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Best Entrepreneur Books to Build a Hardware Company

Reading books will help you tremendously along your journey to build your hardware company. Bill Gates or Elon Musk are known for being avid readers. Both said that some books had a great influence in their business decisions. They are obviously not the only ones.

I spend the last months reading and researching the topic and I compiled this master list of books for makers starting a hardware company. Pick the ones that fit your current need, they might be of great help.



Hardware Startup Strategy


The Hardware Startup, by Renee DiResta


Covering all aspects to take in consideration when building a hardware company, venture capitalist Renee DiResta and entrepreneur Nick Pinkston talk about the hardware Renaissance and how to do hardware the lean way.

The Hardware Startup, $24.90 on Amazon


Building Open Source Hardware, by Alicia Gibb



This collaborative book is the first one to dive into the process of building open source hardware. It covers the main aspects: from documentation to choosing a licence or manufacturing an open source hardware piece.

Building Open Source Hardware, $28 on Amazon


The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steven Gary Blank


Obligatory reading in some start-ups, this book will give you a full methodology on how to define a strategy for your business. It’s an essential from which you will be able to get knowledge and advice along your entrepreneurial journey.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany, $25.30 on Amazon


Etsy-preneurship, by Jason Malinak


A full guide for crafty makers to learn how to run a successful business on Etsy.

Etsy-preneurship, $15 on Amazon




Business Models


Business Model Generation by Alex Osterwalder


Absolute best-seller for entrepreneurs. Business Model Generation is a practical tool to let you define your business model and your strategy.

Business Model Generation, $22.44 on Amazon


The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries



Complete and pragmatic methodology to launch and run a business based on continuous innovation. The Lean Startup is an absolute must-read.

The Lean Startup, $11 on Amazon


The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, by Chris Anderson


Written by the former Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine and current CEO of 3D Robotics, The Long Tail is a world-famous book for any online entrepreneur who wants to harness the power of niche markets to its business. Internet gives an almost infinite number of market opportunities, small but big enough to start successful business.

The Long Tail, $10.56 on Amazon


Free, by Chris Anderson


This book explores how free can become an highly successful business strategy. Chris Anderson explains the different business models using the free model and shows how to compete when competitors are giving away your product. A great read for hardware entrepreneurs exploring open source hardware models.

Free, $10.80 on Amazon



Raising Capital

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist, by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson


This book will let you understand how venture capitalists think and how deals work. It’s a great book to understand the outlines of venture capital term sheet and gives valuable insights on how to get a fair deal.

Venture Deals, $28.39 on Amazon


Crowdfunding: The Next Big Thing, by Gary Spirer


A book that covers all aspects of crowdfunding, with or without equity, with practical advice on how to pitch your project on crowdfunding platforms. Gary Spirer also covers the latest regulations and how to identify projects that will work.

Crowdfunding, $14 on Amazon



Product Design


Product Design and Development by Karl Ulrich and Steven Eppinger


A book that every designer and product engineering wannabee should have on his bookshelf. Authors take you through design and product development process in a company, sharing clear methods to bring together marketing, design and manufacturing functions of the enterprise.

Product Design and Development, $180.20 on Amazon


The Evolution of Useful Things by Henry Petrovsky


Forks, pins, paper clips, zippers… The Evolution of Useful Things tells the story of how some of our most common and iconic everyday things became the way they are today. It’s a book about technology and innovation, and a passionate look at what really drives inventions.

The Evolution of Useful Things, $11.50 on Amazon


The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman


How to design product for people. That’s what field-changing The Design of Everyday Things is all about.

The Design of Everyday Things, $11.37 on Amazon



Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, by Donald A. Norman

norman-emotional-designCognitive scientist Don Norman, who also wrote The Design of Everyday Things, explores how products’ aesthetics affects our experience.

Emotional Design, $12.09 on Amazon


Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by Michael Braungart and William McDonough


Cradle to Cradle is a must-read manifesto and a guide for designing products that don’t go to waste. “Reduce, reuse, recycle”.

