Re: the tendency to “bolt on” virality at the end- if you have a viral loop that doesn’t actually cohesively fit into your product, you end up with a really disjointed experience. Instead, the thinking has to start at the beginning- pick something where the sharing/invites are embedded into the idea in the first place.
It’s not always about tightening the viral loop, it's about making it as smooth as possible. It's smooth when it makes sense
When people come to Paul Graham and say they’ve got a great idea, his first response is, “Tell me about your cofounders”.
“There are some people who just get what they want in the world. If you want to start a startup you have to be one of those people. You can’t be passive and wishy-washy,” Graham says.
YC looks for mental flexibility
“Startups often have to do slightly devious things,” Graham says. “You can tell if people have a gleam in their eye. You don’t want people who would be obedient employees… we’re not looking for people who did what they were told in life.”
Sam Altman was actually initially rejected, but he “pushed back like a 40-year old” and told Graham that he would be joining the program.
Angel rounds end and VC begins at a million dollars
Y Combinator keeps track of the successful companies that they initially rejected.
The total value of YC companies is now around $3 billion — YC has invested a total of around $5 million.
Twitter and Facebook are truly transformative at a societal level
many startups in the consumer world are now truly hits driven like video games or movies. We compare user numbers like box office receipts.
To win you must truly provide value that changes the way that end-consumers do something in their lives that will persist.
When pressed, not enough of these entrepreneurs can answer questions about why users would still be using this product in 5 years, about why their product is going to solve a consumer or business problem that isn’t being solved today. They pitch me features, not value...but value is what you need
When you solve a real problem you’ll win the true battle. The battle for share of mind.
“The more that you manage people in your career, the more you’ll find that it is very hard to find people who can execute well on what they are asked to do. The bar of performance wasn’t innovation, but simply competently executing the expected job.
Most people in the business world don’t have a particularly clear idea on how to do their job well.
It is very easy for a C player to seem moderately successful when progress is largely based on inertia.
A players don't want to be at large companies because, more often than not, corporate bureaucracy and process not only fail to reward, but actually punish A players.
By contrast, startups have no inertia and need to create momentum from nothing.
Most startups need a core team of A players; folks who can “write the book and not just read it.”
One way these candidates can be identified is when they actually teach the interviewer something about how the company can win.