Founders at Work: Stories of Startup’s Early Days by Jessica Livingston

I’ve really enjoyed Jessica Livingston’s Founders at Work: Stories of Startup’s Early Days — one of many library books I borrowed last month.

This book tells the story of startups like Firefox, TiVo, WebTV, Craigslist, Hotmail, Adobe, and others through interviews with their founders or creators.

Initially, it made me think of If at First You Don’t Succeed . . . The Eight Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs by Brent Bowers (click here to read all my posts on this book) in that both books seek to shed light on what makes entrepreneurs tick.

While Livingston interviews individuals who founded or created dot-com or other technology start-ups, Bowers talks with founders of small businesses from varied fields that include jam making, cosmetics, manufacturing and more.

The main difference in the book lies in the way each author organizes his/her book. Where Bowers organizes his book into chapters based on eight traits of entrepreneurs with stories from 40+ entrepreneurs sprinkled throughout the book, Livingston spends just her two-page introduction discussing the patterns of entrepreneurs and then spends a chapter on each person with an in-depth interview.

Call me crazy, but I much prefer the way Livingston organized her book. It is easier to follow and you learn more from each individual.

And, as you know by now, I love primary sources. so I appreciated how each chapter was an interview with a founder or creator of one or more start-ups.

Here are the patterns that Livingston found for comparison to the list by Bowers:

  1. Uncertainty that they were actually onto something big.
  2. Determination, especially to build things that work.
  3. Perseverance through uncertainty, isolation, and sometimes lack of progress.
  4. Adaptability and mental flexibility to understand what users/customers want and to change and develop their original idea.
  5. Empathy for users/customers.
  6. Desire to change the world and to keep building things.

Livingston doesn’t assert this list as a steadfast rule (where Bowers does); she merely states that these were some of her observations from interviewing the 32 entrepreneurs featured in her book.

Back to reading!


One response to “Founders at Work: Stories of Startup’s Early Days by Jessica Livingston

  1. Pingback: Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston « Adventures in Reading

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