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Fast, Fun Read With A Few Insights
on November 4, 2012
Like most books of this kind, the author took what could be a 5 page article and turned it into a 240 page book. However, the fun of this book is in following the journeys of the entrepreneurs and investors the author observed while embedded at Y Combinator. The twists and turns in the fortunes of the young startups keep you engaged all the way through.
For those that want the short version, here is what you will learn: (YC = Y Combinator)
- YC accepts 3% of (the mostly B2B Internet software) startups that apply, funding them with $11K to $20K in exchange for 7% equity. In addition, most companies receive a $150K convertible note from loosely affiliated angel investors
- Startups must spend 3 months in Silicon Valley. However, YC intentionally does not provide office space. Most founders live and work from their rented apartments and come in to the YC Mountain View facility only for "office hours" and weekly dinners with guest speakers. The rationale is for founders to be in a distraction-free environment.
- The YC philosophy:
1. "Launch Fast" & "Get Big Slow": Release quickly and iterate based on CONTINUOUS feedback from customers.
2. Invest more in the founders than in their ideas since they are likely to "pivot" to a new idea. The founders must work well together, be brilliant coders, and have nerd-esque passion for the segment they are pursuing. Moreover, the idea should be challenging to others but not the founders to implement.
3. Make something that customers want (i.e. serves a compelling unmet need)
4. Focus on B2B opportunities
5. Share your failures
6. Pursue ideas that scale well (low variable cost to produce, easy to sell without a "door to door" sales force, easy to service)
7. Set and focus on ONE weekly target for growth (revenues or # of users)
8. Startups should hire friends and friends of friends
9. Be aggressive at sales
10. Avoid funding startups with only one founder
11. When presenting, speak slowly AND passionately (have "swag")