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Igor Debatur, CEO of UploadCare, and the Books that Upgrade His ‘Erudition’

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Today’s recommendations come from Igor Debatur, co-founder and CEO of UploadCare, an optimized file uploading service.

Ten years ago, Igor and his partner started a web development agency called Whitescape. After having worked on more than 150 projects for their customers, including Intel, Microsoft and L’Oreal, they realized they were facing the same problem over and over again: file uploading. This particular part was taking too much time, since it consisted of manual and unskippable work.

Igor soon came to realize that this wasn’t just their problem, but it was something that almost every developer and business had to deal with. In order to fix this, they decided to built the solution themselves – they started with an MVP that they launched in stealth mode. That’s how UploadCare was born.

Since then, they’ve invested their own funds and also received an angel investment into the product. They started charging customers from the very beginning, and now they’re close to reaching $100k in monthly recurrent revenue.

In his interview for Indie Hackers, Igor mentioned that the hardest thing to do is maintain focus. He said that one of his biggest mistakes was to juggle all three startups he founded: UploadCare, RIDERS and Whitescape. Even if he did it, it cost time and a tremendous amount of effort.

When he’s not working, Igor is very fond of skiing, cycling and reading – he practices them as a form of active meditation. And since he considers that reading is a major source of learning and improving, he shared with us the books that taught him the most. You’ll also find out why he feels business and self-help books aren’t as helpful for an entrepreneur as fiction. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

The choice of the favourite non-business book is based on many conditions and it varies each time anyone asks. It depends on my current mood and even the time of the year. Right now, the book that instantly sparked in my mind is “Der Zauberberg”, “The Magic Mountain” by Thomas Mann.

It’s a story about young ambitious man who felt in a trap of his own mind in form of a chronic disease. He visited his brother in a clinic, situated in high mountains of Switzerland. Instead of retreating after a week, as was originally planned, he stayed there for seven years.

There are several very bright characters with different ideas about liberalism, conservatism, hedonism and many other matters. All of them were living in a very comfortable reality with a set of rules. It’s very alike to any virtual society that could become a thing in upcoming years, and it’s easy to understand why the hero of the book decided to stay there.

The business book is “Hard things about hard things” by Ben Horowitz. In addition to a ton of practical recommendations, it helped me to start overcoming the everyday burden of being a CEO. To read this book is like having a friend who pats you on a shoulder and tells “Hear hear, everything will be alright, it’s normal that you suffer, all of us suffer, it’s alright”. In addition to patting you on a shoulder, Ben added a lot of value: there are many practical recommendations and motivation that helps to concentrate on what really matters and move your business further.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

Sure, there were some aha-moments when I’ve read something and it instantly helped. It’s especially correct for business literature. But when we’re talking about non-business, both fiction and non-fiction, for me it works like a very wide database of different data that, in many cases, can not be applied as instant. Yet when I’m in a situation when some additional information is needed, ca-ching and it’s available. And the best thing, it works both consciously and unconsciously, in addition to upgrade my ‘erudition’, it also improves my ‘intuitive’ decision making skills.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

Bible — helps to make your own judgement and find out that many people live by rules set by a book they haven’t read, even if they think they did.

Nietzsche — helps to avoid any dogmatic understandings of anything and think straight. Also it’s fun to read.

Hard things about hard things — it helped me to come to terms with being a CEO and overcome the imposter syndrome.

What five books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

In the Indie Hackers you talked about the benefits of reading fiction, history, and spiritual books. Why do you feel business and self-help books aren’t as helpful for an entrepreneur?

I think that business books, in most cases, help you in short term. Fiction and non-fiction literature works another way, they form you, it’s a long term investment.

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I use Kindle for everything. When I find some long read on my notebook, I send it to Pocket with a special tag, it strips it from ads and automatically imports the text to Kindle.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information? If yes, what system do you use & do you ever go back to reread them?

I highlight the interesting parts and try to get back to them in the future. I want to try to write a review on every book I read, but it still just a plan.

How do you choose what books to read next? Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people?

I put everything I want to read to Workflowy and prioritise it every time I finish reading a book. The list is formed by recommendations in blogs I read and by references in books I read.

What book are you currently reading & why did you choose it?

I read Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann. The logics here is simple, when I like the author I try to read more and more of his or her works.

Most entrepreneurs I know practice sports to unwind – especially endurance or extreme sports. You also practice cycling, climbing, and skiing. Except for the obvious health benefits, what effects do they have in other areas of your life?

I also tried to find that out. The findings is a subject for another conversation.

Links where you can follow Igor Debatur or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Igor Debatur in our interview:

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