YC STARTUP SCHOOL Introduction Hello! My name is Lynn Hoang. I am a founder & CEO of OpenTalk.fm. I believe that every founder should learn from the world’s best incubator! So, I created A Summary Guide to YC Startup School to accelerate my own learning and yours right with it! Here’s what the e-book is all about: I watched all the videos from YC Startup School and I write down what lessons I think they are important. You get to digest the key points of each video in 5 minutes or less. That’s it! Plain and simple. I hope the e-book will help you become smarter, fitter, better and everything you aspire to be ;) Thank you! Lynn Hoang About OpenTalk.fm Debaters, Have Fun, and Get Rewarded! We believe for good ideas and true innovation, we need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate. Thus, we created OpenTalk.fm, the home for the world’s serious and fun debaters. By doing so, we want to foster a culture of open discussion and sharpen the global citizens of today as well as create the intellectual leaders of tomorrow. We also aim to educate young people about critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, civic awareness and engagement. About Y Combinator Startup School We believe the barrier to entry for people to start a startup is still too high. We want to make it easier for people to start a company, regardless of who or where you are, so we're starting by sharing what we've learned, through Startup School. Throughout the 10 weeks, we aim to accomplish the following: 1. Encourage and inspire people to consider starting a company as a way to positively impact the world 2. Teach people about how to start a startup, and equip them with the resources and tools to help prepare them now and in the future 3. Build a community of entrepreneurs who can encourage and teach each other Content Week 1: How and Why to Start A Startup By Sam Altman (YC), Dustin Moskovitz (Asana) Startup Mechanics By Kirsty Nathoo (YC) Week 2: How to Get Ideas and How to Measure By Stewart Butterfield (Slack) and Adam D’Angelo (Quora) Week 3: How to Build a Great Product I By Emmett Shear (Twitch) Steve Huffman (Reddit), Michael Seibel (YC) How to Build a Great Product II By Aaron Levie (Box) Week 4: How to Build a Great Product III By Tracy Young (PlanGrid), Jason Lemkin (SaaStr), Harry Zhang (Lob), Solomon Hykes (Docker) How to Build a Great Product IV By Jan Koum (WhatsApp) Week 5: How to Get Users and Grow By Alex Schultz (Facebook) Content Week 6: How to Invent the Future I & II By Alan Kay Week 7: How to Find Product Market Fit By Peter Reinhardt (Segment) How to Think About PR By Sharon Pope (YC) Week 8: Diversity + Inclusion at Early Stage Startups By Kat Manalac (YC) Week 9: How to Build and Manage Teams By Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures) Week 10: How to Raise Money, and How to Succeed Long-Term By Ali Rowghani (YC) Jess Lee (Sequoia), Aaron Harris (YC) Week 1 How and Why to Start A Startup By Sam Altman (YC), Dustin Moskovitz (Asana) Why to Start A Startup? Two roots: The first is passion.The second part of this is that you're the right person to make this happen by starting a company. You are starting a company because it felt like really the only thing that you could do next. That's it. Short and Sweet! Dustin recommended Ben Horowitz's book: "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" How to Start A Startup? Idea first, Startup second. The way to get good ideas is to start noticing problems in your own life. It's also easier to start a hard company than an easy company. Determination is the most important value in a co-founder. Bad co-founder is way worse than no co-founder. Values first, aptitudes second, and specific skills third - Tips for finding a perfect co-founder. It is more important to have a small number of users that love your product, than a lot of users that like your product. Relentless execution; Clear mission. Not neglect your health, your well-being, your life, your personal relationships...while starting a start-up. This is like a 10 year marathon. The team you build is the company you build. Stay lean until everything is working really well. Sam mentioned Bill Walsh's book: "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership." Week 1 Startup Mechanics By Kirsty Nathoo (YC) Startup Mechanics Formation: Prefer C-Corp, formed in Delaware, USA Prefer SV lawyers or Clerky.com Equity: When you're thinking about allocating equity, think about everything that's ahead of you, not everything that you've just done. Keep it fair. Vesting - 4 years with 1 year cliff Fundraising: Prefer SAFEs - Simple Agreement for Future Equity More: Payroll provider - Gusto.com Accept payments - Stripe Atlas, Stripe.com Formation, hiring, fundraising platform: Clerky.com YC SAFEs: https://www.ycombinator.com/documents/ Week 2 How to Get Ideas and How to Measure By Stewart Butterfield (Slack) and Adam D’Angelo (Quora) How to Get Ideas Good entrepreneurs are resilient. When everyone else thinks it's a bad idea, it's probably a really good idea. I would definitely look at my own experiences as a consumer, generally, because it's really easy for me to see things that are frustrating. If you're really good at execution then the core of the idea can make it through all those steps. I absolutely favor execution, but you can execute a lot on a terrible idea and then not get anywhere. So you kind of need both. Stewart mentioned Daniel Kahneman's book: "Thinking, Fast and