Here are my class notes, typed in essay form, from Class 2 of CS183: Startup. Errors, omissions, and/or poor phrasing are my own. Credit for good substance and wording is Peter’s entirely.
CS183: Startup—Notes Essay—April 4—Party Like It’s 1999?
I. Late to the Party
History is driven…
Float - Sube
“Insurers receive premiums upfront and pay claims later. In extreme cases, such as those arising from certain workers’ compensation accidents, payments can stretch over decades. This collect-now, pay-later model leaves us holding large sums – money we call “float” – that will eventually go to others. Meanwhile, we get to invest this float for Berkshire’s benefit. Though individual policies and claims come and go, the amount of float we hold remains remarkably stable in relation to premium volume. Consequently, as our business grows, so does our float.”
Extracted from Warren Buffett’s Annual Letter to Shareholders of 2009
I wonder if there’s any way to invest in SUBE (Argentina’s card for public transportation)? Or better, companies with public transportation cards that invest their float wisely…
Learn to Program - Chris Pine
I’m learning to program with Chris Pine’s book, which I highly recommend, and just wanted to share what I think is the best paragraph in the book so far:
Figuring this all out would take us a ridiculous amount of time. I mean, it’s pretty cool that you can do it at all, but you didn’t pay good money for “pretty cool.” No sir, this is a De-Luxe-Supremium book you have here. And for that, my friend, we need some serious saving. We need some full-frontal loading. Yes, when you’re looking for De-Luxe-Supremium, you want YAML.
You can buy the book here.
And you can also read it online here.
Don’t start at version infinity, a toy might be just ok!
Yesterday after watching Derek Sivers Uncommon Sense videos I kept thinking about building Version 0.1of something instead of building the vision for Version ∞ at moment 0.
I associated this with Chris Dixon’s post “The next big thing will start out looking like a toy”. He uses the term “toy” to describe a product/service that at an early stage is dismissed by “serious” people, but in the end turns out to be a serious success.
I believe that many times, at the very beginning, even the people working on the toy thought of it as a toy and not as something huge.
Only after discovering they were creating a lot of value with the toy (or wealth in Paul Grahams terms), they start working on the vision for Version ∞ that will enable them to “conquer the world”.
While thinking about the stuff I’ve done in the last couple of years, I came to realize that it often works this way. Most experiments had better outcomes than plans. I’m not pretending to draw any big conclusion, or planning to stop planning, but I’ll definitely try to experiment a little bit more.
There are some good examples of the importance of experimenting instead of trying to come up with huge visions and ideas out of the blue.
Airbnb started as airbedandbreakfast
“We both quit our jobs to become entrepreneurs…. suddenly we found ourselves unable to afford our own apartment” “We started to think creatively about how we could solve our problem of not being able to pay the rent” Joe Gebbia
Joe Gebbia’s talk
CDbaby started as a hobby
Derek Siver’s video
Twitter started as twttr
Jack Dorsey had an idea to make a more “live” LiveJournal, it took him 6 years before experimenting with it. twttr sketch
Facebook started as thefacebook
“Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard,” Zuckerberg said. “I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.”
According to this article
Paul Graham & Harjeet Taggar questions during office hours @ Disrupt Conference
I took some notes of Paul Graham & Harjeet Taggar questions during office hours @ Disrupt.
Going through all of them is definitely a worthwhile exercise!
Rules: No google, all by heart, in less than 1 minute each.
What’s your market?
How do you sell to your market?
Where does your current market top out?
You are growing at n%, where does it stop?
What’s the number one reason your customers turn you down for? (Harjeet Taggar)
Make people complain directly to you.
Do you have any evidence of how hard it is to convince people to use your product?
If one of your competitors teams up with a big company, is there room for you still?
How did you find your users? (Harjeet Taggar)
What is the thing you do that users are most excited about?
Why do you make *signing up* so hard for people? You WANT to know the rate at which your product spreads without constraints, and you want to optimize that.
So your product is sort of a supra set of “other product”? (slides.io)
What are the specific features of your product?
How big is your market?
Have you try selling/pitching your product?
Why would people use your product instead of another one? What’s the specific feature that will convince them?
What’s distinctive about you? What specific feature?
Can you think of an example of what you can do better than your competition?
What will they jump to you for?
Why did you decide to work on this particular problem? (Harj Taggar)
Do you have a plan for getting users? (Harjeet Taggar)
Be MUCH better than *incumbent* at a small subset of things. vs being 1% better at everything.
Who is the user of your product?
Are you using it yourself? How do you use it (give example)?
Where does your traffic come from?
What’s your plan for making money?
I wonder if being international from day one is good…
You need evidence that shows that what you are working on is leading down the right path
If you’re making something frivolous, there’s danger that it could be fashionable for a while.
How did people find your product?
Here’s the video: