Lena Gaede

Learnings from Y Combinator’s Startup School

Last weekend, industry leaders and hopeful startups gathered in Silicon Valley for the annual Y Combinator Startup School. Founders like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Ben Silbermann of Pinterest, as well as investors like Ron Conway shared their insights into successful startups:

1) No one ever ends up where they start out. Silbermann left his job to do a startup almost 18 months before he arrived at the concept for Pinterest, and then it was a surprise. He always thought he’d need a technical co-founder, and he didn’t. The concept turned out to be visual and not technology based at all.

2) The straight-up hockey stick of users is a rare occurrence. Having read about Facebook, Silbermann said he was depressed when at the end of its startup phase Pinterest only had 3000 users. It couldn’t spread by any kind of online or offline marketing; it had to spread virally, and in his case that was slow. Users introduced it to other users, but at their own pace. When Pinterest “burst” on the startup scene, it was already three or four years old.

To see more takeaways from the event, check out the Fast Company article.

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