Lucky Stanford students get all the perks.
They get to learn how to start a startup in a class taught by some of the most successful tech founders in Silicon Valley. Sam Altman, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and president of Y Combinator, and Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and Asana, delivered the first lecture.
I picked up a lot of great sound bytes in the video that are helpful to anyone trying to launch a startup. And remember, this is not all about technology. These words of wisdom apply to ALL.
The big question of the session is why start a start-up? Altman and Moskovitz don’t romanticize entrepreneurship. They urge the students to go into their endeavors eyes wide open and realize that the uphill climb will be much harder than they ever anticipated. Starting a startup isn’t a great way to get rich quick. The media does a great job of making it look so cool. In reality, it’s not nearly as glamorous. It’s not The Social Network.
You need 4 things to be successful: a great idea, a great product, a great team and great execution.
Be passionate about your idea because you’ll be living, eating, breathing and sleeping it for the foreseeable future. The dew will be off the rose pretty quickly if you’re not as invested in your idea as you expect your customers to be. One of the best pieces of advice in the video is to find a small market, create a monopoly and expand quickly. And keep the concept simple! You should be able to tweet the idea!!!! 140 characters or less!
Spend all your time on building the best, most effective product possible. Get feedback from a variety of users and OFTEN. Always refine the product so it meets the needs of your target audience. The less complex it is, the easier it will be to enhance later. Focus on building something a small number of users LOVE and not something a large group of users LIKE.
And once you have the product, take it to the audience. One cool anecdote shared was about how the founder of Pinterest gathered feedback and raised awareness of the site. He’d go into the Apple store in Palo Alto and bring Pinterest up on every device in the store so it was the first thing Apple fans would see. Brilliant, eh? It worked for a while too…until the geek squad (and I say that with affection) caught on and kicked him out.
Check out the video. It’s very illuminating. =)