When reflecting on the early days at my first startup, my naivety becomes shocking clear to me.
One of the most apparent mistakes I made as an inexperienced founder was executing on an idea just because I thought it was great, without any proper validation, and taking a full product to market before I had a single user. The foolishness of that makes me cringe.
There was a clear financial cost to going ahead without any validated learning. I wasted over 6 months building the product, getting it ready for market, until finally when it shipped, nobody used it. …
The philosophy of committing to unconditional happiness is an idea.
My intention here is to (1) figure out exactly what this idea really is, (2) argue that the search for happiness is a fallacy, and (3) prove that many of us can just be happy. I hope this can inspire enough curiosity for you to entertain the thought and realize the low-cost investment of trying these practical tactics. The large potential payoff is worth it.
I know a statement like, just be happy, can be read as impractical and foolishly idealistic. I also acknowledge that this might seem insensitive to those with clinical depression (several within my immediate family), however, committing to unconditional happiness is not mutually exclusive. It’s totally fair to approach this with some empirical skepticism. I actually encourage it. …
Often founders (including myself with my first company) come up with an idea that they think is fantastic, start building it without any validated learning, and ship a product in search of a solution.
This is the mindset of “If I built it, they will come”. The truth is, they don’t. And often founders find themselves in a position of having a working product, no users/customers, and the need to start iterating with limited time and runway.
Only once they start speaking to potential users and customers do they start learning about what the customer actually needs and building the right thing. …
Let’s start with a quick thought experiment.
Imagine I showed you a list of 20 words, gave you about 60 seconds to memorize them, and then asked you to write down as many as you can remember.
How many do you think you’d write down?
If you’re like me, frequently overestimating your own abilities, then you probably guessed a lot higher than hundreds of experiments in cognitive psychology have proven we’re capable of.
We’re a pretty advanced species, yet from that list, you, me, and the majority of other humans will have remembered only 5 to 9 of the words — or, 7 plus or minus 2. This experiment may just be a simple illustration of the limitation of human memory. …
It’s not just a software product that a single user can download and get immediate value from, such as a note-taking app like Notion. It requires you to grow two separate sides, the demand, and supply. And until you have the right ratio and a good amount of liquidity, you’re faced with revenue challenges, as well as churn from lack of established user value.
A marketplace connects people who want something (i.e demand), with people who have that thing to sell (i.e supply), and results with a financial transaction taking place.
Marketplaces (like Airbnb, Uber, eBay, etc) don’t own any of the supply. The primary function is to create a safe environment, allowing the supply and demand side to efficiently transact with each other. …
Fundraising is hard — no one will tell you otherwise.
It takes time, effort, and a toll on your team’s motivation. You’ll get countless “maybes” and “it’s not for us right now(s)”.
When you’re early-stage fundraising and your team’s small, your opportunity cost for going out and speaking to VCs is invaluable to your startup.
Because your attention and energy are being allocated to raising capital. You’re setting up meetings with VCs, commuting, preparing for calls, jumping on calls, getting excited, and then disappointed — the long cycle continues until a term sheet is signed (if you’re in the lucky 0.05% …
What you know is not nearly as important as how you think. One of the most powerful defenses against sloppy thinking and intellectual laziness is skepticism. As a famous astrophysicist and science communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson suggests to us, the ability to ask the right questions keeps us from being manipulated.
At first, the notion of being skeptical was counterintuitive to me. …
Have you ever felt lost, confused, or anxious about the direction your life is going in? Like you’re on the wrong path, yet you keep walking down it because it just so happens to be the one that you are on and familiar with? Have you ever stuck with something longer than you should have because you felt a sense of commitment due to all the time, energy, and perhaps even money, you’d already invested? Perhaps you're stuck in an unhealthy relationship, a dissatisfying job, or even a personal goal that you feel obligated to achieve. We’re all human, and we have a big, perplexing behavioral problem called the “sunk cost fallacy”. …
If you’re a startup founder, then you’ve most likely heard of Y Combinator— the number one tech accelerator in the world.
YC, as it’s more commonly called in the industry, knows exactly what they are doing when it comes to validating founders’ ideas, building something people want, and scaling them up to raise outside capital. Their methodologies and ideas have helped billion dollar companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Stripe.
There’s good and bad news.
Fear is probably the biggest inhibitor of progress in our lives. It’s a dangerous poison that alters our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities, and if left unchecked, it festers and roots itself deeply into our operating system.
Fear is so powerful because it gets reinforced by the strongest thing — ourselves. We allow it to incubate and grow, feed it doubt and build stories about why we can’t. …