116 Must-Read Guides & Resources From The Startup Ecosystem

02. September 2015

Here’s a round-up of the best guides and resources we’ve curated recently.

Happy reading!

STARTUPS

Million Dollar Products
“People don’t start hacking on projects anymore, they become CEOs and start looking for funding.”

Four Billion-Dollar Startups That Were Told Their Idea Was Stupid
Checkout out these hilarious comments on the TechCrunch launch articles of Twitter, Instagram, Uber, and Pinterest.

Convertible Debt Explained in Entrepreneur English
Investor Madding King does a good job outlining 7 basic components to understanding convertible debt.

16 Startup Metrics
VC firm Andreessen Horowitz provides us with 16 startup metrics every founder should know and use.

What I learned in 1 year as a designer at Pocket, a top-notch startup in San Francisco.
A great look at how Pocket, one of my favourite iPhone apps, works and operates from the view of their designer Diego Mendes.

The Post-YC Slump
While this article by Sam Altman is focused on YC startups, it acts as a great reminder we should all be building products users love and continuing to hit growth targets.

Startup Trends From YCombinator’s Demo Day
Tom Tunguz categorized more than 250 startups in 3 recent YC classes to spot any emerging trends, resulting in fascinating data points on where startups (with YC) are headed.

Why it’s nice to compete against a large, profitable company
Jason Cohen, founder of WP Engine, offers great insights into how “a startup with new cost structures, technology, and ideas can compete with a good-enough product at 1/2 the price“.

Nine Years of Demo Days: How YC has changed
Jared Friedman does a good job recapping how YC has grown “from a bunch of college students with big dreams to the very center of innovation of the technology world“.

How much are we worth? I don’t know and I don’t care.
Jason Fried does a great job reminding us “a valuation is an invented number that ebbs and flows on the basis of how much someone else thinks you’re worth“.

How Many Stock Options Should I Give An Advisor?
Mark Goldstein of Bad Ass Advisors provides useful thoughts on compensating advisors, along with five ingredients that make a great advisor.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better: How A Big Round Can Hurt Your Startup
Geoff McQueen, CEO of AffinityLive, shares how funding often comes with strings attached and can sometimes do more harm than good for startups.

The Strategy of Mergers & Acquisitions
Excellent post on mergers and acquisitions with learnings from Salesforce, Twitter and BigCommerce by Ron Pragides.

Change Your Name
Paul Graham recommends startups use the .com of their name, or else change their name.

28 Things I’d Do Differently Next Time Around
From investing in design from day one to defining customer personas up front, Mitchell Harper of BigCommerce shares what he’d do differently if he was to start a new company.

Why Startups Are Growing Faster Today Than Ever Before
Tom Tunguz looks at how three trends – cost effective acquisition channels, customers and private market investors – are helping startups grow faster than ever before.

How will the venture capital model or approach likely change in the next twenty years?
Partner at Toba Capital Patrick Mathieson predicts how the VC model will change over the next 20 years via an in-depth answer on Quara.

Board Leadership
VC Fred Wilson shares the qualities, roles and benefits of having a great leader on your board.

18 Ways to Make Your Financial Model Stand Out to Investors
David Teten provides 18 ways to make it easier for investors and partners to understand your financial data.

How Bootstrapping Became a Lost Art and Venture Capital Became an Addiction
This is a great read by Michael Ortner at Capterra reminds us venture capital is not the only viable path to building a thriving business.

You Are Not Late
Kevin Kelly at Wired rightfully reminds us that “There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now.” A great read.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Why Introverts Make Great Entrepreneurs
Do introverts or extroverts make a better entrepreneurs? Elizabeth Bernstein ‏at the WSJ has more.

50 Resources for the Female Entrepreneur
Catherine Ellen has published a “comprehensive list of venture firms, accelerators, angel money, networks and resources targeted towards the female entrepreneur“.

Stop Looking for a Cofounder
John Wheeler of Dont Scale makes a good case on building startups alone.

An honest guide to the San Francisco startup life
Hilarious.

Why You Shouldn’t Take VC Money
Gary Vaynerchuk reminding entrepreneurs there’s a viable alternative to raising outside funding when building startups.

