But I have three friends (including two veteran entrepreneurs) who tell me that “The Entrepreneur’s Manual” written by Richard White in 1977 is the best book ever written for entrepreneurs. Steve Gibson gave me a copy recently and I admit it is fascinating. It contains advice I’ve never seen anywhere before. (You can find several copies on Alibris.com)
For example, it suggests that you form a team of founders in the following way: Hold a 2-day interactive event where you bring 3-5 possible founders for each key management position together (at a hotel for example). The founding founder introduces the business concept over breakfast. Then everyone gets to introduce themselves and then interview each other. After everyone knows each other, you divide into teams and start creating departmental business plans. On day two there are group presentations. The final step is that all the candidates get to cast a secret ballot about who they think the founders should be and what positions they should fill. White claims that “the strongest and best qualified [candidates] almost always win the top positions by a landslide.”
Each founder keeps his/her full-time job and works about 16 hours per week in the startup until it is funded adequately.
White and his consulting associates often invited venture capitalists to these 2-day retreats, so that they could see the founding team being formed. Apparently, the VCs usually invested in the companies.
If this manual is so good, and if Richard White and his consulting associates really helped hundreds of successful Silicon Valley startups, and if these tactics really work, then why is the book out of print and why can’t I learn anything about White from Google or High Beam or Amazon’s “search within a book?” I guess I’ll have to try Google Scholar.
If anyone knows anything about Richard M. White, Jr. and his team of consultants and what Silicon Valley startups they backed and how or why this team seems to have disappeared off the map, please let me know. I may contact Chilton Publishing for reprint rights (this book should at least be available in PDF format) unless someone else wants to do that. The book is in serious need of a 2nd edition. The 45 pages that list VC firms (from 1977) just isn’t very useful anymore. But the concepts are powerful and should work.
I’m eager to try building a founding team for my next startup in this fashion.
[Update: I just searched Google Scholar and found only 1 citation to the Entrepreneur’s Manual in all the academic literature. Not too promising.]