This article sums up the interview video of Jessica Livingston from the How to Build the Future series of Y Combinator.

You may use this notebook post to quickly extract value from the following video without watching it entirely.

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  • The most successful founders are focusing on 2 things: building their product and talking to their users.
  • Founders can easily be distracted with non-important things in the early stage.
    • By talking to big companies to form partnerships, attempt to get better distribution
    • Do a lot of PR before the product is laid down
    • Talking to corp. devs
    • Take meetings with investors when you’re not in fundraising mode
    • Going to conferences, networking events
  • Measure if people are paying for the product.
  • The most successful startups were super-focused during YC.
  • No founder can predict how big they’ll be later on (e.g.: airbnb founders didn’t predict that).
  • Great startups start with “Let’s build that product that people will love, and see where it goes”. However, the most successful ones have a grand vision (e.g.: airbnb wanted to become the “eBay of space”).
  • Jessica is in the mind of “let’s get started with something”. The idea will always evolve later on.
  • YC was afraid of what investors were doing in 2008. So they focused on accepting only startups that may come quick to profitability. Hence their belief in airbnb.
  • airbnb founders were hosts themselves as they couldn’t pay their rent. Great founders dog-food.
  • No investor believed in the airbnb idea. YC made a bet on airbnb founders, not on the idea. An investor even walked out of the room while airbnb founders were pitching, without saying a goodbye.
  • It’s important to be flexible-minded/open-minded to be a founder.
  • It’s critical to be a good speaker since your whole world is about convincing people (investors, clients, etc).
  • There’s a lot of unglamorous work founders have to do at the beginning. Be ready for that.
  • You cannot be a great founder if you’re driven by money. You have to be driven by what you’re striving for.
  • If you are not ready to start a company now, go work for an early stage startup. There’s so much to learn there that can be useful on a later basis.