Book Review: The Art of the Start

Don’t pitch a VC or angel before reading

If you are an entrepreneur starting up a business or in the market for venture capital (VC) or angel funding, you need to get your hands on “The Art of the Start,” by Guy Kawasaki.  From a credentials perspective, he is a UCLA grad, an MBA and worked with Steve Jobs at Apple for many years before becoming an entrepreneur.  He also runs his own venture capital and small business incubator called, “Garage,” where he has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs get started.

If you haven’t met Guy Kawasaki or read any of his material, you are in for a treat.  He is a no-nonsense, tell it like it is, sprinkle some four letter words just to keep you alert and add a little bit of humor to keep you entertained … type of a guy.  Art of the Start is an easy and compelling read.  You could devour it, cover-to-cover, over a round-trip flight to Hawaii.

Some of the gems you will find in this book include:

  • Positioning your business or product
  • Pitching your business plan to potential investors
  • How to write a winning business plan
  • How to get by with bootstrapping
  • How to recruit cost-effective talent
  • How to raise capital in any economy
  • How to pick a business partner
  • Brand establishment, brand development

Kawasaki gives you a real hands-on tactical strategy and field manual for organizing your business or project, pitching it to investors and figuring out how to do as much boot-strapping as possible. Since Kawasaki has endured thousands of pitches from other entrepreneurs seeking venture capital, he can tell you in  about 30 seconds whether the pitch has legs or not.

Some of my favorite quotes in the book include:

  • Great organizations are made by their drive to make meaning, i.e., make the world a better place, increase the quality of life, right a terrible wrong, prevent the end of something good, etc.
  • We take the FU out of funding.
  • Think big – Set your sights high and strive for something grand.
  • The most successful companies started off targeting specific markets and grew to great size by addressing other segments.  [So,] the more precisely you can describe your customer, the better.
  • To build the next Microsoft, you have to start in a small niche, establish a beachhead, and move our from there.

These quotes are from the first half of the first chapter.  The entire book is full of incredible nuggets of knowledge.

If you are looking for investors or angels, this book is a must-read.

Guy Kawasaki, author of “The Art of the Start“.