10 Entrepreneurial Books to Read to Become a Hackathon Leader


The 33rd US President Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers. If there is one thing all successful people have in common, ranging from Oprah, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and Elon Musk, it’s that they are all leaders and readers. When you’re preparing for a hackathon, having a consistent reading and learning habit will serve you well. 

Through reading, you can acquire expertise and knowledge to become a subject matter expert. You can also develop your leadership skills and ability to communicate and motivate your team during the day of the hackathon event. There are also business books that can help you better problem-solve and brainstorm ideas. Here is a list of 10 books that will help you become a better team player and leader both in and outside the hackathon.

10 Book Recommendations For You

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow tells readers about the two systems that operate in our brains. System 1 focuses on automation—things you do with little effort and without thinking, like breathing. System 2, however, focuses on complex problems, choices, and concentration: things that require mental labor.

In this book, Daniel Kahneman helps readers gain control over “system 2.” It also enlightens readers on how their mind works. As a hacker, this book will be invaluable to you, as you’ll learn how to approach complex solutions through different thinking styles to solve problems at the event with your team.

2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Simply asking what people want from your program or your app pales in comparison to what they may actually want. That is the concept behind Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup, which focuses on delivering customers a minimum viable product in order to research how customers react, a practice known as validated learning.

This advice will not only be useful during the hackathon but will also be useful throughout the entirety of your career. Learn how to deliver a minimum viable product so that you can gain user feedback and iterate constantly on a lean budget.

3. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder

You don’t just want to create a product that’s useful; you want to create a product—a program, an app, a website, a game, etc.—that people will buy. In Business Model Generation, Alexander Osterwalder teaches readers about the “Business Model Canvas,” which will help you learn how to monetize your product and solution.

This is important because creating a profitable idea at a hackathon not only increases its chances of success. It also highlights to the panel of judges, participating companies, and your peers the sound business acumen you have, which will increase your chances of landing a job.

4. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

In Start With Why, Simon Sinek explains how the world’s most powerful men, from movement leaders to business moguls, gained the power they had/have—they asked, “Why?” Simon explains that by starting from the beginning, by looking at your problem from a different angle, you can succeed.

This book will help you look at your problem statement during the hackathon and ask yourself what can be done about it. This, in turn, will bring you and your team closer to a viable solution.

5. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki uses his book The Art of the Start to showcase his experiences in launching startups, raising money for said startups, assembling a team, and pitching ideas to investors.

Participating in a hackathon means more than making a product. In a hackathon, you’re expected to present the product to sell your product. The Art of the Start will help you learn how you can pitch your product to others successfully.

6. The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

Asking your mom whether your business will be successful or not is setting yourself up for failure. Of course, she’ll say yes! That’s what Rob Fitzpatrick tries to drill into readers in his book The Mom Test. In the book, Rob Fitzpatrick tells readers how they can extract honest answers from customers and how to conduct proper customer research.

This book is something everyone should read. When coming up with an idea for a hackathon, you’ll want to be sure it’s a good idea. As such, reading The Mom Test will help you learn how to conduct proper research and gain honest answers from those you survey.

7. Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

Jessica Livingston enlightens readers with Founders at Work, a book full of interviews with famous technology companies. From Steve Wozniak to Max Levchin, Founders at Work gives readers a glimpse into the thought processes of tech entrepreneurs.

Gaining insight into how these popular founders and creators navigated their way to a functional product is key to your career. Not only are their stories inspiring, but their stories can teach you how to tackle problems, find solutions, and become successful.

8. The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy

Creating a functional product is only half the battle—you have to sell it. In The Psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy tells readers how young entrepreneurs can sell their products successfully. This includes convincing investors on product viability, the future of the product, and convincing investors to fund the product.

You will need to sell your product to judges in a hackathon and why your team’s creation deserves to win over the rest. Reading this book will provide you with invaluable information on how you can do so successfully. 

9. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War to describe the various military strategies that won him battles. However, some of the advice found in The Art of War can be used for business

Reading The Art of War can help you prepare for a hackathon by telling you how to approach problems, how to lead your team, and how you and your team can prepare for the event.

10. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Nothing is perfect, especially in business and tech. Ben Horowitz focuses on the imperfections of business in The Hard Thing About Hard Things and tells readers about hard decisions he’s had to make.

Ben Horowitz’s honest book about how much can go wrong will prepare for when something inevitably goes wrong during the hackathon. Maybe there are some major bugs in the code. Maybe you simply can’t achieve the solution discussed. This book tells you how to approach such situations.


Reading is not only important for your development but essential. It’s important that you read a diverse set of books to increase your knowledge and prepare you for the future. Whether it comes down to the game of hackathons or the game of life,, there’s no such thing as reading too much