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Startupland: How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea into a Global Business

Book Description

The real story of what it takes to risk it all and go for broke.

Conventional wisdom says most startups need to be in Silicon Valley, started by young engineers around a sexy new idea, and backed by VC funding. But as Mikkel Svane reveals in Startupland, the story of founding Zendesk was anything but conventional.

Founded in a Copenhagen loft by three thirty-something friends looking to break free from corporate doldrums, Zendesk Inc. is now one of the hottest enterprise software companies, still rapidly growing with customers in 150 countries. But its success was anything but predestined. With revealing stories both funny and frank, Mikkel shares how he and his friends bravely left secure jobs to start something on their own, how he almost went broke several times, how they picked up themselves and their families to travel across the world to California and the unknown, and how the three friends were miraculously still together for Zendesk's IPO and (still growing) success.

Much like Zendesk's mission itself—to remove friction, barriers, and mystery in order to make customer service easier and more approachable—Startupland removes some of the myths about startups and startup founders. Mikkel's advice, hard-won through experience, often bucks conventional wisdom and entrepreneurial tropes. He shares why failure (whether fast or slow) is awful, why a seemingly boring product or idea can be the most exciting, why giving back to the community is as important as the bottom line. From how to hire right (look for people who are not offended by swearing) to which personas generate the highest response rates, Mikkel answers the most pressing questions from the perspective of someone still in the trenches and willing to share the hard truth, warts and all.

While there are books by consultants who tell you how to build businesses, or by entrepreneurs now running billion-dollar businesses, there are few books from people still in the trenches who acutely remember the difficult daily decisions, the thrill (and fears) of the early days, the problems that scale with growing a business, and the reason why they all went on the adventure in the first place. Startupland is indispensable reading for all entrepreneurs who want to make their ideas the next big thing. The book will inspire and empower you to follow your own dream and create your own story.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright
  3. Dedication
  4. Foreword By Alexia Tsotsis
  5. Introduction: The Pursuit of Happiness
    1. Notes
  6. Chapter 1: The Honeymoon: Believing that what you're doing is great and knowing nothing of what's to come
    1. Beautifully Simple, Round One
    2. Importing the Internet from America
    3. The Danger in Riding Market Waves <i xmlns="" xmlns:epub="" xmlns:m="" xmlns:svg="" xmlns:ibooks="">or</i> Going Kaput Going Kaput
    4. There Are Second Chances
    5. An Ignored Idea
    6. Boring Is Beautiful
    7. Timing Is Everything
    8. Notes
  7. Chapter 2: The Salad Days: Keeping it together when things should be falling apart
    1. Working from Home and Actually Working
    2. Money Isn't Only in Your Bank Account; It's Also in Your Head
    3. Startups Are Fragile
    4. What's in a Name?
    5. You Lose Some, You Win Some
    6. Going Live
    7. Making Sales Self-Service
    8. Finding Customers When You Have No Idea Where to Find Them
    9. Instantly Iterating the Idea
  8. Chapter 3: Going for Broke: How to turn down money and keep your company (and your soul)
    1. Hat in Hand
    2. How to Ask Your Friends for Money—And Stay Friends
    3. Eleventh-Hour Surprise
    4. Making Irrevocable Mistakes with People Who Matter
    5. Notes
  9. Chapter 4: The Bubble Redux: Battling circumstances beyond your control
    1. More Business 101: Hire People You Know!
    2. When Things Go Wrong
    3. Curbing Anxiety: Unexpected business advice! How to get over a fear of flying and make business travel semi-palatable
    4. Notes
  10. Chapter 5: The Game Is Not Over: Getting investors and getting along with your partners
    1. Second Chances Again!
    2. Jamaica Plain, or Things Are Not as Good as They Sound
    3. Learning What Makes a Great VC
    4. Fostering Your VC Relationship
    5. Entrepreneurship Is Filled with Paranoia
  11. Chapter 6: Coming to America: Chasing the dream—and dealing with the reality
    1. Building the Home Team
    2. Picking Your First Employees
    3. Customer Support from the Inside
    4. Customer Support Secrets
    5. Becoming the Shiny New Thing
    6. Settling In
    7. Moving Again
    8. Notes
  12. Chapter 7: Go West: Leveraging location and upending our lives
    1. Office Space: Real Estate Lessons Learned the Hard Way
    2. Starting Over, Again
    3. Scaling Snafus
    4. Hiring: American Style
    5. Hiring. Our Unconventional (Possibly Illegal) Hiring Checklist
    6. Home at Last (Or Location Matters)
  13. Chapter 8: Growing Up: Going from building a product to building a company—and messing up along the way
    1. Onboarding Talent and Trying to Look Like a Pro
    2. Some Tricks on How to Hire People Who Can Do What You Can't
    3. Every Little Thing You Do Matters
    4. Treat Customers with Love and Respect
    5. Mo Money, Mo Problems
    6. Sorry. We Messed Up
  14. Chapter 9: Innocence Lost: From idealist to realist, and the uncomfortable journey in between
    1. Shifting Your Strategy and Feeling Fine about It
    2. Moving Up, Moving Out, Making Different Choices…
    3. . . . And Sometimes Pissing Off Your Friends and Alienating Your Best Employees
    4. Learning to Edit the Authentic Self
    5. The Most Important Management Secret I Only Just Learned
    6. Some Final Thoughts on How We Changed
  15. Chapter 10: Going to the Show: Becoming a public company and remembering where we came from
    1. Ignoring Conventional Wisdom
    2. Road Warriors: How to Survive an IPO Road Show
    3. Determining How Much You're Worth
    4. Showtime!
    5. The More Things Change…
    6. Notes
  16. Epilogue
  17. A Few More Thoughts: It's all about relationships
  18. Acknowledgments
  19. About the Authors
  20. More from Wiley
  21. Index
  22. End User License Agreement