: Lean UX
I limit my favorites to Top 5. There are many blogs you can follow. These are my favorites. I have created a ‘Thought Leader Gallery’ to give you context on each person and why I chose them.
I use Feedly to regularly read blogs. Here is my OPML file that allows you to simply upload my selected blogs into your Feedly account. Get your set up done in a two minutes, rather than hours following my short manual here.
Top 7 on Startups
- Paul Graham Essays: Founder of YCombinator, a company that is commonly seen as the first and best accelerator for early-stage startups. Funded800+ startups (ex. AirBnB, Dropbox). Paul knows startup life very well and has a great way of narrating about it!
- Steve Blank: Ex-serial entrepreneur and now educator who is recognized for developing the Customer Development methodology which launched the Lean Startup movement. There is nothing Steve hasn’t seen or experienced about startups – from a founder, mentor, and angel investor perspective.
- Ash Maurya: Ash has always been in search of a better, faster way of building successful products. He shared his learnings on this, which then turned into a book (Running Lean)
- David Skok: Five-time serial entrepreneur turned VC who blogs for startups and entrepreneurs. ForEntrepreneurs listed as Number 2 in Forbes list of 100 Best Web Sites for Entrepreneurs.
- Sam Altman: Managing partner at YC. His video series “How to start a Startup” at Stanford University became widely known for its quality because it managed to assemble many of the other startup thought-leaders.
- Eric Ries: Inventor of the Lean Startup philosophy and its chief evangelist who has done a lot to make it more accessible and systematic.
- Mixergy: Andrew Warner created Mixergy to help ambitious people who love business to learn from a mix of experienced mentors/ founders who tell their stories in interviews and teach courses.
Active Startup Founders
- Dharmesh Shah is one of the champions of “inbound marketing” and founding CTO @HubSpot.
- Naval Ravikant is the CEO @AngelList and blogs about technology, startup teams and Venture Capital.
- David Cummings is building a tech community in Atlanta with his Atlanta tech village and the CEO @Kevy. Furthermore, he blogs almost every day on almost every topic!
- Jason Cohen is the founder of four companies and currently CEO @WP Engine. He’s a great stylist and covers many different aspects of startup life.
- Joel Gascoigne is regularly sharing the lessons he’s learning as the CEO @Buffer. He’s especially reflecting a lot about company culture.
- Ryan Hoover is the CEO @ ProductHunt and regularly produces a podcast where he chats with other famous startup people.
- Elad Gil is a famous serial entrepreneur who also blogs regularly. His core topics include hiring and venture capital.
- Jason Freedman is the founder @42Floors and likes to share tips he draws from his own experiences.
- Ben Yoskovitz is VP Product @ VarageSale and co-author of “Lean analytics”. He writes a lot about product management and other important topics for startups.
Top 5 on Productivity
- Tim Ferriss: Bestselling author and angel investor. Guru in lifestyle design (mastering 80/20), learning and mastering any skill in record time. He cares as much about a healthy as a fulfilling life.
- David Allen: Inventor and ambassador of a great productivity concept ‘Getting Things Done’ (GTD) (ted talk here)
- Merlin Mann & his concept ‘Inbox Zero’
- LifeHacker: Tips and downloads for getting things done (alternatively: LifeHack)
- ZenHabits: Leave Yourself Wanting More
Top 5 on Marketing
- Seth Godin: My godfather of modern marketing. He nails nearly everything from copywriting, kickstarting projects, leveraging new angels of distribution and promoting his stuff better than others. He blogs daily!
- Sean Ellis: Serial entrepreneur and angel investor. He started this marketing blog and Growth Hacker because traditional marketing books are not very helpful in the startup world. He covers everything. Extremely good for starters!
- HubSpot Inbound Marketing Blog: HubSpot went public in 2014, and invented the term “inbound marketing” that describes the act of attracting strangers by content and other tactics to eventually close them as customers. Great insights about content creation and distribution on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others. Constantly up to date!
