Book Giveaways

Smart Startups: What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know—Advice from 18 Harvard Business School Founders

October 16, 2023

Share Enter Giveaway

Two startup company founders and angel investors go inside eighteen companies founded by Harvard Business School graduates, uncovering surprising lessons for success and unexpected pitfalls essential for aspiring entrepreneurs.


SmartStartups.jpgConventional “wisdom” holds that the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are born with a genius for starting companies, experience one lightning-bolt moment of inspiration after another, follow a tried-and-true process to scale to a billion dollars, and attract deep-pocketed investors at every turn.

The real story is a bit more unconventional—and much more interesting.

Would-be-entrepreneurs Catalina Daniels and James Sherman, hungry to study and apply the best practices of startups to their own ventures, studied the nuts-and-bolts of entrepreneurship as classmates at Harvard Business School. Years later, after successfully founding and exiting several companies, and as angel investors in start-ups, they were surprised to realize that their experiences greatly differed from what they had been taught in school. HBS provided a world-class education in the basics. But there was so much they learned the hard way—working in the trenches—that, looking back, they wished they’d known before starting up.

Inspired, Daniels and Sherman interviewed eighteen HBS graduates and entrepreneurs about their experiences founding companies such as Blue Apron, Rent the Runway, Gilt, and AdoreMe, probing them  about what they discovered along the way and what they wish they had known beforehand.  The authors bring  these insights to life by showcasing the founders in their own words and giving readers the experience of chatting with these remarkable entrepreneurs over a cup of coffee   No other book has unearthed advice from so many HBS entrepreneurs. The result is wisdom that challenges assumptions, destroys preconceived notions, crystalizes hunches, and articulates perceptions with a depth possessed by few people in the world.

Starting a business is hard. Seventy percent of startups today fail after their seed round, and less than ten percent achieve success for founders and investors. Faced with such a daunting threshold, aspiring entrepreneurs need all the advice, wisdom,  and inspiration  they can get. Smart Startups is written for them—a timeless record of essential knowledge that can help them avoid failure and achieve success.


About the Authors

CATALINA DANIELS graduated from Harvard Business School and the Free University of Brussels (BA, MA). She spent seventeen years at McKinsey & Company, where she was a partner, before leaving to become an entrepreneur and angel investor. As a venture partner at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA), she mentors U.S. entrepreneurs and helps non-U.S. entrepreneurs expand in the United States; she also sits on multiple boards. A Belgian national, she splits her time between New York and Europe.

JAMES H. SHERMAN graduated from Harvard Business School and Stanford University (BA, MA). He started his career at Bain & Company, working in media with Time Inc. and Pearson. In 1997, he launched the internet division for Martha Stewart Living. He then became a serial internet entrepreneur, launching three ventures, including an internet strategy consulting firm, Shermans Travel Media, and an e-commerce firm. An angel investor and mentor to entrepreneurs, he sits on the board of HBS Alumni Angels New York. He lives in Manhattan and Bellport, New York.


We have 20 copies available, provided by the Harper Business. The giveaway will end on Monday, October 23rd. 


Enter below to win!

We have updated our privacy policy. Click here to read our full policy.