The Evolutionary Angel, Naval Ravikant
A must listen Tim Ferriss Show podcast episode with Naval Ravikant, CEO and a co-founder of AngelList.

How Two Non-Technical Cofounders Grew & Sold Their Startup for Millions
One year on from selling his ecommerce business, Moiz Ali reflects and shares how being frugal, relentless, experimental, careful and resolved can help you build a successful company.

Failing is OK
Carlos Rivera, co-founder of Requested, shares lessons learned from pivoting their app.

Reading List
Entrepreneur and investor Keith Rabois shares a list of great business focused books he recommends reading.

20 Things I’ve Learned From Larry Page
James Altucher shares lessons we can learn from Larry Page by analyzing Page’s quotes from the past ten years.

How Medium Changed My Life
Ina Herlihy explains how blogging has changed her life. Cool.

Presumption of stupidity
Aaron Harris of Tutorspree reminds us to think twice before assuming stupidity in other founders.

How Great Founders Find Great Ideas
An inspirational read by Zachary Slayback on how great founders find great ideas.

How Matt’s machine works
A great profile on Matt Mullenweg and Automattic’s growth over at Fast Company.

Do things, tell people.
This is the advice I give to folks who struggle to decide what to work on – build something cool (anything!), learn the ins and outs, and share it (along with the lessons learned) with everyone. A great short read.

What’s Your Purpose?
Wise words from Albert Wenger, partner at Union Square Ventures.

“Don’t Take Advice” and More Startup Advice
Recovering entrepreneur Jolijt Tamanaha shares 7 lessons learned from her first startup flop.

What Makes Founders Succeed
Cofounder and partner at Y Combinator Jessica Livingston has published the opening paragraph of her book; Founders At Work, which she wrote in 2006, and confirms the successful founders today have the same mentality as they did back then.

How to Measure Valuation
Michael Sachaj at Hyde Park Angels does a great job of breaking down how company valuations work. A must read if your unfamiliar how pre/post money and stock valuations work.

30 Observations About Tech & Silicon Valley
A great list of observations by Ben Erez covering everything from software engineers, VC’s to tactics startups are using to make themselves look bigger than what they are.

PRODUCT

The Strange Appeal of Watching Coders Code
Scott Rosenberg looks at how live streaming sites like Livecoding.tv are making programming less lonely.

MailChimp Content Style Guide
Mailchimp have just launched their internal content style guide. It’s a must read for content and communications teams, and is also open source, so you can use and adapt it as you see fit.

Submit Your WordPress Blog to Apple News
It’ll be very interesting to see what Apple have been up to with their News Publisher app. If you have a blog, I’d submit your details now.

Remember Facebook Notes? It’s Back With a Vengeance
Is Facebook Notes revamp set to take on Medium and Twitter?

Video: Ryan teaches product management at Mind the Product in San Francisco
Basecamp product manager Ryan Singer shares ways to think about product management from his recent talk at the Mind the Product event. It’s a must watch for those involved with design, product and development.

4 Invisible User Experiences you Never Knew About
Michael Wong on why we should create experiences so great that the design goes unnoticed.

13 experienced startup CTOs offer their top tips to first-time CTOs
Viola Group asks CTO’s at their portfolio companies “What is the most important advice you would give to a newly appointed CTO of a startup company?”

The Case for Why Marketing Should Have Its Own Engineers
First Round interviews Robbie Mitchell, head of marketing Knewton, on why he “runs the marketing team like an independent agency within the organization complete with its own engineers“.

Projects and Companies
Great advice as usual from Sam Altman on working on projects, not companies.

Developing a product through customer communication
Cat Noone, co-founder at Liberio, shares some great advice for communicating and developing a voice with your users.

Trello CSS Guide
Grab yourself a coffee. It’s time to geek out on Trello’s CSS guidelines.

What If We Could Listen to Medium Articles as Podcasts (Concept)
User interface designer Aleš Nešetřil suggests how Medium could add audio as a feature along with some great mock-up designs to show how this could work.

This 90-Day Plan Turns Engineers into Remarkable Managers
This is a great article on on-boarding new engineering managers, by David Loftesness, Twitter’s former director of engineering.

