Monthly Archives: September 2014

Notes on Startup School Europe 2014

Patrick Collison (Stripe)

Starting a company with your brother turns out to be a good idea.
If you want to get something done go to Buenos Aires.
You can create a great company anywhere but you maximize your chances of success by being in the Valley.
Anything you’re doing that isn’t building your site or talking to your customers is probably a waste of time.
It helps to be crazy.
Instant messaging with an engineer is the best support experience possible.
It doesn’t get easier. You just go faster.
Innovation is the sum of the changes across the system.

Adora Cheung (Homejoy)

You should work on a problem that you actually have.
When you’re searching for a problem you’re trying to find a needle in the haystack problem.
When you start a marketplace you have a chicken and egg problem
You learn by doing or you learn by training.
With startups a lot of craps happens. When that happens you can’t make a stressful situation more stressful.
Startups are very, very, very hard.
You only fail if you stop trying. If you don’t give up you won’t have failed.
You need to work smart but you also need to work really, really hard.

Ian Hogarth (Songkick)

Large technology companies, through the scale they have, can force things to happen.
The level of consolidation in your industry massively changes how you do your startup.
If a market has a high degree of randomness then it probably isn’t best to put all of your eggs in one basket.
Your growth engine never has a chance to get started unless you have a great, gratifying experience.
Pushing a broken down bus up a hill is a reasonable metaphor for startup life.
Gratification engine depends on team, economics, and growth.
It is a lot easier to grow by spending money than by not spending money.
It is all connected and you need to get all of the pieces working in concert to build an exceptional business.
All of this takes time. Is very hard. And you can’t give up.
It usually gets better if you keep going.
When you’re really low spend some time with your users. The happy ones will remind you why you’re doing it.
Start your company with people who you can count on when shit is going sideways.
Find ways to nurture your resilience.

Hiroki Takeuchi (GoCardless)

Lessons are learned over time.
Your journey starts way earlier than you think.
If you want to start a business one day start thinking about what you can start doing right now.
Make something you want to use yourself.
Mistakes are bound to happen. Try to embrace them.
In the early days momentum is the hardest thing to come by.
It is better to start doing the wrong thing than not start at all.
No matter what there is always the next challenge. The peaks and troughs are never ending.

Alfred Lin with Justin Kan (Sequoia Capital)

It gets easier to sell with the network effect.
The lifetime value of your earlier adopters are more than your later adopters.
Try to be profitable on the first order.
If you want anything to be a core competency you have to focus on it on a daily basis.
The hardest part about startups is the plan for what is going to happen.
Solve a real hard problem that nobody else is solving.

Urska Srsen (Bellabeat)

We’re still early on with wearables.
Consumer products are paving the way for digitalization in health care.
Europe is a tough market to crack. It is very fragmented. Connections do matter.
What keeps them surviving is a strong team and good execution.

Office Hours with Kevin & Qasar

Startup 1:
It is important to leverage your company culture.
It is good to identify two or three metrics.
Viewsy:
You don’t want to become a consultant (when doing pilots).
The ROI has to be clear.
screenpush.me:
People want to know what something is before they send it to their friends.

Paul Buchheit (Y Combinator) @paultoo

You must own your own program.
What worked before may not work again.
Dogma and ideology provide us with answers but put boundaries around our thinking.
Escaping dogma is hard.
Take an opportunity to calm and clear your mind.
When trying something new we should expect that it often won’t work out as planned.
Choose the more interesting path.
If you have only one definition of success you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Love what you do rather than do what you love.
Focus on the quality of every step.
Startups are machines for harnessing human self-interest.
Technology is more than silicon.
Judge for yourself what is worthwhile.
A thousand miles begins with a single step.

Y Combinator Partners Q&A

Access to engineers is important when you’re building a technology company.
There isn’t the volume of sophisticated investors outside of Silicon Valley.
The key thing (in developing startup ecosystems outside Silicon Valley) is attitude towards risk.
Grit and determination is what they look for in founders.
Startups have a million things to do and time to do about five of them in a day.
With a team you can divide and conquer.
It is difficult to do all (startups tasks) well alone.
Having a cofounder relationship is like having a marriage.
People that don’t have ideas continue not having ideas.
The first idea is an indication that someone can come up with ideas.
Rejection is a temporary thing.
You have nothing to lose (from applying to YC) and everything to gain.
A year is not long enough to pick out the real winners (in a YC class).
Non-profits hit a lot of the same issues as for-profits.
If you’re 30 you have 400 months of life left.
Don’t give up.
Make sure you’re in contact with reality.

Adventures in Entrepreneurship

Title: Adventures in Entrepreneurship
Date: 2014-05-28
Speaker: Heidi Roizen (Draper Fisher Jurvetson)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
 
Customers want to meet with the highest ranking person they can.
If you’re not doing something hard you’re wasting your time.
The greatest feelings you have are when you get through hard things.
Trust your gut.
The most important thing you’re going to do as an entrepreneur is pick your team.
The vast majority of entrepreneurs succeed or die by the quality of the team.
If you want to be the smartest person in the room about everything you’re going to build a crummy team.
It is not how many times you fall down--it is how many times you get back up.Nothing is a transaction in life. Everything is about relationships.
The art of negotiation is finding the maximum intersection of mutual need.
Life isn’t a zero-sum game.
You are a sum total of your transactions because those form relationships.
Life is really, really random.
Expect that life is going to be messy.
95% of your stress is self-inflicted.
Nothing ever all goes perfectly.
It is not how many times you fall down–it is how many times you get back up.
If you fall down and stay down you will stay down for the rest of your life.
Figure out how to pick up and move on.
Other people have made it through and you’re going to make it through too.
Not all random is bad.
Sometimes bad things can be good.
You can’t sit in your office and wait for someone to bring you an answer.
You have to be your own advocate. When you make mistakes don’t worry about it because nobody is thinking about you as hard as you’re thinking about yourself.
Innovation and creativity can happen anywhere around the product.
The most important thing you have in your life is your time. You can’t make more of it. You’re going to run out.
We live our lives in a serial fashion.
The meaning of life is meaningful work and meaningful relationships.

