Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters – Book Review

This book is great I do recommend reading, as it speaks about beginning as a startup in the right direction and the right mindset.

It isn’t easy to start a company considering that 9/10 startups fail within the first 5 years of business.

7 questions every business must answer

There’s a lot that can happen within those 5 years and according to the book, the cause of failure is if the startup founders miss to answer at least one of the following 7 questions:

  1. The engineering question: can you create breakthrough technology, instead of incremental improvements?
  2. The timing question: Is now the right time to start your particular business?
  3. The monopoly question: are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. The people question: do you have the right team?
  5. The distribution question: do you have a way to not just create, but deliver your product?
  6. The durability question: will your marketing position be defensible 10-20 years to the future?
  7. The secret question: have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

The sad point could be the timing question in that it just isn’t the right time yet to start the business.

That was exactly true with electric cars back in the 1830s!

It was great, but not fit for the market at that time.

Electric batteries just weren’t good enough back then.

And my favourite would be the secret question.

I like the way they phrased the word ‘secret’ not only as something to hide from the public, but also that it could be termed as a secret weapon.

And the secret is kept within the company, not to be told to the public.

It’s exactly like KFC and its secret recipe.

What I found inspiring

The way the authors described a technology salesman was what really opened my eyes.

The salesman doesn’t have to be that fancy con-artist stereotype.

In fact, as described in the book, a grandmaster salesperson is one who doesn’t even look like a salesman.

He may even be as geeky as Elon Musk.

Elon is a grandmaster salesman as mentioned by the authors of the book.

He’s completed deals with governments and other auto companies, yet he doesn’t appear to be in the styles of the Wolf of Wall Street.

That’s why the book mentioned a great salesperson as one who is so good that you just can’t tell that he/she is a salesperson!

Favourite quote

My favourite quote comes from Chapter 12 of the book and is:

The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete.

That is, the good businesses will focus on people and employing them too, rather than becoming a robot company.

An example would be working on the ‘experience’, since that is something that robots cannot automate.

You can’t automate the feeling of experience, or of being creative.

In the coming decades, real human-to-human interaction will be more special that the most life-like experience.

You just can’t beat life itself.

Takeaway points

The book is mainly for tech entrepreneurs or tech companies since the advice is mainly geared towards the tech industry.

The authors mentioned that tech is a great choice for business since it’s less regulated and therefore easier to begin, as compared to a biopharmaceutical startup.

Code is easier to update than medicine which has to be tested in the lab, regulated, and to consider its ethical implications.

Scalability is much easier on a tech startup too.

From Masayoshi Son, a billionaire tech CEO, he mentions that tech companies are easier to startup since there isn’t as much overhead — that includes infrastructure — to begin with.

But you still have to build the road towards a revolution, and that’s what you are in for business.

If you like this book review, check out Tony Robbin’s Unshakeable book and why it’s another great addition to read. But this time about investment!