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Quotes To Inspire Budding Entrepreneurs From Y Combinator

President of Y Combinator, Sam Altman shares his insight into the world of startups with people who would like to be a part of this exciting, fast paced ecosystem. Y Combinator (YC) is an American seed accelerator and has been called one of the most influential and powerful agencies in the world creating some of the biggest innovative startups the world has ever seen like Dropbox, Airbnb and Reddit.

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Here are some excerpts from Sam’s Startup Playbook:

1. This is meant for people new to the world of startups. Most of this will not be new to people who have read a lot of what YC partners have written—the goal is to get it into one place.

2. Your goal as a startup is to make something users love. If you do that, then you have to figure out how to get a lot more users.

3. Think about the really successful companies of today. They all started with a product that their early users loved so much they told other people about it. If you fail to do this, you will fail.

4. Starting a startup is not in fact very risky to your career—if you’re really good at technology, there will be job opportunities if you fail.

5. It’s important to be able to think and communicate clearly as a founder—you’ll need it for recruiting, raising money, selling, etc.

6. The way to test an idea is to either launch it and see what happens or try to sell it (e.g. try to get a letter of intent before you write a line of code.)

For most biotech and hard tech companies, the way to test an idea is to first talk to potential customers and then figure out the smallest subset of the technology you can build first.

7. We also ask how the company will one day be a monopoly. There are a lot of different terms for this, but we use Peter Thiel’s. Obviously, we don’t want your company to behave in an unethical way against competitors. Instead, we’re looking for businesses that get more powerful with scale and that are difficult to copy.

8. The best ideas sound bad but are in fact good. So you don’t need to be too secretive with your idea—if it’s actually a good idea, it likely won’t sound like it’s worth stealing.

9. Speaking of telling people your idea—while it’s important the idea really excites some people the first time they hear it, almost everyone is going to tell you that your idea sucks. Maybe they are right. Maybe they are not good at evaluating startups, or maybe they are just jealous. Whatever the reason is, it will happen a lot, it will hurt, and even if you think you’re not going to be affected by it, you still will be.

10. What if you don’t have an idea but want to start a startup? Maybe you shouldn’t. It’s so much better if the idea comes first and the startup is the way to get the idea out into the world.

We once tried an experiment where we funded a bunch of promising founding teams with no ideas in the hopes they would land on a promising idea after we funded them. All of them failed.

Tags assigned to this article:
Sam Altman Peter Thiele Startup Playbook dropbox airbnb

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