Startup Reads: 5 Recommendations from VCs and Founders

by Matthew K. Pelkey
April 24, 2018

Recommended Startup Reads for Entrepreneurs Looking to Start a Business

Starting a business can be a daunting task for even the most experienced entrepreneur. There is no shortage of issues for a founder to address—employees, legal issues, raising money, retaining customers, developing products or service—all of these must be juggled simultaneously. Perseverance is required to even have a chance at success. Books can help, too. But how do you know which startup reads are the best for entrepreneurs?

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” 

–Walt Disney, Co-Founder, Disney

One of the things I’ve always found helpful is to learn from those who have experienced similar challenges before. A good mentor can provide valuable insight that can guide you as a business owner.

Through stories on the pages of books we can learn what mistakes others have made and what lessons we should take note of.

As I sat down to write this article I reflected on the many books and articles I’ve read on my own journey as a founder, coach, mentor, professor and startup attorney. It wasn’t long before I found myself wondering—what books have others throughout the ecosystem found helpful and why?

My plan was to hopefully get a couple of recommendations and supplement with my own stack of startup book recommendations. What a pleasant surprise it was to not only receive enthusiastic responses about the subject, but more recommendations than I could put in this article—many of which covering what my own recommendation would have been.

And the cherry on top? Thanks to the generosity of one of our respondents, we’ll be giving away some startup books to a couple of lucky readers. On a related note—the winners can send a thank you note to Dan Penberthy at Rand Capital.

1. Dan Penberthy, Rand Capital (Buffalo, NY) | @dpbuffalo
Startup Guidebook 
By NYS Science & Technology Law Center at Syracuse University

Startup Guidebook Book Cover for Startup Reads

Why: “How about a freebie?  You never go wrong with NYS science & technology law center at Syracuse”, said Penberthy. What he likes best about the startup guidebook is “the first thing on the checklist on page 9 is to ‘be brutally honest with yourself’ in regards to whether your business is viable.”  Dan also noted Courtney Reum and Carter Reum’s book “Shortcut Your Startup” for its great one-liners:  “do what you do best…and outsource the rest”, ”nail it, before you scale it”,  “don’t pivot just for pivotings sake”, and “be willing to make tough decisions”. He even keeps a copy of the book on his desk.



2. Kathryn Cartini, Chloe Capital (Saratoga, NY) | @KathrynCartini
Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist
By Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

Venture Deals Book Cover for Startup ReadsWhy: Kate Cartini put it quite succinctly: “Learn the ins and outs of fundraising for your startup from the inside perspectives of two serial entrepreneurs and successful venture capitalists. I did!”

Venture Deals was also on my own list. Short of the textbook I use for my startup law class at the University at Buffalo Law School, this is probably the best book available for a crash course in venture related legal issues (and not 1,200 pages). I even recommend the book to my students and new associates at Colligan Law as a great supplement in this area.




3. Nasir Ali, Seed Capital Fund of CNY/StartFast Venture Accelerator (Syracuse, NY)
Start Fast!: How to accelerate your software / internet / mobile venture
By Chuck Stormon

Why: Nasir recommended Start Fast! to anyone thinking of starting a high growth tech company. He also shared several recommendations with me including Venture Deals. “For founders looking to manage growth and times of crisis, I really like The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz”, he added.

4. Andrew Martinko, Suncayr/2017 43North Winner (Buffalo, NY) @Suncayr
First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently
By Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Why: “Because it’s “Helpful for hiring and managers. A great breakdown of what effective managers do, why it works, and what to avoid. Great for new team leaders just starting out”, Andrew Martinko shared with me.

5. Davielle Jackson, Femi Secrets/2017 43North Winner (Buffalo, NY) | @femisecrets
Harvard Business Review Entrepreneurs Handbook: Everything You Need to Launch and Grow Your Business
By: Harvard Business Review

Why:  Davielle Jackson recommended the Harvard Business Review Entrepreneurs Handbook “because it’s very insightful of the current business atmosphere”. This king of insight is valuable when making decisions which will impact the direction your company is heading in.

Now get started on these startup reads! And remember to share this article for a chance to win a UVC recommended startup book.

Original article can be found on the Upstate Venture Connect website: