Having worked for 4 pre-IPO companies, I've seen a lot of inexperienced entrepeneurs make a lot of ill-advised decisions. Even worse, I've watched their backers blithely sit back and believe that they will become rich on the strength of some new buzzword.
It takes a good plan and better execution to turn a startup into a real company--two things that seem to be lacking in most new ventures.
Gordon Bell has created a complete model for the stages of a startup firm. VCs, executives, and ESPECIALLY potential new hires should use these models to estimate the success factor of a startup. I think the 6 characteristics of a successful high-tech CEO are priceless. Of the duds that I've worked for, none of the CEOs could meet these stringent requirements. Are there many people who do? No. Do most startups fail? Yes. I urge anyone looking to join a startup to get this book, and even if you don't feel inclined to read it through, at least see what Bell has to say about the CEO, and then use his criteria to evaluate the leader at the team you are considering joining.
Another one of his observations that rings true to my experience is the danger of 'multiple agendas.' There is something in the nature of an entrepeneur that seems to make it almost impossible to focus on a single product or niche market, at least until it some measure of market success is achieved. I've fought this battle many times, and I've never understood why the VCs and the Board don't reign in their eager young entrepeneurs. I've concluded that it is because they are often ignorant themselves. Being able to spend somebody else's money doesn't automatically confer wisdom.
This book is almost 10 years old, but many of the author's predictions came true. I think he over-estimated the advantages of Japan, but perhaps American business actually learned something from Japan and applied it. If American management had not done that, perhaps Bell's predictions of Japanese economic superiority would have come to pass also.
I did think that it was interesting to read an engineer's perspective on marketing. An intelligent and experienced person often has wise things to say, even about disciplines where they have no formal educational background. I would strongly urge both marketing and engineering people to approach this text with an open mind.
Overall, this is a wise and perceptive book. It provides a good persective on the high-tech startup phenomenom and anyone who wishes to better understand the internal dynamics of a startup would find this an interesting and rewarding read.
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books (July 22 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0201563215
- ISBN-13: 978-0201563214
- Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 590 g
- Customer Reviews: 9 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,276,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)