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  • How to Start a Startup

    Posted on March 22nd, 2005 Alan No comments

    How to Start a Startup by Paul Graham

    Ideas for startups are worth something, certainly, but the trouble is, they’re not transferrable. They’re not something you could hand to someone else to execute. Their value is mainly as starting points: as questions for the people who had them to continue thinking about.

    What matters is not ideas, but the people who have them. Good people can fix bad ideas, but good ideas can’t save bad people.

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    When nerds are unbearable it’s usually because they’re trying too hard to seem smart. But the smarter they are, the less pressure they feel to act smart. So as a rule you can recognize genuinely smart people by their ability to say things like "I don’t know," "Maybe you’re right," and "I don’t understand x well enough."

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    We never even considered that approach. As a Lisp hacker, I come from the tradition of rapid prototyping. I would not claim (at least, not here) that this is the right way to write every program, but it’s certainly the right way to write software for a startup. In a startup, your initial plans are almost certain to be wrong in some way, and your first priority should be to figure out where. The only way to do that is to try implementing them.

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    The only way to make something customers want is to get a prototype in front of them and refine it based on    their reactions… In a startup, your initial plans are almost certain to be wrong in some way, and your first priority should be to figure out where.    The only way to do that is to try implementing them.

    Other Essays by Paul Graham

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