So you want to do a startup, eh?


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Startup life and culture is super sexy and all sorts of founders are appearing in their jeans and t-shirts and boyish/girlish grins on the covers of magazines and newspapers across North America. Seems that millions of dollars of money is being thrown left right and center at anyone with a dream and the gumption to pursue it. There has been no better time to quit your day job and pursue this. It costs next to nothing to build stuff on the web, right?

Only it isn't *exactly* like that and we're only hearing a small portion of the stories. Sure, Tara Hunt would encourage everyone with an awesome idea to pursue their dream, but in this presentation, she lays down what being a startup founder is REALLY like. She also plans to share all the tips and tricks she is learning from (continually) making a whole bunch of mistakes...because nobody is talking about this stuff. By the end of her talk, you'll either hand in your notice and go for it or shelve those dreams forever. Bring it!

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So you want to do a startup, eh?

  1. so you wanna do a startup, eh?bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha...sucka...
  2. startups are hard.
  3. startups are really hard.
  4. startups are really fucking hard.
  5. startups are heartbreaking.
  6. startups are soul crushing.
  7. startups are life shortening.
  8. fact:this is not reality.
  9. 5 myths about startups1. Startups cost nothing to build2. The average tech startup founder is a 25 year old male ivy league dropout3. Startups get funded on a napkin sketch and passion4. A good idea wins every time5. Location doesn’t matter*
  10. myth #1:startups are cheap to build
  11. reality:lean or not, it costs money to build something significant. and savings run out.
  12. stuff that costs $$ as if you didn’t already know this• hiring amazing people - and you need A level amazing people in startups (they like to be paid even if they believe in you)• infrastructure - yes. It’s cheaper than it was, but those EC2 bills are still a bitch.• marketing - you can do a LOT for free in the beginning, but there is a bunch of noise to cut through today.
  13. fact:4 out 5 people who use the phrase “it’s cheap to build a startup” have never built a startup (and probably neverwill)...the remainder are independently wealthy.
  14. myth #2:the average tech co-founder is a 25 yr old male ivy league dropout
  15. Average founder: 40 yrs old Married With Children6-10 yrs work experience Male = yes(4% of tech startups funded have femalefounders - while 40% of small businesses are owned by women) White = yes (6% of tech startups funded have non- white founders)Ivy League? Meh. Dropout? Not at all.Educated - bachelors or higher - but not necessarily Stanford, Harvard, etc.
  16. fact: startup founders look a LOT like themselves (and can come from ANY background). looking for patterns isthe antithesis of innovative thinking.
  17. myth #3:all you need is a napkin plan and a bunch of passion and you’ll get money
  18. reality: the examples that are told around startup campfires (i.e. techcrunch) are the outliers...and there is waymore than passion + napkins involved.
  19. a week in the lifeof a startup founder
  20. monday
  21. tuesday
  22. wednesday
  23. thursday
  24. friday
  25. saturday
  26. sunday
  27. fact: you will wake up in a puddle of your own sweat several nights a weekbecause you realize you are completely fucked.
  28. how to deal:1. know that you will be rejected.2. understand that you will underestimate the number of times you will be rejected and how long it will take you to raise $$. (insert completely fucked night sweats here)3. ask rejectors for feedback (REAL feedback)4. ignore most of said feedback*5. seek mentors and allies (note: this is the most important point I make this entire presentation) * knowing what to ignore is not easy
  29. the worst advice EVAR: ppl that tell you to do this are idiots.1. when you are rejected, ask for a referral dude! IF they do this, they will explain to their contact why they passed...BAD intro.2. when you are rejected, don’t take no for an answer this is just awkward. move on.3. when you are rejected too often, rethink your business (i.e. pivot) it’s not you, it’s them (mostly)
  30. conviction
  31. three freakin hundred!!!!
  32. common vc rejections aka. “we’re just not that into you.”• “we think you are too early for us.”• “we have too many deals in our pipeline.”• “we don’t understand the market.”• “we’d like to see some local investment.”• “we’d like to see some interest from a US firm.”• “you are raising too much.”• “you are raising too little.”• “if only you did a + b, we’d be a better fit...”
