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The Truth About Startups: What I wish someone had told me about entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley, and successful careers

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This is the talk I gave at MIT's Martin Center for Entrepreneurship. It's a talk I wish someone gave me when I was in college to help me think about the role of entrepreneurship and startups in my career.

You can find the video of the talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rus32iR_Ag0

Published in: Business
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  • Good Job Yevgeniy, you have very well presented your thoughts. In my opinion if a startup founder test their idea with in depth secondary research it will give them actionable insight, I have seen idea validation report published from India based company called Ideovate (www.ideovate.io) are extremly well.
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  • BTW wow lot of good intel!.... Also you can send your pitchdeck to thousands of VC's and Angel's with just 1 click. Visit: Angelvisioninvestors.com
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The Truth About Startups: What I wish someone had told me about entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley, and successful careers

  1. 1. THE TRUTH ABOUT STARTUPS What I wish someone had told me about entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley, and successful careers
  2. 2. In the past, most people would tell you to:
  3. 3. Get a job at a big, established company
  4. 4. Achieve job securityClimb the corporate ladder
  5. 5. Achieve job security
  6. 6. Sounds great, but…
  7. 7. Mmm, yeah, I’m going to have to go ahead and ask you to come in on Sunday…
  8. 8. Nowadays, it’s all about startups:
  9. 9. Sounds great, but…
  10. 10. So what do you do?
  11. 11. I’m Yevgeniy Brikman ybrikman.com
  12. 12. Co-founder of Gruntwork gruntwork.io
  13. 13. PAST LIVES
  14. 14. Author of Hello, Startup hello-startup.net
  15. 15. This is the book I wish I had in college hello-startup.net
  16. 16. I hope this talk & book help you in your career hello-startup.net
  17. 17. 1. Startup myths 2. Startup truths 3. Startup careers 4. Getting started Outline
  18. 18. 1. Startup myths 2. Startup truths 3. Startup careers 4. Getting started Outline
  19. 19. Myth #1: I’ll be an overnight success!
  20. 20. Reality:
  21. 21. “Acquired companies were an average of seven years old…
  22. 22. …while IPO companies went public around 8.25 years, on average.”
  23. 23. Note: “exits” for the investors. Founders stay on longer.
  24. 24. So if you remember nothing else from this talk, remember this:
  25. 25. Building a successful startup takes about a decade.
  26. 26. Are you willing to give 10 years of your life to this idea?
  27. 27. Myth #2: I’m going to get rich!
  28. 28. Reality:
  29. 29. Most startups pay lower salaries and offer few benefits
  30. 30. The stock is often worthless
  31. 31. And most startups fail
  32. 32. Myth #3: I’ll get to party all day!
  33. 33. Reality:
  34. 34. This is startup life.
  35. 35. It’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s mostly a lot of hard work.
  36. 36. Myth #4: I’ll get to write code all day!
  37. 37. Some programmers might be thinking, “this looks great!”
  38. 38. Reality:
  39. 39. Building a successful startup takes more than just code
  40. 40. Sure, you’ll write plenty of code
  41. 41. But you’ll also have to do everything else, including:
  42. 42. operating agreements, articles of incorporation, employment contracts, licenses, permits, insurance, NDAs, term sheets, financial modeling, P&L, balance sheet, fundraising, budgeting, cap table, stock certificates, taxes, 81b, 1040, 1099, 1120, W2, pitch decks, customer acquisition, sales calls, CRM, LTV, churn recurring revenue, billing, invoicing, refunds, receipts, interviewing, hiring, firing, promoting, training, motivating, organizing, leading, payroll, HR, mission, vision, culture, renting office space, building a website, setting up email/phone/fax, buying furniture, ordering toilet paper, …
  43. 43. Myth #5: All I need is a brilliant idea!
  44. 44. Reality:
  45. 45. “What surprised me most was how unsure the founders seemed to be that they were actually onto something big. Some of these companies got started almost by accident.”
  46. 46. It’s not about coming up with a single brilliant idea
  47. 47. It’s about navigating an idea maze
  48. 48. Most paths lead to failure. A small few lead to success.
  49. 49. And even the best ideas don’t matter without great execution
  50. 50. 1. Startup myths 2. Startup truths 3. Startup careers 4. Getting started Outline
  51. 51. You’ve now seen some common startup myths
  52. 52. It’s not that they never happen, but they are bad reasons to join or start a startup.
