Words of Wisdom from Paul Graham

by Scott Edward Walker on March 12th, 2014

Paul Graham.v2

To Our Clients & Friends: Welcome to our weekly series “Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed.”  Each week, we share a favorite video of a successful entrepreneur, investor or business leader on a variety of topics.  This week, we present Paul Graham, co-founder and former President of Y Combinator (and a brilliant entrepreneur and investor).

In this excellent interview by Jason Calacanis at the LAUNCH Festival about two weeks ago, Paul shares some solid nuggets for founders, including the following:

  • “The founders have to get along.” (at 19:51)
  • “You don’t know how good friends you are with somebody until you try to start a startup with them. You gotta have a good relationship between the founders.” (at 20:12)
  • “In the best startups,… each founder is king of his own domain.” (at 22:02)
  • “Get a co-founder! When people walk up to me and start blabbing to me about their idea, I’m like: ‘no, no – who’s your co-founder?’” (at 23:50)
  • “We used to have more faith in brains. It turns out…, you can be surprisingly stupid if you’re sufficiently determined.” (at 35:13)
  • “The most important thing for startups to do is to focus… There is so many things you could be doing – one of them is the most important.  You should be doing that…” (at 35:59)
  • “How far along people are when they come to YC is not very-well correlated with how they end-up doing – even immediately after YC.” (at 44:42)
  • “You’ve got to start with a small, intense fire.” (at 45:22)
  • “You’ve got to find a small number of people… [who] want what you’re making a lot.” (at 45:46)
  • “You’ve got to know who those first users are – and how you’re going to get them; and then you just sit down and have a party with those first few users; and you just focus entirely on them, and you make them super, super happy.” (at 46:20)
  • “Starting a startup hurts… You shouldn’t expect starting a startup to be a great way to get money and feel really easy and good.” (at 54:36)
  • “It’s painful [starting a startup]. If it’s not a certain amount of painful, you’re probably not trying hard enough.” (at 55:02)

I hope you enjoy it.  Cheers, Scott

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