Sam Altman’s CS183B – Lecture 1

Signed up for Sam Altman’s CS183B. Quite excited to watch and learn a little bit about how to build startups. Sam Altman is a proven technology leader(sold Loopt(First YC batch)) and voted one of the best founders ever by Paul Graham(PG), and hence is his successor at YCombinator as the President.

The first class was just an introduction. I think the biggest insights from the first part of  Sam Altman’s talk were

1.) 4 components that make a great startup – Great idea, Awesome product, Strong founding team, and cut throat execution

2.) Ideas are important(contrary to recent popular belief that ideas don’t matter)! Of course not the most important, but certainly ideas form a very important piece of the startup value prop.

3.) Make amazing products. Products are easy to build if you have a strong founding team and the right toolset. Its better to have a small group of users who absolutely love the product rather than having a large group of users who just like it.

4.) Dont follow the policy – “We will build and they will come”, rather follow “I will build what they want by asking them over and over again”

5.) The holy grail of growth metrics :

Total registrations
Active users
Activity Levels
Cohort Retention
Net Promoter Score

Slide deck: Sam Altman Slide deck

Dustin Moskovitz, Co Founder at Facebook and Asana, also talked about the pitfalls of thinking about startups as being cool, rad and the most fun thing to do and the only reason for you to start something is that you can Not start it , your own passion of solving a problem you are facing and helping others to solve the same problem and the acknowledgement of the world of the existence of the problem and the need to solve it.

Slide deck: Dustin Moskovitz Slide deck


Here is a link to the questionnaire , if you want to ask Sama or PG or Adora Cheung any specific questions:


Btw – These are a few books, in my opinion, you need to read before even thinking of starting something

1.) Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel

2.) The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses – Eric Ries

3.)Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change) – Clayton Christensen

4.)The Four Steps to the Epiphany – Steve Blank

5.) Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas From the Computer Age – Paul Graham

Of course this is just 5 out of the many that are out there, so please comment on what books you would rate higher than the ones above for any budding entrepreneur to read.


PS: I’ll be summarizing all classes into possibly flashcards like posts with 5 points each, like above


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