15 Must Read Books for Entrepreneurs in Data Science

avcontentteam 05 Jan, 2017
9 min read


The roots of entrepreneurship are old. But, the fruits were never so lucrative as they have been recently. Until 2010, not many of us had heard of the term ‘start-up’. And now, not a day goes by when business newspapers don’t quote them. There is sudden gush in the level of courage which people possess.

Today, I see 1 out of 5 person talking about a new business idea. Some of them even succeed too in establishing their dream company. But, only the determined ones sustain. In data science, the story is bit different.

The success in data science is mainly driven by knowledge of the subject. Entrepreneurs are not required to work at ground level, but must have sound knowledge of how it is being done. What algorithms, tools, techniques are being used to create products & services.

In order to gain this knowledge, you have two ways:

  1. You work for 5-6 years in data science, get to know things around and then start your business.
  2. You start reading books along the way and become confident to start in first few years.

I would opt for second option.

15 must read books for entrepreneurs in data science


Why read books ?

Think of our brain as a library. And, it’s a HUGE library.

How would an empty library look like? If I close my eyes and imagine, I see dust, spider webs, brownian movement of dust particles and darkness. If this imagination horrifies you, then start reading books.

The books listed below gives immense knowledge and motivation in technology arena. Reading these books will give you the chance to live many different entrepreneurial lives. Take them one by one. Don’t get overwhelmed. I’ve displayed a mix of technical and motivational books for entrepreneurs in data science. Happy Reading!

Note: I do not intend to promote any book. Neither I have any affiliation with amazon. However, for your perusal, I have shared amazon links in case you are interested to buy any.


List of Books

Data Science For Businessdata science for business vidhya

This book is written by Foster Provost & Tom Fawcett. It gives a great head start to anyone, who is serious about doing business with big data analytics. It makes you believe, data is now business. No business in the world, can now sustain without leveraging the power of data. This books introduces you to real side of data analysis principles and algorithms without technical stuff. It gives you enough intuition and confidence to lead a team of data scientists and recommend what’s required. More importantly, it teaches you the winning approach to become a master at business problem solving.

Get the book: Buy Now


Big Data at Workb2

This book is written by Thomas H. Davenport. It reveals the increasing importance of big data in organizations. It talks with interesting  numbers, researches and statistics. So until 2009, companies worked on data samples. But with advent of powerful devices and data storage capabilities, companies now work on whole data. They don’t want to miss even a single bit of information. This book unveils the real side of big data, it’s influence on our daily lives, on companies and our jobs. As an entrepreneur, it is extremely important for you understand big data and its related terminologies.

Get the book: Buy Now


Lean Analyticsb3

This book is written by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz. It’s one of the most appreciated books on data startups. It consist of practical & detailed researches, advice, guidance which can help you to build your startup faster. It gives enough intuition to build data driven products and market them. The language is simple to understand. There are enough real world examples to make you believe, a business needs data analytics like a human needs air. To an entrepreneur, this will introduce the practical side of product development and what it takes to succeed in a red ocean market.

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This book is written by Michael Lewis. It’s a brilliant tale which sprinkles some serious inspiration. A guy named billy bean does what most of the world failed to imagine, just by using data and statistics. He paved the path to victory when situations weren’t favorable. Running a business needs continuous motivation. This can be a good place to start with. However, this book involves technical aspects of baseball. Hence, if you don’t know baseball, chances are you might struggle in initial chapters. A movie also has been made on this book. Do watch it!

Get the book: Buy Now


Elon Muskb5

This book is written by Ashlee Vance. I’m sure none of us are fortunate to live the life of Elon Musk, but this book let’s us dive in his life and experience rise of fantastic future. Elon is the face behind Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX. He has dreamed of making space travel easy and cheap. Recently, he was applauded by Barack Obama for the successful landing of his spaceship in an ocean. People admire him. They want to know his secrets and this is where you can look for. As on entrepreneur, you will learn about must have ingredients which you need to a become successful in technology space.

