I attended Y Combinator’s startup school this past weekend. It was a fun event, that provided some inspiring words for those who want to found a company. I would definitely recommend attending at least once for those who have not been.

Many of the talks resonated with things I had already heard at other events; but it was refreshing to hear them in person from people who were quite accomplished. I liked Jessica Livingston and Ben Horowitz’s talks the best. Travis Kalanick (Uber) was also a very energizing and entertaining talk as well, I just didn’t take any notes on that one. It was also pretty inspiring to hear from Patrick Collison, who was I think the youngest person on stage.

I pasted the notes which I thought were most impactful to me below.

Jessica Livingston
Partner, Y Combinator

  • you need determination – you will get rejected
  • you will have problems
  • co-founder relationships are important – know yours well
  • key for managing investors – create a competitive situation
    • they are herd mentality – want to invest if others invest
  • 3 important things YC tells people to do
    • talking to users
    • writing code
    • exercising
  • avoid distractions (hobnobbing, startup events, etc.)
  • don’t talk to corp dev people – they will only want to acqui-hire
  • make something people want – talk to users and adjust
  • no extremes (happiness, depression) last that long


Ben Horowitz
Partner, Andreessen Horowitz; Founder, Opsware

  • build something you believe in
  • don’t give up
  • don’t get more isolated when you do a startup – stay engaged and meet people
  • build a way of doing something that is 10x better than the next way of doing it
  • its harder than it looks
  • take the top spot – #2 gets nothing
  • what we look for
    • a break through idea – usually looks like a stupid idea (only 1 parter understands it and the others don’t, and the founder is very smart)
    • a founder with the skill and courage to build the great idea into great company
  • courage is built over time – not born
  • Have these three things
    • 1) can you articulate your vision and convince
    • 2) do people to want to work for you
    • 3) are you able to get people on board


Patrick Collison
Founder, Stripe

  • Buenos aires – really good for getting things done
  • fix any errors that come up
  • find some intuitive thing that should be easy that is not and do that for your startup
  • friends with your cofounder – you should want to go with them for drinks
  • be the one at startup school 2 years from now, like he was


Ben Silbermann
Founder, Pinterest

  • building things takes a long time (1.5 years before it was released for him)
  • committing matters, doing a startup on the stuff is tough
  • investors are people. you want to convince investors that could be the one thing they regret not doing
  • be great at one thing – do that well
  • find your core set of users who really enjoy your product


David Rusenko
Founder, Weebly

  • create happy users – get them happy and then figure out what problem you are solving
  • It takes time on a startup
    • took 18 months – weebly to get traction
    • 36 months to “make it” out of money issues
  • you can’t succeed if you quit
  • think about the future and what will need to exist as basis for an idea


Tom Preston-Werner
Founder, GitHub

  • money is not the thing – its just a number
  • people are the only thing that matters
  • complementary skills – look for that in a co founder
  • if people are asking – can i pay for this product before you even think about selling it – that is a good sign
  • meet ups are a good way to meet people
  • learn how to code