Y Combinator teaches a class at Stanford on startups: http://startupclass.samaltman.com

These are my notes on Lecture 1:

Welcome, and Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part I

The course is for startups that aim for hyper growth.

It covers four areas:

  • Idea
  • Product
  • Team
  • Execution


Only start a company if you want to fix a specific problem, not for the sake of the startup itself. The problem comes first, the startup second.

Long-term thinking is extremely important – 10 years.

Build a business that is difficult to replicate.

The idea comes first. A good idea is extremely important.

Have a mission-oriented idea. People need a mission to be really good at something.

Good startups take 10 years.

Copying an existing idea is nothing that gets people excited.

Ideas that seem bad at first are often very good. If it sounded really good, everybody would do it.

Find a niche where you can create a monopoly and expand from that.

The initial idea does not have to sound big, but it has to take a big market share of a specific niche.

Think about the growth rate of the market.

Ask yourself the question: Why now? Why was two years ago too early? Why will it be too late in two years?

Build something you need yourself; otherwise, you’re at a big disadvantage.

The idea should be very easy to explain. If that is not possible, the idea is too complicated.

Think about the market first – what people want.


Great Idea -> Great Product -> Great Company

Build a good product. Ignore everything else. Build something that users love.

Build something that a small number of users love, instead of building something that a lot of people use, but do not love.

Sales and marketing is very important, but in the early days you need organic growth. If you don’t have it, you just waste your money on sales and marketing.

Very few startups die from competition. Most die because they don’t build something that users love.

Great founders are fanatic about the quality of the product.

Create a very tight feedback loop. Show it -> Feedback -> Product

The use of metrics is super-important:

  • total registrations
  • active users
  • activity levels
  • cohort retention
  • revenue
  • Net Promoter Score

More on that in the next class . . .

Dustin Moskovitz: Why to Start a Startup

“You Can’t Not Do It.” You are so passionate about it that you have to do it.

When you’re recruiting, candidates can smell if you don’t have passion.

Do something the world needs!