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  • The Innovation Stack

  • Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time
  • By: Jim McKelvey
  • Narrated by: Jim McKelvey
  • Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (179 ratings)

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The Innovation Stack cover art

The Innovation Stack

By: Jim McKelvey
Narrated by: Jim McKelvey
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Summary

From the cofounder of Square, an inspiring and entertaining account of what it means to be a true entrepreneur and what it takes to build a resilient, world-changing company

In 2009, a St. Louis glassblowing artist and recovering computer scientist named Jim McKelvey lost a sale because he couldn't accept American Express cards. Frustrated by the high costs and difficulty of accepting credit card payments, McKelvey joined his friend Jack Dorsey (the cofounder of Twitter) to launch Square, a startup that would enable small merchants to accept credit card payments on their mobile phones. With no expertise or experience in the world of payments, they approached the problem of credit cards with a new perspective, questioning the industry's assumptions, experimenting and innovating their way through early challenges, and achieving widespread adoption from merchants small and large.

But just as Square was taking off, Amazon launched a similar product, marketed it aggressively, and undercut Square on price. For most ordinary startups, this would have spelled the end. Instead, less than a year later, Amazon was in retreat and soon discontinued its service. How did Square beat the most dangerous company on the planet? Was it just luck? These questions motivated McKelvey to study what Square had done differently from all the other companies Amazon had killed. He eventually found the key: a strategy he calls the Innovation Stack.

McKelvey's fascinating and humorous stories of Square's early days are blended with historical examples of other world-changing companies built on the Innovation Stack to reveal a pattern of ground-breaking, competition-proof entrepreneurship that is rare but repeatable.

The Innovation Stack is a thrilling business narrative that's much bigger than the story of Square. It is an irreverent first-person look inside the world of entrepreneurship, and a call to action for all of us to find the entrepreneur within ourselves and identify and fix unsolved problems - one crazy idea at a time.

©2020 Jim McKelvey (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"McKelvey tells the remarkable story of how with Square, he started a business that would transform an industry, along the way unlocking a whole new model for innovation. An inspiring call to action for entrepreneurs who want to tackle problems that affect our everyday lives, with perseverance and some crazy ideas." (Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution, cofounder of AOL, and author of The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future)

"The Innovation Stack is a deeply useful book about the characteristics of successful companies and how and why to build one, complete with inspiring case studies that literally span centuries. But it’s also much more than that: a witty, humane exploration of living in the complicated, inequitable world we all share and are working to make it less so." (Eric Ries, entrepreneur and best-selling author of The Lean Startup)

"Who can say they went up against Amazon - and won? Jim McKelvey can, and this book tells how." (Peter Thiel, entrepreneur, investor, and author of Zero to One)

"Growing up in the Show Me State - aka Missouri - made me skeptical of everything...especially Jim McKelvey. I’d say more but I’m out of charact" (Jack Dorsey, cofounder and CEO of Twitter and Square)

What listeners say about The Innovation Stack

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inspirational

the best book I have read this year. most books might teach you something new. this book taught many new things both in work life and in personal life. the examples shown in the book and the stories made it feel like as if I am reading a thrilling novel. feel motivated and ambitious to help others after reading this

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Great book

Different and highly recommended. Interesting examples and great insight into the Square journey. Read it!

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Enjoyable and Educational in equal measure

Plenty to think about. As an entrepreneur-in-the-making, the advice and examples of what it takes to build a robust Startup rings very true for me.

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Worth listening to twice

Jim might be a hugely successful business leader (and glass blower). He’s also a natural storyteller. I’m at an early stage of building a new innovative business with a small and energetic team. Every day is a challenge and fraught with uncertainty. Jim’s story told with his voice was wonderfully reassuring!

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Brilliant!

As an entrepreneur this inspired my next move, validated my journey and challenged my perception of innovation. I absolutely loved it!

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A good, enjoyable read

Flows well with relevant examples to hammer home the key points, I'd definitely recommend giving it a go!

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Too braggy at some points

Unfortunately it is very braggy and boring at some points.

Has some good insights and encouragements so i think it can help some people.

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The best audiobook on innovation so far

Wow .. what and interesting, inspiring and informative read. I thought it would be about Square and how it grew but it's so much more. Narration by the author is better than the pros. this should be the first thing that entrepreneurs or innovators listen to

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Innovation Made Easy

Jim does an excellent job at laying out the idea of the Innovation Stack. A lot of authors use anecdotes to validate their theories but Jim uses them to tell stories. This made his book truly gripping as well as insightful!

I'd recommend this book to anyone who has a problem but doesn't know how to solve it or who wants to understand how big problems get solved.

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Absolutely wonderful!

Interesting, funny, serious, silly, profound all in one. Loved it and cannot wait to recommend to my friends.

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