Mohit Khare
Mohit Khare
Product Engineer @ Gojek | Blogs about tech, productivity and life.

Summary: Startup Playbook

These are notes from Startup Playbook by Sam Altman. I’ll highly recommend to read it completely. Adding these personal key takeaways for quick reference.

Idea

  • What and Why?
  • Who desperately needs the product?
  • Numbers and how fast they are growing?
  • Test the idea by launching it!
  • Feedback is vital!
  • What about the market?
  • Almost everyone is going to tell you that your idea sucks

Product

  • If you do not build a product users love you will eventually fail
  • Discuss with users and make your product better
  • Recruit users manually, and make the product so good the users you recruit tell their friends.
  • Iterate and Launch fast! Don’t make big releases.

Growth

  • Growth solves all problem, but lack of growth is not solvable by anything.
  • Prime directive of great execution is “Never lose momentum”
  • Focus on retention and not just signups.
  • Thinking about problems too far in the future is a TRAP.

Focus

  • Prioritization is critical and hard
  • Don’t do other things until you have dominated first.
  • Find ways to get 90% of the value with 10% of the effort.
  • When you find something that works, keep going.

Job of CEO

  • Make sure the company wins
  • Set the vision and strategy for the company
  • Evangelize the company to everyone
  • Hire and manage the team
  • Raise money
  • Set the execution quality bar.
  • Either figure out a way to make things happen, or figure out what to do without it.

Hiring

  • First piece of advice about hiring is don’t do it.
  • Employees are expensive, adds organizational complexity and communication overhead.
  • When you are in recruiting mode, you should spend about 25% of your time on it. CEOs top priority.
  • Don’t compromise on the quality of people you hire. Over time you’ll see results of hiring good folks in beginning.
  • Value aptitute over experience for almost all roles. Hire people with a GTD mindset.
  • Fire quickly. Fire people who are toxic to the culture no matter how good they are at what they do.

Competitors

  • 99% of startups die from suicide, not murder.
  • So, 99% of the time, you should ignore competitors.
  • In words of Henry Ford:

    “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”

Making Money

  • Get people to pay you more money than it costs you to deliver your services.
  • If you have a free product, don’t plan to grow by buying users.
  • “Ramen profitability”—i.e., make enough money so that the founders can live on ramen.

Fundraising

  • Not having enough money can be bad, but having too much money is almost always bad.
  • It is a bad idea to try to raise money when your company isn’t in good enough shape to attract capital. You will burn reputation and waste time.
  • Important to have fundraising conversations in parallel.
  • The first check is the hardest to get!!
  • Good investors really do add a lot of value. Bad investors detract a lot.
  • Investors that only invest a small amount usually don’t do anything for you

Execution

All you need is a great idea, a great team, a great product, and great execution

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