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YC Startup School 总结

前段时间在 BYM brofeng 的微博中了解到 YC 的这门 startup 课程。完成至今已经有几个月的时间,在这里整理一下这门课的内容。

这门课程包含6周的内容:

  • Week1 - Should I start a startup?
  • Week2 - Generating startup ideas
  • Week3 - Vetting a strartup idea
  • Week4 - Finding a co-founder
  • Week5 - Planning an MVP
  • Week6 - Futrure plans

以上是这门课对于 Aspiring Founder Track 这个选项的课纲脉络。Aspiring Founder Track 的意思是并没有明确要开始创业,而是有一些想法或者说疑虑。对于已经决定创业的人可以选择 Active Founder Tack。由于我并没有明确的创业想法,所以选择了Aspiring Founder Track。但其实创建一个公司和设计一个产品具有高度的相通性,其中涉及到的问题和能力也具有迁移性,因此对于工作中的人也会有很大帮助和启发。

Week1 - Should I start a startup?

第一周的内容除了包含一些课程和YC的基本信息,还介绍了 Paul Graham 提出的对于创业的16个障碍。它们分别是:

1. Too young
2. Too inexperienced
3. Not determined enough
4. Not smart enough
5. Know nothing about business
6. No cofounder
7. No idea
8. No room for more startups
9. Family to support
10. Independently wealthy
11. Not ready for commitment
12. Need for structure
13. Fear of uncertainty
14. Don't realize what you're avoiding
15. Parents want you to be a doctor
16. A job is the default

针对每一点Paul都提及了相应的解决方法。结合自身实际情况,阻碍我们创业的因素是什么呢?针对这些问题我们应该具体如何解决呢?是这周留给学习者的问题。

可以说第一周的内容主要是在帮助学习者理清创业的概念,打消创业的顾虑。毕竟当我们彻底决定做一件事情之后会更加心无旁骛,目标坚定。

Week2 - Generating startup ideas

第二周的内容主要围绕着创业的主题和创意。内容包含一个视频,和Paul Graham的一篇文章

视频的主讲人是YC的合伙人Jared。他提到了关于创业的几点误解:

  1. Believe that you need an amazing idea to get started
  2. Jump into the first idea that comes to mind, without really stopping to think critically about whether it's a good idea at all
  3. Start with a solution instead of a problem
  4. Believe that startup ideas are hard to find

还有7个产生创业想法的方案(recipes):

  1. The best one — It is the one that is most likely to lead to good ideas, and least likely to lead to false positives.
  2. Think of things you wish someone else would build for you.
  3. What would you be excited to work on for 10 years, even if it didn't succeed?
  4. Look for things that have changed in the world recently, and think of ideas that are now possible because of this change.
  5. Find companies that have been successful recently, and look for new variants of them.
  6. Crowdsource coming up with an idea by talking to people you know, and asking them for problems they want solved.
  7. Look for industries that seem broken. Any industry that seems broken is probably ripe for disruption.

一个创意并不需要惊世骇俗,正如Google Facebook成立之初并没有构想到如今的宏图。伟大的事业往往并不是一蹴而就而是需要在不断调整、设立新的目标并且攻克一个有一个难题中逐渐成长。

Week3 - Vetting a strartup idea

关于向投资人推销自己的创业想法,本周提供了Kevin Hale的一段培训视频。我整理如下:

  • What do I put in the what's my company going to make? How do I describe my company in a very efficient manner?
    • Clear - Foundation for growth
      • Understand
      • Legible
      • Simple
      • Obvious
    • Avoid:
      • Ambiguity
      • Complexity
      • Mystery
      • Ignorable
    • Should:
      • Conversational
      • No Jargon
      • No Preamble
      • Reproducible
  • Always: CLEAR & CONCISE!

还有一段Eric Migicovsky的关于如何对话用户的视频,整理如下:

  • Five Questions:
    • What is the hardest part about doing the thing that you're trying to solve?
    • Tell me about the last time that you encountered this problem.
    • Why was this hard?
    • What, if anything, have you done to try to solve this problem?
    • What don't you love about the solutions that you've already tried?
  • Stages
    • 1 - Idea Stage
      • Find first users with problem
        • Friends, coworkers, intros
        • Drop by in person
        • Industry events
      • Tips
        • Take notes
        • Keep it casual
        • Careful with their time
    • 2 - Build prototype
      • Identify Best first customers
      • Find answers:
        • How much does this problem cost them?
        • How frequent is the problem?
        • How large is the budget?
        • Summary
    • 3- Launch
      • Iterate towards Product Market Fit
      • Tips:
        • Ask for phone # during sign up
        • Don't design by committee
        • Discard bad data

第三周课程留给学习者的问题是:

选择一个创业想法,谁会是这个想法的理想客户?利用个人关系(朋友、前同事等)或网络,为这个想法找到五个潜在的早期客户。对于每个潜在客户,起草一封个性化邮件,以获得高质量的反馈。

Week4 - Finding a co-founder

第四周的内容介绍了与合伙人相关的话题。包括了 Harj Taggar 介绍的如何找到对的合伙人

  • Three reasons why we need a co-founder
    • Productivity
    • Moral support
    • Pattern matching to success
  • Look for:
    • People you know well with good characters
    • Understand the goals and values
  • Skills:
    • learn
    • don't go into too many details
  • Where?
    • Friends
    • Colleges
    • People on the same project
  • Similar interest
  • 50-50 financial commitment
  • Consider: Who is CEO?