- Buffer Blog: Great insights on social media. They are unique in openly sharing everything (even salaries of team members, and how much profit they gain per customer). #TrulyInspiring
- Neil Patel: Founder of Kissmetrics and Quicksprout, Neil is masters of everything and shares his insights in guides on Content, SEO, Social Media, Landing Pages …. Check out the free University!
- Growth Hackers: A Community for Growth-Focused Marketers. Unlocking growth. Together.
- Technical Mktg: Resources to help marketers develop technical skills and become indispensable.
- Tom Eisenmann, Professor at Harvard Business School, shares insights and resources for tech entrepreneurs.
Top 5 on Sales
- Steli Efti: CEO at Close.io. In Hack & Hustle, he and his team share great tips for early-stage startup founders, especially on closing the first deals and deal with rejection.
- David Cummings: Successful serial entrepreneur based in Atlanta, USA. Great knowledge density from a doer who improves every day. He blogs daily!
- Mark Suster: Successful serial entrepreneur & VC based in Los Angeles, USA
- SalesLoft Blog: Great tips for later-stage startup founders
- SalesHacker Blog: Great insights for selling to B2B companies
Top 5 on SaaS
- Jason Lemkin, SaaStr: the largest web community of SaaS founders. Shares experiences from both a founder and investor perspective!
- David Cummings: Successful serial entrepreneur & angel investor based in Atlanta, USA. Great knowledge density from a doer who improves every day. He blogs daily!
- Christoph Janz: Angel VC who shares his experiences on Internet startups, and SaaS from an investor perspective
- Tomasz Tunguz: VC (Partner @Redpoint) who daily writes data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups.
- Joel York: He is a SaaS / Cloud business executive, entrepreneur and startup advisor. He has managed global marketing and sales organizations serving over 50 countries. He gets his hands dirty and shares his experiences with us.
Top 7 VCs
- Venture Hacks (from the founders of AngelList where the world meets startups): Great overview and insights for starters. They are super honest and open and don’t hide the details.
- First Round Capital: Incredible resources about and inspirations on several categories ‘People & Culture’ (my favorite), ‘Management’, ‘Design’, ‘Product’, ‘PR & Marketing’, ‘Engineering’, ‘Sales’ and ‘Fundraising’.
- Mark Suster: Entrepreneur turned VC. Extremely great insights about startup lessons, sales & marketing/PR.
- Fred Dustin: In Open Source Venture Capital, Fred shares the ins and outs of his domain.
- Fred Wilson: VC since 1986. He blogs daily about nearly everything worthwhile for startup founders.
- Brad Feld: Entrepreneur & early stage investor since 1987. Brad impresses me with his posts about breakdowns, burnouts and other topics normally nobody writes about. Thanks for your honesty Brad!
- A16Z.com: Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz: Both are extremely successful entrepreneurs who now run one of the most successful VC firms. Both partners blog and share awesome insights (ex. Chris Dixon).
Top 5 on Product
- Nir Eyal: Products and ideas that move people.
- Saed Khan: Focuses on product management.
- Paul Young: Focuses on product management.
- Bruce McCarthy: Philosophically looking at products and their development.
- Kellie Jones: Female voice on product management.
- Pat Flynn: My absolute favorite.
- Tim Ferriss: Great guests who we normally don’t hear speaking so openly.
- Internet Business Mastery: Great insights about starting and running an Internet business.
- Startup Podcast: Follow a startup founder’s life. He records every lesson and podcasts about them.
- The Ask Gary Vee: Social media who shares his experiences.
- Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner: Stanford is based in Silicon Valley. Regularly inviting great speakers.
- Startup Grind Podcast: Invites great speakers to share their startup lessons.
- 500 Startups Podcast: Interviews of 500 startups. Inspirational and worthwhile to understand the early-stages of a startup.
- This Week in Startups: Jason is a great interviewer and invites great guests to share their startup lessons.
