“Startup Mixology” Concocts the Right Means for Success


With insights from many well-known entrepreneurs, Start Up Mixology is a terrific book that outlines the realistic decisions that can occur in a startup.

Startup Mixology

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I’ve seen a number of books on how startups should work recently – witness The Tech Entrepreneurs Survival Guide – which I reviewed several weeks ago. But when you get down to it, any written startup advice, supported with reasonable wisdom, should be accepted without question.

Well, certainly put your questions aside for the tips in the new book Startup Mixalogy: Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing and Celebrating Startup Success by Frank Gruber (@FrankGruber). Gruber is co-founder of the Chicago incubator Tech Cocktails.

This gentleman understands success. Forbes named Gruber one of the most connected people in tech. I learned about the book at a Chicago hosting party celebrating the book’s launch and picked up a copy. Gruber wrote a great book that outlines the realistic decisions that can occur in a startup.

Scale Projects, Not Arguments

His book excels at gathering the best stories and lessons from the entrepreneurial world from many luminaries. The insights appear in each chapter of the book, with chapters grouped into four sections. Part 1 showcases the thoughts that make up the entrepreneurial mindset. Part 2 examines product concerns. Part 3 looks at team and people, while part 4 looks at sales and marketing.

Each chapter has a few paragraphs called Harsh Realities and a few grouped under Celebrate. Enjoy The Journey allows the reader to appreciate the natural parts of entrepreneurship. I found the “harsh” segments to be useful twists of how to assess situations and processes. Here’s a comment from Chris Down, an investor at Andreessen Horowitz, about firing a team member:

“You’re in control of a situation that will meaningfully hurt someone. It’s an awful place to be. The fired person will go home and tell his/her family about how terrible it was. It was your fault. Perhaps your management caused it. Who knows. You’ll question it, and perhaps you are right to do so.”

Gruber goes on further with his own observations on hiring people:

“Even if no one’s getting fired, team troubles are some of the gnarliest to untangle. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that some of the most brilliant people are also divas or jerks…”

Gruber shares the best stories and observations from a number of entrepreneurs such as Gary Vanyerchuk, Reid Hoffman, Robin Chase, and Esther Dyson. He weaves back and forth between others and his own, but it’s done in a genuine way that lets the reader understand that the suggestions are far from one dimensional.

On bootstrapping, for example, Jason Fried, cofounder of the software and startup Bootcamp (and co-author of Rework and Remote), believes that “just sticking it out” is essential for successful bootstrapping. But Gruber, noting Bootcamp’s success, identified just before that statement how many startups overlook what make bootstrapping worthwhile:

“They bootstrapped the entire time with the mindset that you need to practice making money, not spending it.”

What A Reader Can Like About This Mix

Startup Mixology covers details as an organized list of what happens in the early years of a startup, and Gruber does a good job of sharing reality without losing positive spirit. While celebratory moments can be “High fives, Friday afternoon drinks, lunch or dinner out….” Gruber also notes how to maintain perspective when a business has to shut down:

 “Brad Feld even recommends that startup communities hold wakes for failed entrepreneurs. This could be a dinner or a quiet evening out….When your startup fails, your startup fails. You do not fail.”

Startup Mixology has hints of a similar tone to The Entrepreneur Within You but the suggestions are certainly deeper in detail. And if you follow other books we’ve reviewed here on Small Business Trends, you’ll find this book serves as a great anthology of the mindset of those authors. Where else can you get a bit of Gary Vanyerchuk and Reid Hoffman in one text? A foreword by Tony Hsieh is the cherry on top.

As Gruber says, “No one can do it alone – we all need help.” Read Startup Mixology as a guided tour of what that help should look like. With each page turn you’ll find yourself making an inspired startup into a real business that delivers for investors and customers alike.

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1 Comment ▼

Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

One Reaction
  1. Pierre,

    Thanks for mentioning this book during our conversation on EGO NetCast! I will update my post and include a link to this review.