I’m a big believer in the idea that reading provides founders and investors with an invaluable competitive edge. It’s a great source of insights, especially in the startup space, which changes all the time. Every startup needs to become a learning organisation, and books are a great source of both acquiring wisdom as well as sharing it.
The problem is that lots of people don’t like to read. Many books aren’t well-written, so I don’t blame them for this attitude. This is also often a hangover from their school days, when reading a book was a compulsory chore which was forcibly inflicted on them over their holidays. They learned to resent books, because they took them away from their fun and games.
This is why so many people don’t know how to read well – they aren’t able to extract information efficiently from a book. They get bored while others feel they are too busy to be able to afford the luxury of reading.
Mission In A Bottle
This is why it’s such a pleasure to come across this great comic book called Mission in a Bottle. This is a brilliantly written graphic novel about a successful startup called Honest Tea.
Just the fact that it’s in a comic book format means that it’s one of those books which you can’t stop reading once you start it. It’s an extremely well-told story, which is fun to read.
I suggest you download it on your iPad and read it through your Kindle app, because it comes alive in living colour (as compared to the print version which is just in black and white).
It’s not just the brilliant graphics which make the book so interesting – it’s the underlying real life story which makes it so absorbing. After all, that’s what every book really is – a story which the author is telling the reader.
Mission in a Bottle is an honestly-written first person account by two co-founders, who started a very successful company which they sold to Coca Cola. I enjoyed reading it, not just because the artist has done such a great job with the illustrations, but because it’s loaded with real-life pearls of wisdom about the trial and tribulations of running a startup.
Not only is it a wise book, it is actually a gripping page turner, because you’re just dying to find out what happens next in the startup’s roller coaster journey. It’s a great way of absorbing the real life lessons which they learned the hard way in a painless enjoyable hour or so!
What makes it especially valuable is the fact that the two co-founders are so different. One is a first-generation entrepreneur, who started the company and the second is his professor from the Yale School of Management, who mentors him and helps him navigate the trials and tribulations of the real world.
Since it offers the varying perspectives of the different players in the startup ecosystem and how these evolve over time as the company matures, this makes its message so much more memorable. It gives you a great peek behind the scenes, so you can see what the different stake-holders at the table are thinking.
[This post by Dr. Aniruddha Malpani first appeared on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission.]