Zero to One

Peter Thiel

Buy on Amazon

Short and effective book giving an overview of how to take a company from an idea to something valuable. It’s a rock-solid read giving some of the best advice in the startup world, with support from popular examples to back up his points (which is easy considering Thiel and his friends’ successes).


One of Peter Thiel’s interview questions: “What important truth do few people agree with you on?” [This has turned into my favorite interview question and also something that can be fun to ask friends]

Startups produce innovation. A few high-level lessons Thiel points out:

  • It is better to risk boldness than triviality
  • A bad plan is better than no plan
  • Competitive markets destroy profits
  • The most successful companies created successful monopolies (Microsoft with OS, Google with search)
  • Start small and be a monopoly – don’t aim to get a small market share of a large market
  • Sales matters just as much as product

7 Questions all startups should ask:

  1. The Engineering Question: Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements? 20% improvement is not enough.
  2. The Timing Question: Is now the right time to start your particular business?
  3. The Monopoly Question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. The People Question: Do you have the right team? For Thiel’s venture capital fund (Founders Fund) the common red flag was that CEO was wearing a suit. This meant the CEO would be looking like a salesman but won’t be able to actually sell or do tech.
  5. The Distribution Question: Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
  6. The Durability Question: Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?
  7. The Secret Question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

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