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Y Combinator has distilled its experiences and insights about how to start a startup into a series of lectures for Stanford University.  Most of the lectures are delivered by people with an impressive track record of hypergrowth in their companies and huge exits under their belt.

I’ve taken notes of the bits that resonated with me, and am sharing these in case they’re useful.  You can find a link to the lecture at the end of this post.

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The previous lecture focussed on Idea and Product.  The second lecture is about having the right team and the importance of execution.

Co-founders

  • A startup should ideally have 2 or 3 cofounders – not more and not less.
  • Choose a co-founder as carefully as you would choose an employee.  In YC, the number 1 cause of early death in startups is co-founder conflict. Make sure that the person you choose is relentless resourceful, tough and calm.  That’s more important than them being an expert in a given domain.
  • Decide on an equity split quite early on – don’t let it drag on.  Also, have vesting on equity.

Employees:

  • Avoid hiring in the early days.  Keep the team as small as possible, even if that means it’s just the co-founders. However, later on, when you’re scaling up, you should learn to hire very quickly.
  • Getting an early hire wrong can be very damaging to a startup.  Mediocre hires during the early phase can kill startups.
  • For early hires, experience may not matter as much as aptitude and belief in what you are doing.  Good communication skills tend to correlate with hires that work out. 

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