Published by HarperCollins
• Winner of the International Book Awards
Surviving a Startup answers the critical question of scaling vs. failing. Why do some startups break out, while others break up?
If you’re thinking of launching a product or company, you must read this book. It’ll give you practical insights and hands-on case studies of how the most successful startup founders in Silicon Valley think, act, and execute on their business strategies, while avoiding the pitfalls that sink most young companies.
Surviving a Startup
The fact is that most new startups fail. The path to success is filled with pitfalls, wrong turns, and obstacles. Decisions along the way can make or bankrupt a small company. Every entrepreneur must face this harsh reality and learn to master it if they hope to survive and wind up on top.
The book takes you through the nuts and bolts and sweat and tears of running a real business. It’s about dealing with dysfunctional teams, hitting dead ends, messing up half the time, losing money and self-confidence, and then moving forward. It’s about what it’s actually like to run a startup.
It’s also about the process and planning. Hoffman shows you exactly what he learned running his own startups and coaching others. He has mentored hundreds of founders, collaborated with some of the most brilliant minds in the world, and come to understand what it takes to break through.
“Read this book before you launch your startup. It could save you much emotional turmoil.”
— Tim Draper, Founder of DFJ, Forbes Midas List of Top Venture Capitalists, AlwaysOn #1 Most Networked Venture Capitalist, Worth Magazine 100 Most Powerful People in Finance
“This book is a goldmine for entrepreneurs. It takes Hoffman’s lifetime of experience running startups, working with founders, and overcoming obstacles and puts that knowledge into one indispensable book.”
— Howard Hartenbaum, General Partner at August Capital, Forbes Midas List of Top Venture Capitalists, founding investor in Skype
“Great book and really sound advice. I basically agreed with everything I read. I would recommend it as a how to or reference guide to anyone thinking of starting or re-starting a venture.”
— Bruce Armstrong, Partner at Khosla Ventures
“Launching and building a startup is akin to running through a minefield in the middle of the night, naked! The chances of success are stacked against you. In Surviving a Startup, Steve Hoffman gives entrepreneurs a map through that minefield.”
— Robert R. Ackerman, Managing Director of Allegis Cyber Ventures
“Hoffman’s new work can be regarded as a compulsory entrepreneurship course because the lessons are not limited to intellectual insights but come from the author’s hard-won experiences.”
— Mao Daqing, Ucommune Founder & Chairman
“This book is filled with thought-provoking cases that are invaluable inspiration for entrepreneurs.”
— Dr. Cai, Dean of Innovation at Peking University
“Entrepreneurship requires not only courage but also methods. This book is the secret of Mr. Hoffman’s investment and thinking in Silicon Valley. With these methods, you will make fewer mistakes, improve your probability of success, and make your enterprise bigger. It is worth reading carefully!”
— David Xu Yong, CEO of Angel Camp
“Surviving a Startup recognizes the character and traits of risk in entrepreneurship so that we can better understand the mystery of successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.”
— Yuan Yue, Cofounder of Pegasus Brigade
“Surviving a Startup takes you through the specifics of what a real business needs to go through. Flowing sweat and tears, both practical and spiritual, have a very big guiding significance for entrepreneurs to highlight the encirclement, exceed the limit, and give birth to the next commercial unicorn.”
— Bowen Zhou, Vice President of JD.com
“After reading this book, you will not only broaden your horizons, but it will help you break through obstacles and realize your dreams.”
— Sam Gui, founder of Jingbei Investment and Angel Teahouse
“Don’t run a company without reading this book: it will save you time, direct your energies, and sharpen your ability to execute. Hoffman’s writing is clear, smart, and important.”
— David Eagleman, PhD, neuroscientist at Stanford, bestselling author, entrepreneur
“It’s obvious that Steve knows exactly what he writes about! He’s survived the startup battles — even the cross-border ones — and relates his solid advice for entrepreneurs from a grass-roots level.”
