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My Favorite Tips from Sam Altman’s Startup Playbook

Screenshot from http://techcrunch.com/gallery/y-combinator-startup-playbook/slide/42/
Last week, TechCrunch published 62 Tips from Y Combinator’s Startup Instruction Manual. It was written by YC’s President Sam Altman with some good quotes to ponder when doing a startup. I wanted to share my favorite Altmanisms:
  • “Today’s successful companies 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.”
  • “The fast you can develop self-belief and not get dragged down by haters, the better off you’ll be. No matter how successful you are, the haters will never go away.”
  • “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.”
  • “Founder need both rigidity and flexibility. You want to have strong beliefs about the core of the company and its mission, but still be willing to learn new things when it comes to almost everything else.”
  • “If you have a pre-existing relationship with your cofounders, none of you will want to let the other down and you’ll keep going. Cofounder breakups are one of the leading causes of death for early startups.”
  • “You want to start with something very simple – as little surface area as possible – and launch it sooner than you’d think.”
  • “You should not put anyone between the founders and the users for as long as possible – that means the founders need to do sales, customer support, etc.”
  • “Don’t fool yourself with vanity metrics. The common mistake here is to focus on signups and ignore retention. But retention is as important to growth as new user acquisition.”
  • “Find ways to get 90% of the value with 10% of the effort. The market doesn’t care how hard you work.”
  • “No first-time founder knows what he or she is doing. Ask for help and you’ll be better off. Find a mentor.”
  • “A successful startup takes a very long time – much longer than most founders think. You cannot treat it as an all-nighter. You have to eat well, sleep well, exercise, and spend time with your family and friends.”
  • “Competitors are a startup ghost story. First-time founders think they are what kill 99% of startups. But 99% of startups die from suicide, not murder.”
  • “The first check is the hardest to get, so focus your energies on getting that, which usually means focusing your attention on whoever loves you the most.”
  • “The key to being good at pitching is to make your story as clear as possible: mission, problem, product/ service, business model, team, market and market growth rate, and financials.”
What are some of your favorite tips from Sam or others? Any particular reasons?

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