Paul Graham's Essays

Another excellent article by Paul:

In this article, Paul makes a strong case for understanding what your users want. Good advice for any endeavor it seems. Also, contained the following quote:

Competitors are rarely what kills startups. Poor execution does.

So there you have it – understand what your users want, and execute well – certainly a challenge, but refreshingly simple.

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I’m behind on my reading … a quote from Early Work:

One of the biggest things holding people back from doing great work is the fear of making something lame. And this fear is not an irrational one. Many great projects go through a stage early on where they don’t seem very impressive, even to their creators. You have to push through this stage to reach the great work that lies beyond. But many people don’t. Most people don’t even reach the stage of making something they’re embarrassed by, let alone continue past it. They’re too frightened even to start. …

It’s interesting looking at it from what startups actually do, though. Often a large amount of what a startup does is to focus on the existing investors and potential future investors/acquirers as the customers. Actually making a product or service which end-users will enjoy/value/use/whatever is almost never the actual goal and is almost never where all of the focus goes.

From that perspective, the end users get screwed, the products they buy from startups are often half-baked and over-sold and generally not that great.

But self-funded companies, or those who don’t take huge VC money, are more often focused on delighting end-user customers. They want the repeat business and word of mouth advertising from making an end-user happy. They’re not focused on being acquired.

Good points – agreed, the startup game has its problems as hyper growth is rarely sustainable. However, Paul Graham seems to hit on many universal truths that apply if you are in a startup scenario or a self/organic funded model. I see many of the same problems in companies of all sizes and funding models: 1) execution and 2) scaling to meet the demands of even moderate organic growth. DHH and Paul Jarvis also question the startup model. A quote from Company of One:

study done by the Startup Genome Project, which analyzed more than 3,200 high-growth tech startups, found that 74 percent of those businesses failed, not because of competition or bad business plans, but because they scaled up too quickly.

Perhaps as blockchain technology progresses, better funding models will emerge that will provide more alternatives between self-funded and venture capital funded startups.

A lot of neat things seem to be coming out of But, not sure the crowd supply model will work for all markets – these platforms seem to focus on very technical buyers.

yes next silicon valley will be on the internet, and its acceptance is already accelerated with distributed work and tools that have come along in 2020, there is some positive side to pendamic

Another interesting essay: Do things that don’t scale

recruit users manually and give them an overwhelmingly good experience