YC started with this idea that you take a couple of college student hackers, give them like $20k and let them build something "ramen profitable." The basic idea was that tech had lowered the barriers to entry for business.
An awful lot of these big companies (Uber, Home Hero -- which is shutting down -- etc) seem to hire 1099 contractors instead of employees and they often don't pay all that well. The goal for YC seems to have become grow the next unicorn.
So, I find myself wondering (having already forwarded this stuff to various people): Is there anything of use in these lectures if you aren't looking to become a billionaire and have no desire to grow some gargantuan company that probably is making the founders rich on the backs of the 99 percent who are so often underpaid?
Is there any basic business wisdom here for people not looking for some J curve growth and then cashing out? (Serious question and I know it sounds like snark. I just don't know how to say this more diplomatically because this is not how YC started and I have trouble with the direction it seems to have taken.)
On the point of not growing big, though, there was one area where YC did something fundamentally new: they supported whatever the founders wanted to do. If the founders decided not to try to grow big or to take an early exit, YC was always supportive. But this wasn't because they regarded such outcomes as successful from an investment point of view (they're not). It was because they were decent people. And pg used to say that pushing founders to do something they didn't want to wouldn't work anyway.
It's a shame there's not a Startup School-like resource for creating a lifestyle business (YC-like in that it'd have a unified theory of lifestyle business creation, as YC has for startups, that'd been honed through assisting in the creation of hundreds of such businesses).
HN's expertise falls short when it comes to adjudicating unicorns as they don't usually look promising at the beginning. But, in case of a small product, I think community's feedback and advice can be invaluable.
I forward stuff from HN that I think is pertinent to the group I run called Business Bootstrappers:
So far, that is the vast majority of what has been posted there. As yet, conversation has not broken out and I don't post very much else there.
30x500 (Amy Hoy)
Founder Cafe (Rob Walling)
Dynamite Circle (community by Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen of Tropical MBA)
That's also what we're working on at http://nugget.one and I also think https://www.indiehackers.com is a great resource for inspiration.
Your question might be better rephrased to something like:
Is there value in Startup School for those aiming for modest growth or to create a lifestyle business?
modest growth business
<-- one or two more company sizes in here?
multi billion dollar company
You don't want to say the word "lifestyle business" in any sentence or the VC's will ignore everything else you asked and focus on that. When they hear that word it triggers some sort of "fight or flight" response in the primitive amygdala of the VC, leading them to run away. Pretend you've never even heard of the concept of "lifestyle business", it keeps them happy.
Product/market fit is important even in a lifestyle business. The issue you will have is making your business work at a minimum scale.
I can go on and on.
I think getting into debt is dumb, but statistics show that founders risk a lot more than employees. And many people do not want to be founders. Please don't call them slaves.
Additionally, early engineers and biz folks are usually brought on specifically because the founders don't know what the fuck they're doing in either technology or business.
There's this big myth that being a founder is some magical hardship and a massive fucking gamble, but the realities don't make that so--instead, it's used to justify fleecing employees out of market rates.
CB Insights also concurred with the principle in their May 8th email.
In regards to the Startup School lecture, one of the points Dustin Moskovitz makes in his talk is that you have a better shot at doing well financially if you join a startup at Series B+ than you do trying to start your own startup. You'll have less stress and if you join the next mega-successful company, you'll most likely make more money. There's also a huge amount of learning that takes place working at a rocket ship for a few years and the brand creditability is worth something too. The hard part is picking a startup that is actually the next Google, Facebook, Uber, etc and sticking around until it goes public to exercise your options (especially since companies are taking longer to go public and lock up early employees with golden handcuffs - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_handcuffs).
That being said, if your goal is to get rich, your best bet is probably to start an actual business, raise as little money as possible, and "sell early" - e.g. acquired for < $30M. If you look at most acquisitions, most of them are under the $30M mark (https://www.cbinsights.com/blog/tech-companies-exit-early-st...).
The reality with taking venture capital is even if you take a "small" amount of from seed investors of lets say $2M in exchange for a 20% stake, you're looking at a $50M exit to make back 5x the VC's money (simplifying the math and not accounting for additional liquidation preferences), which in a VCs perspective isn't that great. They're more so looking for a 10x return, so $100M is the minimum for a seed investment.
Probably the ideal scenario for the founder trying to become wealthy is to just be as lean a possible, keep as much equity as possible and ultimately sell to become financially secure. Once you have enough money to keep you set for your life, then maybe it makes more sense to swing for the fences.
In a statistics sense I'd be curious what the expected (average) return on being a founder is
So yes I believe it will be valuable. Ignore the parts that you disagree with.
The reality is that an awful lot of companies today seem to be all about the benjamins in a way that isn't healthy for anyone. There is no nice way to say that and say "I would like to not pursue such a business model."
I am a little burned out on the message I consistently get from people online that I am not allowed to solve my very serious financial problems because I am too poor to afford manners. Meanwhile, everyone seems okay with rich people not caring one whit about my suffering. Me misphrasing something is apparently an offense punishable by potential starvation.
So, yeah, I'm kind of bitter about how rich people treat poor people these days. It is generally pretty monstrous.
The video I enjoyed most is "How to Find Product Market Fit" by Peter Reinhardt.
I'm not aware they actually cost anything.
This problem started before I was homeless when I was being dog piled on HN for being a woman opening my mouth here. There seems to be NO good path forward for me. Trying to figure out how to solve my problems at all appears to be frowned upon. My very existence appears to be frowned upon.