Straight Talk for Startups: 100 Insider Rules for Beating the Odds

Randy Komisar

HarperBusiness,  June 2018

Veteran venture capitalist Randy Komisar and finance executive Jantoon Reigersman share no-nonsense, counterintuitive guidelines to help anyone build a successful startup. Over the course of their careers, Randy Komisar and Jantoon Reigersman continue to see startups crash and burn because they forget the timeless lessons of entrepreneurship.

But, as Komisar and Reigersman show, you can beat the odds if you quickly learn what insiders know about what it takes to build a healthy foundation for a thriving venture. In Straight Talk for Startups they walk budding entrepreneurs through 100 essential rules—from pitching your idea to selecting investors to managing your board to deciding how and when to achieve liquidity. Culled from their own decades of experience, as well as the experiences of their many successful colleagues and friends, the rules are organized under broad topics, from "Mastering the Fundamentals" and "Selecting the Right Investors," to "The Ideal Fundraise," "Building and Managing Effective Boards," and "Achieving Liquidity."

Vital rules you’ll find in Straight Talk for Startups include:

  • The best ideas originate from founders who are users
  • Create two business plans: an execution plan and an aspirational plan
  • Net income is an option, but cash flow is a fact
  • Don’t accept money from strangers
  • Personal wealth doesn’t equal good investing
  • Small boards are better than big ones
  • Add independent board members for expertise and objectivity
  • Too many unanimous board decisions are a sign of trouble
  • Choose an acquirer, don’t wait to be chosen
  • Learn the rules by heart so you know when to break them

Filled with helpful real-life examples and specific, actionable advice, Straight Talk for Startups is the ideal handbook for anyone running, working for, or thinking about creating a startup, or just curious about what makes high-potential ventures tick.

Hardcover | ISBN: 9780062869067 | Publication Date: June 2018


"Straight Talk for Startups memorializes age-old best practices and empowers both experienced and new investment professionals to beat the odds." (David Krane, CEO, Google Ventures)

"Straight Talk for Startups is filled with real, raw, and fact-based ‘rules of the road' that you need to know when diving into our ultra-competitive startup world. A must read and a re-read!" (Tony Fadell, Coinventor of the iPod/iPhone & Founder of Nest Labs)

"Not only one of the most useful and fun books ever written for founders, but these 100 rules will help any manager become wiser and more effective—and anyone with a passing interest in the human side of business will find this book a delight to read." (Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss)

"It's never easy to launch a new venture, but this book accelerates your learning with advice from experts who've been there and done that. Read it cover to cover to save yourself from making rookie mistakes that upend all too many big ideas." (Elaine Paul, Chief Financial Officer, Hulu)

"Straight Talk generously shares the collective wisdom of decades of startup leadership and investing." (Mihir Desai, Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School)

"Aspiring entrepreneurs are hungry to combine knowledge with experience, mentorship, and character. Straight Talk for Startups provides a PhD in entrepreneurship." (Professor Tom Byers, Endowed Chair Entrepreneurship Education, Stanford University)

"Straight Talk's venerable best practices provides global startups outside the US with the advantages of a Silicon Valley insider." (Jennifer Li, CEO of Baidu Capital)