…So You Want to Start A Company...

RELATED PADS: 🚀 Startup Physics | DROdios Open Houses for Students

✏️ I encourage you to write comments in this Hackpad.  What resonates with you?  What are your startup experiences and advice?  What other resources do you recommend?  Here’s how to make comments in this pad

Want to build a (multi) billion dollar company?  Here's how:

TL;DR -- Shasta Ventures analyzed 25 $1Bn+ startups and found this to be true:

  1. Billion dollar ideas sound stupid at first.  "Our analysis discovered that many billion dollar companies have ideas that were easy to dismiss at first" 
  1. It doesn't matter how competitive the market already is.  "The key learning is that consumers are willing to embrace superior products and experiences"
  1. "Billion dollar consumer companies generally reinvent existing behavior with a superior consumer experience, rather than bringing something radical and novel to the market."
  1. You're more likely to be successful if you're an untested founder.  "[Untested founders] did not have a win under their belt or deep experience in their field, but were passionate about their product and had a unique perspective on how to serve their target customer. 
  1. Don't focus on driving revenue at first. "While most companies did not have revenue early on, we found that many that grow to significant scale did have signs of strong product/market fit and/or exhibited strong network effects by their Series A round."

🔑  The Key Takeaway: Create an Innovative Customer Experience for a Small Group in a Large Market. "There are large companies to be built by offering new, innovative and superior customer experiences to large markets, regardless of how competitive the sector already is or how successful the founders have been before"

🎁 Bonus: Companies aren't massively disrupted by their competitors, but by entirely new approaches they didn't see coming.  And those approaches often take the form of platforms that re-invent an entire industry.  Taxis --> Uber.  Hotels --> AirBnB.  This is part of a larger trend towards responsive organizations.  Learn it, live it, love it.

Do This Research First

  • Start by reading Sam Altman’s Startup Playbook.” It’s the single best resource for founders, especially first time founders.  Think of it as a Cliffs Notes of everything else you’ll read.
  • Then read Paul Graham's essays.  Paul Graham is the founder of Y Combinator.  He's kind of like the godfather of the Valley startup ecosystem :smile: .  If you've never heard of YC, you can read this NY times article and this WIRED article to understand what it's all about.  If you want to slingshot your way to startup success, applying to, and being accepted to YC is a terrific goal to have.  It's by far the single fastest way I can think of for you to succeed as a startup entrepreneur.  Did you know that these companies all came out of YC? Airbnb, Stripe, Reddit, Instacart and Twitch? You can see a full list of YC-funded startups in the YCDB.
  • Read The Lean Startup, is a book by Eric Ries, a co-founder and CTO of IMVU. You can find it on Amazon for about $15 ($10 for the Kindle version). :bookmark: Also -- there's an iPhone app called OverDrive-- a reading app that hooks into your local library account.  I checked, and both the text and audiobook versions of the LeanStartup are available on OverDrive for free (here's a screenshot).
  • There's a public FB group run by Sam Altman ( the president of YC) called How To Start a Startup.  Join it.  Read all its posts.
  • This synopsis of "How to start a startup" is 👍 pure gold.  The advice in these paragraphs could cover an entire year of study in a startup class.  If there's one single condensed 'bible' of startup commandments, this FB post is it.
  • That synopsis summarizes this lecture series by Sam Altman at Stanford on how to start a startup.  (available either as a YouTube series (also below). or as an iTunes Podccast).  Sam brings luminaries from the startup world in to talk in this series.  Highly recommended.


  • If you're building a SaaS company -- MercuryFund's SaaS Lifecycle is a great template:

I’m starting Armory right now.  Here are some of my most current tips.

A lot has changed since Socialize was acquired by ShareThis back in 2013.  Here are some of the services, tools & vendors I’m relying on as I spin up Armory with Ben & Isaac, my two co-founders.

  • Armory was incorporated using the Stripe Atlas program, which also gave us great perks like $15k inAWS credits
  • Got $20K in GCP credits through the Google Spark developer program
  • Using Silicon Legal Services for legal work (same law firm as I used before; they rock)
  • Using Gusto for payroll & benefits
  • Using eShares to manage our cap table, option grants, etc.
  • Using G Suite for corporate mail, calendar, etc.
  • Using Slack for internal (and even early beta customer) communication
  • Using Rebrandly for vanity domain URL shortlinks