  53. 53. So what are the good reasons to join or start a startup?
  54. 54. 1. Mastery 2. Autonomy 3. Purpose
  55. 55. Mastery: The urge to get better at something.
  56. 56. “I've come to believe that learning is the essential unit of progress for startups.” – Eric Ries
  57. 57. Learning how to build a product users want
  58. 58. Learning how to market and sell a product
  59. 59. Learning how to build and motivate a team
  60. 60. Learning how to…
  61. 61. operating agreements, articles of incorporation, employment contracts, licenses, permits, insurance, NDAs, term sheets, financial modeling, P&L, balance sheet, fundraising, budgeting, cap table, stock certificates, taxes, 81b, 1040, 1099, 1120, W2, pitch decks, customer acquisition, sales calls, CRM, LTV, churn recurring revenue, billing, invoicing, refunds, receipts, interviewing, hiring, firing, promoting, training, motivating, organizing, leading, payroll, HR, mission, vision, culture, renting office space, building a website, setting up email/phone/fax, buying furniture, ordering toilet paper, …
  62. 62. Join a startup if you want to grow as a person
  63. 63. “A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of "exit." The only essential thing is growth. ” – Paul Graham
  64. 64. Working for a growing company is an amazing experience
  65. 65. Autonomy: The urge to control your life.
  66. 66. At a startup, you choose what to work on
  67. 67. At a startup, you choose who to work with
  68. 68. At a startup, you choose how to work
  69. 69. At a startup, you choose where to work
  70. 70. Purpose: The urge to do something meaningful.
  71. 71. Gruntwork’s why:
  72. 72. We believe software is one of humanity’s greatest inventions.
  73. 73. We also believe that creating software is too hard.
  74. 74. We believe making software more accessible will transform humanity.
  75. 75. This is what gets me up in the morning.
  76. 76. As a startup, we are searching for the right what and how.
  77. 77. “[Established] Companies execute business models where customers, their problems, and necessary product features are all “knowns.” In sharp contrast, startups operate in “search” mode, seeking a repeatable and profitable business model.” – Steve Blank
  78. 78. It turns out that search mode is more fun
  79. 79. It’s hard to feel passionate about increasing profit margin by 0.3%
  80. 80. It’s hard not to feel passionate about fighting for survival
  81. 81. When you’re one of 5,000 employees, you rarely feel like you’re making a difference
  82. 82. When the company is 5 people, everything you do matters
  83. 83. 1. Startup myths 2. Startup truths 3. Startup careers 4. Getting started Outline
  84. 84. You’ve now seen reasons you should or shouldn’t join a startup
  85. 85. So where do startups fit in your career?
  86. 86. 1. Join an established company 2. Join a small startup 3. Start your own company
  87. 87. 1. Join an established company 2. Join a small startup 3. Start your own company
  88. 88. At least once in your career, join a big, established company
  89. 89. Try to join one of the leaders in your industry
  90. 90. A “Google” on your resume will benefit you your entire career
  91. 91. You will work with amazing people
  92. 92. You will make a good salary (pay off your loans!)
  93. 93. You will learn how a successful company operates
  94. 94. You’ll also learn how not to do things
  95. 95. 1. Join an established company 2. Join a small startup 3. Start your own company
  96. 96. At least once in your career, join a small startup
  97. 97. Now is the golden age of the startup.
  98. 98. Average tenure for a firm in the S&P 500: 1958: 61 years 1980: 25 years 2012: 18 years
  99. 99. “On average, an S&P 500 company is now being replaced about once every two weeks […] At current churn rate, 75% of the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027.”
  100. 100. Open source 19+ million repositories on GitHub. Services AWS, Twilio, Stripe, MailChimp, Slack, DesignCrowd, RocketLawyer, … Distribution Mobile, email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Meetup.com, YouTube, AdWords, … Information Books, classes, blogs, accelerators, incubators, conferences, … Money Venture capital, angels, crowdfunding, government grants, self-funding, …
  101. 101. So why join a startup instead of starting your own?
  102. 102. If you start a startup, you are stuck with it for up to a decade.
  103. 103. In that same time period, you can join 3-4 startups.
  104. 104. Earning experience, connections, and stock at each one.
  105. 105. “The 100th engineer at Facebook made far more money than 99% of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.” – Dustin Moskovitz
  106. 106. Some people chase ambulances
  107. 107. Some people chase IPOs
  108. 108. How do you find a good startup to join?
  109. 109. 1. Look to your network. 2. Look at the products you use. 3. Look at elite VC portfolios.
