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Book Review: Zero to One – And What Iranian Startups Can Learn From The Book

Ramin Bagheri August 10, 2015 1
Book Review: Zero to One – And What Iranian Startups Can Learn From The Book

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars ∗∗∗∗∗

Written by Peter Thiel

Published in September 2014

I recently finished reading a book about startups. The name of the book is “ZERO to ONE”, written by PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel . My key takeaways from the book are the seven questions, that Peter Thiel recommends, that “Every Entrepreneur must answer:

  1. The Engineering Question: Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?
  2. The Timing Question: Is now the right time to start your particular business?
  3. The Monopoly Question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. The People Question: Do you have the right team?
  5. The Distribution Question: Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
  6. The Durability Question: Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?
  7. The Secret Question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see.

The book provides helpful information on being an Entrepreneur and how to be and remain successful. And how we can apply and answer these questions in context of Iranian Startups?

Let’s walk through one by one:

  • On #1: Iranian universities produce lot of great engineers each year. But when it comes to creativity and coming up with new ideas, many of them tend to copy new ideas instead creating them. It might work for short time, but in the long run this will end up in a flop.  I like the quote from the film “Beautiful Mind” where John Nash says: “Find a truly original idea. It is the only way I will ever distinguish myself. It is the only way I will ever matter.”
  • On #2: Timing is another factor for any entrepreneur. I think the current Iranian market has a huge potential for launching new products and services, however we need to do our homework and be aware about the market trends and not to bee proud about our achievements.
  • On #3: Thiel says monopoly, not competition, is the way to go. His advice to entrepreneurs is to find a niche and dominate it. From the current market situation perspective in Iran, many new ideas can play a monopoly role, but don’t forget, many similar ideas are on the way and this means you have to see constantly in your rear mirror.
  • On #4: This is for me the most important issue many (established) Iranian businesses have in Iran and this is also a cultural one. Our education system never thought us to work as team during our 12 years of schooling.  Our parents encouraged us to compete with the others rather to collaborate. Teamwork should be learned and can be enhanced through education and proper working environment. We need to change our mindset and also trust others more thane ever.
  • On #5: Many entrepreneurs I met, are very good engineers, but not a good salesman. No matter how strong is your product, Iranian startups underestimate the power of Sales and Marketing. Don’t be afraid, work also with somebody who has also have a sales and marketing background.
  • On #6: Durability is another factor, which many Iranian businesses (not only startups) oversee. The reason is again our cultural mindset. We have never learned to plan for the long term. We want only make quick wins. Iranian businesses need to incorporate sustainability in their company culture.
  • On #7: The education system in many countries (even industrial)  teaching us to stuffs that more or less are old standard. We never try to challenge those stuffs we learn in the school. We must learn to see what other people don’t see.

Looking forward to hear your thought on this review.

Happy Reading!