- Entrepreneur on Fire: Failure is part of every journey, and on EntrepreneurOnFire, the first story that is shared is the guest’s biggest failure and their lessons learned.
StartupGeist Builds On The Shoulders Of GIANTS.
StartupGeist is a collective of best practices and success principles applied by the most successful startup founders, digital entrepreneurs, and investors.
- Startup Mantras by Paul Graham | Steve Blank | Ash Maurya | Sam Altman | David Cummings | Eric Ries | David Skok | Brad Feld | Dave McClure | Naval Ravikant
- Startup Mantras by John Doerr | Reid Hoffman | Fred Wilson | Mark Suster | Ben Horowitz| Chris Dixon | Christoph Janz | Fred Destin | Tomasz Tunguz | Jason Ball | Peter Thiel
Customer Acquisition Gurus
The age of the spreadsheet is over. In recent years, there has been a boom of tools that are meant for organizing your work and making you more productive. The problem?
There are too many and separating the wheat from the chaff has become a full-time job in itself… That’s why I want to offer hand-selected battle-tested tools used by successful startup founders and digital entrepreneurs.
Please keep in mind that my tools aren’t selected randomly. I carefully chose them based on my own work experiences as well as tons of interviews I’ve done with startup founders and digital entrepreneurs.
If you want an endless supply of apps & inspirations and face the paradox of choice, please go through the lists below:
- Steve Blank: Startup Tools
- Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Workweek Tools
- YCombinator: Startup Library
- StartupWeekend: Resources
- The Startup Foundry: Startup Toolbox
- Pat Flynn: Smart Passive Income Resources
You’ll notice that I will often refer to the StartupGeist tool and resources page. I recommend bookmarking this site for your reference and convenience.
—Read my tools and resources manifesto here.
For me, there are two important distinct areas every entrepreneur needs to master for which he might need different apps: (1) himself (time management, goals, actions, results), and (2) his team and other stakeholders (projects, deadlines, emails, communication and much more).
That’s why I separate productivity tools into personal and team.
- My favorite web, tablet, and mobile browser is Chrome.
- Momentum – Replace new tab page with a personal dashboard featuring to do, weather, and inspiration
- Stay Focused: limit the amount of time that you can spend on ‘time-wasting’ websites.
- Feedly: Great RSS reader for blogs you follow (upload my blog recommendations directly into Feedly)
- Awesome Screenshot: Capture & annotate screenshots
- AdBlock Plus – ad blocker
- LastPass: Free password manager
- ZenMate – Security add-on to unblock VPN, encrypt your browser traffic.
- Email client on Gmail
- Best GTD Gmail Setup ever by Andreas Klinger
- Manage your contacts in your inbox on Streak
- Get context to your contacts (based on LinkedIn) on Rapportive
- More advanced CRM approach with Hubspot’s free CRM and Sidekick (Gmail extension)
- Unroll.me: Clean up your inbox. Easily unsubscribe and get one email per day/week/month with all your subscriptions.
- KeyRocket: The best way to learn keyboard shortcuts while you work in Gmail
- Every fixed appointment goes in Google Calendar (free)
- Reminders (free): Either use your Google calendar or Apple’s Reminders app (free) great in combination with an iPhone
- Save everything you do and think in Evernote (free) based on GTD philosophy
- Texting and free calls on WhatsApp
- Calls on Skype (even though I sometimes hate it. Is there a better option? Google Hangouts.)
- Create and Paste snippets of text on Text Expander (for web and mobile)
- External communication on Gmail (free)
- Internal communication on Slack (free)
- Project & task management on Trello (free)
- Every fixed appointment goes in Google Calendar (free)
- All your files, ready where you are on Gdrive
- Create documents, tables, presentations or forms on Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms
- Great add-ons for Sheets are
- Bluehost: I use Bluehost for all of my websites. I found their 1-click automatic WordPress installation and excellent customer service – via phone and via chat outstanding. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND using Bluehost for your first site. More details here.
