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The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups Hardcover – September 27, 2012
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—Eric Ries, author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup
“The Launch Pad is an intimate look at the white-hot center of the new Silicon Valley star tup ecosystem. Stross’s account of the best new entrepreneurs and the exciting companies they’re building at startup schools is a great read for founders and would-be founders alike.”
—Marc Andreessen, cofounder, Andreessen Horowitz
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Here's the deal. Silicon Valley is a really interesting as a hotbed for innovation and entrepreneurship. Y Combinator pioneered the "seed fund / accelerator" model and has scaled it to impressive levels. As an entrepreneur, it was a tremendous boost for me and my cofounders to participate in the YC program as we started our business. Randall got to see everything that went down and writes about it in a fair and honest way (which means I am left cringing numerous times when I encounter the sections about myself and my company). It also means I got to learn some really interesting things myself about the other companies in my "batch".
The book is roughly chronological, but touches on various themes like female founders, generating ideas, acquiring customers, fundraising and risk in each chapter. As a professor and journalist, Stross makes the effort to explain the jargon and clarify the concepts behind startups. His prose is clear, sturdy and never overly dramatic. The Launch Pad shows how tech companies are built at the earliest stages, and more broadly shows how Y Combinator is influencing Silicon Valley and the broader tech community around the world.
Luckily, I was completely wrong.
This book is a MUST READ for any programmers, entrepreneurs, and aspiring business people hoping to start their own company, work hard, and build something great.
This book is essentially an accounting of the experiences of a particular YC group. The book talks about:
- How YC works.
- Who the founders are (what are their backgrounds, how did they meet their co-founders, what are their personalities like?).
- How these companies got into the program.
- What advice is offered to the companies when they first get started.
- How the companies cycle through ideas, trying to find a perfect business niche to pursue.
- How conflicts cause issues (some founders don't heed YC warnings, some founders have family commitments that end up causing lots of personal issues, etc.).
- How these companies mature as they're working on their products.
- How the YC program works, in great detail (what advice is offered, how to raise money, how these companies should deal with investors, etc.).
- The final progress that each company makes before the important YC 'Demo Day'.
- How some companies raise money from investors, while others are unable to do so.
- And lots more.
What really makes this book great is that you (as a reader) are essentially getting a fly-on-the-wall, intimate view of YC, from start to finish.Read more ›
The majority of YC stories have come out on blog posts through hacker news that mostly seem to be building links for YC companies.
The author had access to interviews that nobody else had access to, and he tells stories that help you understand the economics and attitude around accelerators.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I spent several exciting years as a venture guy. Had I read this beforehand I would have made more money, hade more fun, and knocked the tar out of the other portfolio guys (two... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jeff and Kristin
This is a quite an easy read. It's somewhat boring, as it's really just an overview of the program and a semi-dramatic depiction of the group's major partners, but it's a... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Ryan Mease
One of the most interesting book about one of the most important venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.Published 24 months ago by Ali T. (Toronto, Canada)
Great brief information for all startups and angel investors.Published on July 16, 2014 by burak buyukdemir
Extremely well written and easy read, as Randall Stross writes in his own unique style. I enjoyed it even more than I did his last book eBoys. Read morePublished on June 26, 2014 by Suvendu Mahapatra
This is an excellent book about what seems to me an amazing organization. Paul Graham must be a rare human being and what he and his colleagues have created speaks brightly from... Read morePublished on April 19, 2014 by Lefteris
You find chapter headings like "CRAZY BUT NORMAL", "WHAT'S UP?" . Its written in a nice way and I would recommend it to anyone who is involved with a start-up. Read morePublished on February 5, 2014 by Ransith Fernando