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Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail's Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success

ISBN: 978-1-118-84438-0
272 pages
June 2014
Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail


Shake up the market with these key ingredients to a successful startup

Entrepreneurship starts with an idea and a dream: a dream of a better world for others, and a life less ordinary for yourself. These days, more people than ever are full of world-changing ideas and, thanks to technology, have the means to bring them to life. But many ideas remain just ideas, and many dreams just dreams.

Startup Mixology is first and foremost a book about turning your ideas into action. From the cofounder of media company Tech Cocktail, a veteran entrepreneur and investor who was named one of the most connected people in tech, this book covers the basic "ingredients" of winning entrepreneurship. No abstract theories here — it shows you how to tackle everything from idea generation to launch to marketing to funding and how to start getting things done.

Once you've taken that first step, the journey has only begun. Startup Mixology tells it like it is — and it's not easy! You'll learn about the harsh reality of starting up: what happens when you offend your customers, get no attention, or run out of money. These are the stories you don't always hear in the media.

In the end, Startup Mixology is an optimistic book. You can do this — and you can have fun doing it, too. Every chapter also shows you how to enjoy the journey along the way - because if you don't, what's the point of it all? From cake baking to workations to llama parades, you'll learn how entrepreneurs around the world stay sane, reduce stress, and celebrate the positive. This may seem fluffy, but it's actually one of the biggest secrets of successful startups.

Inside, you'll find the stories of companies like MakerBot, WordPress, Zappos, Basecamp, Uber, and more. Hear in their own words how they survived the startup phase, and learn from the straightforward and conversational Frank Gruber, who has met thousands of entrepreneurs and watched them grow their businesses.

In many ways, entrepreneurship will be the most difficult undertaking of your career. But if you can find the right balance of hard work, support, and celebration, it can also be the most rewarding. Startup Mixology takes you through the whole process from start to finish, so you can begin the incomparable journey of turning your great ideas into great startups.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Tony Hsieh ix

Introduction 1


1 Entrepreneurial Mind 7

2 Ideas 21

3 Action 31

4 Formation 47

Part 2 PRODUCT 59

5 Product-Market Fit 61

6 Launch 73

7 Metrics 85


8 Team 97

9 Culture 109

10 Celebration 123

11 Relationships 135


12 Marketing 149

13 Sales 165

Part 5 MONEY 179

14 Bootstrapping 181

15 Funding 193


16 Failure 213

17 Success 223

Conclusion 237

Acknowledgments 239

References 243

Index 247

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Author Information

FRANK GRUBER grew up in the Midwest heartland and is an entrepreneur, new media journalist, and investor. His alma maters include Purdue and Northwestern respectively. He cofounded Tech Cocktail in 2006, which has grown into a hub for the creative class, offering tech startup focused news, events, and resources. Frank has built and launched products for the masses while at AOL, Tribune, and Classified Ventures along with startup efforts like Thankfulfor, Splog Reporter, and more. As a journalist his works have been featured in a number of top media publications. He was named by Forbes as one of the most connected people in tech. Frank is also a Venture Partner with Crystal Tech Fund.

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Press Release

July 09, 2014
Veteran Entrepreneur and Tech Cocktail Cofounder Frank Gruber Launches Book Startup Mixology

The cofounder of Blip.tv started having panic attacks walking down the street. Tony Hsieh snoozed six times one morning because he hated working at the company he had created. Groupon was called “offensive” and “racist” for one of its commercials. Cheek’d lost $30,000 in sales because they forgot to store credit card information. These are the “harsh reality” stories you’ll find in Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, & Celebrating Startup Success (Wiley, June 2014, ISBN: 978-1-118-84438-0, $25.00, www.tech.co/book).

“There are thousands of hopeful entrepreneurs with good ideas, but most of them don’t know where to start,” says author Frank Gruber. “And because they’re familiar with only the ‘overnight’ success stories the media highlights, these newbies jump into the startup game with unrealistic expectations and insufficient knowledge and often pay devastating consequences.”

David Cohen, cofounder of TechStars, says, “Tech startups are hyped up and glorified lately, and Startup Mixology gives us a reality check: This isn’t easy! The sections on what can go wrong help entrepreneurs avoid getting blindsided when reality doesn’t live up to fantasy.”

In the book, you’ll hear about the early struggles, stumbles, bootstrapping, and breakthroughs of entrepreneurs like Hsieh of Zappos, Bre Pettis of MakerBot, Matt Mullenweg of WordPress, Laura Fitton of HubSpot, and many more. Amid the obstacles and uncertainty, you’ll also learn how entrepreneurs stay sane and motivated by celebrating positive moments along the way. Think cake baking, workations, and (Gruber’s favorite) llama parades.

Many of these stories come from entrepreneurs whom Gruber and his team at Tech Cocktail have met over the past eight years as they put on hundreds of events in over 40 cities. Gruber is a serial entrepreneur who left his job at AOL to pursue the startup dream and learned lots of lessons the hard way. As of today, Tech Cocktail has received $2.5 million in funding from Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project and has grown to a team of 13.

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