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How to Start a Startup Week 8: Top Three Takeaways

Last week we published our Top Three Takeaways from Week 7 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 8 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. Start-up doesn’t mean process-less

Startups get a reputation for being carefree and working outside of the typical corporate box, but just because you are running a startup doesn’t mean that you don’t need processes in place. There are certain aspects of the business that you should formalize.

Take for example when employees ask for a raise. If there isn’t a process in place whenever an employee feels entitled to a raise, they will ask. If you say yes every time someone asks you for a raise more and more people are going to ask for a raise – and there begins the slippery slope. Formalize it. Like other parts of the business, employee should know when and how to ask for a raise. Sometimes, formal is good.

2. Don’t show users the product.

When you are trying to get into your users' heads and understand what they want, maybe even before they know, don’t show them the product. Yep, I said it. Don’t show them the product …at least not at first. If you ask users “is this feature good or bad” by default they will say “oh yeah, I like that”. You want to learn what is already in their heads, not put something there for them.

3. Interview the users, all of the users.

It’s easy to fall under the assumption that you have one set of users and you are building to meet the needs of only that set of users. It’s easy to forget that your users could be anyone who might be participating alongside those users. For example, if you were building an app for taking notes while attending lectures or classes, your first reaction would be to talk with students and only students. What about the parents that financially support those students and the IT staff that recommends and supports programs the students use? Think of your users from every angle.

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

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Sydney Hill

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