I picked up this book on a whim and I loved it. Unlike other books about startups, this book does not talk about how to succeed with startups. Instead, it suggests why startups are the way to rev back the US economic engine. It hypothesizes what is lacking for newly-minted graduates in US to experience and succeed in the new startup economy. It talks about how Venture for America, an organization founded by the author, is trying to fill this void by helping smart new graduates to be exposed to the new startup economy by working with founders who are building companies.
Amidst all this, the book is grounded. It neither paints a rosy picture of startup world nor sells startups as an option to every graduate nor devalues non-startup jobs. It provides a balanced view of what is required for US and the world to thrive in this new age, who may be capable of delivering, what should these capable ones (not) do, and what sort of help do they need to deliver.
The book provides nice facts along with a lot of food for thought. For example, I was surprised by the statistics of where the brightest minds are going after graduation. The observation that, according to entrepreneurs, access to human and intellectual capital are the missing key ingredients in the startup world was intriguing. Who would have thought intellect would trump capital?
A few months after reading the book, I stumbled on a movie Generation Startup. The movie tracks six entrepreneurs for 17 months on their startup journey. Some of them are joining startups to help grow while some are founding members of startups in the expansion phase. Interestingly, the entrepreneurs are Venture for America “graduates” and the movie is based in Detroit. It almost seems like a follow up to the book. If you are into the startup “scene” and prefer movies (moving characters) to books, then you will enjoy the movie. It has a bunch of interesting lessons and observations about startup and how it affects life.
If you are interested in a different view about startups or even a different look at what should our graduates being doing after graduation, then I highly recommend the book and the movie.