Hangry – The Eat, Pray Love of Tech Entrepreneurship

I added Hangry to my Goodreads and Des Moines Public library’s holds lists upon a 5-star rating by Brad Feld. Having never ordered food via Grubhub, I wasn’t really sure why but his rating was the motivating factor. I was surprised to get the book quickly from the library but it was the experience of reading the book that surprised me. I have finished fiction in a day but non-fiction, memoir, by a tech entrepreneur in a day became a first.

Hangry is Mike Evans’ story of living through the frustrations of cubicle dwelling mixed with a desire for tasty food showing up at the door. He tells the rare story of a tech founder who knew enough to code his MVP, tests and pivots over the years, mergers, failures, acquisitions, and the most rarified of experiences – an IPO. His remarkable clarity of his purpose for having (and leaving) the business and the ability to achieve it makes a worthy read.

discontent is a feature, not a bug. Entrepreneurs aren’t happy people

This is the tech entrepreneur version of Eat, Pray, Love, much of which occurs in Chicago. The author’s reflection, however, is interspersed throughout the book via the coast to coast, Trans America journey he undertakes on a bicycle. Lessons learned on the journey are poignant and told with humble brevity.

It is, simultaneously, an entrepreneur’s guidebook. Mike channels his remarkable (and unwanted) mentors from his Grubhub journey by avoiding professorial lecturing. The aphorisms of entrepreneurship aren’t delivered as chapter headings or even articulated directly. The wisdom, instead, is imparted through his own experiential learning over the course of two decades. I found myself taking so many notes throughout the book to capture the true essence of these stories.

The point is to intrigue, not inform. You want to tease them with a small glimpse into a billion-dollar opportunity. You want to tell a believable story about why the business model really works. But most of all you want to induce FOMO, fear of missing out. Say less. Tease more.”

Professor Waverly Deutsch at Chicago Booth School of Business

Christine, Mike’s unwavering wife and partner throughout the book, is the soul that seems to have grounded him but, sadly, we don’t get to know her very much. I would’ve loved to meet and understand some of her feelings throughout the book.

The book is emotional in places, especially as he journeys across America on his recumbent bike. It is when he sees himself as a part of the big picture, journeying across a magnificent landscape and being reminded by some wonderful people to truly:

“Enjoy your trip,” …. “Don’t take it for granted. You’re lucky.”

I can obviously not distill the entire book here but will leave with the final note from the author to all (not just self-appointed entrepreneurs

If you see something that is broken, and it bothers you… If you can’t shake the feeling that it could be done better… If you look around and realize that nobody else is as annoyed by this thing, and that maybe nobody else is going to fix it, and that maybe, just maybe, you might be the person to do it.

You can.

That’s my piece of advice to every would-be entrepreneur. Don’t overthink it. Don’t write a business plan. Don’t hire a lawyer, or a market research firm. Just start.

Make the thing.

Sell a customer.


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