Startups · Founders Dilemmas

Can writing gamchanger book on product design put a startup in jeopardy if that is a core strength?


March 31st, 2016

So I am working on a great startup that I couldn't put on hold any longer. As a result I had to put a very promising consulting practice on hold in the meantime.

I have what I believe to be a revolutionary book idea for product design, and the industry experience to know the same problems in the field that I have seen throughout many organizations big and small from fortune 5000s to fortune 500s and large dotcoms. I learned about the principles through years of study, consulting in the industry, and observing trends that have not changed.

This would help my career I'm certain by making me stand out even more as an industry expert. I know the principles to be correct, can prove them, and have large reputable brands that I've worked for (and a variety of smaller oufits).

At the same time I am working on a startup product that leverages this process. So in some way it's a trade secret but more like sound principles and shortcuts to creating products that the world loves.

Should I grow my career by writing the book and in so doing run the risk of revealing secrets that can one day potentially be used by competitors - but also the industry at large?

Might writing the book also run the risk of me being typecast as the "design founder" when in reality I am a jack of all trades and am currently working on the complete technical stack by myself (with all the latest bells and whistles)?

Should I maybe wait a few years after the startup launch to write the book?

Ali Tariq Designing digital experiences and user-centered solutions at Manulife RED Lab

March 31st, 2016

I'm not entirely sure I understand what your concerns are. This is how I see it:

OPTION A: Write book and risk revealing secrets that might be used by potential competitors + be seen as a "designer" rather than a "unicorn".

OPTION B: Don't write book and focus on applying the principles of it on your startup.

Have you considered doing this instead:

OPTION C: Apply principles of the book to the startup and document it via a blog as you go along. After startup is launched and you've met your success criteria, you'd have amassed a collection of short posts, with--hopefully--some success/lessons learned to back them up, not to mention an audience of people who are captivated by your progress. Then, collect all your blog posts, bind them together, scrub, and sell to said audience.

You'll only know whether your lessons and skills are revolutionary if you can put them to the test. Even better if you can take people along the ride with you. You don't have to reveal any sensitive IP or technological solutions - but people appreciate transparency and generosity.

Not to mention, if your competitors could use your own lessons and use them to deliver better products than yourself, then perhaps your ideas weren't meant to be exclusive to you in the first place?

Wes Zimmerman Our Experience helps you reach your goals.

March 31st, 2016

I lean towards do the start up with the methodology you have in your head. The book will be better then. I did this with my book and it has been successful and profitable, continues to sell.

Wes Zimmerman.

Paul PhD Founder, CEO and R&D Director, GNSS, IOT Consultant

March 31st, 2016

Ah the curse of too many things to do.  

Being an industry expert will give you credibility in front of investors, but you probably can claim that without the book. What will give you the most credibility as an entrepreneur is going after a business with a huge market where you have an unfair advantage and market understanding. Your team will be more important than your book.  So I would think the book will not help in this case.  

Tt depends on your goals: If you want to be  writer, go do that.  You might be more successful in case you can help a huge base of designers who need your tricks to succeed.

If you want to go make money as an entrepreneur, go to that. 
I would also add that its better to write the book with real examples.  Showing that you can put your principles to action in your successful startup would be quite powerful.   

You might also find that your readers success might also be a better indicator of your trade skills.  

Sidney Sclar SID the SECURITY PRO at

March 31st, 2016

Consider sending an outline/chapter headings to another one of my Network Partners Deborah Bowman clasidconsultantspublishing

Ema Chuku Product Developer. Founder.

March 31st, 2016

If I understand correctly your book is based on teaching or changing startups but you have not really ran or founded a startup? Has it not occurred to you perhaps writing a book with a real life experience matters more than the idea and feeling of creating a game changing book?

Give yourself some time and figure out what exactly you want to do.

Sometimes, "Jack of all trade can equate to master of nothing" at the end.