Developers October 28, 2020

Is there a "bible" or resource of going from idea to company that you know of?

Joe Coleman @MightWorks

Just curious. I know there are books like "Start Small, Stay Small" that are helpful (if not a bit dated). There's this site, obviously. But I'm wondering if you had to recommend one thing to a developer (or even someone less savvy) who wanted to bootstrap a tech company, what would it be? Book? Community? YouTube series?

I'm not saying such a thing exists.. just trying to understand what everyone finds most comprehensive.

  1. 10

    If I had to recommend exactly one thing to a developer, I would recommend The Mom Test.

    Because we developers tend to build first and find out if people want it later—only to find out nobody wants the product we’ve built. Been there.

    That isn’t a comprehensive story on how to build a startup, but I think it addresses the biggest weakness for developers (one I’m still trying to address myself).

    I’d like to read @arvidkahl’s Zero to Sold which might fit the bill too.

    1. 7

      Am I the only person in the world that found this book mediocre at best?

      1. 4

        I thought it was an incredible book but it's very high level. So if you're looking for something more tactical, this isn't it.

      2. 3

        It's not what I thought it would be but what I got out of it is that big ideas are undervalued and I think that's a valuable insight.

      3. 1

        Not at all. I've encountered quite a few people who have that opinion before even reading it!

      4. 0

        No. I thought it was pretty crap...

        1. 0

          Alright, whew - I'm not insane.

          I just thought it had all been said better elsewhere and the assembly of the information wasn't even fun or unique. Maybe revolutionary as your first book or a newcomer to that world, perhaps this books was written for the general public?

          1. 1

            No, you're definitely not haha.

            Absolutely. Many other authors have articulated his general message in far greater ways.

            All I can recall from having read it was to be unique, and to stand out from the crowd. I can't recall anything else.

            I think it was probably written for the sake of writing a book. But, that's just me 🤷‍♂️

            1. 2

              Okay, now you've piqued my curiosity. I had read over a hundred business books and found that since PG's most were just rehashing the same things, though some like Millionaire Fastlane presented them well.

              I was pretty much bored of the entire category when I read Zero to One, but I found not just one three fascinating ideas in it:

              1. The distribution of competition that companies face is bimodal and companies at each end pretend they're on the other.
              2. The corellation between definite optimism vs indefinite optimism, technology vs globalization and 0 to 1 vs 1 to N.
              3. The Girardian mimetic rivalry theory's implications for entrepreneurs.

              What prior business books had you read that had these ideas?

              1. 2

                I think the issue is probably due to the fact it was one of the first business books I’d read. I probably read it around 4 years ago, so I can’t recall much now.

                At the time I think I had an unrealistic view on what I would get from business books. I was wanting something akin to Makebook by Pieter Levels.

                My post above is a bit ignorant and in hindsight, if I read the book again I’m sure I’d get a lot more from it.

    2. 1

      Seconding this, 0 to 1 even has a religious following . I also found The Mom Test very helpful

      1. 1

        Agreed - Mom test is definitely worth a read / listen. I think I snagged it on audible.

      2. 1

        Fitzpatrick is amazing, and such a mensch too.

  2. 6

    Getting Real is a good one to read.
    "The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application" by the guys at Basecamp(formerly 37signals).

    Though a bit dated, it's definitely worth the read. The tips written there still apply to this day. I would also recommend getting the hard copy if you can, as it gives you the grip.

    There is a free pdf version, as well as a free online version

  3. 4

    Didn't see this one yet: by @levelsio, which is cool for bootstrappers.

    1. 3

      Very early days, but I'm working on an 'OS' for bootstrappers.
      The aim is to provide content, tools and frameworks for:
      discovery, ideation, validation, monetization, mvp & launch.

      Currently have 3 startup guides up:

      • Communities
      • Marketplaces
      • D2C Subscriptions Products

      1. 2

        Seems super similar to by @dru_riley, any way your guides are different or better?

        For reference, here are the guides for the same topics:

        Subscription Direct to Consumer

        1. 2

          I'm aware of Dru's reports. I think they are great! Especially for inspiration and ideas about what to build.

          Mine are meant to be more focused on after the idea - how do you execute. What do you take into account.

          In the Pro version I go deeper into: how to Validate, what is your MVP, which team members you need, etc.

          But I'm very open to your view on it.

          TL;DR: Trends for inspiration, Venturism for execution.

  4. 2

    A lot of books handle big ideas with sizeable teams but for the bootstrapped individual I found very useful for cutting down options into a formula for validation and success.

  5. 2

    You should have a check to the YC startup school,
    I like this Notion board that condense every aspect

  6. 2

    I haven't gotten far into it but I think "Four steps to the epiphany" would fit your definition. It is literally a comprehensive four step process to building a startup. It's more of a textbook than something you'd find on the business shelf and comes recommended from a lot of other authors I respect. The level of detail in it is unusual, frustrating, and refreshing all at once.

    1. 1

      True but pretty dry and dense

    2. 1

      Indeed it's very useful for getting an idea to product/marketing fit. I might recommend The Lean Startup, if you haven't heard of it, as a condensed version that's more readable. IMO it's just as good.

      1. 1

        How condensed? Is anything lost?

        1. 1

          Sure some things are, but in my opinion there's little lost of import; I started with four steps and while I was building my second company Lean Startup came out. There were probably 20-30 of us, and we made it required reading for everyone. It was hugely net positive.

