Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator. March This essay is derived from a talk at the Harvard Computer Society.
Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator. If you wanted to get rich, how would you do it? I think your best bet would be to start or join a startup. The word "startup" dates from the s, but what happens in one is very similar to the venture-backed trading voyages of the Middle Ages.
Startups usually involve technology, so much so that the phrase "high-tech startup" is almost redundant. A startup is a small company that takes on a hard technical problem. Lots of people get rich knowing nothing more than that. But I think it could give you an edge to understand the underlying principles.
Why do startups have to be small? Will a startup inevitably stop being a startup as it grows larger? And why do they so often work on developing new technology?
Why are there so many good college essays ideas for dinner selling new drugs or computer software, and none selling corn oil or laundry detergent?
The Proposition Economically, you can think of a startup as a way to compress your whole working life into a few years. Instead of working at a low intensity for forty years, you work as hard as you possibly can for four.
This pays especially well in technology, where you earn a premium for working fast. Here is a brief sketch of the economic proposition.
You could probably work twice as many hours as a corporate employee, and if you focus you can probably get three times as much done in an hour.
Then there is one more multiple: Suppose another multiple of three. Like all back-of-the-envelope calculations, this one has a lot of wiggle room. But I stand by the structure of the calculation. Startups are not magic.
They just represent a point at the far end of the curve.
There is a conservation law at work here: For example, one way to make a million dollars would be to work for the Post Office your whole life, and save every penny of your salary. Imagine the stress of working for the Post Office for fifty years.
In a startup you compress all this stress into three or four years. If starting a startup were easy, everyone would do it.
How do I get to be a billionaire, like Bill Gates? Bill Gates is a smart, determined, and hardworking man, but you need more than that to make as much money as he has. You also need to be very lucky.
There is a large random factor in the success of any company. So the guys you end up reading about in the papers are the ones who are very smart, totally dedicated, and win the lottery. Certainly Bill is smart and dedicated, but Microsoft also happens to have been the beneficiary of one of the most spectacular blunders in the history of business: Microsoft at that stage had little leverage over IBM.
They were effectively a component supplier. If IBM had required an exclusive license, as they should have, Microsoft would still have signed the deal. It would still have meant a lot of money for them, and IBM could easily have gotten an operating system elsewhere.
From that point, all Microsoft had to do was execute.If the self-portrait part makes you a bit squeamish, you can either round up the kids and get pictures of them everyday for a kids project, or you can just do a open-topic project where you just have to take a picture of anything every day for a year.
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