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