April 5, 2019

Startup = Growth notes

Startup = Growth Innovation usually comes from the founders having a unique set of experiences, or being different enough to most other people that they see ideas that others wouldn’t. They find something in everyone else’s blind spot, and they choose to stay there.

Usually successful startups happen because the founders are sufficiently different from other people that ideas few others can see seem obvious to them. Perhaps later they step back and notice they’ve found an idea in everyone else’s blind spot, and from that point make a deliberate effort to stay there. [3] But at the moment when successful startups get started, much of the innovation is unconscious. [3] That sort of stepping back is one of the things we focus on at Y Combinator. It’s common for founders to have discovered something intuitively without understanding all its implications. That’s probably true of the biggest discoveries in any field.

Don’t be so afraid of local maxima. Trust your intuitions on what to build and keep building.

In theory this sort of hill-climbing could get a startup into trouble. They could end up on a local maximum. But in practice that never happens. Having to hit a growth number every week forces founders to act, and acting versus not acting is the high bit of succeeding. Nine times out of ten, sitting around strategizing is just a form of procrastination. Whereas founders’ intuitions about which hill to climb are usually better than they realize. Plus the maxima in the space of startup ideas are not spiky and isolated. Most fairly good ideas are adjacent to even better ones.


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