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Books with perspectives on different aspects of the start-up experience

Life as a start-up CEO

Prior to Andreeson Horowitz becoming the venture capital colossus that it is today, Ben Horowitz wrote a book on his experience as a start-up CEO during the emergence of the cloud software industry.  The “Hard Thing About Hard Things” contains many useful lessons on “things that come up in the life of a start-up” for anyone looking to become a start-up CEO or support a start-up CEO. 

Technology-based startups vs. other businesses

Also from the software industry, Peter Thiel offers his perspective on how to think about start-ups and venture capital in a book derived from his class notes on the same subjects.  Anecdotes in this book that compare start-up experience with the thinking of established large industry are good for both founders and investors to digest. 

There is more than one route to the destination

A more general perspective for pursuing success in a start-up business, including start-up businesses NOT traditionally funded by venture capital, comes from Guy Roz’s distilled lessons from his NPR podcast, “How I Built This.”  These lessons are codified in a book of the same name.  Several of Guy’s thoughts run counter to what one might hear from folks who have only worked on the investment side of the business and are well worth considering. 

Venture capital deals

For those who are likely to raise venture capital to move their start-up ideas forward, it can be good to have an investor’s perspective on the process of negotiating and legally documenting venture capital investments.  Much of this detail is laid out well in Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson’s book, “Venture Deals.”

StartupBoards bookBoards of directors and what they do

Also from Brad Feld and collaborators is a handy little book on boards of directors and how they should work, particularly in the context of a start-up company.  Many things can go wrong in a startup company.  A good board of directors can separate the survivors from the less fortunate. 

Build Book CoverIf you just can’t get enough

Tony Faddell, leader of the original iPhone development team, among other accomplishments, provides a useful personal history covering many aspects of new technology development projects – a good second opinion on nearly all of the various matters covered in recommendations above.

Wires and Newsletters

Deals and Dealmakers

For those wishing to follow institutional investments in start-up companies that are made public, subscribing to the following free newsletters provides a continual outlook on what types of companies are being funded at what levels of investment:

StrictlyVC  and Termsheet

Pharma, BioTech and MedTech

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry news is covered well on these news platforms:

EndPoint News

Fierce Biotech and Fierce Pharma

Software and Tech

Local software and tech news is covered well on GrepBeat

National software and tech news is covered on The Information 

Pitch Templates

One of the most important documents in the early life of a start-up is a guide that facilitates telling “the story.” Often, though not always, this takes the form of a PowerPoint deck to accompany a voiceover by the founder and/or CEO.

Kawasaki Template

A good first template to consider for such a pitch was authored by Guy Kawasaki, an early marketing executive at Apple. 

Learn More

Other Resources and Examples

Certain opportunities will not fit the Guy Kawasaki template – usually owing to industry-specific reasons.  Thus, here are a few other pitching resources and examples:

From University Lab Partners

From LifeSci VC

From Sequoia Capital

From Pitch Deck Hunt

Legal and Operations Resources

Venture Capital Termsheets and Contracts

Example term sheet and investment contracting documents, as well as other useful ancillary documents, are regularly posted here by the National Venture Capital Association.

Pre-VC Investment

Example legal documents fin the form of a “simple agreement for future equity” (SAFE) are provided by the Y Combinator. Convertible debt is also used in this situation and an overview can be found at the Bond Collective. 

Other Template Resources

When creating a new biotech company, one of the most useful tools is the “target product profile."

The Texas-based venture capital firm SV3 has provided a number of other useful template resources here.Some of these may require discussion for first time users.  We are glad to help.

Additional Resources for Duke Innovators

The resources on this page are only available to Duke innovators and require a Duke NetID for access.

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