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A Summary of

What Startups Are Really Like

Paul Graham
Paul Graham
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Over 100 startup founders listed the surprises they encountered.

Takeaways from the responses: - Pay more attention to your co-founders' characters — don’t pick teammates who will flake. - Startups take over your life. Unlike school or a job, it never stops. - It’s an emotional rollercoaster. The ups and downs are more extreme than most prepare for. But it can be fun if you’re the right type of person. - Persistence is key — it can be a really long journey. - You end up doing lots of different things, and only some of them will work. - Start with something minimal and launch it. - It’s really hard to get users. Engage with them and learn. Be willing to change your idea.  - Companies that look like threats often aren’t. Ultimately, it’s more about the execution than the idea. - Expect the worst with deals. Assume you won’t get the money and if you do, assume you’ll never get any more. - Investors often don’t really understand what they’re investing in. You may have to play psychological games to appeal to VCs. - There’s a lot that’s out of your control.  - Community is valuable. People will help you and you don’t have to be cutthroat to win. - You get no respect. The outside world instinctively thinks you’re wasting your time. - Things change as you grow. If you’re a programmer, you’ll start to code less and deal with people more. Once you reach cruising altitude it can get a lot less stressful.

The Super-Pattern

Most “surprises” are only surprising in comparison to a job. Remember that creating your own company is completely different from working at someone else’s.

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