It's a book I would highly recommend to anyone who wants something on the nuts and bolts of building a company. But I did notice something: it had two huge assumptions that it never really told you flat-out.
The Four Steps to the Epiphany, by and large, describes how to develop and sell technology solutions to enterprises.
1. All start-ups are technology start-ups
2. All customers are B2B customers (business-to-business)
Is this true?
As long as his readers realize that the book's advice will need more experimentation and adaptation for a consumer-oriented start-up than for a business-oriented one, this assumption is not a big deal.
But what about the second bit, that all start-ups are technology start-ups?
If there was a Venn Diagram about the start-up scene in New York and the tech scene in New York, it would look something like this:
Of course, you only need programmers if you're going to be coding something. Jessica Livingston is talking only about only tech start-ups, and makes clear she's doing so. She's not making a statement that there aren't start-ups in other industries. But for that same reason of familiarity and background, Mike Arrington, Fred Wilson, and so many others also mean "tech start-up" when they say "start-up." It takes some real effort to break out of the thought rut that start-up = tech start-up.
I understand that mobile, internet, and software start-ups have incredibly good fundamentals. Products are cheap to build, incur low fixed costs, and can scale incredibly quickly, with virtually no variable costs. Don't forget network effects and viral growth, which are much more easily leveraged on the internet than in other spaces. Unbelievably, things are only getting better.
Who doesn't want to work with this model? It's fantastic. There is a reason that investment in internet-based start-ups has been rising.
But the world is so big! It's got to be a lot bigger than mobile, internet, and software. What compelling ideas and strategies are out there, beyond the tech space?