On founders – Zuckerberg’s shade and the Specter of Gates
There’s no ideal founding personality type that works all startups all the time. Being younger isn’t necessarily the advantage in the world of startups. The average age of a founder in the United States is forty-two.
Having co founders can provide some negative consequences and even backfire. Sometimes, you may have to go all-in and go alone to see the advantage. If you decide to have co-founders, keep a founders’ agreement of some sort to take uncertainties into account and maximize your chances of success.
On ideas – searching for a Light Bulb
There’s no one way to generate startup ideas. You have to try and experiment different approaches. A goodnight’s sleep always helps. You should also pay attention to the world around you and stay alert to sudden insights. Constraints are not always enemies. Use them to boost your creativity.
Sometimes, the best ideas emerge from going into the world, interviewing and observing people. Make sure to generate hypotheses from key assumptions that are testable, falsifiable and then run experiments to improve your idea.
On funding – branching Paths
Raise funds to fit your growth strategy. Venture capitals are rocket fuels for fast-growing companies, but it mostly comes at a cost. If VC is what you want, be careful and strategic about your choices. Otherwise, consider using alternatives like crowdfunding, to avoid giving up too much equity of your venture. Startup accelerators can be a good choice too, especially if they’re proven and of high status.
On pitching – talking your startup into Existence
Craft several different pitches to suit different audiences. Use the power of storytelling and analogies to help people constantly connect with your ideas. As they said, show, don’t tell. Use both verbal and non-verbal cues to communicate your vision and speak to the minds of potential investors.
On growth – lighting a Fire
Quick growth, especially undisciplined ones, are not always the right movies. Just because you’re growing fast doesn’t mean things are always going as you planned out to be.
As you grow, pay attention to how you manage your hires, suppliers, buyers and walls of fire. For hires and suppliers, think for long-term success. For buyers, test to see if they’re the ideal audience. For the wall of fire, have a clear sense of your long-term competitive advantage. The best founders are deliberate about the culture they want to create and shape it through the human-centered approach and role modelling.
Myths and Monomyths in the Shadow of the Unicorn
Even if you followed every advice in this book, it might only take you part way toward success. This is not just because founding is hard. There’s much we still don’t know about how to launch a successful startup.
We know what a hero looks like and we assume we know what the founder of a unicorn looks like. That’s why Elizabeth Holmes was so successful. Only by putting to rest the false narrative that entrepreneurship is only for the privileged few, we can democratize entrepreneurship. As startups are the primary source of job creation and innovation (at least in the United States), we need more founders, not less.
“Talent is everywhere. Opportunity is not. By pushing back on the myths and negative beliefs, we can start to change that.”