Cradle to Cradle, $18.70 on Amazon


How Designers Think by Bryan Lawson


A classic for any designer, How Designers Think takes the reader throughout the design process. It’s the result of 40 years of research, interview and observations with designers in action.

How Designers Think, $51.68 on Amazon


Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down, by J. e. Gordon


This book is one of all times Elon Musk’s favorite and a best-seller in architecture. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in product design and engineering. Very few math but plenty of real-life examples and well-explained concepts that shape the world we live in.

Structures, $13.68 on Amazon



Design for Manufacturing and Assembly


Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals, by Rob Thompson


A must-have of any hardware entrepreneur, this big book is a fully illustrated resource to help designers understand the various manufacturing processes, how to design for manufacturing and anticipate the many challenges that will undoubtedly come along the way.

Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals, $62.40 on Amazon


Product Design for Manufacture and Assembly by G. Boothroyd


Absolute must-have for the hardware entrepreneur, this 700+ pages book packed with schematics covers all aspects of design for manufacturing. Use it as manual along your design journey to take the right decisions early-on and learn about manufacturing processes and challenges.

Product Design for Manufacture and Assembly, $128.90 on Amazon


Mechanical Assemblies by Daniel Whitney


Mechanical Assemblies specifically focuses on the assembling part of product manufacturing.

Mechanical Assemblies, $135.80 on Amazon




Lean Manufacturing


How To Implement Lean Manufacturing by Lonnie Wilson


This book is a detailed hands-on resource for implementing lean manufacturing, from deploying plant-wide strategies to reducing lead times or synchronizing production and supply to the customer. Advanced read for the hardware entrepreneur already well-engaged in his hardware company process.

How To Implement Lean Manufacturing, $47.60 on Amazon



Work Methodology


Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen


GTD is world-famous method for helping you work in more productive way.

Getting Things Done, $8.88 on Amazon



Rework, by Jason Fried


This book will give you the keys on how to work effectively, get exposure, boot-strap efficiently, and overall get much more productive.

Rework, $8.70 on Amazon


How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie


With such a title, no suprise this book became an incredible best-seller, with more than 15 million copies sold since its release in 1936. This timeless book is still fully relevant today, with advice on how to make people like you, convince and change people without resentment.

How To Win Friends and Influence People, $9.60 on Amazon


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink


In this New York Times best-seller, Daniel H. Pink explores what motivates us. And it’s not money. 40 years of scientific research on human motivation show that what truly motivates us is: autonomy, mastery and purpose. This book is the reference for understanding motivation.

Drive, $11 on Amazon



Open Source


The Success of Open Source, by Steven Weber


The ultimate book on open source and  its business models, from a non-technical point of view. Plenty of open source business case studies and perspectives on the movement. Not very easy to read but a must-have.

The Success of Open Source, $20.50 on Amazon


The Cathedral & the Bazaar, by Eric Raymond


It’s this kind of book that anyone working with Open Source needs to have in his bookshelf. Eric Raymond talks about how and why the open source movement works.

The Cathedral & the Bazaar, $11 on Amazon


Hackers, by Steven Levy


Written in 1984 (!) by Wired senior writer Steven Levy, Hackers tells the story of how computers escaped proprietary silos and became wildly used by everyone for business and leisure. It’s a classic that will take you in the early days of hackers in the 1960’s and 1970’s. A great tool to understand present challenges.

Hackers, $13 on Amazon


Makers, by Cory Doctorow 


The cult fiction book of Cory Doctorow, sharing his vision of a maker world.

free download




Marketing and Selling

Purple Cow, by Seth Godin

Purple Cow is one of the most remarkable best-seller of marketing genius Seth Godin. It’s a book about the power of standing out. Ethical marketing at its best.

Purple Cow, $7 on Amazon


Permission Marketing, by Seth Godin

This book explores a marketing approach based on respect for your customers, transparency and asking for permission. It details online and offline strategies to reach to your audience and transform visitors into fans and friends.

