It’s been one year since I was a startup founder/CEO. On May 2, 2016, we announced Pinterest’s acquisition of URX and began the next step in our journey. In that moment it was hard to comprehend how different this chapter would be from the one before it, and I’m grateful that I’ve gained some of this perspective over the last year.

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The URX Thanksgiving Party — November 2015

In short- my biggest learning about product strategy from URX is the importance of aligning your vision with your business model. As with so many things in life, there’s a big difference between understanding things with your head, and knowing them with your heart. …

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Not another job interview: YC will call your bluff every time…

Spring has sprung, and the smell of fresh YC applications is in the air. It’s that special time that happens twice a year where thousands of budding entrepreneurs vie for a spot in the upcoming Y Combinator class.

For those among you who are preparing for your interviews over the next few days, I wanted to share some of the best practices that helped Andrew, Nate, James and me pass our interview and earn URX’s place in the Summer 2013 batch.

Each interview lasts about 10 minutes and the interviewers’ goal is to get as much signal about the team as possible. Because of this, the interviews are structured as a series of rapid fire questions that will cover a lot of ground. Having well prepared, concise answers that you can recall quickly is probably the single strongest indicator of success for your interview. We prepared for this by coming up with a list of ~50 expected questions, each with their own with 2–3 bullet point response (EDIT: Here’s our prep doc). Then, we spent hours grilling each other and loaded them into a flashcard webapp for self testing. …

Good Idea, Bad Startup

I had the privilege of being a guest lecturer at UCLA earlier this year to their Economics 106E: Startups class. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to give back to my alma mater and help inspire/educate the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Every time I give a presentation like this, I am careful to balance the “goods and the bads” of living the startup life.. It’s a major red flag to me when people want to join startups because they’re, “cool”- it feels like a professional obligation to share the ups and downs of the journey.

I hope you enjoy watching this presentation as much as I enjoyed delivering it:

Slides from the presentation


John Milinovich

Data-informed dreamer. Building Plato, a a software-enabled design agency for startups. Formerly of Pinterest, URX, Google, Yahoo and UCLA.

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