How we designed Booking.com for Business
From research to wireframes to prototyping, this is great report on how a travel giant launched a product for business travellers.

Some thoughts about freemium
Pawel Janiak shares some interesting case points on whether to go freemium or not.

GROWTH

The Story Behind How Pocket Hit 20M Users with 20 People
A really inspiring interview with Pocket founder Nate Weiner on growing the save-for-later app to 20 million registered users with a team of just 20 employees.

Your Job As a Founder Is to Create Believers
Wise words from Joseph Walla at HelloSign on the importance of startup founders being evangelists.

How Zapier Went From Zero to 600,000+ Users in Just Three Years
Alex Turnbull at Groove talks to Zapier’s CEO, Wade Foster, about how the company went from an idea hatched over two days to a thriving business that’s on track to hit one million users.

Buffer Investors’ Report: $6.86M ARR, Sixth Retreat, New ‘Areas’ Structure
It’s really impressive to see how far Buffer are evolving each month with these investor updates.

Ghost August update: $500k annual revenue, doubled cashflow, new UI on the way
Blogging platform Ghost share an update on revenue and growth. Impressive.

Growth hacking has two phases — and using the wrong one will sink you
A really interesting look at 2 distinct types of growth hackers, and 7 effective habits of each.

Average Manager vs. Great Manager
Julie Zhuo, product design director at Facebook shares 10 sketches defining average vs. great managers. Epic.

How We Doubled Our Email Subscribers to 50,000 in 6 Months
The team at Groove share some great tactics and results on how they used email subscriptions forms and giveaways to double their email subscriber base.

Performance is User Experience
Great read on designing for performance by Lara Callender Hogan.

How 5 Email Easter Eggs Helped Sell Out The Email Design Conference
The team at Litmus share the email marketing hacks they used to sell event tickets and generate buzz for their upcoming conference. Smart.

What Really Killed Homejoy? It Couldn’t Hold On To Its Customers
Ellen Huet at Forbes reports on Homejoy’s recent closure, it’s retention issues and the discounting growth model that didn’t work. This is a classic example of a startup raising too much venture capital before getting the basics right.

SALES & MARKETING

The Next Big Marketing Channel: How and Why to Create a Community With Slack
Thinking about starting a Slack community? The team at Buffer has a really good in-depth guide on how to go about it.

10 Ways You Need to Change How You Think and Talk to Succeed at Sales
Peter Kazanjy, co-founder of TalentBin, shares a great read with actionable tips on sales mindsets. A must read for every founder and sales professional.

Applying Agile Methodology To Marketing Can Pay Dividends: Survey
A great article by Forbes on why we should apply Agile, commonly used in software development, to marketing.

Stop Selling Features, Start Selling Stories
A great post by Jimi Smoot on why and how you should sell with stories.

We Stopped Publishing New Blog Posts for One Month. Here’s What Happened.
Here’s what the team at Buffer discovered when they stopped blogging for 30 days, and instead focused on repurposing and refreshing content from the archives. A great read.

How Netflix Reinvented HR
A great article that all HR pros, managers and entrepreneurs should read.

What SaaS Startups Miss In User Onboarding
Tom Tunguz on why creating value within the first sign-up session is essential to great user onboarding.

How to Build a SaaS Business
A great honest podcast interview from William Channer of Dorm Room Tycoon with Eoghan McCabe, founder and CEO of Intercom.

Briefly
Why do people write more than they should?

How to Build the Perfect Sales Stack for Your Company
Brandon Redlinger from PersistIQ has a guide on lead generation, lead management, product demo’s and closing deals.

Zero-sum marketing channels: Good or bad for a startup to pursue?
Jason Cohen shares the differences with zero-sum marketing channels (Social media, content marketing) and non-zero-sum channels (Adwords, SEO), in a bid to help startups focus on marketing that is neither capped or expensive.

19 Psychological Tactics for Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns
From reciprocation to maintaining momentum, Peep Laja at ConversionXL shares tactics and principles that influence people to fund crowdfunding campaigns.

Yet another startup PR story
Rachel Vanier at eFounders does a great job explaining step-by-step how to announce your latest funding round.