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Keeping up with the Quantsb6

This book is written by Thomas H Davenport and Jinho Kim. As we all know, data science is driven by numbers & maths (quants). Inspired from moneyball, this book teaches you the methods of using quantitative analysis for decision making. An entrepreneur is a terminal of decision making. One must learn to make decisions using numbers & analysis, rather than intuition. The language of this book is easy to understand and suited for non-maths background people too. Also, this book will make you comfortable with basics statistics and quantitative calculations in the world of business.

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The Signal and the NoiseCover of the book 'The Signal and the Noise' by Nate Silver. Published by The Penguin Press

The author of this book is Nate Silver, the famous statistician who correctly predicted US Presidential elections in 2012. This books shows the real art and science of making predictions from data. This art involves developing the ability to filter out noise and make correct predictions. It includes interesting examples which conveys the ultimate reason behind success and failure of predictions. With more and more data, predictions have become prone to noise errors. Hence, it is increasingly important to understand the science behind making predictions using big data science. The chapters of this book are interesting and intuitive.

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When Genius Failedb8

This book is written by Roger Lowenstein. It is an epic story of rise and failure of a hedge fund. For an entrepreneur, this book has ample lessons on investing, market conditions and capital management. It’s a story of a small bank, which used quantitative techniques for bond pricing throughout the world and ensured every invested made gives a profitable results. However, they didn’t sustain for long. Their quick rise was succeeded by failure. And, the impact of their failure was so devastating that US Federal bank stepped in to rescue the bank, because the fund’a bankruptcy would have large negative influence on world’s economy.

Get the book: Buy Now


Lean Startupb9

This book is written by Eric Ries. In one line, it teaches how to not to fail at the start of your business. It reveals proven strategies which are followed by startups around the world. It has abundance of stories to make you walk on the right path. An entrepreneur should read it when he/she feel like draining out of motivation. It teaches to you to learn quickly, implement new methods and act quickly if something doesn’t work out. This book applies to all industries and is not specific to data science.

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Web Analytics 2.0

b10This book is written by Avinash Kaushik. It is one of the best book to learn about web analytics. Internet is the fastest mode of collecting data. And, every entrepreneur must learn the art of internet accounting. Most of the businesses today face the challenge of weak presence on social media and internet platforms. Using various proven strategies and actionable insights, this book helps you to solve various challenges which could hamper your way. It also provides a winning template which can be applied in most of the situations. It focuses on choosing the right metric and ways to keep them in control.

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Predictive Analyticsb11

This book is written by Eric Seigel. It is a good follow up book after web analytics 2.0. So, once you’ve understood the underlying concept of internet data, metrics and key strategies. This book teaches you the methods of using that knowledge to make predictions. It’s simple to understand and covers many interesting case studies displaying how companies predict our behavior and sell us products. It doesn’t cover technical aspects, but explains the general working on predictive analytics and its applications. You can also check out this funny rap video by Dr. Eric Seigel:

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This book is written by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner. It shows the importance of numbers, data, quantitative analysis using various interesting stories. It says, there is a logic is everything which happens around us. Reading this book will make you aware of the unexplored depth at which data affects our real lives. It draws interesting analogy between school teachers and sumo wrestlers. Also, the bizarre stories featuring cases of criminal acts, real-estate, drug dealers will certainly add up to your exciting moments.

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Founders at Workb13

This book is written by Jessica Livingston. Again, this isn’t data science specific but a source of motivation to get you moving forward. It’s a collection of interviews with the founders of various startups across the world. The focus has been kept on early days i.e. how did they act when they started. This book will give you enough proven ideas, strategies and lessons to anticipate and avoid pitfalls in your initial days of business. It consist of stories by Steve Wozniak (Apple), Max Levchin (Paypal), Caterina Fake (Flikr) and many more. In total, there are 32 interviews listed which means you have the chance to learn from 32 mentors in one single book. Must read for entrepreneurs.

