Notes from Startup School Week 1 Videos

For people who are busy.

Notes from “How to Evaluate Startup Ideas Pt. 1” (-Kevin Hale)

1. A startup is a company that’s designed to grow. If not, you are building a small business.

2. The plan for how your startup is going to grow should be a critical point in your startup pitch.

Parts of the startup pitch.

a.) Problem

b.) Solution

c.) Insights (Why you will be successful)

3. Characteristics of a Good Problem

a.) Good problems are popular.

b.) Problems that are growing.

c.) A problem that should be solved urgently.

d.) Problems that are expensive to solve.

e.) Mandatory problems.

f.) Problems that people frequently encounter (Super Important).

4. Ideal Problems

a.) Problems faced by millions of users

b.) Markets that grow 20% a year

c.) Problems people are trying to solve right now

d.) Problems that costs a ton of money (Billion Dollars)

e.) Opportunities that come from a law change

f.) Problems people need to solve multiple times a day (Hourly)

5. Don’t start with the Solution

6. Most people get excited about technology and start with a solution to search for a problem. That’s a difficult way to grow the company.

7. Figuring out the unfair advantage is critical. Why are you going to win vs everyone else? What advantage you have to grow quickly?

8. Type of Unfair Advantages

a.) Founder: Are you 1 in 10 of all the people in the world who can solve this problem? Are you a super-expert? (ex: You have done a PhD in biotech and have some patent for a cure, then you have a founder advantage)

b.) Market: In trending markets, If you build a solution, your growth will be automatic. (However, this is the weakest advantage to have)

c.) Product: Is your product 10x better than the competition? 10x Faster, 10x Cheaper

d.) Aquisition should cost $0: If the paid acquisition is the only channel, then it can’t be an unfair advantage. Because you are going to attract competitors quickly, and this advantage will soon dwindle. You need acquisition channels that cost no money.

e.) Monopoly: As you grow, is it difficult for other company to defeat you. (Ex: Companies with network effects in marketplaces.)

Notes from “How to Talk to Users” (-Eric Migicovsky)

1. Best founders maintain a direct connection with their customers during the lifespan of their company. Because they need to extract information from users at all different stages of a company. All founders need to be a part of this process.

2. At the core of YC’s teaching, there are two things.

a.) Write Code

b.) Talk to Users

3. “The Mom Test” Recommended book on how to talk and extract insights from customers.

4. Mistakes founders make while interviewing customers.

a.) Talk about their life, not your idea.

b.) Talk Specifics, not hypotheticals (Bad question example: “If we built this feature would you be using it?” Instead, talk about specifics that have occurred in people’s life)

c.) Listen, don’t talk. (Founders tends to spend a lot of time talking but in the customer interview process try to retain yourself from talking a lot)

5. Five great question founders can ask in their early customer interview.

a.) What is the hardest part of the thing you are trying to solve?

b.) Tell me about the last time you encountered this problem? ( The goal is to extract the context)

c.) Why was this hard? (This not only helps in finding good problems to solve but also help you market it to customers by listing the benefits)

d.) What, if anything have you done to try to solve this problem? (If customers are not already exploring potential solutions to their problem then it’s possible that the problem you are solving is not a burning enough for them to be interested in your solution.)

e.) What don’t you love about the solutions you have already tried? (This help you gain insights into what feature to build)

6. Idea Stage – Find first users with a problem

a.) Friends, Family, Co-Workers

b.) Drop by in-person to places where your target market faces the problem

c.) Industry events

Tips for this stage

a.)Take Notes

b.) Keep it casual

c.) Be careful with their time

7. Prototype Stage – Find out who will be the best first customer

a.) How much does this problem cost them? How much money do they spend to current solve this problem?

b.) How frequent is the problem? (The best problems are the ones that customers encounter on a frequent basis.)

c.) How large is their budget for solving this problem?

8. Launched Stage – Finding out product-market fit Ask you customers “How would they feel if they can no longer use your product?” with the options:

a.) Very Disappointed

b.) Somewhat Disappointed

c.) Not Disappointed (If more than 40% responds with a.) Very Disappointed, your product will grow exponentially. )

Tips for this stage

a.) Ask users for their phone numbers

b.) Don’t design by committee (Don’t jump into building features customers say they want because you need to understand if they are truly valuable to make your product sticky and more useful).

c.) Do shadow testing, before you build a feature, ask the customers if they are willing to purchase or pay more for it.

d.) Discard bad data. (Avoid compliments)

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