Y-Combinator seed fund Co-Founder Pol Graham, a well-respected programmer, entrepreneur and investor, recently penned a piece offering advice to prospective startups for Startit, a website run by Serbian technology development nonprofit SEE ICT.
Graham compares launching a startup to learning how to ski — it can be counterintuitive and you have to learn to act contrary to your
instincts. In skiing, you cannot give into your instincts and lean backwards to
slowdown. In startups, you cannot give into instinct and ignore advice from
experienced partners because it contradicts your intuition.
Y-Combinator’s role for businesses that receive funding is to provide
advice that will be ignored, then later vindicated when the founders realize a year
down the line that they should have heeded it, Graham said jokingly. He argued that is partly why the company exists. If startup founders
did not need this counterintuitive advice, they would not need Y-Combinator in
the same way you don’t need an instructor to run but do need one to ski.
Graham’s counterintuitive advice breaks down to a few key
points: hire people who you know and trust rather than people who seem
impressive; don’t focus on knowing how to run a startup, focus on knowing your
customers and their needs; and don’t try to play games to attract investors,
grow your company based on offering a needed product and the investors will
Y-Combinator’s co-founder offers advice to startups