Founders at Work (Free Book Inside)

If you are interested in entrepreneurship, innovation or you are just fascinated by the special chemistry and drive that created some of the best technology companies in the world, this book offers both wisdom and engaging insights—straight from the source.

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now. What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an idea? Founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin (PayPal), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) tell you in their own words about their surprising and often very funny discoveries as they learned how to build a company.

Where did they get the ideas that made them rich? How did they convince investors to back them? What went wrong, and how did they recover?

Nearly all technical people have thought of one day starting or working for a startup. For them, this book is the closest you can come to being a fly on the wall at a successful startup, to learn how it’s done.

But ultimately these interviews are required reading for anyone who wants to understand business, because startups are business reduced to its essence. The reason their founders become rich is that startups do what businessesdo—create value—more intensively than almost any other part of the economy. How? What are the secrets that make successful startups so insanely productive? Read this book, and let the founders themselves tell you. – Amazon

This is an absolute must read if you’re job, your passion, or both (if you’re lucky) has anything to do with creating technical innovation. “Founders at Work” is a wonderful meander through the stories of successful company founders – across several decades. Far from focusing on just those who made it big during the first dot-com boom or those who are profiting from Web 2.0, Jessica (the author) also includes some of the true pioneers in the field. She recognizes that, not only do these industry veterans have valuable stories to convey but, since many of them are helping to steer companies and venture capital funds to this day, their advice is quite topical and current.

You want to buy this book, trust me. Head over to to get it from about $5 (plus shipping). It is sadly not available (and probably will never be available) in our Chapaa Shop.

Alternatively, dear readers, you can get a copy of this book free from us. We recently gave away 4 copies of “The Richest Man in Babylon” and, today, we’re giving away a copy (or copies) of Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days. Interested?

All you have to do is leave a comment below. You can say anything at all (but it helps if you add constructively to the discussion). We’ll pick a winner randomly in three days. Good luck!

Update 25/10/2010: This competition is over and the winners have been picked.

Have you ever started your own business? Why not? What was it like?

Additional Resources


  1. Yes i run an SME. At this point, we are on a crucial juncture where after a year of taking on any form of business even outside our original idea just to pay bills. Now there is clients rapport and trust on our core consultancy work. The main task ahead is creating a niche in the area of Strategy and Financial services which form a key plank of our business objectives. Rapport with clients such as through email lists, sms, e-magazine are some of the things we are exploring at this time.


  2. Me and my brother started a business, almost one year old,managed to break even but the network I created from start-up has enabled us to venture into other businesses and added value to the product we offer at It is not the easiest thing to start a business at the expense of working but it feels great making 10 k from self-employment than 100k from employment.It is a risk we took not to look for employment but where we are headed and where we are looks like it was a worthy risk.

  3. I have been interested in starting a web business for around six months now. However the fact that i have a daytime job, procrastination and fear of losses has held me back. I learnt SEO and all i could to drive traffic to my website to be but i never start. I think starting anything is the hardest thing anyone ever does.

    • Did you know that when Apple, Inc started there were three founders? Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and someone else. He pulled out because he thought it was too risky. Apple is now one of the biggest tech companies ever. Do not fear risk, manage it. Please, please start your thing – it may be what you are meant to do with your life.

  4. I want to start a business! Nitaanza, nitaanza … That’s what I Keep telling myself. Am a terrible procrastinator (worst trait ever) top that up with laziness and it just gets worse. But am hopeful I will start a bizna sometime soon. Think my situation is salvageable!?
    I studied tech related stuff in school (this book might just be the wake up call i need).

  5. Thanks God for, it is one of my business bibles. Me and my cousin friend have been in the business of Mpesa ever since its inception way back in 2007. I must admit that the going has been tough and losses have been cruel. This has forced as to go back to the drawing board and strategize on how we can come up with permanent solution on how to; 1 reduce/wipe out these losses and 2. Improve on float availability.
    So far we have come up with two products;
    1. Advance Overdraft Facility – to improve on float availability
    2. Teller/shop supervisory – to timely detect/ conceal loose end to avoid cash loose. (basically supervision)

    We are working on the above two, currently in the pilot stage. I know this book will energize me brother Kelvin.

  6. Competition imeisha, you’re all winners! 🙂


  1. […] we had yet another mini competition the other day. Today, we’re announcing the people who won themselves a copy of […]

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