An encyclopedia of strategies.
The Growth Company Guide series started as a resource written for may dad, an entrepreneur who was consumed by the work or growing a business. His dad, and my grandfather, is pictured above with his management team in front of a coal mine they were opening in southern Illinois. As a young lawyer who advised venture funds and venture backed companies, I had access to information and experience growing companies like my dad's needed.
The resulting resource - an encyclopedia of strategies entrepreneurs and venture investors use to fund successful companies - was designed to be comprehensive and easy to access. Free time is in short supply when you are growing a business. The first edition quickly sold out, receiving critical praise from entrepreneurs, venture investors and other industry players.
Here is a short history of the history and development of this unique resource.
No one will believe
It was a challenging path to first publication in 1987 for what would become a five edition Growth Company Guide series. Here is how the book found its first publisher.
“We really like the content” . . . was how the editor of one of the nation’s leading business book publishers began before declining to publish the first edition of the Growth Company Guide after months of consideration. The reason? They were concerned that the author’s residence in Georgia would make it difficult to sell the book. “Everyone on the committee liked the content and the style,” she continued, “but were concerned that no one will believe anyone from the South knows anything about venture capital." Just days later, a leading business magazine in New York agreed to promote the book as their guide to venture capital and feature excerpts in its venture industry newsletter. The previously reluctant publisher quickly agreed to publish the book. The first printing sold out in six weeks.
Nothing to do with the fall of Communism
The book's title changed in 1993 after Venture magazine, the first edition publisher, went out of business. The second edition came out in hardcover and then, a few years later, in a hot-linked Internet version, making it one of the very first business books published on the Web.
One book order illustrates how widely respected the Growth Company Guide had become. During Glasnost, the Director of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center was asked to teach an enterprise development class in the Soviet Union. The resource he took with him was the second edition Growth Company Guide. So impressed was the Soviet Union's Economic Ministry with the book’s content that they ordered copies of the hardcover edition in bulk.
Two cases of books were shipped to fulfill the order. Unfortunately for the Soviets, Glasnost failed and the Soviet Union crumbled just two weeks after the books were shipped. It had to be a coincidence.
"A real strength: definitions of key concepts"
When we began writing the first edition, we wanted to create something busy entrepreneurs would find easy to use.
Using key-words to organize the material seemed was the perfect solution. If a reader receives a term sheet for financing and needs to understand anti-dilution provisions or some other key concept, he can turn to the entry for that term and be cross referenced to other related concepts.
This key-word approach remains central in the fifth edition Growth Company Guide but is now supplemented with a full narrative discussion of venture funding and the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and investors. A fully annotated investment agreement of the sort used to fund growing companies is also included.
A non-addictive cure
In 2007, Tech Journal South published the fourth edition of the Growth Company Guide. And, with their support, the positive reviews kept on coming. With all the great reviews we received from entrepreneurs and others it is easy to overlook the time and effort that went into compiling the original book and updating future versions. This entailed some sacrifice of quality time with my wife and children. It was all gracefully endured and created the best tongue-in-cheek review we have received about the book. If you believe my wife, you will understand when she calls the book a "non-addictive cure to insomnia." Think about it. :^)
Even before we published this China edition of the Guide 4.0 with a Mandarin / English narrative description of the American venture capital investment model, we had many readers outside of the United States. Traffic patterns when we hosted the Guide 2.0 version on the Internet showed concentrations of readers in Boston, Silicon Valley and Singapore. One Luxembourg group bought the book and consulted with the author as they formed their first life science investment fund. A French resource reviewed the book and called it "la bible du venture capital." Perhaps most surprising, however, were the case quantity orders we received from a Soviet Union Economic Ministry during Glasnost. They were using it in training sessions for new entrepreneurs.