I work with a lot of hopeful entrepreneurs who have ideas, who haven’t acted on them. Often they lack a starting point or a clear guide. Sometimes they just lack the confidence, and can’t be convinced otherwise, even when it’s clear they have what it takes. What do you get someone who can’t get past this block? A copy of All In Startup by Diana Kander.
This book is a rare piece of business fiction that teaches the elements of building a startup using stories about Poker. No joke. The stories are so relatable that concepts such as customer interviews, iteration, and rapid prototyping, the toolkit of modern startups, become intuitive. This book is chock-full of helpful lessons and terminology:
- Look for a “migraine” problem to solve. If you’re suffering a migraine, you’d do anything to make it go away. A “headache” problem is less urgent and can be solved in other (cheaper) ways.
- Before lifting a finger to build, gather evidence from your customer that they have a problem that needs solving.
- Adjust your product (and readjust) until it solves the customer’s problems extremely well. Your ideas don’t matter if they don’t solve problems.
- A business plan is used to scale a product proven to fit the market. You can’t scale an assumption.
If you’re getting started as a Corporate Innovator, Intrapreneur, or you’re just curious about methods such as Customer Development and Lean Startup, this is what you need. It makes a great introduction or companion to other, more technical books.
I met the author, Diana Kander, when she was Senior Fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurship in Kansas City. Her work to make entrepreneurship accessible to everyone is both impressive and inspirational. I was lucky to review All In Startup as Diana was developing the content.
All In Startup holds a special place on my Innovator’s Bookshelf as a handbook for entrepreneurs who can’t yet see the possibility in themselves that I might see in them.