Steve Blank

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are world-class inventions that changed the nature of funding for startups. But don’t use such platforms prematurely. If you’re trying to crowdfund your initial idea, that almost guarantees you are working on the wrong thing.

New entrepreneurs misunderstand what Kickstarter is for. They think it’s a way to do customer discovery, to test their product’s appeal. In fact, going on Kickstarter freezes customer … [ Read more ]

Craig Wortmann

Just because somebody is willing to take something rudimentary from you for free is not proof you have a customer. But when someone commits financially—even at a major discount—that person is serious. And he or she is going to evaluate your product or service much more critically. That’s the kind of feedback you need.

You can also try to get upfront sales, though that’s a … [ Read more ]

Phillip H. Kim

It’s rare that all founding partners are equally committed. How much time each will invest, what opportunity costs each will accept, and the level of ambition each has may differ. That’s especially true if one founder had the original idea and brought on the others, or if one founder devotes himself to the business full time while his co-founders hang onto their day jobs. You … [ Read more ]

Philip Krim

Early-stage investors get excited about hearing your story, and how you’re going to change the world and why, as opposed to your saying, “Tactically, here are the next six steps we’re going to do, and this gets us to launch.” That tactical conversation—you need to have a keen grasp of it, but it’s not what sells the dream. It’s important to build your 12- or … [ Read more ]

Randy Komisar

You will do market research, but that comes later. Before trying to figure out how big your market is, you need to know that people have accepted and will continue to accept the gist of your value proposition. Otherwise, you’ll be piling assumption on top of assumption.

Tony Robbins

The biggest illusion people share with me is “I started a business so I can have more free time.” That’s like saying you had a child so you could have more free time. That is dumb, right? It’s another reason people fail. My view is that if your business is your mission, if it’s truly something you love and live for, it’s an extension of you, it’s … [ Read more ]

Vivek Mehra

Start-ups often take a while to get their execution right, primarily because of founder overoptimism. On the one hand, optimism is necessary to create a company. But on the other hand, that same optimism gets them into trouble by getting in the way of good judgment. Achieving the proper balance between optimism and execution takes one to two business-building cycles. You also need to balance … [ Read more ]

Bob Moore

Resilient founders don’t ask “Which competitor are we scared of?” Instead, it’s “What fully-formed company would be an existential threat to us, whether it exists or not? And if it doesn’t exist, why aren’t we building it?”

Bob Moore

I don’t worry about competition, I worry about my own vision being wrong, which creates an opportunity for competition to succeed. If anything, I think we spent too much energy thinking about the noise everyone else was making and not enough thinking about our own place in the real market.

Brett Berson

When a founder says in a plainspoken manner, “When we close, we’re going to be…” you know that they already see the money in the bank. There’s no extra emphasis as they make the statement, but it’s clear it’s not in question. When talking about the future of your company orient around “when” and not “if.”

Anne Dwane

Consider comedians. Comedians don’t live in a different world [than] everyone else; they just see the humor in it. Likewise, entrepreneurs see opportunity where the majority sees mature, intractable markets. Entrepreneurial epiphanies come from a beginners mind, not a jaded one.

Paul Graham

When a startup launches, there have to be at least some users who really need what they’re making — not just people who could see themselves using it one day, but who want it urgently. Usually this initial group of users is small, for the simple reason that if there were something that large numbers of people urgently needed and that could be built with … [ Read more ]

Ken Shotts

There are strong arguments that diversity promotes effectiveness. But I think that has implications that people haven’t really thought through. What about situations where some people believe diversity produces ineffectiveness? That’s not a hypothetical — this has long been the argument against diversity in the military. But there’s a counter-argument rooted in social justice. Do I want to live in a world where people’s outcomes … [ Read more ]

Elad Gil, Vinod Khosla

As Vinod Khosla has observed, your market entry strategy is often different from your market disruption strategy. And too many people focus on how small the market entry side is, but the entry point almost definitionally has to be small, because you have to find a space that isn’t covered or saturated by incumbents. If you find a gap and push your way through, often … [ Read more ]

Elad Gil

A lot of founders will go to customers and say “Hey, would you want to use this?” And customers will say “That’s great, we’d love to use it.” And so the founders go off and build it, but when then they come back with a product, no one’s using it. That’s because what they should have asked is, “Would you pay for this?” Being interested … [ Read more ]

Elad Gil

Markets with potential usually have a changing dynamic that allows new players to climb in and make room for themselves. It could be falling costs, new tech or a new distribution channel. Whatever it is, if you’ve heard something was difficult, you can’t just stop there because things have probably changed.

Elad Gil

As a general rule, when I make investments, it’s market first and the strength of the team second, which is quite different from a lot of other angel investors who are more founder-driven. I think that’s a mistake. Even if you have a strong founding team that’s able to pivot, they’ll probably stay trapped in the market they’re already in. Many great teams get taken … [ Read more ]

Jim Clifton

Most well-meaning people are wrong about where startups come from. They believe startups come from innovation. But we found that startups come from what we call the “builder” quality: the entrepreneurial personality that leads people to start new ventures and bring them to success.

Khalid Halim

The double-edged truth of the fast-scaling startup: If the company grows as it should, it will outgrow many of its people.

Khalid Halim

The law of startup physics: humans grow linearly, companies grow exponentially.