As part of Entrepreneur Month, Ctrl co-founder Pieter Venter shares his reading list for 2018.

“We often think that entrepreneurship means stumbling onto an opportunity and then stumbling onto the next step to make your idea successful. However, I’ve discovered that you can increase your chances of success if you are willing to learn from those before you. Why do some start-ups succeed and how can you create the ability to adapt and evolve? What does it take to build a successful business and why do people even attempt it? Here are some of the books that helped me and hopefully you will find answers too. If nothing else, at the very least, they’ll make you think.”

 

  1. The Start-up Owner’s Manual – Steve Blank

Serial entrepreneur-turned-educator Steve Blank is credited with launching the Lean Start-up Movement. He’s changed how start-ups are built, how entrepreneurship is taught, how science is commercialized, and how companies and the government innovate. At Ctrl, we used Steve’s ideas to build our business and can wholeheartedly recommend this book to any budding entrepreneur.

  1. The Most Human Human – Brian Christian

“Am I talking to a human or a bot?” This is no easy question to answer these days and in his book, The Most Human Human, Brian Christian investigates what makes human communication unique. The scene is the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial intelligence programmes against humans in a test designed to see if we can detect the difference. If you are interested in chatbots, this is compulsory reading.

  1. Algorithms to Live By – Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths

Have you ever baked a cake before? How do you make sure you get it right each time? A recipe of course! An algorithm is nothing but a recipe which standardises a repetitive task to ensure an ideal outcome. This book looks at how insights from computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping us solve common decision-making problems and illuminating the workings of the human mind.  

  1. The Middleman Economy – Marina Krakovsky

Cut out the middleman! He’s just adding cost without adding any value right? Wrong. Krakovsky displaces the myth that all middlemen are parasites that have become obsolete. Her well-researched narrative will convince you that middlemen are even more critical to today’s economic and social order than ever before. She gives a useful guide to six ways in which the middleman adds value: as Bridges, Enforcers, Certifiers, Risk Bearers, Concierges, or Insulators.

  1. Competing Against Luck – Clayton M Christensen

Harvard professor Clayton Christensen is the man who predicted the rise of start-ups long before it was “a thing” (remember his book The Innovator’s Dilemma published more than 20 years ago?) and he actually coined the phrase “disruptive innovation”. In this book, he helps us understand that innovation doesn’t need to be a game of chance, but one in which we can develop products and services customers not only want to buy but are willing to pay a premium for. Once you ask what job your product does, the competitive landscape changes dramatically and it helps us understand how to innovate with clients in mind, instead of products.