DESIGN

How to design award-winning websites
A great list of things to keep in mind when designing engaging digital experiences.

Typographic Patterns In HTML Email Newsletter Design
A great in-depth report on how email designers handle responsive typography.

Q&A: Susan Kare On Why Pinterest Feels Like Apple In The ’80s
Fast Company interviews Susan Kare, the designer behind the original Mac’s icons and fonts, on joining Pinterest as product design lead.

UI Mechanics of a Date Picker
Cool post exploring different design options for a great date picker.

AMA: Jason Fried, CEO and Co-Founder of Basecamp (formerly 37signals)
So much wisdom and useful nuggets of info in this AMA with Jason Fried.

15 Award-Winning Websites With Beautiful (And Functional) Designs
Great list from the team at HubSpot.

A Bright Identity for Education News
An excellent case study of a redesign (The Hechinger Report) from Boston based design agency Upstatement.

Transparency First
Kim Bost at Cover has an excellent write-up on their recent re-design process, covering transparency, validation and more.

A Future-Friendly Approach to Experience Design
Asher Blumberg, designer at StumbleUpon, on designing for the future.

Design Thinking: Improving In-flight Entertainment
Designer Shahed Khan decides to redesign the in-flight entertainment system on a recent Virgin America flight. The results are stunning.

Stop pushing the web forward
Mobile platform strategist Peter-Paul Koch has a interesting take on whether we should pause new browser features for a while, giving us more time to leverage the features we already have.

PRODUCTIVITY

Work Hard, Live Well
Important work/life balance advice from Dustin Moskovitz, one of Facebook’s founders.

The Ultimate Guide to Learning Anything Faster
An excellent guide on how to deconstruct skill based learning, by Sean Kim.

What We Got Wrong About Self-Management: Embracing Natural Hierarchy at Work
Some of the best teams I’ve ever worked on had strong leaders, so I was surprised to learn Buffer had launched a self-management model at the company a few months back. It turns out it didn’t work out. Leo Widrich, co-founder at Buffer, does a great job of outlining the experience and the lessons learned.

My year at a standing desk and why i’ll never go back
After a year of working at a standing desk, Fast Company web producer Cia Bernales swears she’ll never go back to sitting.

How to Use Simple Checklists to Boost Efficiency and Reduce Mistakes
Belle Cooper of Zapier on how checklists can improve our performance and help us achieve more consistent results.

Morale over a project lifecycle
Ian Miles Ownbey does a good job covering the different phrases of mental states many of us go through when building new products, either with teams or alone.

How Startup Todoist Manages A Global Team
A look at how building an international team (40 people located in 20 countries) has helped Todoist with app localization and hiring.

GLOBAL

Meet the tech industry’s China fixer
Fortune profile Liam Casey, founder of PCH and hardware accelerator Highway1, covering his path to becoming the go-to-guy for manufacturing and supply chain management in China.

While Many Panicked, Japanese Day Trader Made $34 Million
While everyone else panicked during the recent market turmoil, Japan’s legendary day trader “CIS” made $34 million.

Meet the woman determined to turn Amsterdam into Europe’s Silicon Valley
Is Amsterdam in motion to become Europe’s Silicon Valley?

When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China
Fascinating insights about how WeChat and mobile in China works

Europe, it’s time we built our own Silicon Valley
What would a European startup model look like? Boris Veldhuijzen Van Zanten, founder of The Next Web, has more.

The UK is now a smartphone society
Smartphones overtake laptops as UK internet users’ number one device.

Behind the Surge in Chinese Tech Startups
Kai-Fu Lee, a former Google exec and now chairman and chief executive of investment firm and tech incubator Innovation Works, shares his thoughts on China’s growing startup scene with the WSJ.

How two Americans zoomed into India’s car rental market
An inspiring recap of how Greg Moran and David Back founded Zoomcar, a car sharing service in India; a country that is ranked 142 out of 189 in terms of ease of doing business.

How Myanmar Adapted to a Smartphone World
It’s kind of mind boggling Myanmar’s mobile market has only been active for 12 months (SIM cards and data we’re both very expensive before then). So much growth opportunity.