- GoDaddy: To register a domain go to GoDaddy and search for your name.
- Themeforest: It is a great marketplace to find WordPress themes from developers and designers around the world. Two of my favorites are: (1) Enfold – Responsive Multi-Purpose Theme, and (2) Lista | Newsletter Form Landing Page.
- OptimizePress (OP): It is a website editor for WordPress. It’s great because it’s easy to customize (landing pages, blog templates etc), fairly cheap (97$) for 30+ templates, and great extra features (OP WordPress plugin).
- Rainmaker Platform: Now, StartupGeist uses Rainmaker. It’s great for content marketers (it feels like Apple combining hard- and software and so enabling a great user experience.)
- Squarespace: Alternatively to Bluehost and without the trouble to register a domain, you can use Squarespace. It is a great start for bloggers.
If you want to keep it simple though you might want to use Medium, but I highly recommend establishing a brand by owning your own domain. Read here why writing is an important skill every startup founder must master!
- Blog (earned) – ‘Content Marketing’ has become a buzzword in startup and marketing land. Great for long tail keywords and gaining expert status in a given niche.
- Google Adsense (paid): Make money by placing relevant ads on your website that are generated from advertisers using Google Adwords. This is free to use, but you have to register for an account.
- Google Adwords (paid): If you want to begin advertising on Google, you can select keywords and locations. You pay each time someone clicks on your advertisement.
- Facebook ads (paid): If you want to begin advertising on Facebook, you can select keywords, locations, gender, interests and age to specifically target people. There are different ways you can be charged by Facebook (for instance, per click, traffic etc).
- LinkedIn Ads: Drive the web to your landing pages and tests.
- Gmail Ads: Drive the web to your landing pages.
- Social Media – Distributing own and other content via Buffer – Social media sharing & scheduling (Buffer app review)
- Google Form (major advantage: be filled out directly in Gmail)
- Wufoo (web king)
- Typeform (mobile king)
- Google sheet (kind of CRM)
- FullContact (& Cobook) to sync contacts, fix duplicates, keep contacts up to date, clean contacts
Email Subscriptions & Broadcasting
- Lean Analytics [read]
- Klinger’s primer on startup metrics [read]
- Google Analytics (GA) Online Marketing gurus recommend GA because…
- “Google’s free website tracking and analytical tool. A must have for anyone with any type of website.“ — Pat Flynn
- “GA is great for everything external, especially traffic analysis and referral optimization.” — Andreas Klinger
- Kissmetrics: on the other hand feels like it has one foot in the product external world. Similar to Google Analytics.
- Mixpanel: is awesome for product-internal exploration and good for product-internal reporting.
- Specialized tools:
Revenue – Getting paid
- PayPal (no coding required) – The original quick way to get some cash from somebody.
- Stripe (coding required) – A developer-friendly way to collect money without leaving your own website and without needing a merchant account. Also integrated into Wufoo forms for quick cash collection without being a developer.
- Gumroad: My favorite digital product distribution system.
- E-Junkie: A digital shopping cart that allows you to sell products like ebooks. It’s compatible with Paypal Standard, Paypal Pro, Google Checkout, Authorize.net, TrialPay, Clickbank & 2CheckOut. Works like a charm, very low flat price to use. Comes with a decent affiliate program for your products.
Images & Photos
- Buffer: 53+ free images sources
- Buffer’s Pablo
- The Ultimate Guide to Finding and Using Images on Your Blog
- Canva: Absolutely brilliant, simple way to make quick graphics for your product.
- Balsamiq: Want to prepare a wireframe but can’t even draw a stick figure? Balsamiq makes it super easy to design both web and mobile apps, with drag ’n’ drop functionality and simple collaboration options.
- Real-time board: It’s your online whiteboard that can be easily shared with others.
- Mockability: Make an iPhone app that feels real.