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How to Start a Startup Week 3: Top Three Takeaways

Last week we published our Top Three Takeaways from Week 2 of Stanford’s How to Start a Startup course. If you are sitting hear wondering, “what the heck is How to Start a Startup?” see below. Otherwise, scroll down to see our top three takeaways from week 3 of How to Start a Startup. Learn lots and enjoy!

Over the next several weeks, Y Combinator President, Sam Altman, is teaching a Stanford course lecture series designed to be a one-class business course for people who want to start startups. It is “everything [they] know about how to start a startup, for free, from some of the world experts.”

The caliber of founders and startup gurus lined up to talk is impressive. Several of our Maestronauts decided they wanted to follow along and learn from the successes and challenges that are shared. So over the next several weeks we are meeting before work to watch and discuss the lectures.

1. Aim to be a Monopoly.

If you are founding a startup, aim for monopoly and avoid competition. You have the best chance of being “the player” in the market if you start small and monopolize. As Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal said, “It is easier to dominate a smaller market than a bigger market.” And “if you think your initial market might be too big, it almost certainly is.”

2. Determine what defines success as a company.

You need to determine what defines success as a company. It will be different for everyone. Facebook doesn’t want to be measured by how many registered users they have – what does that tell you about retention? – Facebook wants to know about “active users”. How many people are signing on and participating every month?

Similarly, WhatsApps doesn’t want to know about how many downloads they have, they want to know about “send numbers” and Airbnb wants to know about “nights booked”. Determine what defines success as a company and use that to track your retention and growth.

3. Get customers to the ‘magic moment’ as quickly as possible.

Do you remember that first time you got a like on your Facebook status? Or the first time someone retweeted your tweet? Those are magic moments. It’s the moment when the user feels the love and joy of the product they are using. It’s even a little bit addicting. Like the moment you find the Mickey Mouse PEZ dispenser you have been tracking down for decades on eBay.

Figure out what your magic moments are and get your customers there as quickly as possible. Magic moments bring magical results.

Want to watch the lectures yourself? Follow along on Sam Altman’s page or subscribe to the YouTube channel!

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