  33. what they tell us they know...
  34. the reality...
  35. fact: YOU build the goddamned future.“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay 1989
  36. myth #4:a good idea wins every time
  37. closer to the truth: a good idea, good execution, good timing, perseverance and balls of steel* will win.* I hate these masculine metaphors, but boobs of steel just didn’t sound right.
  38. desire todelusional A change the status quo D C B audacity A. those that go postal B. dictators C. serial killers D. startup entrepreneurs
  39. the key to #winning: find your product/marketfit before you run out of money. T. IS. ALL. THA
  40. really freakin awesomecreative ways to not go broke• take the bus (Greyhound has wifi!)• use microfunding (Indiegogo/ Kickstarter) creatively• use AirBnB - AND - rent your place out on it while you travel• speaking of AirBnB...
  41. “Paul Graham only invested in us, when he heard about the Obama Osstory. And he figured, well these guys are like really creative,smart entrepreneurs; theyll probably change their idea.”AirBnB Founder, Brian Chesky
  42. Hey CEO’s! Your ONLY job is to keep the company going until you find product/market fit. ONLY job.* Your* Okay, that AND 10 gabillion other things. But this is the most important.
  43. more funding ideas• Friends & Family - your network is stronger than you know (we raised $192,000)• Go lean - how can you pare down your operations and personal lifestyle? Do it early. Lower the burn.• Hold a fundraiser - make it awesome. What are your Obama-O’s?• Sell your stuff on eBay - It’s a short term sacrifice.• Make $$ in your free time - Pixazza, TaskRabbit, TaskHire, deliver pizza (Alfred from Zappos did this), etc. (make it simple, mindless tasks)• Million Dollar Homepage? What else could you do that is simple but could bring in good $$.• Hire a Grant Application specialist - they often work off of commission and there are small biz grants.
  44. Are you ready tomake the ultimate sacrifice? nly one ther e is o a nswer
  45. myth #5: where you build yourstartup doesn’t matter
  46. WARNING:this is the part where Iget seriously unpopular.
  47. why Canada sux4 startuping1. barrier for valley funds (especially at seed stage)2. local funds are miniscule compared to valley funds3. most of the ‘successful’ startups move to the valley, so aren’t seen as shining Canadian examples4. most of the amazing A level talent we want to hire move to the valley (or US in general) + we compete for those few left5. Canadians are more risk averse in general6. Population density is an issue for markets
  48. why Canada is PERFECT for startuping1. there is nothing to do here during our long winter but work2. we have a high tolerance to pain3. it is cost-effective to develop here4. free health care, small biz benefits, etc make for lower burn rates5. our dollar is strong + economy solid (yes, I know it’s because we aren’t reckless cowboys like those yanks)
  49. what we need to change1. encourage/educate more investment firms to invest in web startups2. support one another better. Share intros. Work together. CROSS country (not just city)3. invest REAL money into Canadian startups. Where is the series A?4. recruit the talent up HERE. KEEP the talent that we have by appreciating them BEFORE they freakin leave!5. create entrepreneurial programs for our universities + catch boys and girls at a young age to encourage6. host more events in Canada, showcasing our startup scene - attract investors from the US to see what we have locally7. get the press doing more pieces on Canadians state side and Canadian startups8. reward for risk more. celebrate entrepreneurship in general.
  50. bonus myth:the startup world is a meritocracy
  51. it’s not just about working hard. (though there is hard work involved)
  52. there is nothing fair about this path.
  53. both brilliant + both contributed SO much to sciencetesla died broke edison died rich
  54. and what of those with better ideasbut without resources who weren’t heard at all?
  55. 1880s or 2010s, this hasn’t really changed.
  56. you can doEVERYTHING right and still die broke.
  57. I know. I’m a real downer.
  58. but true entrepreneursaren’t in it for the fame and fortune, are we? hope fo r both) (th ough we
  59. q: so why are wedoing this again?
  60. a: fuck if I know.
  61. but here I am.and I can’t imagine doing ANYTHING else. it’s an unhealthy, but beautifully necessary obsession.
  62. because without us crazy, delusional people who dothis the world would be a boring, stagnant place.
  63. “Crazy Ones” Apple Think Different Campaign, 1997 Agency: TBWAChiatDay
  64. thank you for being crazy. xo
  65. Tara(@missrogue) Huntceo/co-founder, Buyosphere 514-679-2951