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.
You don’t want to become a consultant (when doing pilots).
The ROI has to be clear.
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.