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Build The Fort

By Chris Heivly

In Build the Fort, Heivly breaks down his personal fort-building experiences and uses them as a metaphor to reveal his journey as co-founder of MapQuest, The Startup Factory (a seed-stage investor & mentorship program), The Big Top recruiting platform and many others.


Build the Fort outlines five basic elements that are common to both fort-building, startups and startup communities:

  • Socializing Your Idea Without Fear or Inhibition,
  • Identifying and Marshaling the People You Trust, 
  • Gathering the Minimal Resources Closest To You To Build Confidence & Momentum, 
  • Acting on the Smallest and Simplest Forms of the Idea, and
  • Action ~ Building Your Fort.

Whether you are 16 or 60, this book provides the reader a better understanding of the earliest micro-steps of starting your own business by overlaying Chris’s 30 years of experiences in startups, investments, big-company intrapreneurship and community development.

Chapter Previews

Socialize the Idea without Fear or Inhibition
Partner with Skilled & Trustworthy People
Gather the Assets Closest to You 
Create a Short-Term Collective Purpose 
Build the Fort 

About the author

I can still remember the day I told my father that I was going to be a geography major.  His response was, “what are you ever going to do with geography as a job – you need to get into computers, son”.  It was 1980.  15 years later, I co-founded a company that released the first Travel CD-ROM which later turned into MapQuest.

Now 20+ years later, I am an early-stage investor, I ran a $25M corporate venture fund, I co-founded 2 micro venture funds investing in 42 companies, I built a multi-million dollar consulting business focused on startup communities.

I joke that I have career ADHD.  Most of these experiences are shared in this book with a very consumable simple parable of building forts.  I hope you give it a read and enjoy!


If only Chris Heivly had written this little red book of startup advice years ago. How much time and money I might have saved. How much faster I might have gotten traction.

Denis Mcduff – CEO at eBroselow


Chris’s greatest accomplishment here is in demystifying the startup process giving the reader confidence to proceed.

David Gardner – Founder and Managing parnter at cofounders capital


Follow the advice in this book – you will increase your chances of success and hopefully avoid tons of common, and likely disastrous, mistakes along the way.

Peter robichau – Managing Consultant at category 3 partners

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