Tuesday, August 28, 2012
I've wondered before if I'd like being an entrepreneur. I've come up with a few ideas that could get me started. I have even entered a social-good version of a business case competition (and walked away a finalist). But I want to know more before making the plunge. So I got a copy of the book Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company from Concept to Creation in 54 Hours.
What's in the Book
The book's introduction walks the reader through the history of Startup Weekend, emphasizing the need for trust among peers. Without trust, a startup is impossible, given the risks involved.
The first real chapter discusses action-based networking, and why traditional networking events (complete with standing around sipping wine) aren't terribly useful. You need to work together with people you don't normally meet to get the most useful contacts.
Next, the book covers how to effectively pitch your idea and recruit your team members. In 60 seconds, you need to say who you are, the problem you want to solve, your proposed solution, and what help you will need.
The third chapter is about experiential education, and is where the bulk of what you actually do at a Startup Weekend is described. The emphasis on "learning by doing" really entices the reader to want to attend the event in person.
The last two chapters are about the startup business model and the startup ecosystem. They briefly touch on some of the key mistakes that entrepreneurs make, and the steps an entrepreneur can take from deciding to make the startup leap to getting funding to, if they're lucky, IPO and Fortune 500.
Looking back at what the book actually covers, I have to think I must have got a lot out of it. But, to be honest, I didn't get what I was hoping for.
The book's prose had a style that said a lot of general things without details. Part of the reason for this is the inclusion of the many little stories woven throughout. I do like that the stories give specific examples of the kinds of startups people were working on, and they did help build excitement about attending the weekend event. But they also caused what specific advice there was to get lost easily in the text.
Something the book would have greatly benefited from is a concrete summary list of the information contained in each chapter. Something that the reader could easily refer back to as they attempted their own startup.
In the end, the book is not terribly useful as a reference guide on startups. It does drum up excitement about attending a Startup Weekend, and it does touch on some of the elements of entrepreneurship without going into detail.
Maybe that was its purpose, in which case it succeeds in its mission. But still, I leave wishing for more. I am not sure I am any closer to my answer of whether I want to be an entrepreneur.