Super Founders Book Summary - Super Founders Book explained in key points
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Super Founders summary

Ali Tamaseb

What Data Reveals About Billion-Dollar Startups

4.5 (253 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Super Founders by Ali Tamaseb examines what makes a successful startup founder by analyzing startups that have reached the $1 billion valuation mark, and the traits and strategies they share. It offers valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs and investors.

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    Super Founders
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    Don’t let preconceptions and myths hold you back from your dreams.

    For most people, the idea of a successful startup is synonymous with the rise of Mark Zuckerberg, who started Facebook from his college dorm room. Or with Steve Jobs, who started Apple out of his garage. But these kinds of stories can also be discouraging to aspiring entrepreneurs  – who might think that maybe they’re not smart enough because they didn’t go to Harvard or that they’re already over-the-hill by age 25.

    So let’s clear up some misconceptions. 

    First off, Tamaseb’s data shows that age does not matter. The median age for billion-dollar founders was actually thirty-four. And there are countless success stories of unicorns run by older founders – Eric Yuan, for example, was forty-one when he founded Zoom.

    A second myth that needs busting is the superstition around the number of cofounders. In Silicon Valley, this notion has become so deep-seated that some venture capital firms will avoid investing in solo founders. The rationale being that having two minds is better than one and it helps divide the workload. But, according to Tamaseb, 20 percent of unicorns were founded by solo founders. And here’s another nugget: power struggles and arguments about vision are two common pitfalls of many startups – problems that don’t exist when there’s only one founder.

    Lastly, even though the founders of Facebook, Dell, Wordpress, Snapchat, and WhatsApp are all college dropouts, they’re actually in the minority. Among unicorn founders, 36 percent held a bachelor’s degree, 22 percent an MBA, and about 33 percent held some other advanced degree. Similarly, while many founders went to top notch schools – like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT – just as many graduated from schools that weren’t nationally ranked in the top 100. 

    So, ultimately, age, education, and number of cofounders are not predictors of a startup’s success.

    But one significant predictor of success that Tamaseb did find was that roughly 60 percent of unicorn founders had previously launched startups. Some of the reasons they were able to eventually achieve success is because their previous experience left them with industry contacts from which to find employees and investors to help get their startups off the ground. And, most importantly, they were more likely to have learned from their mistakes.

    Finally, a majority of unicorn founders were natural born builders. Even before college, they were already tinkering. For instance, back in high school, Mark Zuckerberg got together with his classmate Adam D’Angelo to build Synapse, a desktop music player. While they passed up an opportunity to sell the app, both men went on to great success – D’Angelo founded the billion dollar company Quora and Zuckerberg, as you know, launched Facebook.

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    What is Super Founders about?

    Super Founders (2021) offers an in-depth analysis behind the success of billion-dollar startups. After crunching over 30,000 data points, it unravels the multitude of false notions surrounding tech unicorns and reveals what it really takes to make it in Silicon Valley. 

    Super Founders Review

    Super Founders (2020) explores the characteristics and journeys of successful tech founders to provide valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers fascinating case studies of renowned founders like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, shedding light on their strategies and decision-making processes.
    • The book examines the common traits among these founders, such as resilience and calculated risk-taking, serving as a guide for those looking to emulate their success.
    • Through its data-driven analysis and in-depth research, the book presents a unique perspective on the world of technology entrepreneurship, ensuring an engaging and thought-provoking read.

    Who should read Super Founders?

    • Investors seeking to sharpen their eye for opportunities
    • Entrepreneurs looking for actionable advice
    • Startup veterans hoping to learn from their mistakes

    About the Author

    Ali Tamaseb is a Silicon Valley VC veteran. His firm, DCVC, holds investments in more than ten startups valued at over a billion dollars. Tamaseb sits on multiple corporate boards and his work has appeared on BBC, TED, the Guardian, and Forbes.   

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    Super Founders FAQs 

    What is the main message of Super Founders?

    The main message of Super Founders is the factors that contribute to the success of exceptional startup founders.

    How long does it take to read Super Founders?

    The estimated reading time for Super Founders is a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Super Founders a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Super Founders is worth reading as it offers valuable insights into what makes certain founders exceptionally successful.

    Who is the author of Super Founders?

    The author of Super Founders is Ali Tamaseb.

    What to read after Super Founders?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Super Founders, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Cold Start Problem by Andrew Chen
    • The Entrepreneurial Bible to Venture Capital by Andrew Romans
    • Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson
    • Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
    • Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
    • Million Dollar Habits by Brian Tracy
    • Discipline Is Destiny by Ryan Holiday
    • Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston
    • Why Startups Fail by Tom Eisenmann
    • Think Remarkable by Guy Kawasaki & Madisun Nuismer