Startup School

Spent the entire morning and afternoon at Y Combinator's annual speaker event 'Startup School'. This was the line up of speakers for the day. I stayed until the 4pm break. 

My Take On Talks

I appreciate speakers who give a detailed account of their story in its purest form. When a story is over processed into "lessons" learned there is a high probability I will be thrown off. There are a few reasons. First, it is likely they extrapolated the wrong lessons. When you take the results of a personal (single data point) example and generalize, people often neglect that each situation is unique to themselves. Second, when watered down and abstracted, most lessons sound the same. You need to focus on the product, listen to your users, identify the mission, etc. It is not the abstract lesson, but the raw data point that is interesting. In sum, I wish speakers just try and tell their story honestly and trust their audience to do the processing. In that regard, Indegogo's story was over processed; Pebble's was much better. People might disagree.

Favorite Speaker

I usually prefer talks rather than interviews because the speaker has the opportunity to build a coherent narrative, but despite that, my favorite speaker of the day was Jan Koum, founder of WhatsApp. His attitude of no bullshit focus on the product is liberating and inspiring in its own way. A highly recommended watch.

Below is a picture I took of the Jan Koum interview. The Sequoia guy on the left is sadly irrelevant.