David Mytton

Book Review (5/5) – Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future (Blake Masters, Peter Thiel)

Published in Book Reviews.

Originally published on Goodreads.

A quick read but perhaps the single most important book for someone thinking about founding a venture-backed startup.

There are many different types of businesses and many ways to go about running them. Raising funds from investors is just one of those types but in my opinion is the option that should be reserved for the opportunities with the biggest potential – those that take something from 0 to 1, in the words of Peter Thiel. These are the types of business which benefit the most from the acceleration that investment can bring.

Other approaches often attract the pejorative “lifestyle businesses” label but that is unfair. This is just optimising for a different way of life and a different set of goals. There are nothing wrong with running a small business to provide a good quality of life for the founders and employees – they’re just not the type of business that introduces exponential technology improvements and exponential financial outcomes.

Peter Thiel is certainly optimising for the former, and provides a compelling framework for thinking about how to create one of those startups. This book serves as both an inspiration and a filter – providing excitement about what should be possible but also reality checking whether that is something you want to embark on.