Book Review: Entrepreneur Journeys - Innovation: Need of the Hour

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Includes: AKAM, ATHN
by: Alan Brochstein, CFA

Don't worry if you haven't read any of the three previous volumes, as this latest in the series is a great read in and of itself. Author Sramana Mitra, a noted contributor to Forbes magazine and a veteran of the VC industry and the world of entrepreneurship once again lets her subjects tell their great stories.

In Volume 4, Mitra structures the interviews around the central thesis that we have a societal need to innovate our way out of the challenges we face today. She digs deep into the past as well as finding more recent examples of the type of creativity that we can only hope will not be stifled by regulation and taxation.

Once again, she hits lots of different industries, including Clean Tech, software, alternative energy, healthcare and many others. A feature that I like, given that I am an analyst who researches public companies, is that many of her interviews are with entrepreneurs who have taken their companies public.

In this volume, she profiles several who may reach that achievement in the next couple of years but also Tom Leighton, one of the founders of Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM) and Jonathan Bush of Athenahealth (NASDAQ:ATHN). While I am not sure that her profiles match the reality of entrepreneurship in America, I like that she features so many women and immigrants too. As always, she brings out the background of each of her subjects as well as their stories, with careful attention to the challenges they may have had to overcome to achieve success.

The structure of the book allows the reader to progress as slowly or as quickly as he or she wishes. There are four main sections, each with 2-5 conversations. I was captivated, so I read it very quickly, but it's so compartmentalized that it could also be read over several weeks with the same impact to the reader.

As with the other volumes, Mitra's direction of the interviews adds a lot. I liked that she addressed some really big issues and tied that theme through the book. This volume too left me hopeful that we as a society can rise to meet the challenges of the big problems with energy, the environment, healthcare, etc. Hopefully, risk-taking will not be a victim of the Great Recession and Mitra can describe in one of her future works what great companies arose from the ashes.

Author's Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from Mitra's p.r. firm