          Bottomline: If you have time and can grok it, go with four steps. If you want something a little more to the point and something that you can easily distribute to team members, go with The Lean Startup.

  7. 1

    Great thread. There isn't that I know of, but I think we all wish there was. I feel like this thread should get pinned since it's so important.

    I couldn't resist putting these all into a Notion doc, which I've shared publicly.

    Please comment and let me know any I've missed!

    I added a few resources I'm fond of, notably:


    Start From Zero:

    • This one has a great methodology for starting without an idea, discovering a pain point, validation a solution, and building it with minimal investment or risk. Their podcast is great too.


    • Amy Hoy has a course for bootstrappers, but I've learned a ton from her free content (blog posts, youtube videos) and her $90 Sales Safari content package.
  8. 1

    YouTube channel called "One Hour SaaS" by mubs.

  9. 1

    Start Small, Stay Small by Rob Walling.
    He references most of the things talked about here.

  10. 1

    IMO the definitive guide is The Startup Owner's Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf. It will walk you through the customer development lifecycle and is meant to be read in parts, not in full.

  11. 1

    I would recommend to start working and listen to you customers instead of wasting your time on reading. (Haha I actually read a lot of business books but I found nothing can replace the real activity).

  12. 1

    I'm building one right now at The MVP Sprint! (Although it's not quite worthy of the word "bible" quite yet 😉).

    I'm documenting a step-by-step process to go from idea to product and paying users with weekly articles.

    The inspiration comes from The Design Sprint - a five-day process for solving problems and testing new ideas used successfully at companies ranging from small startups to established giants.

  13. 1

    Grant Cardone 10X Rule. He has a lot of content and bootcamps for business specifically and how to go from idea to monetization.

  14. 1

    My list of books to read is becoming longer than the books I have read.
    I'm coming back to this thread, lots of great material. Thanks!

  15. 1

    This is exactly what I'm working on with Youngling & Feynman. I specialize in entrepreneurial science and I'm researching this to create models that are more rigoreous and useful rather than the handwaivy stuff and idiosyncratic war stories we have now.

    There's a tremendous amount of pushback with people saying it can't be done "because CrEaTiviTy" which is demonstrably false.

  16. 1

    Every entrepreneur should read The E-Myth Revisited at some point.

    1. 2

      funny how opinions can differ so much cuz I thought that was the worst book I had ever read in my entire life. Struggle to think of 1 I disliked less.

      1. 1

        Now I'm curious what you didn't like about it. :-)

        1. 1

          My view of how to design great companies is in full opposition to his. For example, he promotes creating systems such that you can hire dumb, fungible people and the business will still run fine.

          I've seen first hand with my clients what happens when you do that. If you make your biz dummy-proof, you'll get dummies.

          Instead, if you want to make your company more resilient or even anti-fragile, you should hire the smartest, best people you can find and give them tons of autonomy. You also want decentralized command and give them the opportunity to take extreme ownership.

          By doing that, you'll get a business that stays flexible as it grows and is much less rigid.

          That might seem irrelevant and it is... until the environment you operate in changes. Then you're fucked if you can't change, which you can't if your biz is full of babies that 1. aren't interested in you and 2. need their hand held.

          This is just one of many examples. But I think, fundamentally, we're from a different era. I'm a millennial, he's quite old. In the 20th century, business was more cutthroat and a lot of things that don't work now still worked back then.

  17. 1

    Based on what I have learned so far there are 3 steps to building a successful tech company:
    1 build a good product (that also involves a lot of research and planning, not just coding)
    2 build the client base and find product market-fit
    3 expansion

    In order to pass these exams a lot of skills are required: market research, domain expertise, product development, graphic design, programming, system engineering, marketing, sales, public relations, customer service, business development, tactical planning, strategic planning, financial planning, financial management, human resource management and more... To maximize the chances of success most of those skills must be available to the founder(s) at an affordable cost.

  18. 1

    I thought "Hello, Startup" was a pretty decent introduction for a developer.

  19. 1

    I personally find Getting Real from the guys at Basecamp very motivating. It's free here

  20. 1

    My favorite series is this one:
    It might just be the closest thing you'll get to a startup bible.

  21. 1

    Listen to people that do that before.
    First, it can be on youtube and podcasts, but the best is to have friends that do that before even if it's not exactly what are you wanna do (even people that doing dropshipping or affiliate you can learn from them a lot)

  22. 1

    I like learning the most from personal insights & experiences people share. In line with that, I find these reports super helpful -

    To add a bit more, Karthik has well-researched all of the topics, so it's not just all personal experience :)

    P.S: Karthik is my co-founder at Flexiple. However, these reports are written by him independently, of course quite a lot of things there that we've discussed before.

  23. 1

    There are books like "Founders at work" or more recently "How I built this" filled with tons of stories and insights from founders. Not exactly a how-to-guide, but it cover a lot of different topics and stages.

  24. 0

    I know it's older but the Lean Startup is a decent read. But for any entrepreneur I always suggest reading Hooked by Nir Eyal.

  25. 0

    Find a customer.

    1. 4

      Not sure if your answer was in jest or not, but there's clearly much, much more to building a successful company than finding a first customer.

      1. 1

        You asked if I had to recommend one thing then what would it be.

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