Paul Graham is an essayist, programmer, and investor. He is a partner at Y Combinator.

  1. Determination. This has turned out to be the most important quality in startup founders.
  2. The best way to come up with startup ideas is to ask yourself the question: what do you wish someone would make for you?
  3. There’s nothing more valuable than an unmet need that is just becoming fixable.
  4. What people wished they’d paid more attention to when choosing cofounders was character and commitment, not ability.
  5. Bootstrapping may get easier, because starting a company is getting cheaper.
  6. Running a startup is not like having a job or being a student, because it never stops
  7. In a startup, things seem great one moment and hopeless the next. And by next, I mean a couple hours later.
  8. Persistence Is the Key. A lot of founders were surprised how important persistence was in startups.
  9. You need persistence because everything takes longer than you expect.
  10. The best way to survive the distraction of meeting with investors is probably to partition the company: to pick one founder to deal with investors while the others keep the company going.
  11. Build the absolute smallest thing that can be considered a complete application and ship it.
  12. Product development is a conversation with the user that doesn’t really start till you launch.
  13. To benefit from engaging with users you have to be willing to change your idea.
  14. Assume you won’t get money, and if someone does offer you any, assume you’ll never get any more.
  15. VC investors don’t know half the time what they are talking about and are years behind in their thinking.
  16. Actually the best model would be to say that the outcome is the product of skill, determination, and luck.
  17. There is nothing investors like more than a startup that seems like it’s going to succeed even without them.
  18. Let your idea evolve. This is the second half of launching fast. Launch fast and iterate.
  19. Better to make a few users love you than a lot ambivalent.
  20. Try making your customer service not merely good, but surprisingly good.
  21. Avoid distractions. The worst type are those that pay money: day jobs, consulting, profitable side-projects.
  22. Investors evaluate startups the way customers evaluate products, not the way bosses evaluate employees.
  23. When technology makes something dramatically cheaper, standardization always follows.
  24. If the best hackers start their own companies after college instead of getting jobs, that will change what happens in college.
  25. Improving constantly is an instance of a more general rule: make users happy.
  26. The essential task in a startup is to create wealth.
  27. Evolving your idea is the embodiment of understanding your users.
  28. Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator.
  29. Raising money is the second hardest part of starting a startup.
  30. Investors have no idea that when they maltreat one startup, they’re preventing 10 others from happening, but they are.

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