还有一则视频介绍了与合伙人之间的股权分配问题,总结起来的原则就是尊重合伙人、平均分配:

Equity should be split equally because all the work is ahead of you.

Kevin 也介绍了如何在一起共事的一些建议,我没有整理笔记,因为这种方法论比较多,而且各国的国情和文化也都不尽相同。可以根据实际情况选择适合的使用。

那么我们脑海中能想到的潜在的合伙人都有谁呢?不管有多不切实际,考虑应对压力的能力,目标一致,愿意学习和做苦力的工作的原则,列出一个合伙人优先级清单。如果能主动联系就更棒了,即使无法成为合伙人,也可以帮助我们梳理、拓展身边的优秀社交关系。

Week5 - Planning an MVP

MVP 即 Minimum Viable Product —最简化可实行产品。

我们应该如何发布产品?

  • Things that can launch
    • Silent launch
      • Subscribe here when we launch
      • Short description
    • Stranger launch
    • Online community
      • Startup School
      • Product Hunt
      • Hacker News
      • reddit
      • Elpha
      • Facebook
      • Alumni
    • Request access launch
    • Social media/blogger
    • Pre-order
    • New feature/product launch
    • Press
  • Why continuously launch?
    • A/B test your short pitch
    • See how users respond to your product
    • Launching to different audiences
      • Are you talking to the right users?
  • Tips
    • Why
    • How
    • What
    • No Jargon!
    • Email List of people!

如何设计MVP?

  1. Step one, launch quickly.
  2. Get some initial customers.
  3. Talk to your users, any of them, and get feedback.
  4. Last and most important, iterate.

熟悉系统理论的朋友一定很熟悉这种方法论。那就是把整个产品看做一个系统,输入是产品的设计,输出是产品的发布,反馈是用户的建议。目的是不断迭代、更新系统参数,以实现输出结果的最优化。

进一步的阅读资料可以参考这个链接

如何安排时间优先级?

视频中我印象最深的两点:

  • Time is scarce.
  • Always be working on things that directly impact your primary KPI. Do the things that have the highest impact to meeting your weekly goal and that usually always means what? Talking to users and building product.

对于这周的内容,利用现有的技能和资源,我们可以如何构建这个想法的最简单版本开始测试?描述它将包含的功能,考虑构建它的平台。

Week6 - Futrure plans

时间一晃就要结束啦。在最后这周时间主要有以下内容:

Do things that don't scale

Paul Graham的文章。

  • 主动寻找用户
  • 挖掘用户
  • 取悦用户
  • 利用用户反馈 insanely 提高用户体验
  • 在小规模市场测试试验,集中火力,不要急于扩散
  • 从小作坊开始做起(主要针对硬件公司)
  • 免费提供咨询服务
  • 可以先手动解决用户问题,再自动化
  • 避免一口吃成胖子的想法,积少成多
  • 向量化思考

Startup = Growth

Paul Graham的文章

Advices from YC

Link: https://www.ycombinator.com/library/4D-yc-s-essential-startup-advice

  • Launch now
  • Build something people want
  • Do things that don't scale
  • Find the 90 / 10 solution
  • Find 10-100 customers who love your product
  • All startups are badly broken at some point
  • Write code - talk to users
  • "It’s not your money"
  • Growth is the result of a great product not the precursor
  • Don’t scale your team/product until you have built something people want
  • Valuation is not equal to success or even probability of success
  • Avoid long negotiated deals with big customers if you can
  • Avoid big company corporate development queries - they will only waste time
  • Avoid conferences unless they are the best way to get customers
  • Pre-product market fit - do things that don’t scale: remain small/nimble
  • Startups can only solve one problem well at any given time
  • Founder relationships matter more than you think
  • Sometimes you need to fire your customers (they might be killing you)
  • Ignore your competitors, you will more likely die of suicide than murder
  • Most companies don't die because they run out of money
  • Be nice! Or at least don’t be a jerk
  • Get sleep and exercise - take care of yourself

Futher Reading

1. A Fundraising Survival Guide by Paul Graham2. How to Raise Money by Paul Graham3. Taking Advice by Aaron Harris

写在最后

以上就是6周学习的主要内容。无论创业还是做产品,用户总是最重要的一部分。解决痛点,总结用户的反馈,提高用户的体验,可以从 high level 层面得到一个好的产品。如何实现细节,进行 low level 设计,如何构建 infrastructures,则需要技术上的创造力与执行力。在拥有这些模块之后通过人与人的关系,合作或者管理,把各个模块和功能连接,打造产品的良好生态。

Naval Ravikant 说过,build 和 sell 这两种技能总要拥有一种,如果二者兼备那么我们将势不可挡。一个产品并不是一直在创造这个阶段。作为一名工程师,巨大的偏见之一就是只是想着如何把一个产品做好,如何去「build」,而忽视了同样重要的「sell」能力。

所以学习跳出一名工程师的思维,从市场的角度去考虑一个产品或者一家公司,会是一件长远收益的事情。也许我们不会走上创业者这条道路,但是「创业精神」却是值得我们学习的。创业者们浪漫、勇敢、闪耀着艺术家的光芒,他们或技术过硬、或叙事能力一流,他们追求完美、精益求精,他们果断、大胆,在高压下也能保持冷静的判断。

选择了创业的人生并不保证是成功的,却一定不会是无聊的。我们不必成为一名创业者,就可以开始一种创业者的生活——那就是不断输入和输出、创造和迭代、build and sell。找到那个最令自己心跳加速的方向,在成为更好自己的路上享受更多的乐趣。

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