Book Review: The Launch Pad

The Launch Pad tells the story of Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups.  For those of you who don’t know, my “day job” is a Software Engineer.  So obviously this book was incredibly interesting to me. (Especially when they said most females in the field have a mom or dad who are an engineer – definitely true for me – my dad is an engineer too – although I credit my desire for wanting to make a Hanson website with the reason why I went in to programming / engineering and not my Dad!)  It was interesting to hear the stories behind the start ups and what the founders were doing before they started them (a lot were doing hacking, which is not my thing at all!)

I have an idea for a website (though probably not a start up) that I have been working on – honestly I probably should have been coding instead of reading this book – but at least the book kept me motivated that maybe someday I could go somewhere with this rather than bursting my bubble completely. (Databases are too tedious to set up – I can not wait for that stage of this project to be over and done with!)

Anyway – enough about me and coding and back to the book!

It was great to read about all the start ups and the mistakes they made and the ways to help make their presentations.  One of the companies was OMGPOP, I play their game Draw Something constantly, i’m obsessed. A lot of the other successful companies to come out of YC I had heard of as well.  They end up picking many different startups in hopes that one of them will hit big and make back the money they invested in all the rest.  It is a competitive business, but definitely incredibly interesting to me and I think anyone else interested in the tech world will find it interesting as well!

I received a free e-copy of this book in return for writing this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Twice a year in the heart of Silicon Valley, a small investment firm called Y Combinator selects an elite group of young entrepreneurs from around the world for three months of intense work and instruction. Their brand-new two- or three-person start-ups are given a seemingly impossible challenge: to turn a raw idea into a viable business, fast.
Each YC session culminates in a demo day, when investors and venture capitalists flock to hear pitches from the new graduates. Any one of them might turn out to be the next Dropbox (class of 2007, now valued at $5 billion) or Airbnb (2009, $1.3 billion).
Randall Stross is the first journalist to have fly-on-the-wall access to Y Combinator. He tells the full story of how Paul Graham started this ultra exclusive institution, how it chooses among hundreds of aspiring Mark Zuckerbergs, and how it teaches them to go
from concept to profitability in record time.
The Launch Pad is both a gripping narrative and a gold mine of useful insights.
Randall Stross writes the “Digital Domain” column for The New York Times and is a professor of business at San Jose State University. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including eBoysPlanet Google, and The Wizard of Menlo Park. He has a Ph.D. in history from Stanford University.
Category: Book Review
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