CategoryYCombinator

How to Ask for an Introduction

I don’t know a ton of important people. But as a founder of a venture-backed startup with some amazing investors and advisors, I do know a few. With Nivi and Naval preaching the gospel of social proof (can I get an “amen”?!) and with fundraising posts and articles espousing the importance of introductions, it’s no surprise that about once a week someone asks me to...

Reading the Lines, Not Between Them (PG & Coding Horror)

There’s quite a flap over Paul Graham’s recent essay. The attacking author quotes a comment on Reddit (always a good sign) as a good summary of the essay of why we should all be terribly offended. “I work with young startup founders in their twenties. They’re geniuses, and play by their own rules. Oh… you haven’t founded a company? You suck.” I kinda feel...

Every Piece of Startup Advice is a Lie (including mine)

Well, not all of it. That title was blatant click-bait. You’re here and I’ve won. Nyah! I’ve long been passionate about reading and digesting every tidbit of information about what it takes to build a successful startup. I’m an avid reader of people like Seth Godin, Paul Graham, Guy Kawasaki, the fellas at VentureHacks, Fred Wilson, Josh Kopelman, Andrew Chen, and more. As...

Half-assed Startup – How to Start your Company and Keep Your Day Job

Someone posted an interesting “Ask YC”, asking: “How to start becoming an entrepreneur while still being an employee?” Having done this twice (started a company that eventually turned into a full-time startup), I settled in to reply. Before long, it was clear that my response was long enough to justify a blog post. I’ve done two part-time-to-full-time startups (one...

Silicon Valley versus Seattle (and Everywhere Else)

There has been a lot of chatter lately about alternatives to Silicon Valley. There is no denying that Silicon Valley produces more startup success than any other town. But is it cause or effect? Does SV add some secret sauce to the startup recipe or is it simply a place where a lot of geeks tend to congregate? For starters, it’s a good idea to read Glenn Kelman’s outstanding post on...

Why I Don’t Like Calling Myself a Designer

This Tuesday, I’m going to get a chance to meet Kevin Hale, who is the designer behind Wufoo and proprietor of ParticleTree. Kevin wrote a blog post last month that I think is one of the better summations of what it means to be a web designer. While I don’t want to dwell on the negative, Kevin has a pretty good description of why I hate to refer to myself as a designer (whether...

Design’s Place in a Startup

A reader took the time to shoot me an email with a few questions about design and startups… His questions were interesting enough that I thought they might be worth blogging about. So here goes: Question #1 – What is the priority balance between programming and design/UI? In my opinion, it totally depends on your startup, and where the core of your innovation lies. Take a hard look at...

Startups: Launch Early, but Launch Small?

One of the recent YCombinator dinners that we attended featured Joe Kraus (who founded Excite and then later JotSpot, which sold to Google). Like all YC guests, Joe had piles of startup wisdom… One of the things that stuck out to me (which I’d never heard much) was when he said, “when we launched JotSpot in beta, we launched it to too many people.” Huh? Too many users...

Evaluating New Product Ideas (focus on Tractability)

Evan Williams (founder of Twitter, fellow corn-fed midwesterner-turned-dotcommer, and someone I get to meet via YCombinator!) has a fabulous post on how to evaluate new product ideas. To sum up his excellent post, here is the matrix he came up with: Tractability Question: How difficult will it be to launch a worthwhile version 1.0? Obviousness Question: Is it clear why people should use it...