Permission Marketing, $6 on Amazon


Cold Calling Techniques, by Stephan Shiffman

One of the highly recommended book on how to sell. Filled with advice, techniques and examples.

Cold Calling Techniques, $9 on Amazon


Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuck


This book will explain to you how to tell your story on social media and stand out. Social media guru Gary Vaynerchuck shares plenty of case studies and provocative ideas to get your message across online networks without killing your brand.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, $17.50 on Amazon



Entrepreneurs’ stories

Hackers and Painters, by Paul Graham


Paul Graham, programmer and VC (he co-founded Y Combinator seed capital firm), wrote Hackers and Painters in 2004 as an essay sharing his views on the future of technology. It quickly became a must-read for all wannabee entrepreneurs and still is.

Hackers and Painters, $11 on Amazon


The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz


Entrepreneur and investor Ben Horowitz shares his advice on how to build and run a startup.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things, $16.20 on Amazon



Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel


In this book, Peter Thiel tells the story of how he created Paypal and raised it to a multi-billion business. More importantly, he explores how leaders think by themselves, and how entrepreneurs can innovate today. A very inspiring book for anyone who thinks that we already invented everything.

Zero to One, $11 on Amazon


Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston


This very popular book tells the story of founders of some of the biggest tech companies. Interviews with Steve Wozniak (Apple), Mitch Kapor (Lotus) or Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail). Mostly about software and less about hardware but still inspiring.

Founders at Work, $11 on Amazon


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, by Walter Isaacson


Best-selling author of Steve Jobs and Einstein biographies, Walter Isaacson tells the story of USA founding father Benjamin Franklin in this highly rated book (a favorite of both Y Combinator Paul Graham and Tesla founder Elon Musk).

Benjamin Franklin, $11 on Amazon


My Forty Years with Ford, by Charles E Sorensen


Sorensen is one of the rare people who spend their all life working with Henry Ford. In this book, published for the first time in 1956, he tells the story of the company and the man from the inside, giving first-eye details on the amazing story of Ford.

My Forty Years with Ford, $27 on Amazon


Tap Dancing to Work – Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012, by Carol J. Loomis


This biography of Warren Buffet is a great way to enter the mind of the most-successful business investor.

Tap Dancing to Work , $15 on Amazon




World Perspectives

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization, by Vaclav Smil


For all of us working with materials and hardware projects, soon arises the question of material consumption and its limits. This book by environmental sciences professor Vaclav Smil explores this topic with talent and gives answers to the rise of dematerialization. Heavily packed with data and thorough information, this book is for the ones who truly want to understand the use of materials across civilizations.

Making the Modern World, $35.80 on Amazon

The Box by Marc Levinson


Multi-awards winning book The Box is also one of Bill Gates’ favorites. Economist and historian Marc Levinson retraces the history of the shipping container and “how it made the world smaller and the world economy bigger”. Super instructive and a great read for any hardware mind.

The Box, $13 on Amazon


The Soul of A New Machine, by Tracy Kidder


Pulitzer price winner, Paul Graham’s favorite, The Soul of a New Machine tells the story of the computer and how it revolutionized our world. Author also analyzes social behavior and work ethics surrounding these technologies, which still apply today.

The Soul of A New Machine, $12 on Amazon


The Singularity Is Near, by Ray Kurzweil

kurzweil-singularityIn this book about the future of technology and humanity, Ray Kurzweil explains his theories around human transcendence and how humanity and technology will merge into something new.

The Singularity Is Near, $15 on Amazon


The Third Industrial Revolution, by Jeremy Rifkin


Explore Jeremy Rifkin’s ideas for a future where Internet and renewable energy are in the center of a new world paradigm, replacing oil and fossil fuels. Hardware enthusiasts and makers will find a great use and inspiration in his vision.

The Third Industrial Revolution, $14 on Amazon



Which one is your favorite?




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