The following are my notes from YC startup school session on starting a startup
The three key ingredients to build a startup:
- Find good people
- Make great product
- Be frugal
Great read on starting a startup: How to start a startup by Paul Graham
How do you know if you’re suitable to become a startup founder? This question doesn’t have a simple answer. People from various walks of life have built successful startups, its not easy to segregate between characters of people and find out who would be a successful founder. Instead, we can look at the data and find out the most frequent characteristic that is present in majority of the founders. One such characteristic is resilience. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and having mental toughness. Don’t confuse this with confidence, when difficulties strike, confidence doesn’t help but courage does.
It’s okay to start a startup to make money. Yes, you read that correct. If your aim is to amass a huge amount of wealth quickly, employment or a day job doesn’t help. You’d have to do things that provide bigger leverage to get paid a bigger sum of money. And building a startup is a great way to do that.
Now, before you take that leap of faith, there are few question you’d have to ask yourself in order to justify your choice of becoming a startup founder. Start with “What do I have to loose?”. Imagine the worst case scenario of what would happen if the startup doesn’t work out. If you spend a year and it doesn’t work out, can you live through the scenario or not?
The other way of looking at this is the opportunity cost. If you continue in your current day job, you’d be at a better role/position in a year. You’d be loosing the opportunity of getting a promotion by starting a startup. Think through this and make your decision. Also keep in mind that there are always exceptions and you might be able to land a better role with your failed startup experience.
On the flip side, if you don’t know what you want to do with your career, running a startup would help get clarity. As you work through various roles such as sales, marketing, product management, customer success, engineering, etc., you gain more insights into each field and it’d be easier to make a career decision based on what you enjoy doing the most.
So, if you have decided to start a startup, how to prepare for it?
- Be curious, start looking at the products and service that you use everyday.
- Fall in love with a problem rather than an idea.
- If you’ve found such a problem to solve, think of multiple ideas to solve it.
- Initial ideas are always fuzzy, you need to talk to someone to get clarity.
- Talk to people who are already working in that field to get their thoughts and ideas.
- Top 100 YC startups had a cofounder. Having a cofounder will help in thinking through the ideas and execution.
- When you go to customers for feedback, the initial feedback is always mixed. If at least one of them says that they like the idea and want the product, that’s enough to validate your solution.