I have had great success with reading recommendations from Brad Feld’s blog. The latest is Uncommon Stock: Version 1.0 by Eliot Peper. It’s the lead title for a new entrant into the publishing industry – FG Press. They are an outgrowth of the Foundry Group venture capital firm where Brad Feld is a partner. According to FG Press, the book publishing industry will change radically over the next five years, and they want to be at the forefront of this change by “experimenting constantly in order to build a strong community around long-form written content in the domain of entrepreneurship.” With Uncommon Stock, they picked an excellent work to serve as their lead title.
If you enjoy fictional works that have a teaching component in them like I do, they you’ll love Uncommon Stock. It’s written in the same format as one of my favorite business books, The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. In other words, the book has a strong, entertaining story, but it also has a lot of good business knowledge embedded in it. In the case of Uncommon Stock, these business lessons involve starting a company. So in the course of being entertained, you will also learn a lot of good lessons about starting a company. It covers everything from making the leap to starting a company, building a working prototype, struggling to find investors, and bringing the deal together. Peper does en excellent job of making you feel the pressure and stress of doing it. Having been there myself, many of the topics covered aren’t that far from reality and hit close to home.
The story surrounding the business elements of the book is well done, too. There were a couple of elements I struggled with. It took a while for the story to pick up while Peper developed the characters. The story’s protagonist, Mara, was an extremely flawed character that I had a hard time connecting with. The decisions she makes and her demeanor drove me crazy, but that’s part of what makes the story what it is. Once I came to grips with the plot speed and Mara’s character, the book became a page turner that I couldn’t put down. Peper also does an excellent job bringing the story to a logical ending, but he leaves enough of a cliffhanger to make you want to read the follow-on, Uncommon Stock: Power Play.
As you might expect, I’ve added Uncommon Stock to my stack of Must Reads. There’s also enough startup material and lessons in it that I’ve added it to my Startup Lessons series. While I’m not too excited about starting another series of books, I’ve heard from other trusted sources (one of my favorite authors William Hertling among them) that Uncommon Stock: Power Play is just as good, if not better than the original. With that kind of recommendation behind it, I suspect that I will be inserting it into my 2015 reading list later this year.