How to Start a Startup Notes – Part 1 & 2: Why To Build A Startup

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You need…

1) A great idea

“Wait to start a startup until you come up with an idea that you feel compelled to explore.”

“If you have several ideas that all seem pretty good, work on the one that you think about most often when you’re not trying to think about work.”

“A company should feel like an important mission.”

“The hardest part about coming up with great ideas is that the best ideas often look terrible in the beginning. The 13th search engine…most people thought that was pointless (Google). The 10th social network, also terrible (Facebook). A way to stay on stranger’s couches, that just sounds terrible all around (AirBnB, CouchSurfing).”

“You want an idea that turns into a monopoly.”

“You need a market that’s going to be big in 10 years.”

“Think about the market first. Find the demand, then create an appropriate supply.”

“The best reason to start a startup: You can’t not do it.”

Idea includes:

  • The size and growth of a market
  • The growth strategy
  • Defencability strategy
  • Etc.

A good idea has these qualities:

  • The business must, someday, become difficult to replicate.
  • There must be a reason ‘why now?’
  • It’s best if you’re building something that you yourself need.
  • You can’t not build it.

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2) A great product

Step one is to build something users love. Everything else is secondary. In the beginning, 90% of your time should be spent building something amazing and talking to customers.

“A lot of good-on-paper startups fail because they merely make something that people like. Making something that people want, but only a medium ammount, is a great way to fail and not understand why you’re failing.”

“It’s better to build something that a small number of users love, than a large number of users like.”

3) A great team

  1. CoFounder

If you, as founder, take it easy, so will your team. You are always working. Always.

Always always always have a cofounder that you have a past history with.

Be relentlessly resourceful. Be James Bond. Make sure your team is too.

  1. Try Not To Hire

Lots of employees = a high burn rate and a lot of time spent managing.

“Some of the top funded YC companies had no employees besides the founders for the first year.”

Ask: “Would you work on this company if you had 10 years left to live?”

  1. Get The Best People

The best people have a lot of options. They want to join a rocketship, and you have to convince that your mission is more important and more likely to be successful than anyone else.

When you are hiring, it should be 80% of your time.

“If you compromise and hire someone meagre, you will always regeret it.”

Hire people you or your employees already know.

“For most early hires, experience doesn’t matter very much. Apptitude does.”

Before hiring, ask:

  1. Are they smart?
  2. Do they get things done?
  3. Do I want to spend a lot of time around them?
  1. Good communicaton skills
  2. They like risk
  3. Maniacally indefatigable
  4. The animal test – You need to be able to describe them as ‘an animal’ at what they do.
  5. They must be someone you’d be comfortable reporting to

Don’t interview; Work together on a small project.

Also, always call refrences.

Employee Equity: Give aprox 10% of the company to the first 10 employees

“Founders seem to be very stingy with equity to employees and very generious with equity to investors. I think this is totally backwards. Employees will give more to your company as time goes on.”

“You have to let your team get all the credit for everything good that happens, and you take all the responsibility for all the bad things.”

  1. Fire Fast

Don’t hope that an employee will pick up and get better. They won’t. Fire them.

Also, fire anyone who is negative or creates politics.

4) Great execution

The 5 jobs of the CEO

  1. Set the vision
  2. Raise money
  3. Evangelize
  4. Hire and manage
  5. Make sure the enitre company executes

Focus on growth & momentum

  1. ALWAYS know your metrics


  1. Move fast & break things
  2. Have VERY high quality standards
  3. Be fast
  4. Do whatever it takes.
  5. Show up to everything that needs you. Go to ridiculous lengths.

Always keep momentum.

  • If you lose it, remember that ‘Sales fix everything’

“The secret to startup success is extreme focus and extreme dedication.”

“You generally need to be willing to outwork your competitors.”

“When there is disagreement among the team about what to do, ask your users.”

“The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” – Henry Ford

INDICATOR OF SUCCESS: Every time you talk to them, they’ve gotten new thing done.

5) Luck

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