  110. 110. 1. Join an established company 2. Join a small startup 3. Start your own company
  111. 111. You’ll probably have more fun and make more money joining someone else’s company.
  112. 112. As a founder, you will make roughly 10x the sacrifice.
  113. 113. 10x more stress 10x more risk 10x more time
  114. 114. So is it ever a good idea to start a company?
  115. 115. Yes: When you can’t not do it.
  116. 116. You have an idea or passion that you simply must do.
  117. 117. You’ve worked on it for years, even while at other jobs.
  118. 118. You just have to bring your dream into the world.
  119. 119. Just remember: a startup is one way to accomplish your dream.
  120. 120. 1. Do a side project. 2. Go into politics. 3. Do volunteer activities. 4. Build a community. 5. Join someone else’s company. 6. Invest in someone else’s company. 7. Start a non-profit. 8. Start a lifestyle business. 9. Start a startup. 10. Do academic research. 11. Publish articles, papers, and books. 12. Give talks. 13. Create an open source project. 14. Become an advisor or mentor. 15. Become a teacher.
  121. 121. 1. Do a side project. 2. Go into politics. 3. Do volunteer activities. 4. Build a community. 5. Join someone else’s company. 6. Invest in someone else’s company. 7. Start a non-profit. 8. Start a lifestyle business. 9. Start a startup. 10. Do academic research. 11. Publish articles, papers, and books. 12. Give talks. 13. Create an open source project. 14. Become an advisor or mentor. 15. Become a teacher. A startup is merely one means to an end.
  122. 122. 1. Startup myths 2. Startup truths 3. Startup careers 4. Getting started Outline
  123. 123. So how do you start? How do you build a good career?
  124. 124. “You need to be good at something before you can expect a good job.” – Cal Newport
  125. 125. “The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas […] The way to have good startup ideas is to become the sort of person who has them.” – Paul Graham
  126. 126. The way to have a great career is not to search for a great career but to make yourself great.
  127. 127. How to become great: 1. Study 2. Build 3. Share
  128. 128. How to become great: 1. Study 2. Build 3. Share
  129. 129. Read books
  130. 130. Read papers, articles, blogs
  131. 131. Take classes
  132. 132. Go to meetups, conferences, and talks (like this one!)
  133. 133. Aim to be a “T-Shaped Person”
  134. 134. How to become great: 1. Study 2. Build 3. Share
  135. 135. When I was a kid, I didn’t like reading.
  136. 136. When I was in college, I didn’t like reading.
  137. 137. When I was starting my career, I didn’t like reading.
  138. 138. You know what finally got me to love reading?
  139. 139. Becoming a person who needs reading.
  140. 140. What kind of person is that?
  141. 141. A maker.
  142. 142. As I tried to build software, teams, & products, I realized:
  143. 143. I have no idea what I’m doing.
  144. 144. It turns out that the knowledge I needed was in books.
  145. 145. The more I built, the more I had to learn, the more I read.
  146. 146. Go make things.
  147. 147. Work projects, side projects, learning projects, open source, hackathons, prototypes, inventions, art, music, teams, communities, …
  148. 148. How to become great: 1. Study 2. Build 3. Share
  149. 149. Share everything you’ve learned
  150. 150. Write
  151. 151. Speak
  152. 152. Open source
  153. 153. Why?
  154. 154. Quality: you do better work when others are looking.
  155. 155. Branding: you become an expert by sharing your expertise.
  156. 156. Mastery: the best way to learn is to teach.
  157. 157. That’s why I’m here today.
  158. 158. To share what I’ve learned with all of you.
  159. 159. To learn more, see Hello, Startup hello-startup.net
  160. 160. Questions?
  161. 161. Office buildings: Floriane Vita Man in suit: energiepic.com Ladder: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho Cubicles: Tim Patterson Office Space: 20th Century Fox The Social Network: Columbia Pictures Silicon Valley: HBO The 4-hour Work Week: Tim Ferriss Ping pong: SageChimera Biz Stone: Joi Ito Coding: Hitesh Choudhary Steve Jobs: Matthew Yohe Mark Zuckerberg: Brian Solis Reid Hoffman: Joi Ito Idea maze: Chris Dixon Robert Heinlein: Wikimedia Primitive Wheel: John O’Neill Camp Fire: Eric Dufresne Code: Ilya Pavlov Software frustration: Tim Gouw Coffee: David Mao Steve Blank: Eric Millette Paul Graham: Dave Thomas Dustin Moskovitz: Dustin Moskovitz Ambulance: Paul Sableman Stressed woman: Aledander Dummer Woman writing: Startup Stock Photos Man and whiteboard: Startup Stock Photos Classroom: Wokandapix Journals: Lum3n Meetup: Sebastiaan ter Burg T-Shaped Person: Valve Writing: Alvaro Serrano Teaching: Pop Tech Pair coding: Startup Stock Photos Expert: Graham Lavender References & image credits

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