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Top 10 Startup Books Founders Should Read

Top 10 Startup Books Founders Should Read

Are you a startup founder looking for some inspiration and guidance on how to enhance your new business? Then you should definitely check out this list of startup books.

Sofia Khomutova

COO & Co-Founder

August 8, 2023
Table of content

If you compare successful entrepreneurs across the world, a reading habit is something a lot of them have in common. The right books help you understand perspectives and gain knowledge that would have taken the author years to amass.

So, how can you find ideas on improving your startup business from the vast library of reading material available today? We have picked out the best books startup founders should read in the following list. Keep reading to find out!

The Lean Startup

Author: Eric Ries
"My cofounders and I are determined to make new mistakes. We do everything wrong.”

If this quote from The Lean Startup does not make you want to dive into the book already, then we don’t know what will. Through his book, Ries tries to establish that the entrepreneurial world is filled with uncertainties. “It is impossible to achieve success with a startup without making mistakes and consistently improving your product,” he says. Ries talks about why startups fail and how you can use your failures to make your product better “under conditions of extreme uncertainty”, using techniques like validated learning and lean manufacturing.

We’d totally recommend this as one of the must-read books for founders and for any entrepreneur – beginner or experienced– to understand the importance of testing out multiple variations and assumptions.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Zero to One

Author: Peter Thiel

“1 to n” or “extensive growth” is a familiar term in the product development circle. It means to create incremental improvements to something that already exists. The term “zero to one” implies the complete opposite of this – it is about creating something totally new and bringing it to its first stages of development, or “intensive growth”. This is what Thiel’s book is all about– innovation and this is what makes it.

Someone who is used to reading the regular business books for founders might find this a bit whacky and eccentric even, because Thiel loves showing off his contrarian beliefs everywhere. But we’d highly suggest this as one of the top books for startup founders because startups are all about innovating and creating new ideas– “zero to one”. Give it a try.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Author: Nir Eyal

Through Hooked, Eyal tries to explore the patterns in which users consistently come back to a product. He talks about how businesses achieve this through “hook cycles”, without having to spend much cost and resources on advertising and marketing. Why we recommend this as one of the best books startup founders should read is because it is filled with Eyal’s vast experience researching, consulting, and building products.

What Eyal talks about are things startup founders probably already know about. But trust us, Hooked will put forth a different perspective that will be highly useful and valuable to your startup. It is well-researched, intriguing, and thought-provoking, so do give it a read if you can.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success

Author: Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

Ellis and Brown’s book explores a very important took for any company to expand and grow– Growth Hacking. Used by startups as well as the biggies like Microsoft and Walmart, growth hacking involves the strategies that we put in place for a company to increase its reach– hacks to grow. Here’s why we’ve included this book in this list of books for startup founders:

Along with the theory part, there are practical exercises that propel work so that you can actually apply what you’re reading to your business. It starts off with the basics like how to build a growth team covers several hacking methods using real-life cases. Thirdly, we love it for its structured and logical approach– a highly useful book for first-time founders and experienced ones.

Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You

Author: Rob Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick writes about customer development in this fantastic book. Interacting with customers and inculcating their feedback to your product is an essential element for lean startup strategies. Customer interaction is a very delicate zone because it can either give your business the boost it needs or go way down south.

The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

The Mom Test is a book founders often read because it tells you what and what not to say to your users. Right from pitching your idea to repeating sales, this is definitely a worthwhile book for tech founders and SaaS founders. Due to its specific examples and its easy-to-understand how-to model, we’d totally recommend this book for startup founders.

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Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder

Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Antifragile is part of Taleb’s “Incerto” series, the other books including The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, etc. In an unusual fashion that can even be categorized as equating madness, Taleb in this book tries to break conventional beliefs about human psychology. He explores how chaos, stress, and instability can turn the human mind stronger than one can imagine.

By breaking our belief systems, Taleb forces the reader to question the roots of our ideologies and constantly challenge our ideas. This is one of the best books on founder mentality because it gives a wider perspective about resilience and improvement under tumultuous times. We know this because it’s a book our founders read and re-read.

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

Author: Marty Cagan

With Inspired, product management thought leader Marty Cagan has given a book for tech founders to learn how the biggies like Google, Microsoft, and Tesla managed to build successful products that customers across the world love and continue loving.

From choosing the right talent pool and structuring a smooth-functioning team to building the right product that is feasible and that your customers will find valuable, this book is a masterclass on successful products and business. Definitely give it a read if you wish to learn how all the aspects of product management come together to create something unique that clicks with your audience.

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

Author: Donald Miller

Hands down, this is the best book the founders read to develop a successful marketing strategy for their product. Miller through this book emphasises the power of storytelling to create a simple and more effective messaging for your brand. He talks about how the role of your brand should be such that the customer feels that you’re a guide helping out with solving their problems.

Building a Story brand is a lesson in learning that the customer should be the focus of your brand messaging rather than the brand itself.

Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Author: John Carreyrou

Bad Blood chronicles the rise and fall of multibillion-dollar startup ‘Theranos’, news of which was first broken by author and journalist Carreyrou himself. We recommend this book for startup founders because it is mostly about what you should not do as a startup founder. The riveting story of how ‘Theranos’ founder Elizabeth Holmes rose to popularity as “The Female Jobs” and then faced potential legal action from the government as well as her investors is surely an engaging read with lots to learn from.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by

Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

Author: W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

This bestseller is one of the top books startup founders should read because it challenges our traditional way of thinking about our business competitors. Kim and Mauborgne argue that constantly fighting your competitions for reaching the first spot in the market is not the ideal way to gain profits and suggest an alternative– “the Blue Ocean Strategy”.

Through what the authors call “value innovation”, businesses can capture their own “blue oceans” and tap into unexplored markets.

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne


We hope the books listed in this article will be helpful to you in not only making your startup journey more efficient but also getting you into the habit of reading consistently. Happy reading!

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