— Rebecca Fannin, founder/editor of Silicon Dragon Ventures and author of Tech Titans of China
“The book provides a wealth of practical information and inspiration.”
— Jonathan Littman, coauthor of the international bestsellers The Art of Innovation and Ten Faces of Innovation.
“Surviving a Startup unveils a wholly new world about everything an entrepreneur needs to run a successful startup.”
— Mike Xu, Managing Director of Fosun Capital 复星
“I believe entrepreneurs will find spiritual resonance, direction, and guidance from this book, while enjoying every chapter on the way to realizing their dreams.”
–Hu Yu, President of China University of Science and Technology and iFLYTEK
“With Surviving a Startup, Steve Hoffman has captured what it’s really like to be a founder and the traits that separate out the good ones from the run of the mill ones.”
— Larry Namer, cofounder of E! Entertainment Television
“Brilliant and authentic. Hoffman provides a window and perspective to simplify and humanize the tumultuous journey of entrepreneurship. It is a great read for every aspiring individual and team daring to embark on such a journey.”
— Tae Hea Nahm, Managing Director of Storm Ventures
“So direct and real, yet still able to feel and see the lightness of it all and remain engaging throughout. This may become the essential compendium for all entrepreneurs and executives.”
— Roland Van der Meer, Managing Director of Ultra Capital
“In this book, Steve Hoffman tells entrepreneurs all the elements needed for successful entrepreneurship.”
— Jia Junxin, Chairman of Shenzhen Xinheng Lida Capital Management Co.
“The art of entrepreneurship is to acknowledge that a startup is a process, and success only comes by doing it and continuously learning from failures and mistakes.”
— Ronald Chwang, Chairman of iD Ventures
“Surviving a Startup is an important guide for today’s entrepreneurs, filled with practical knowledge for those who need to understand the real mechanics of startup funding, avoid mistakes, and break through to commercial success.”
— Alex Chompff, Managing Director of Evolution Accelerator
“As an entrepreneur and investor, Captain Hoff accepts the challenge to put into words the harsh reality of being an entrepreneur.”
— Ricardo Politi, General Partner at Mindset Ventures and Forbes 30 Under 30
“In Surviving a Startup, Steve leads the reader through the various challenging stages of turning an idea into a successful and scalable enterprise. I highly recommend this book.”
— Charles Tan, Managing Director of Lumeira Ventures
“Steve shares his keen insights learned from decades of his own successful startups, as well as working closely with hundreds of entrepreneurs who have built their companies from the ground up.”
— David Lane, Managing Director of Diamondhead Ventures
“Founder Edge is a distillation of many many years of experience and wisdom from someone who has direct experience with hundreds of startups. It’s a must read if you are an entrepreneur on the path of innovation.”
— Kim O Nguyen, Angel Investor, Berkeley Angel Network
“In the bloody startup battlefield, no author has described it better than Steve. His usage of language is so precise, intuitive, and entertaining.”
— Rocky Chan, Partner of Mind Fund
“This book is truly a startup bible capable of tangibly guiding entrepreneurs through the turbulence of the startup world with a realistic mindset and immaculate pieces of advice for the budding entrepreneur.”
— Roger Liao, General Partner at iDsoftcapital Group IOB Fund
“Timely real life advice on how to survive the winter.”
— Sangwan Scott Kang, Managing Director of SWK Capital
“Do what you love and learn from your experience. It is the journey that makes the startup process worthwhile.”
— Ray Wu, Managing Director at Skychee Ventures
“Steve’s latest book is a practical tool, whether you are a new entrepreneur or in your early phase of scaling.”
— Mary Jo Potter, Managing Director at Healthcare Angels
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one good direction. Steve is a truly excellent adviser for many startup founders and entrepreneurs. His book is like a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. ”
— Thomas Zheng, President of Canaan Investment Company
“Steve’s second book gives you invaluable and comprehensive advice on how to manage the processes to progress to success. It is a must-read for any entrepreneur.”
— Stephen Chiao, Partner at Sycamore Ventures
“You will get fantastic insights and real practices, just like you are talking with Steven Hoffman in this book.”
