|The Venture Cafe: Secrets, Strategies, and Stories from America's High-Tech Entrepreneurs|
|rating||9 - reads like a novel|
|summary||Non-fictional accounts of entrepreneurs' struggles and triumphs|
Oh, no, I thought. Not another one of these rags-to-riches, I've-got-mine and-so-now-I'm-going-to-rub-your-face-in-it type books.
Thanks, but I've had enough. And then I took a moment to actually read this thing.
Turns out that this Teresa Esser isn't even an entrepreneur -- she's the wife of an entrepreneur. So what business does she have trying to tell me how to start a company?
Esser watched her husband start an Ethernet telephone firm that was eventually sold to 3Com for $90 million. After the company was sold, she spent three years interviewing 150 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporate lawyers and high-tech headhunters about how a person can start their own high-tech company.
She interviewed members of the MIT blackjack team, asking them what it was like to gamble with other people's money. That's what the high-tech entrepreneurs were doing, you know, when they were financing their businesses with venture capital.
A lot of these new companies wound up going out of business. But some of them did not. Some of the new companies ACTUALLY SUCCEEDED at creating wealth for their investors -- including their venture capitalists, which more often than not happen to be pension funds.
So, when these high-tech entrepreneurs succeed at solving a problem and creating a solution and getting the product to market, and achieving a liquidity event, they make money for their investors.
There are a lot of business authors who spend half of the book thanking their wives for putting up with their obnoxious behavior and the other half bragging about how great they are.
Teresa Esser doesn't brag, really. I have to say, I admired how candid Esser was when she was talking about serious problems, like the time her husband got burned out and had to leave his company.
This was obviously a very painful experience, but she lays it all on the line. Esser didn't have to go back and dredge up those repressed memories about what it was like when her husband was on the verge of losing control of the technical direction his company was taking, and freaked out and asked Esser to turn off the electricity so that they would have to prematurely end an annoying board meeting.
She didn't have to fly to White Plains, New York and convince the God of high-tech headhunting, Chuck Ramsey, to spill the beans on how exactly you convince an top-ranked executive to leave his job and join a high-tech startup.But she did.
She could have spent the past three years lying on the beach in the Bahamas, drinking pina coladas and putting on sunscreen. Instead, she schlepped around Boston's financial district, asking jaded venture capitalists how an unknown entrepreneur could increase her chances of obtaining venture capital financing.
You know, most of these dot-com brag books make me sick. But I have to say, this one made me laugh.
I liked the story about the rat. These two kids started a company out of a disgusting apartment in Philadelphia and they tried to have a formal business meeting with a director of new business development from a Wall Street financial firm, but it was hard because they had these twelve-inch rats.
When the director of new business development came to visit, they didn't even have any clean cups to serve him tap water in. That story was funny. They gave the director of new business development a dirty dinosaur cup that they had gotten free from Burger King. And then he left. And the guys tried to figure out what had gone wrong with the meeting.
I mean, okay, okay. It's hard to start a new company. But with a book like this, at least you know that you're not the only one going through hard times.
To go through your own hard times, you can from The Venture Cafe from bn.com Also, check out The Venture Cafe web site. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to submit yours, read the book review guidelines, then hit the submission page.