Words of Wisdom from Jessica Livingston

by Scott Edward Walker on November 15th, 2012

To Our Clients & Friends: Welcome to our weekly series “Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed.”  Each week, we post a favorite video of a successful entrepreneur, investor or business leader on a variety of topics.  This week, we present Jessica Livingston, the Co-founder of Y Combinator, the author of the book Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days, and indeed an extraordinary investor.

In this interesting presentation from a few weeks ago at the Y Combinator Startup School, Jessica shares some solid nuggets for entrepreneurs, including the following:

  • “One reason you need resilience in a startup is that you are going to get rejected a lot. Even the most famous startups had surprising amounts of rejection early on.”
  • “Even if you are Airbnb, you are going to start out looking like an ugly duckling to most people.”
  • “Remember that new ideas usually seem crazy at first. But if you have a good idea and you execute well, eventually everyone will see it.”
  • “Even Y Combinator got rejected when we first started back in Cambridge.”
  • “You need drive to overcome the sheer variety of problems you will face in a startup.”
  • “People underestimate how critical founder relationships are to the success of a startup.”
  • “Investors tend to have a herd mentality. They like you if other investors like you.”
  • “If you remember one piece of advice about investors, it’s that you’ve got to create some type of competitive situation.”
  • “One of the reasons fundraising can be so damaging to your company is that it’s a distraction.”
  • “Don’t spend all your time networking. Don’t hire an army of interns. Just build stuff and talk to users.”
  • “Talking to corp dev early on isn’t just a waste of time, it’s uniquely demoralizing.”
  • “Not making something people want is the biggest cause of failure we see early on. (The second biggest is founder disputes.)”
  • “Don’t let yourself get immobilized by sadness when things go wrong. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and know it will get better.”

I hope you enjoy it.  Many thanks, Scott

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