Startup Essentials

2 min read

Startup = Growth

growth factors

  1. Large market
  2. Economies of scale
  3. Proprietary IP/technology
  4. Network Effects
  5. Brand

Startup Outcome = Skill x Determination x Luck

very often the real reason is that the product just isn’t good enough.


solution must be 10x better

number 1 in a performance dimension

Solve a problem for few users who want a solution a lot


  1. Draw the portrait
  2. Identify facts
  3. List behaviors
  4. Optional: List Wants and Goals
  5. Check and consolidate

Most passionate buyers

Who are they?

Why do they need this?

What else have they tried?

How difficult was to find the product?

What is the single most important thing?

Magic wand

Unique Value Propositon

Delivers a concrete benefit, to an underlying need, using a specific feature

others can NOT claim

clarifies options

uncovers a strong truth and names it

creates tension, urgency, desire in persona’s mind


Every brand has something unique about it that makes it distinctive (UVP).

This unique element could be turned into a benefit and used as a propositon to sell the brand (USP).

user interview

  1. Create a find list

  2. Create topic map

  3. Find opener questions

  4. Rehearse the interview

Main interview challenge = Get past surface-level to a discussion with substance

Best interview contains a Story about recent and specific experience



SOM = 1-5% of SAM in 5 years

the lean startup

start small

Start simple

Iterate quickly



test in the beginning

Hallway testing

Pitch Deck -> Show. Do not tell.






Strategy, distribution growth etc

Funding history + ask

Contact, timing, follow up, appendix

The Pocket Guide of Essential YC Advice

• Launch now

• Build something people want

• Do things that don’t scale

• Find the 90 / 10 solution

• Find 10-100 customers who love your product

• All startups are badly broken at some point

• Write code – talk to users

• “It’s not your money”

• Growth is the result of a great product not the precursor

• Don’t scale your team/product until you have built something people want

• Valuation is not equal to success or even probability of success

• Avoid long negotiated deals with big customers if you can

• Avoid big company corporate development queries – they will only waste time

• Avoid conferences unless they are the best way to get customers

• Pre-product market fit – do things that don’t scale: remain small/nimble

• Startups can only solve one problem well at any given time

• Founder relationships matter more than you think

• Sometimes you need to fire your customers (they might be killing you)

• Ignore your competitors, you will more likely die of suicide than murder

• Most companies don’t die because they run out of money

• Be nice! Or at least don’t be a jerk

• Get sleep and exercise – take care of yourself

January 2, 2020