MOBILE

How I Increased Lonely Planet’s In-App Purchase Revenue By 30%
An interesting case study on how we use comparisons in purchase decisions.

The Colors Of An App Icon
Great report by Stuart Hall, founder of Appbot, covering the color trends of IOS app icons.

The Notification Problem
An excellent case study by travel app Hopper on how they tested and improved the user on-boarding of their app, paying particular attention to notifications. It’s a must read.

Avoid the Feature
M.G. Siegler, general partner Google Ventures, advises startups to “avoid being featured by Apple in the App Store when you first launch your app at all costs”.

A correction around the death of the mobile web
Tony Haile on time spent on the mobile web versus time spent in traditional mobile browsers.

The smartphone is the new sun
A great writeup by Ben Evans on the direction of mobile growth.

TECH

Stripe launch Alipay support to everyone
Stripe launch Alipay support to everyone, allowing you to instantly leverage 500 million new customers in China.

Why We Took $50 Million from China’s Largest Internet Company
Huge news for Kik.

On Digital Healthcare
Jonathan Libov at Union Square Ventures and Angela Tran Kingyens at Version One have launched an interesting 4 part digital healthcare report diving into mobile, data, apps and networks.

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe on the future of virtual reality
Wired speaks with Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe on building the VR market, partnering with Facebook, how often Oculus Rift will improve upon the consumer hardware, and where the future for VR lies.

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace
A deep look at how Amazon pushes its employees to conform to the company’s vision of productivity through a unique system of management.

Periscope, by the Numbers
After 4 months of launch, Periscope reports 10 million accounts and 40 years of video watched per day, and explain why they are focused on the Time Watched metric (time in years & days) over DAU/MAU.

G is for Google
Larry Page reporting Google is creating a mothership company called Alphabet, which will include Google, and discusses the new structure of Google’s portfolio of companies.

Improving Equity Compensation at Coinbase
Brian Armstrong, co-founder and CEO at Coinbase announces they are joining Pinterest in extending their stock option exercise window from the standard 90 days to 7 years.

Yes, We Will Live With Artificial Intelligence. But It Will Be Friend, Not Foe.
An optimistic take on the future of artificial intelligence from Boris Sofman, co-founder and CEO of Anki.

Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video
A strong post by YouTube creator and founder of Vidcon Hank Green digging into Facebook’s misleading video metrics and freebooting issues.

The story of .io
Here’s a fascinating guide on where the domain belongs to.

BITCOIN

Bitcoin Technology Piques Interest on Wall St.
It’s hard to see a world where blockchain technology doesn’t end up changing the way we think about asset ownership.

How Premise Uses Bitcoin to Collect Data in Venezuela
A look under the hood of how Premise are using Bitcoin via Coinbase to pay their contributors in Venezuela.

#WANT

A Giant Lite-Brite For Designers (And Other Grown-Ups)
The Everbrite is a giant interactive board, covered in dials which can be tuned to different colors.

REVIEWS

Breezy – A modern recruiting tool for fast growing teams
A uniquely simple, visual recruiting tool you and your team will love.

AppSignal – Performance Monitoring For Ruby Apps
AppSignal provides performance monitoring and exception tracking for Ruby apps.

Yclas – Create a free classifieds website within minutes
Yclass, a platform that provides a fully functioning classified website, without any technical knowledge, within minutes.

Foundersuite – Software & Templates For Entrepreneurs
Foundersuite gives your startup the best chance at survival, and it’s done so by curating and codifying best startup practices into software and templates that actually work and are easy to use.

FROM THE BLOG

The Awesome WordPress Plugins We Use To Power Founders Grid
We take a look at the different plugins we use which allow us to take a fairly bare bones WordPress install to what we have here at FoundersGrid today

I asked 9,000 newsletter subscribers for feedback — this is what I learned
Here’s what happened when I asked 9,000 newsletter subscribers for feedback on how I could improve.

50 Awesome LA Based Startups You Should Get To Know
50 interesting and innovative startups from early stage to seasoned ventures based in Los Angeles.

5 Startup Accelerators That Boost Your UK Visa Chances
Five accelerators in the UK that can potentially give you an advantage in securing a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

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