Sam Altman’s CS183B – Lecture 3 – PG

Lecture 3 had  Paul Graham speaking on the Counterintuitive Parts of Startups, and How to Have Ideas. PG is an advisory icon and the founder and former president of YCombinator, and the primary driving force for this list of amazingly good startup’s. He is also known for his essays on startups.

PG spoke about how startup’s are counter intuitive.

1.)  Startups are counterintuitive! They are like skiing. The first counterintuitive point is that , You cant trust  your intuition about startups,but you can trust your intuition about people.

2.) The second counterintuitive point is that what you need to succeed in a startup is not expertise in startups, what you need is expertise in your own users. Most startups founders now go through the motion of building a startup, because it feels cool, hire people, rent an office in SoMa etc., But forget to do the one important thing, build something users want.

3.) The third counterintuitive thing to remember about startups: starting a startup is where gaming the system stops working. IN a large company, you can get away by sucking up to people, sending emails late nights and on weekends to create an illusion of hard work, but you cant do that in startups, because there is no boss/management to fool, and you are fooling yourself. To some extent with the right phrases you can fool some investors but its not in your interest to do so!

4.) The fourth counterintuitive point is that startups are all consuming but this doesn’t end once you grow as a company. They take over your life. As the companies get bigger, the problems don’t go away, they just change scale. Larry page, a billionaire, still has a lot of problems to tackle daily.  IT NEVER GETS EASIER. It maybe a different set of problems but still the total volume of worry never decreases. Mark Z cant bum around a foreign country

5.) The fifth counterintuitive point is that the age/point in your life at which you should start a startup will eventually come to you. Starting startups is hard, but the answer to the question when should I do it, you can tell!

Reading how to get ideas is here: An exercise left to the reader.

PG’s essay on the topic.


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