After applying a couple times to Startup School I was finally invited this year. Every year I hear the talks online and look at the lineup and just feel that I had to be there.
And, well, it didn’t disappoint It was a great summit, great speakers and a superb audience. This was my first time in the valley but I will write about that in another post.
The first talk was by Marc Andresson and was great start since it was so cool learning a bit about the beginnings of the modern web. And how he could barely believe what it was being unlocked by the browser, people would not only post existing stuff but create new content just for the web.
Another very inspiring talk was Ashton Kutcher’s. Even though most wouldn’t think much about him, he is very smart and was very nice during the day. He did a bit of story telling but the message was that you should help people not only for the money but to be good.
Zuckerberg was interviewed by Jessica Livingston and it was really funny how some times it felt like Facebook was a bit of an accident and he didn’t think it would become what it is Today.
Max Levchin’s talk was the most practical of them all and, also, one of the most candid ones. He was another great speaker.
A recurring topic was that you should think big, think long term and don’t try to “flip” a business. A startup is where you would be for at least 5 years and you should pick your idea carefully.
Here is a snippet of each speaker of what stuck with me most of what they said:
Marc Andressen (Netscape, Andressen Horowitz): It’s better to be a technical CEO who learnt the business stuff. CEOs are not born with shiny hair and a suit.
James Lindenbaum (Heroku): Building tools for developers is very hard but very good. And being bashed by Larry Ellison is a good sign.
Jim Goetz (Sequoia): Build companies that last. Think big but start small, unknown entrepreneurs are the future leaders.
Ashton Kutcher (Agrade): “If you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, you will always be second best, because Mark Zuckerberg will always be a better Mark Zuckerberg than you.” Don’t jump to the effect, start by the cause of the problem.
Matt Mullenweg (Auttomatic): Be your own user and force the whole company to do support so all of you feel the pain.
Mark Pincus (Zynga): Never waste a single engineering hour. Test, test, test. Go all in.
Paul Graham (Y combinator): Look for problems to solve not random startup ideas.
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook): The biggest risk is not taking any, try moving fast even if you have issues. Also, you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley unless you know nothing about businesses and you need lots of help.
Stephen Cohen (Palantir): Trying to fix huge problems can actually work. The product advice you get from a VC is worth as much as you are paying for it.
Max Levchin (Paypal): You don’t need a cofounder but you do need someone to tell you that “everything is going to be fine” without being complacent. Ignore your mistakes.
Ron Conway (SV Angel): Design and user experience is the new IP. Entrepreneurs who own their user’s mind succeed.
Drew Houston (Dropbox): The fastest way to learn about startups is being in one, not b-school. Learn a bit about everything. And surround yourself with people that can help you.
Overall I found the talks very inspiring and most of the speakers very kind.
Thanks to Y combinator for inviting me and all the speakers for taking the time.