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BW Businessworld

Book Review: Road To Zendesk

Svane has stayed true to himself in the book, like he has in his business, giving accounts of the tributes and disappointments while building Zendesk into a global business, writes Nithin Kamath

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When I picked up Startupland I wasn’t really aware of Mikkel Svane, but I had heard of Zendesk — an online customer relationship management software. In fact, I had considered Zendesk as an option for our business before settling for an open source solution, which we tweaked to meet our own needs. The book is easy to read and describes Svane’s journey from an apartment in Copenhagen to the buzz of Silicon Valley, from conceiving an idea to realising the dream. He makes an honest account of his relationships with his family, friends and associates, giving an impression that he has a great understanding of their personalities, which helped him bring out the best in them.

Startupland tries to take you through the highs and lows experienced by entrepreneurs while setting up global businesses, the challenges they face and the unconventional solutions they use. But Svane has gone overboard in thanking TechCrunch, making the reader feel it is almost essential for a business to be noticed by the online magazine without which success can elude you.

Zendesk has gone on to become a global business from being just an idea worked upon by three friends in a loft. He even discusses the struggle in finding an agreeable name and settling for it, all part of building a brand. The story definitely doesn’t give you a recipe for success with your startup idea but has some good insights from a man who has been there, done that. Startups grow really fast so one needs to be ready to change and adapt to keep the company on its growth trajectory while keeping an eye on expenses, which I think should have been dwelled upon more in the book instead of going on about who all needed to be credited for his success.

Svane has stayed true to himself in the book, like he has in his business, giving accounts of the tributes and disappointments while building Zendesk into a global business. As an entrepreneur he wasn’t too happy to make hard choices, but he attributes his success to making those decisions and following his heart. From the beginning until the IPO and beyond, there were plenty of moments where the easier option was to just not do it, just let go. Svane stuck his ground and did it, and has lived to tell the tale of survival in the big bad world of business.

Perhaps this may not turn out to be a bestseller. However, it is worth a read if startups are your thing.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 25-01-2016)