Startup founders share their favourite books to read this summer

- January 7, 2020 4 MIN READ
The test cricket season is over, and you’ve tried to catch up on sleep with an afternoon nap on the lounge, but the holiday break is also a great chance to catch up on reading.

As part of our summer series, Startup Daily asked founders and others in the startup sector about the three books they think everyone should read and why.

Here’s what they said.



Michelle Mannering, co-founder, Raine Scooters

Michelle Mannering

Co-founder, Raine 

Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull So thorough, and insightful. The examples from Pixar are fantastic to illustrate all the points

The Hard Thing about Hard things by Ben Horowitz. It’s a tough world, and this book outlines it

Zero to One by Peter Thiel Literally on every founder’s reading list. Just read it! 


Cortina McCurry. co-founder and CEO, Caia

Cortina McCurry

Co-founder and CEO, Caia

Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens. It’s about a young girl who is abandoned by her family, yet educates herself living alone in the bayous of New Orleans. I couldn’t put it down.

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. An all time favorite non-fiction book. It’s inspirational and a great reminder of our brain’s ability to adapt and grow.

 The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is a quick holiday read with a twist. I love reading the occasional thriller.


Jurie Rossouw, CEO, Driven

Jurie Rossouw

CEO, Driven

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Brilliantly written story about Nike.

Executive Resilience – Neuroscience for the Business of Disruption by Jurie G. Rossouw and P. J. Rossouw. You’ll learn how to handle uncertainty, and how to foster resilience in the workplace through a neuroscience angle.

Marcus Aurelius – Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a must as an introduction to the concepts and practical implementation of stoicism. We use many of these ideas in Driven as a way to enhance resilience and improve quality of life.


Ian Yip, co-founder and CEO of Avertro

Ian Yip

Co-founder and CEO of Avertro

Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving adventures in the world of cybercrime by Kate Fazzini. 

Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg.

These are both easy to read, written in a highly-engaging style, are based on real events, and will improve anyone’s level of cyber education.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek. There are far too many bad leaders in the world. The more we can educate ourselves to help change that, the better.


Lara Solomon, founder and CEO of Story Antics

Lara Solomon

Founder and CEO, Story Antics

A woman of first by Edna Adan Ismail. This is an autobiography, and is about the first midwife in Somaliland, what amazed me reading this book is her belief and conviction that she wanted to help women in Somaliland and picked herself up over and over again to achieve this. 

Atomic Habits by James Clear. I read this earlier this year and as an “all or nothing” person when it comes to changing habits it was an eye opener, start with tiny changes and over time they become big.

Grit by Angela Duckworth. Definitely a book that is a must read, the importance of grit and resilience in life, both work and personal and how to develop it.


Jane Kou Founder, BringMeHome

Jane Kou

Founder, Bring Me Home

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. A cliche for startups, but it’s a story about Nike and I just love it. Light humour and quite motivational.

Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman. This is a great book for business & personal development. I find that overtime, the things I learn from this book differs and varies based on the stages I’m at with my life & startup.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Lots of interesting life lessons & quotes there.


That Startup Show co-founder Anna Reeves

Anna Reeves

CEO & Co Founder, That Startup Show

Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’ve just come across this book, but I like the premise: tiny changes, remarkable results. I am fascinated with having daily rituals that also create a meaningful life, so this book appealed to me. 

Lost Connections by Johann Hari, which delves into the root causes of why humans may experience depression in our current age. This book was given to me recently, by a friend who had been working with refugees on Nauru and found herself disillusioned by human suffering and the scale of the problem. This book helped her process her experience, and is great for anyone going through a significant loss. 

Exhalation by Ted Chiang. I love Ted Chiang’s work, and this is the next in his short story collection exploring futurist themes. In this series he writes about a portal through time in ancient Baghdad, a scientist who makes a shocking discovery that will affect all of humanity and a woman who cares for an AI ‘pet’ for over 20 years.  


Gaurav Kawar

Founder, Book An Artist

Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud  Super witty and sarcastic, amazing light read.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky Great sci-fi and not a series. Very different from most sci-fi books out there.

The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett  It’s like allegory to our current world with, quite dark at times but really good twists. 


Rob Weston

General Manager, Worksmith

Start at the End by Matt Walleart. Focus on behavioral science to develop products that meet the needs of customers.

Alchemy by Rory Sutherland. A fascinating book on human decision-making and its effects on new product launches).

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. A book about building community, whilst we’ve read it multiple times, we read it each year for the lessons it teaches about putting people first in order to boost your business. 


Jason Byrne, CEO and co-founder of Freighty. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Jason Byrne

CEO and co-founder, Freighty

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

Traction by Gino Wickman

Anyone with an interest in the startup and business space would get a lot out of reading these.


Giorgio Baracchi, co-founder and CEO, RecycleSmart

Giorgio Baracchi

Co-founder and CEO, RecycleSmart

Permanent Records – Edward Snowden’s autobiography

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou: The Theranos $9B scam

Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. The Winklevoss twins story narrated by the great Mezrich.


Sam Bashiry

Director and founder, Broadband Solutions

Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk. Focused on the hard parts of being an entrepreneur, that are about learning and evolving and getting through the rough patches to keep on building yourself up and being the best version of you, so that you can create the best version of your company.



Skye Theodorou

Co-founder and CEO of upcover

 I love The Daily podcast, so will be catching up on that over summer, plus the Asia Insurtech podcast.

I also just finished an audible of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which was incredibly authentic.

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