My top 5 startup teachers
Make something people want
Phil is not a natural, but finds ways to entertain himself, read my school report. My teachers had a tough time trying to get me to focus. Roll the clock forward and my current mentors hold my attention with ease. This post introduces my top 5 teachers and how they shaped my understanding of startups; a key topic of this A Bit Gamey blog.
Naval is a highly successful entrepreneur, best known for setting up AngelList (startup support). A modern day philosopher, he freely shares ideas on achieving personal success and happiness.
He posted a thread on Twitter entitled How to Get Rich (without getting lucky). The Tweet is packed with insightful, actionable advice. How to Join The New Rich examines the 37 points in the Tweet thread. Also, the free eBook The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson provides a detailed interpretation.
Naval Ravikant taught me that if we can build and sell then we are unstoppable.
Paul is a computing engineer, writer and tech startup mastermind. He co-founded YCombinator (startup incubator), investing in Airbnb, Reddit and Dropbox.
Paul Graham Startup Essays include:
Do things that don’t scale. Airbnb's founders went door to door recruiting new users and helping existing ones improve their listings.
Write simply. Use ordinary words and simple sentences to reduce reader friction.
A project of one’s own. The sense of engagement and satisfaction is unique.
Paul Graham taught me how important it is to make something people want.
Alex is a business author, speaker and entrepreneur, known for his work on business model development. He created the Business Model Canvas, a framework which guides the development of business plans.
Alex co-authored various books, including:
Business Model Generation. Develop a business plan covering: 1. Desirability (Customers want our product), 2. Feasibility (We can build and deliver our product) and 3. Viability (Our business is financially sustainable). I expand on this in Crafting our Business Plan.
Value Proposition Design. Create compelling products and services customers want to buy.
Alex Osterwalder taught me how to develop a business plan and test its key assumptions.
Pieter is a digital nomad. He is a self-taught app developer and founder of seven on-line businesses. He created Nomad List (for location flexible workers) as part of his goal to launch 12 startups in 12 months.
Pieter’s business development approach is described in Our Startup In 7 Steps:
Idea: Find a real unmet need for a niche market.
Build: Use existing skills to build a solution; Google as necessary.
Launch: Version one should do something useful, but is not complete.
Grow: Attract users and grow organically without advertising. Stay lean.
Monetise: Users will pay if you are open, honest and offer good value.
Automate: After product/market fit automate operations.
Exit: Let potential buyers approach you.
Pieter talks this through in Turning Side Projects into Profitable Startups.
Pieter Levels convinced me that people with basic computing skills can develop great online businesses.
Sam is the CEO of OpenAI, developing AI for general use. OpenAI released:
Whisper: Approaches human level robustness and accuracy on English speech recognition.
DALL-E: Creates realistic images and art from a natural language description.
Sam’s Startup Playbook covers: finding an idea, establishing a team, building the product and business execution.
Sam Altman sparked my interest in AI.
How to Market Your Startup Brand interview with Seth Godin
Entrepreneurs Will Create the Future talk by Reid Hofmann
Most Popular Tweets Broken Down by Sahil Lavingia
Like my school teachers, I owe a great deal to my current mentors: Naval Ravikant, Paul Graham, Alex Osterwalder, Pieter Levels and Sam Altman. Until next Sunday, as Naval suggests, arm yourself with specific knowledge, accountability and leverage.