This week, your subway reading is all about start-ups: The coolest ones in America, the videos that drive their success, and an unexpected fictional one who puts some real-life entrepreneurs to shame.
On Your Kindle
The Coolest Startups in America, by Doreen Bloch
If you’re an entrepreneur, an entrepreneur-to-be, or just a regular human interested in products and services to improve everyday life, you need this book. Tantamount to the yellow pages for start-up companies, this incredibly (almost scientifically) researched collection provides analyses of 72 “cool” start-ups, breaking chapters into sections named with just enough kitsch (“breaking the ice,” “defrosting”) and creating a round vision of what makes each company cool.
Bloch peppers her profiles with summary sections that explain industry jargon and the nuts and bolts of start-up success, and she tempers her accolades with thoughtful critiques of nearly every company. Great chapters include UJam, TaskRabbit, and Asthmapolis, to name a few. And the best part of this book? That it’s tantalizingly billed as “Volume One.”
On Your Smartphone
Riffing on some March Madness fun, Inc. has created an interactive bracket that allows you to pit the world’s greatest living entrepreneurs against one another. The contenders—including Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, and Mark Zuckerberg—are the serially successful folks whose once-upon-a-time start-ups snowballed into full-fledged businesses. Create an Inc.com account (don’t worry, it’s free!) and play away. And try to take it seriously: the winner gets two tickets to Inc.’s June leadership forum in Miami.
On a Podcast
Is this the Best Start-up Launch Video Ever?, by Chris Taylor
The answer to the question posed in this segment’s title: A resounding yes, yes it is. Kill two birds with one stone on your commute this week and catch a laugh and some insight into an attention-grabbing promotion. This video by razorblade-peddling start-up Dollar Shave Club takes an outrageously simple idea and makes it memorable by humorizing it. The video, which features founder Michael Dubin, clearly demonstrates what’s cool about today’s start-ups: They provide a solution for basic needs, and—at their heart—they aim for success without sacrificing fun.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
Inspired by this roundup of fantastic fictional entrepreneurs, I realized that Willie Wonka, the bizarre hero (and questionable villain) of Dahl’s timeless children’s story is the ultimate cool entrepreneur. His business plan is unique, and his company provides a physical product (delicious candy) as well as an emotional one (hope and fun in a bleak society). Moreover, he drives sales of his products by creating a contest, which makes his company the grand prize. A savvy, savvy (and yes, at times creepy, creepy) man, that Willie Wonka.
Check out more from Start-Up Week at The Daily Muse!