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What Kills Startups

I recently watched an interesting video interview with Y Combinator founder Paul Graham and transcribed parts of it. Let me share some of the quotes with you.

What kills startups is not quarrels between the founders. It is not technological difficulties. Nor is it the competition. It is plain and simple: making something that users don't like.

Enter Paul Graham:

They have to make something that actually makes people's lives better. It's funny how straightforward it is. People often think that business requires some sort of trickery, you have to corner the market in something, but actually, what you have to do is you have to make people's lives better.

And the amount of value you create is this sort of rectangle where one side is the number of people and the other side is how much you make their life better. Big rectangle, big value, you're rich.

The right thing to do in a startup is not worry about it too much. The right thing to do in a startup is like: You're a mosquito. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. You just zoom on, and don't spend your time looking over your shoulder. If you get killed, okay. You do another startup.

Just work on making people's lives better. Don't spend your time on worrying about your competition. (...) Apple can't do 500 different things. There's a small chance they'll kill you. You just take that risk.

They make something that users don't like. They make dog food the dogs do not like to eat. That is the killer of all startups. (...) What kills startups is the back button.

Well, the first iteration may not be very good. But as long as you get it out there very quickly, it doesn't matter if it's not great because you start the conversation with users. (...) And you repeat that process 200 times or so, and then you have something really good.

That is why we look for people. We don't care that much about ideas. If the people seem very good, then either the idea is better than it seems or maybe the idea is bad but they'll come up with something else.

A way to make people happy, a way to make people's lives better and get people's attention. And then once you get their attention, you can sell them other things.

— Video interview with Paul Graham

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    What Kills Startups - Thoughts on Technology and Innovation - Deviant Bits
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