Alumni Ventures’ Summer Reading List

Entrepreneurship and venture capital content recommendations from our executive and investing teams

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6 min

It’s that time of year when kids trade their backpacks for beach towels, and Vitamin D becomes a daily companion. For most of us, however, there is still work to be done in these summer months. That’s why we had members of our executive and investing teams recommend some of their favorite books, films, and podcasts centered around entrepreneurship and venture capital that are educational, entertaining, and compelling. So whether you’re lounging by the shore or enjoying a leisurely afternoon, dive into these recommendations to soak up both the sun and the knowledge.

See video policy below.

Mike Collins, Founder & CEO | Alumni Ventures

The Tim Ferris Show – Danny Meyer Interview

Danny Meyer is the Founder and Chairman of Union Square Hospitality Group, which comprises some of New York’s most beloved and acclaimed restaurants. He also founded Shake Shack, the modern-day ‘roadside’ burger restaurant. In this interview, Danny shares his advice on how to win, the art of the graceful no, overcoming setbacks, the six traits of exceptional people, lessons from hospitality excellence, and more. – Mike Collins

Laura Rippy, Managing Partner | Green D Ventures

Gerstner & Barton – Thriving in Changing Markets

One of my favorite podcast hosts is Patrick O’Shaughnessy. He interviews founders, VCs, and innovators. To jump in, I’d start with this classic one where he interviewed Rich Barton and Brad Gerstner. Rich founded Expedia, Zillow, and Glassdoor, among others, and was a co-worker and friend of mine starting early in my career. Part of why we invested in RealSelf in Green D Fund 5 was because Rich was on the Board. Enjoy the episode and see how it fits into his ‘power to the people’ mantra. – Laura Rippy

Professional-grade venture capital portfolios for accredited investors in the Dartmouth community
David Beazley, Managing Partner | Purple Arch Ventures

The Secrets of Sand Hill Road 

“The Secrets of Sand Hill Road by Scott Kupor provides a comprehensive guide to understanding the world of venture capital and the art of startup investing. Kupor, a Managing Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, demystifies the VC landscape and explores the decision-making processes of successful venture capitalists. It is a valuable resource for those seeking to navigate the complex world of VC and maximize their chances of success in the startup ecosystem. – David Beazley

Other Recommendations from David Beazley
Professional-grade venture capital portfolios for accredited investors in the Northwestern community
Keaton Nankivil, Principal | Bascom Ventures

7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy

This book by Hamilton Helmer was given to our team by my first boss in VC. It lays out what the author believes to be the seven enduring strategies for a business to thrive in a competitive marketplace. I still use this as a framework when evaluating deals at AV, always looking for which ‘power’ drives our potential investments. – Keaton Nankivil

Professional-grade venture capital portfolios for accredited investors in the Wisconsin community
Greg Baker and Keaton Nankivil
Mason Hale, Venture Analyst | Chestnut Street Ventures

The Rational Optimist 

In this book, Matt Ridley presents an unexpectedly straightforward solution to human progress, contending that we advance through trade and achieve productive trade only when trust is established. Similar to how Ridley’s book Genome revolutionized genomics, this book could profoundly impact economics, demonstrating that the key to overcoming our perceived or actual challenges lies in continuing the evolutionary process we have been following for the past 10,000 years — embracing change.

I highly recommend this book for those interested in how new ideas/markets have historically formed. – Mason Hale

Professional-grade venture capital portfolios for accredited investors in the Penn community
Mark Edwards, Chief Investment Officer | Alumni Ventures

How to Invest: Masters of the Craft

Rubenstein has spent more than three decades in the hypercompetitive world of private equity. In this book, he distills everything he’s learned about the art and craft of investing, including venture capital, real estate, private equity, hedge funds, crypto, endowments, SPACs, ESG, and more.

The series of interviews with various investment world luminaries, including several from the venture ecosystem (Marc Andreessen, others), was eye-opening and influential. – Mark Edwards

David Shapiro, Managing Partner | Blue Ivy Ventures

Competing Against Luck

In this book, Clayton Christensen and his co-authors challenge the traditional understanding of innovation by emphasizing that customers “hire” products or services to do a job rather than simply buying them. By adopting the “Jobs to Be Done” approach, businesses can improve their innovation success and create products that customers are willing to pay a premium for.

I almost always recommend it to budding entrepreneurs or anyone involved in or leading any kind of product effort. Christensen creates an invaluable way of framing up how we all can and should think of product design, product management, and innovation. – David Shapiro

Professional-grade venture capital portfolios for accredited investors in the Yale community
Chris Sklarin, Managing Partner | Castor Ventures

The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche

Entrepreneurs Dave Jilk and Brad Feld draw inspiration from Nietzsche’s philosophy to provide a thought-provoking guide for navigating the high-tech business world. The topics they explore include embracing failure, cultivating organizational culture, and the significance of obsession in achieving success.

Chris’ Key Takeaways:
  • Be willing to take risks: Nietzsche contended the only way to achieve greatness is to step outside your comfort zone and take risks.
  • Be creative: Nietzsche believed the best way to solve problems is to think outside the box.
  • Be persistent: Nietzsche advised that success is not achieved overnight. It takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
Professional-grade venture capital portfolios for accredited investors in the MIT community
Rob Adams, Managing Partner | Texas Funds

If You Build it Will They Come?

Written by Alumni Ventures’ Managing Partner Rob Adams, this book gives entrepreneurs and managers the ability to dramatically improve the prospect of product success. Rob outlines a simple and effective market validation and testing strategy to help you know if you’re likely to hit your targets before putting your plan into action.

Adams is a great writer, and the subject is well organized. The book emphasizes the simple truth that the only way to find out what customers ‘may’ buy is by digging down into the pain they are experiencing and working with them to deliver a product that addresses that pain in a timely fashion. – Verified Reader

This book is now free with Audible Memberships.
Professional-grade venture capital portfolios for accredited investors in the UT Austin community

If you are looking for more VC education, check out our learn page. We at AV wish you the brightest summer!

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