Get the book: Buy Now


Bootstrapping a Businessb14

This book is written by Greg Gianforte and Marcus Gibson. It teaches about the things to do when you are running short of money and still don’t want to stop. This is a must read book for every entrepreneur. Considering the amount of investment required in data science startups, this book should have a special space in an entrepreneur’s heart. It reveals various eye opening truths and strategies which can help you build a great company. Greg and Marcus proves that money is not always the reason for startup failure, it’s all about founder’s perspective. This book has stories of success and failures, again a great chance for you to live many lives by reading this book.

Get the book: Buy Now


Analytics at Workb15

This book is written by Thomas H Davenport, Jeanne G Harris and Robert Morrison. This books reveals the increased use of analytical tools & concepts by managers to make informed business decisions. The decision making process has accelerated. For a greater impact, it also consists of examples from popular companies like hotels.com, best buy and many more. It talks about recruiting, coordination with people and the use of data and analytics at an enterprise level. Many of us are aware of data and analytics. But, only a few know how to use them together. This quick book has it all !

Get the book: Buy Now

Disclosure: The amazon links in this article are affiliate links. If you buy a book through this link, we would get paid through Amazon. This is one of the ways for us to cover our costs while we continue to create these awesome articles. Further, the list reflects our recommendation based on content of book and is no way influenced by the commission.

End Notes

This marks the end of this list. While compiling this list, I realized most of these books are about sharing experience and learning from the mistake of others. Also, it is immensely important to posses quantitative ability to become good in data science. I would suggest you to make a reading list and stick to it throughout the year. You can take up any book to start. I’d suggest to start with a motivational book.

Have you read any other book ? What were your key takeaways? Did you like reading this article? Do share your knowledge & experiences in the comments below.

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avcontentteam 05 Jan, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

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Responses From Readers


Kamal Tanwar
Kamal Tanwar 25 Apr, 2016

Hey Manish, I read the book "Analytics at Work" halfway but somehow could find it interesting. Perhaps all those stuff is more palpable when you are at a manager level. Anyway, interesting list as it is a break from all the technical stuff.

Jesse Piburn
Jesse Piburn 25 Apr, 2016

I would add the book Thinking with Data by Max Shron to this list. It is a great resource for how to think about constructing a data based project. It has really informed my thinking. http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Data-Turn-Information-Insights/dp/1449362931

RAKESH KUMAR 26 Apr, 2016

We must salute Manish for his kindness to share his knowledge and experience rather than criticizing.... There are no. of peoples who have ample knowledge of the subject but don't have gut feeling to share it with others. Thanks! Regards, Rakesh

Asesh Datta
Asesh Datta 29 Apr, 2016

Hats off Manish Saraswat, Congratulation on your unique idea and appreciate to share knowledge in this manner. " The man who doesn't read has no advantage who cannot read"- Mark Twain. Reading is pleasurable and sharing is missionary. Even one paragraph you have written on each selected book gives adequate philosophy in my the book. Rest is in our interest to build on the concepts. Most of these books are about sharing experiences and learning from the mistake of others. Who claims that no mistakes has been made? But how many shares those failures as a learning platform? Some one said to me "Give me all your Problems you face in your work life, because problems are Company's assets. Must be shared within the company first so that it doesn't get repeated unknowingly. Secondly, your competition is not yet experienced about the problem and how the same has been handled here?" I see a great merit in these process. One Success story is the result of many failure stories sparing written. Great job Manish. I appreciate many others to compile such books in a particular field and learn for the 'start-up'. Respecting the author and the book is noble here. Buying is commercial but sharing knowledge after reading a book is highly motivational. ll books cannot be read, but in this process I can, not only select the one which I want to read further, but also read some other book equally good and share with others. The pool can become a real 'Intangible Asset' of knowledge. Wish many others will share their personal library in this manner. Congrats once again Asesh Datta eTecGuys

Md. Rayhanul Islam
Md. Rayhanul Islam 03 May, 2016

Very helpful. Try to read them to accumulate real aspects of the data-driven business. Your few lines summary of each book gives great overview.

amit 04 May, 2016

Great article, and illustrations are awsome.

Arulnath 11 May, 2016

tnk you for the list of must read books in singlr click.

Kailash 30 Aug, 2016

Could you suggest a few books for technical and math skills as well ? SQL , Stats etc. Thanks