Employees sit in ball chairs as they work on laptop computers at the Flipkart Online Services Pvt. headquarters in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

A war strategy. Experiences of legendary entrepreneurs. Lessons on how build teams and win trust. This is what some of India's startup founders have looked up to manage their successful businesses.

BloombergQuint spoke to the founders on that books that helped them stay focused.

Ankiti Bose, Founder, Zilingo

Ankiti Bose, co-founder and chief executive officer of Zilingo Pte. poses for a photograph. (Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg) 
Ankiti Bose, co-founder and chief executive officer of Zilingo Pte. poses for a photograph. (Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg) 

Singapore-headquartered Zilingo is a beauty and lifestyle marketplace that allows smaller merchants from Southeast Asia without an online presence to sell their merchandise on its platform. It recently raised $226 million to fund an expansion into the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

1. Sapiens By Yuval Noah Harari

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

Sapiens narrates the history of humans from a fresh perspective, according to Bose.

2. The Hard Thing About Hard Things By Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, draws on his story of founding and investing in technology companies, said Bose. “This book offers insights on how to navigate tough problems in a business.”

Benjamin “Ben” Horowitz, co-founder and partner of Andreessen Horowitz, speaks during an interview in New York. (Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg) 
Benjamin “Ben” Horowitz, co-founder and partner of Andreessen Horowitz, speaks during an interview in New York. (Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg) 

These two books, according to Bose, tell us "radical truths". “Sapiens deals with why everyone and everything is the way it's, and Hard Thing About Hard Things talks about how truly crushingly hard and lonely it can be to chase your dreams.”

Dhruv Dewan, Co-Founder, Hashtag Loyalty

Image courtesy: (Dhruv Dewan)
Image courtesy: (Dhruv Dewan)

Hashtag Loyalty helps businesses capture first-party customer data and pinpoint customer spending patterns and deliver engagement that's tailored to customers through its automated marketing tools. Till date over four million transactions have been recorded and two million customers have been engaged with using Hashtag Loyalty.

1. The Art Of War By Sun Tzu

This book is simply amazing in the way it draws a parallel between war and running a business; after all they’re not very different, according to Dewan. “The quote ‘Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win' impacted my thinking in many ways!”

He said that his biggest learning from the book was while growing aggressively is the norm for most startups today, growing aggressively at the right moment is better.

2. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets Of Being Productive In Life And Business, By Charles Duhigg

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

This book, according to Dewan, is “an eyeopener on how to make better decisions everyday". “Not just in life but in business too."

It helped me to concentrate on "how to think" as opposed to "what to think", he said. “Personally, one key metric that this book has helped me get right has been smart goal setting by predicting what will happen next."

This is applicable for smaller teams, the whole organisation or any individual, Dewan said.

3. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck By Mark Manson

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

Manson argues that life's struggles give it meaning, and that the mindless positivity of typical self-help books is neither practical nor helpful, said Dewan. He said that this book has been fairly popularly in recent times and deservingly so.

One key lesson from the book, according to Dewan, is certainty hampers growth. “This principle applied correctly to work can do so many tricks. Once you accept that you don't know everything about a topic/work area/brand/consumer (anything under the sun), you strive to research then learn and finally execute much better each time.”

Harsh Shah, Co-Founder, Fynd

Fynd is an offline to online fashion platform that provides an e-commerce marketplace, an in-store omnichannel product and integration to multiple demand channels. Fynd works with over 460 brands in India, including Steve Madden, Brooks Brothers and Nike to drive additional sales and plug loss of sale in the store.

Fynd has raised about $15 million from marquee investors such as Google, IIFL and Kae Capital, among others.

Image courtesy: Harsh Shah
Image courtesy: Harsh Shah

1. The Hard Thing About Hard Things By Ben Horowitz

This book is a no-holds barred study on what all an entrepreneur faces in starting, building and growing a company, said Shah. “With experience of starting and running companies, Ben Horowitz gives a great insights into the situations faced by founders in all walks of entrepreneurship and talks about the hard things that need to be done in such a situation.”

2. High Output Management By Andy Grove

The mantras given by Andy Grove—who built Intel into a big company—in this book aren't only guidelines, but should be followed as rules as one grows an organisation, said Shah. “It's a Bible, not only for entrepreneurs, but for anyone managing teams.”

He said this book gives founders a lot of great frameworks for everything, from how to run team meetings, to picking the right metrics.

3. Good To Great By Jim Collins

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

This is a great book that talks about how companies become great, said Shah. “While a lot of companies are good companies, there are very few that are truly great,” he said. “This book talks about all the things a company does to make them great.”

Vishal Gondal, Founder, Goqii

Founded in 2014 by serial entrepreneur Vishal Gondal, GOQii is a wearables devices startup and counts Mitsui, NEA, Megadelta, DSG Consumer Partners, among others, as investors.

1. Tools Of Titans By Tim Ferris

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

Tim Ferris has taken the top performers, entrepreneurs and achievers and analysed what traits they have in common that has helped them become even more successful, according to Gondal.

2. Steve Jobs Biography: Leader Of The New Century By Drew Crichton

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

Drew Crichton, Gondal said, has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur.

3. 21 Lessons From The 21st Century By Yuval Noah Harari

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

21 Lessons builds on the ideas explored in the books Sapiens and Homo Deus to take the pulse of our current global climate, is Gondal’s opinion about the book. “It untangles political, technological, social and existential questions, and highlights how they impact the everyday lives of humans worldwide,” he said. “If people don’t read this book, they will be irrelevant in the next 10 years.”

4. Leaders Eat Last By Simon Sinek

Books Every Startup Founder Should Read 

The author, in Gondal’s opinion, talks about the difference between winning and losing and the importance of team and leadership.