— Scott Jiang, Vice President of AQUAVC Capital
“If launching a startup excites you but also consumes you, Captain Hoffman’s new book will lead you to take powerful actions and act as a true insider.”
— Ruby Gao, VP of TsingHua Daokou Investment Management Company
“If you’re a founder, investor, or adviser (or just want in on the startup game), read this book ASAP and get an edge up on the others.”
— Terrence Yang, Managing Director of Yang Ventures
“Steve’s book offers invaluable and timely blueprint on how to leverage a disciplined process, overcome obstacles, and ultimately achieve success. Definitely a worthwhile read.”
— Canice Wu, Former VP of RocketSpace
“The newest ‘bible’ for entrepreneurs: insightful and shrewd. Your bookshelf needs it!”
— Alessandro Zago, VP New Ventures and Innovation at Enplas America
“Successful start-ups require courage and perseverance. Thank you, Steve, for taking the time to share these insights. Your book is a gift to every entrepreneur!”
— Carol Sands Langensand, Managing Partner of The Angels’ Forum
Table of Contents
Devil’s Candy: Launching a Startup
- Taking the Leap
- The Right Reasons to Launch a Startup
- Taking on Debt
- Does Your Idea Suck?
- What’s the Right Team?
- Paying for Talent
- Should You Copy Competitors?
- Where Do Great Ideas Come From?
- Defining the Problem
- Creating an Elevator Pitch
- Should You Be Careful?
- Keeping It Secret?
- When Do You Quit?
- Killing Your Baby
- Speed and Experimentation
- Why Do Startups Fail?
- Rewriting the Rules
- Engaging the Customer
- Manufacturing Demand
Raising Venture Capital: Show Me the Money!
- Inside Venture Capital
- Know Your Valuation
- Love Your Lawyer
- Your Investor Pitch Deck
- Selling Your Story
- Qualifying Investors
- How to Talk to Investors
- Using Fear and Greed
- Managing Your Investor Pipeline
- Keeping a Poker Face
- Three Strikes, You’re Out!
- Push for a No!
- Never Lie to Investors
- Artificial Deadlines
- Leveraging Social Capital
- Getting Warm Introductions
- Cold Emails that Work
- How to Stand Out from the Crowd
- Kissing Frogs
Bootstrapping It: Guerrilla Marketing and Growth Hacking
- When to Raise Money?
- What’s the Right Business?
- Part-Timing It
- Courting the Press
- The Rules of Guerrilla Marketing
- Thinking Viral
- Strategies for Inbound Marketing
- Aligning Brands with Values
- Investing in Images
- Why Stories Matter
- Narrative Types
- How to Growth Hack
- Can Bootstrappers Compete?
Unicorn Hunters: Finding Your Mojo
- Investing in Teams
- Sizing Up the Market
- Who’s Really Your Customer?
- Tapping the Trends
- Good vs. Great
- What’s Your Secret Sauce?
- Business Models Made Simple
- Business Model Emulation
- Locking In Customers
- Hardware vs. Software
- When Do Patents Matter?
- Shoehorning Technology
- Design Thinking
- Building Superior Products
- Why Media Attention Matters
- Skeletons in the Closet
- What’s the Fun Factor?
Scaling Up: Building a Billion-Dollar Business
- The Art of Hiring
- Identifying Talent
- Recruitment Strategies
- Firing Employees the Right Way
- The 22 Rules of Selling
- Presenting in Public
- Marketing and Customer Acquisition
- Designing Your Workspace
- Watch Out for the Platforms
- The Unfair Advantages
- Planning Your Exit
Rules to Win By: Growth Leadership
- Leadership Essentials
- Setting the Tone
- Define Your Vision
- Becoming a Super Boss
- Managing Your Board
- Nothing Is Too Crazy
Startup Life: Follow Your Own Path
- Bouncing Back
- Are You Too Old?
- Giving Back
- Seeking Knowledge
- Surviving a Startup