Two startup company founders and angel investors go inside eighteen companies founded by Harvard Business School graduates, uncovering surprising lessons for success and unexpected pitfalls essential for aspiring entrepreneurs. Conventional “wisdom” holds that the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are born with a genius for starting companies, experience one lightning-bolt moment of inspiration after another, follow a tried-and-true process to scale to a billion dollars, and attract deep-pocketed investors at every turn.The real story is a bit more unconventional-and much more interesting.Would-be-entrepreneurs Catalina Daniels and James Sherman, hungry to study and apply the best practices of startups to their own ventures, studied the nuts-and-bolts of entrepreneurship as classmates at Harvard Business School. Years later, after successfully founding and exiting several companies, and as angel investors in start-ups, they were surprised to realize that their experiences greatly differed from what they had been taught in school. HBS provided a world-class education in the basics. But there was so much they learned the hard way-working in the trenches-that, looking back, they wished they'd known before starting up.Inspired, Daniels and Sherman interviewed eighteen HBS graduates and entrepreneurs about their experiences founding companies such as Blue Apron, Rent the Runway, Gilt, and AdoreMe, probing them about what they discovered along the way and what they wish they had known beforehand. The authors bring these insights to life by showcasing the founders in their own words and giving readers the experience of chatting with these remarkable entrepreneurs over a cup of coffee No other book has unearthed advice from so many HBS entrepreneurs. The result is wisdom that challenges assumptions, destroys preconceived notions, crystalizes hunches, and articulates perceptions with a depth possessed by few people in the world.Starting a business is hard. Seventy percent of startups today fail after their seed round, and less than ten percent achieve success for founders and investors. Faced with such a daunting threshold, aspiring entrepreneurs need all the advice, wisdom, and inspiration they can get. Smart Startups is written for them-a timeless record of essential knowledge that can help them avoid failure and achieve success.