Do Something You Love

Title: Do Something You Love
Date: 2014-05-21
Speaker: Leah Busque (TaskRabbit)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
 
You have to be so passionate and love what you're doing every day because there are so many ups and downs and crazy things that you have to learn and do.It all comes down to execution.
Never be afraid of somebody stealing your idea. There is so much value in sharing your idea with as many people as possible, getting feedback early on, and then developing it from there.
If you can be open to feedback and connecting with people you never know where that is going to take you.
Create a network around you of mentors and collaborators.
Find the right people that are fun to work with, smarter than you, and can take the concept to another level.
Find people that are as passionate about the idea as you are,
You have to be so passionate and love what you’re doing every day because there are so many ups and downs and crazy things that you have to learn and do.
Startups aren’t glamorous at all. It is just grueling. But if you’re passionate about what you do it makes it worth it.
Every country has different labor laws.
Early on focus on what are the key metrics–not necessarily how good they look.

Making Sense of Awards Points and Business Class Upgrades

TMBA256: Making Sense of Awards Points and Business Class Upgrades
Date: 2014-08-07
Link: Tropical Talk Radio
 
Airlines can change their rewards without notice.
The complexity is the opportunity.
Do two to four rounds of credit card applications a year to build up a stack of miles.
The offers the banks are giving change a lot.
Maximize the points you get for every signup.
Website: Boarding Area
For most business class tickets you’re looking for 50,000 to 70,000 one-way and 100,000 to 120,000 round trip.
Go direct to the airline for info on their rewards program.
Just because you can buy a ticket for a particular flight it doesn’t mean you can use your miles for that flight.
There is no simple answer to fuel charges.
Award Wallet aggregates your balances.
Try to accumulate different types of points. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
You don’t have to have a ton of spending to acquire a lot of miles.

How People Fail at Sustaining the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

TMBA255: How People Fail at Sustaining the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Date: 2014-07-31
Link: Tropical Talk Radio
 
Very few people are catering to the digital nomads.
Get out of the hamster wheel of time, money, time, money.
You need to have systems and people in place.
Offices are a thing of the past.
If you are a distributed team have meetups.
If you’re not interested in the journey you’re going to be disappointed.
If success is defined by the journey then you’re going to be okay.
There is a danger in trying to constantly transfer your new life back to your old friends.
You have to build a high power network around the practices that you’re doing.
If you want high value relationships you’ve got to invest a lot into that.

A Framework for Creating Mastermind Events or Parties

TMBA254: A Framework for Creating Mastermind Events or Parties
Date: 2014-07-24
Link: Tropical Talk Radio
 
Share your story with strangers because they have no emotional attachment to it.
When you’re meeting every week it can be difficult to implement all of the advice you’re getting.
Weekly masterminds work better if you have a company that is just starting out.
You’re generally bringing one of your biggest business problems to the table (when you’re in the hotseat).
Some people get a lot more out of these events than others.
You’re not going to get any upside if you don’t share the details.
State your goal.
Be able to clearly articulate your problem and where you’ve been.
When you can describe your business in three minutes or less that is valuable because then other people can describe your business in three minutes or less.
People enjoy having a framework, a structure, a set of rules.
Innovation comes from outside (the industry) a lot of times.
Translate your mastermind group online immediately.

A Bootstrapper’s Thoughts on Intellectual Property

TMBA253: A Bootstrapper’s Thoughts on Intellectual Property
Date: 2014-07-17
Link: Tropical Talk Radio
 
Patents aren’t a form of protection. They are a form of power.
A lot of times it comes down to a game of, “Who’s got more money?”
Focus on the innovation front.
Trademarks are cheaper to get and easier to defend (than patents).
Key terms are at an all time premium online.
The biggest problem you will be facing is not piracy–it is obscurity.

The Entrepreneurial Quest

TMBA 251: The Entrepreneurial Quest
Date: 2014-07-03
Link: Tropical Talk Radio
 
Build something as fast as possible and get validation.
Building a business means having something that you can sell.
Choose something you can execute quickly.
It is often the case that the times in our lives that challenge us the most are the ones we look back on most fondly.
Most of our regrets are based on the things we didn’t do rather than the things we did do.
You have to uproot yourself.
You have to make environmental changes consciously to create a turning point.
Sometimes you have to forget about the real world to build yourself a new one.

Designing and Prototyping Your Own Consumer Product

TMBA250: Designing and Prototyping Your Own Consumer Product
Date: 2014-06-26
Link: Tropical Talk Radio
 
It requires a lot of patience (to launch a product).
However long you think it takes to get something manufactured–quadruple that time.
Good pictures are absolutely necessary. If you don’t have good pictures on your website you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Find a systematized marketing strategy early on.
It is important to follow your passion up to a point. At the end of the day you have to pay your bills.
At the end of the day nobody cares about your business as much as you do.
PPC can be a massive time suck.
If you can’t create a minimum viable product yourself then you should skip onto the next idea.
Keep making quick-and-dirty prototypes until you get something that works.