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Max Ong Zong Bao
Max Ong Zong Bao

Posted on • Originally published at

Startup Books for Developers


My take for developers who are looking to jump into startups is they should always be informed to identify the business aspect of startups. Besides just the technology that is used. Sure it might not sound sexy and awesome as using the latest and greatest technology like blockchain or AI.

There's always a need to focus on the fundamentals to gain the mental models to tackle new problems that are unidentified by the market. Which a startup exists to turn the idea into a natural monopoly through innovations. Be it business processes, technology or marketing to solve the problem using the startup's product or services.

Mindset - Startup Mindset and Mental Models to Adopt

Zero to One

This is one of the well-known book, created by Peter Thiel, who had created PayPal. The book covers creating unseen monopolies in the industry. Forming your view/mindset that unconventional in nature to take advantage of untapped markets like low-cost airlines, self-driving car. Google's focus on next billion users.

The Alliance

Reid Hoffman goes deep on a new work arrangement. For talent management on different tours of duty within the startup/organisation. Forming an employee association to tap on the employee network for intelligence to improve products/services or decision-making process.

The Innovators' Dilemma

By the late and famous Clayton M. Christensen for innovation theory like Jobs to be Done. This is one of the books that are useful to understand innovation for anyone who is looking to create disruptive technology that serves an untapped market. Especially useful for those who are looking to undergo digital transformation.

Soft Skills - To Get Things Done By Focusing on the Human Aspect

Soft Skills: The Complete Software Developer's Life Manual

This is really important for any developer who is seeking to upgrade themselves towards an independent contributor or part of the management track. It is useful for you as a developer to develop these soft skills for better collaboration, teamwork and an easier time when working with clients.

Who are non-technical in nature to help you to get things done without affecting your reputation or the organisation or company you are representing or working in. I had a few horror stories on this aspect I had encountered with just better skills in these soft skills.

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

It focuses on both the short term and long term game of persuading and influencing people. That is based upon research in the area of social psychology, marketing and other aspects of it. To help attract and convert someone to be part of your own 1,000 true fans to make ripple impacts with it.

48 Laws of Power

It covers exclusively on the power dynamics, relationships, finer points in working with Kings/Queens of the old. Which in today's context is really relevant to what we call "office politics" and the "dating scene" to allow you to become a well-versed player.

Instead of just being a pig that is sent to the slaughters. Without knowing the finer details which caused you to miss your promotion or mess up your relationship with your spouse, lover, siblings, colleagues, clients or your own superior.

The Startup Approach

Lean Startup

It can be considered a required read for anyone. Who is looking to build their own to fill up their own lean canvas and create their own MVPs to research and study about the problem or market they are tackling through user interviews.

Crossing the Chasm

If you plan to build your startup for enterprise or B2B. My suggestion is for you to look at this to help understand the technology adoption life cycle. I heard about it through one of the podcast episodes of Starting Greatness.

This could help you greatly in allowing your startup to cross the chasm for B2B sales into the early majority. As an 800-pound gorilla towards profitability in your products or services.


This is another book by Reid Hoffman that talks about the practice of BlizScaling. Which focus on growing the user base or customers of the market. At an aggressive pace as both a defensive measure against competitors who are doing the same thing. To gain the lion share of the market. Which a lot of startups is famous in recent year, for the startup to could come out either as a winner who holds a lion share of the market or crash and burn to fade to oblivion.


I hope these startup books are useful for you as it actually encompasses my mental model and understanding of startups.

By no means that I know everything, in fact, I had only experienced a startup that had grown from an early preseed to seed stage of a startup. Therefore I think it will be useful to use the tour of duty as part of a career path as a developer in different work that challenges you.

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Top comments (10)

documentednerd profile image
Kevin Mack

Really great list max, I would add a couple more. Mindset by Carol Dweck, Essentialism by Greg McKeown,ClockWork by Mike Michalowicz, and Grit by Angela Duckworth

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Thanks I really appreciate that you like it. Grit by Angela Duckworth is a good read.

ramseyrama555 profile image
Ramsey Rama

There is also this great book that has helped me this year, to start my tech startup and manage to employ 5 employees so far,
It's called :
"How to Build a Billion Dollar App: Discover the Secrets of the Most Successful Entrepreneurs of Our Time" by George Berkowski...
Really great books if anyone would love to read it l can send it to them

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Nice, I saw it before but didn't read it cause I had a huge backlog of books I'm reading

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

Yup it's good I might add that "Can't hurt me" by David Goggins and "Obstacle is the Way" by Ryan Holiday is really both excellent as well.

Especially you must get the audiobook of the "Can't Hurt Me" as it is done as a podcast format style with David Goggins with the narrator after each chapter.

Which has ton of awesome extra content and I use it to remind me when I'm really demoralised in giving up.

tfantina profile image
Travis Fantina • Edited

Anthesis to the Peter Thiel's of the world, I'd recommend anything by Basecamp, esp Getting Real or Rework.

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Funny thing I never came across the word called "Anthesis" I had to search for the definition of it. Nice I'll look at it and when i had the time to read it.

I'm reading "The "
Mom Test", "Crossing the Chasm", "Mediation" and another monthly book I need to read for a group I'm in.

shreyasht profile image

Super! This is what I was looking for.

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Thanks I hope it's useful for you :)

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Yup it is awesome I thought of just getting the audiobook version as the free book for my audible.

As I wanted to own it and listen to it in my phone from time to time.