Paul Graham’s Startup Advice for the Lazy

Paul Graham is a renowned programmer and wildly successful venture capitalist. He also happens to be a talented writer.

I highly recommend you stop reading this and just go read his actual essays, but if you’re short on time, I’ve cropped the most important pieces from my favorite essays below.

Startups in 13 Sentences

  1. Pick good cofounders

Organic Startup Ideas

  • The best way to come up with startup ideas is to ask yourself the question: what do you wish someone would make for you?

How to Get Startup Ideas

  • The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing.

Do Things that Don’t Scale

  • The most common unscalable thing founders have to do at the start is to recruit users manually. Nearly all startups have to. You can’t wait for users to come to you. You have to go out and get them.

Startup = Growth

  • A startup is a company designed to grow fast. A good growth rate during YC is 5–7% a week. If you can hit 10% a week you’re doing exceptionally well. If you can only manage 1%, it’s a sign you haven’t yet figured out what you’re doing.

The 18 Mistakes that Kill Startups

  1. Single Founder
    You need colleagues to brainstorm with, to talk you out of stupid decisions, and to cheer you up when things go wrong.

The Hardest Lessons for Startups to Learn

  1. Release Early
    Get a version 1 out fast, then improve it based on users’ reactions. I don’t mean you should release something full of bugs, but that you should release something minimal. Users hate bugs, but they don’t seem to mind a minimal version 1, if there’s more coming soon.

How to Convince Investors

  • Convince yourself that your startup is worth investing in, and then when you explain this to investors they’ll believe you. And by convince yourself, I don’t mean play mind games with yourself to boost your confidence. I mean truly evaluate whether your startup is worth investing in.

How to Present to Investors

  1. Explain what you’re doing
    Say what you’re doing as soon as possible, preferably in the first sentence.

Published in Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking


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Stelios Constantinides

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