A Must Read for First-Time Founders

Jan 4, 2022

by Melissa Kaufman

The first student entrepreneur I advised was Jack. He was an undergrad at U Penn with an idea for a local shopping search product. I was working for Google and only a few years out of college myself. Jack and I met up in Palo Alto for a coffee and two years later, he sold his company to eBay for $75M. Today, Jack Abraham is the founder, managing partner, and CEO of Atomic which has incubated companies like hims and hers, Bungalow, and Terminal. I credit Jack with sparking my passion for working with student entrepreneurs.

As executive director of The Garage at Northwestern, I’ve now helped thousands of students dip their toes into entrepreneurship. I’ve met many smart, ambitious students who have a great idea, but are new to entrepreneurship. They have no idea how to get started. I couldn’t find a good book to get students up to speed quickly. In true entrepreneurial spirit, Mike Raab and I wrote it! Founded: The No B.S. Guide for Student Entrepreneurs was published today, January 4th, 2022, as an Inc. Original.


Mike and I believe entrepreneurship is for everyone, but there’s a lot of bad advice out there. There’s a lot of get-rich-quick hype and “venture capital is the only way” folklore. (Fun fact, only 0.62% of startups are backed by venture capital.) It’s easy to start down the wrong path and difficult for first-time founders to course correct. Our book cuts through the noise to provide straightforward advice, stories, and encouragement to move from idea to execution. It’s tailored to first-time founders that have unique questions, doubts, and challenges. In Founded, we’ve distilled The Garage experience into a book to make it accessible to anyone, anywhere.

We wrote Founded to be the foundational book for students and first-time entrepreneurs. There are lots of good books on entrepreneurship once you’ve learned the fundamentals. Mike and I are fans of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet, Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Trajectory Startup by Dave Parker, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, and High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil. With Founded, I’m happy to add a female voice and perspective to the field.

We didn’t write Founded to be a textbook, but we’re finding that it fills a need in the classroom too. Founded is now on the syllabus for the Introduction to Entrepreneurship courses at Northwestern and is being adopted by other high schools, colleges, and universities. Recently, we piloted a class at North Shore Country Day, a private high school near Chicago. We hope this will be the beginning of bringing Founded to classrooms across the country and world.

Becoming a published author was never on my bucket list. I’m dyslexic. Merely reading a book is an accomplishment for me, so I’m very proud of my achievement of writing a book. It would mean a lot to me if you would buy a copy of Founded today. Your purchase is more impactful today because Amazon prioritizes books that sell the most copies on the day of release. Buy it for yourself, or share it with someone in your life who is new to entrepreneurship — your kid, neighbor, student, colleague, or friend.

If you want to learn more about Founded, send me an email at kaufman@u.northwestern.edu.

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