Slow" How to Measure You don't have to make a product that's going to appeal to everyone immediately, but you need to make a product that is going to appeal to some people more than anything else. You want to find some way to differentiate. As a startup, you really need to focus, so the core concept I would try to focus on is users that are getting value today. If you have a two-sided market or anything like that, then you want to measure transactions or transaction values. Measuring transactions is a way to unify them (sellers and buyers) and align your work on things that are going to benefit both sides. Pokemon Go is another example, got really big, lots of users, but it just kind of faded away. So, you don't want to build a fad. You want to build something that's going to last, so you need to make sure the existing users keep using the product. You also need to make sure that you're going to grow. And by far the most powerful way to grow is through exponential growth. Week 3 How to Build a Great Product I By Emmett Shear (Twitch) Steve Huffman (Reddit), Michael Seibel (YC) How to Build a Great Product II By Aaron Levie (Box) How to Build a Great Product I Emotional users, angry users, often will become your most loyal users if you can flip them around. You don't talk to users to validate your product ideas. You talk to users to have your product ideas. Don't avoid conflict. Talk about it, argue about it, but then, you have someone who just gets to make the call, because anything else leads to ... Just decision-making that's far too slow for a startup. If the data's really good, well, check the data. If the data's really bad, check the data. You don't have to talk to your users every week. It's totally unnecessary. You do need to look at your numbers every week. How to Build a Great Product II You're going to be successful by nailing one use case that just happens to be a use case that everybody has a massive problem with. Spend time, a lot of time, with your futuristic customers, but don't exactly just build what they're asking for. Because when you just build what a customer asks for, essentially you become this sort of amalgamation of feature request from every single one of your customers. We spend a lot of time thinking about how can we connect the dots between multiple requests or multiple ideas to build the solution that people didn't really even think about previously. Aaron's four favorite books on building B2B stuff are: 1. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore 2. The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen 3. Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry by Marc Benioff (Author), Carlye Adler 4. Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne Week 4 How to Build a Great Product III By Tracy Young (PlanGrid), Jason Lemkin (SaaStr), Harry Zhang (Lob), Solomon Hykes (Docker) How to Build a Great Product IV By Jan By Koum (WhatsApp) How to Build a Great Product III If there's a ton of the big customers asking us for the same thing, it's easy to prioritize that, but we have never built a feature out for just one customer. I think the biggest challenge is, once you grow into a fullfledged company, you grow outside of you zone of comfort. If you're in the technical and product side, then you have to hire business people. If you're on the business side, you have to hire more technical and product leadership. You never stop selling you're butts of about your mission, your vision as a company, and so being able to deliver that message of what you're trying to do, and also, showing the traction, showing the growth, when you see that graph, everyone wants to be a part of it. You want people who have already done it once before, because even though you may trust somebody and they're awesome at what they do, it's hard to discount the value of experience. Most of our new customers comes from just word of mouth, organic growth. We don't know what sparks it, but we know that if we make our clients happy and we build great product for them that that does continue to happen year after year. How to Build a Great Product IV The credit really goes to not necessarily us having some brilliant idea. I think the credit goes to also being in the right time, at the right place, and building a product that people wanted. How do you determine if an app has a potential or is a good idea? It has to solve a really basic problem, and it has to do it in a simple and efficient way. If you can have money in your bank account, you should have money in your bank account, because you never know if you need to buy a building, or if you need to buy some office space, because when you start growing too quickly, and you don't want to negotiate and raise money when it's too late. Why did we partner with Sequoia? "We're here to help you financially. We're not here to help you with management. We're not here to help you write code. We're not here to help you build features. We're here just to help you grow and to help your financial, and if you need any help outside of that, come knock on our door and we'll try to help." - Sequoia How did we scout into different countries? We focused early on localization. We would hire somebody who is perfect in all these languages where our apps were starting to grow so we could build a really good, localized experience. When you download WhatsApp in Brazil, it's not in English, it's in Portuguese. I think that is what helped us grow in all these countries.