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Book Review: 'Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard'

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

About the Book “Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard”

“Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard” was released in May, 2021. The book isn’t about success stories or giving you advice on how to help your startup succeed. Instead, it contains many stories of failed startups, though this gives you an opportunity to learn from their failures.

Nesha Todorovic’s stories come from his decade of experience working as a freelance writer for a variety of startups. This profession often gave him an inside look at the working of the business as he helped build their website, ghost-wrote their blogs, wrote technical manuals and set up social media accounts. That is the source of the title “Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard”.

The Cover of Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard

The Cover of Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard

About the Author Nebojsa Todorovic

Nebojsa Todorovic was a writer for Hackernoon and managed the “Upwork Uncensored Uncut” space on Quora before his critical reports on Upwork made that impossible. I used to read his Hackernoon column, and that's one reason why I read his book.

Nebojsa Todorovic continues to work as a freelancer in Serbia. He was written extensively about why his country has the highest rate of international gig workers in the world. Working for several dollars an hour for them can support a middle class lifestyle, and they don’t have to leave home.

Points in Favor of “Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard”

The book is quite readable. It is written in a humorous, conversational tone as he shares personal anecdotes from the business world. He occasionally references his personal life, too, such as describing his car as older than his teenaged kid and one of the ugliest in the world. His position as a freelancer with irregular income and a family to feed affects his writing. For example, the entire “Car Wash” chapter can be read as a plea to pay people appropriate and don’t forget to generously tip those doing the dirty work.

The stories themselves generally contain lessons such as what not to do when you bring your kids into the family business. He brings up real life scenarios such as startup founders who don’t get a partnership agreement, and the business is left crippled by their later legal fights.

We learn a little about what it was like after Nebojsa Todorovic won a Noonies award. In his words, “I can’t afford to be a controversial writer.” He actually said this in a conversation with a ghost-writing client. And he took off-line projects like ghost-writing memoirs in addition to his work on online gig sites.

The book includes a mix of stories about how startups, small businesses and freelancers struggled during the government-mandated shutdowns in response to COVID-19, but that is only a fraction of the content. The recommendations in these chapters can apply during any economic downturn or personal “dry spell”.

Issues with “Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard”

Nebojsa Todorovic can speak and write English, but it is clearly his second language. This leads to awkward phrasing at times. For example, he says at one point he was “Disney frozen” when someone said something unbelievable.

There are far more personal anecdotes about car washes and waitresses than I expected, though most of the chapters are related to his work with startups and small businesses. For example, the book would have been stronger if he’d left out stories about his daughter’s boyfriend and had more stories like “What’s Up WhatsApp 2.0?” and “The Entrepreneur Who Would Be King”. Or even more stories about the people who are always planning of starting their own business but never take the next step and officially launch it.

Observations about “Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard”

This book is written from the perspective of an Eastern European. There are a number of observations about capitalism, communism and socialism by someone personally familiar with all three. I think that makes it a valuable resource for many Americans compared to fictional works like “Pretending to Sleep” by Monalisa Foster.

Summary

As a business book, I give “Entrepreneurship Ship Graveyard” 3.5 stars out of 5. There are some decent business lessons in here, and the book would have been better if it focused on that instead of including a number of personal anecdotes.

© 2021 Tamara Wilhite

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