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2010 Startup School: October 16 at Stanford (startupschool.org)
128 points by pg on Aug 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments

Can anyone who has attended a past Startup School share their experience? What's the general atmosphere of the event? Is it similar to other conferences you've attended? Does it offer value on its own merits, or is it simply a day-long sales pitch for YC?

I attended last year's startup school. It is absolutely not an advertisement for YC. It's basically a bunch of people who are deeply involved in the startup world offering their advice on how to start up.

If you are contemplating a startup or you're already doing a startup I would say it's worth attending. Outside of the interesting talks (which will most likely find their way online anyways), it's a great opportunity to talk to other like-minded people and hear about what sort of stuff they're working on.

I was there two years ago, and it was easily the best conference I've attended. Can't recommend it enough.

What's the general atmosphere of the event? It's intense (lots of content), and no-nonsense. Every speaker had something valuable to say, and they didn't talk down to the audience at all.

I found the day motivating, especially DHH's talk and just chatting with my peers. With the exception of one person, everyone I met was a hacker and was working on something.

Is it similar to other conferences you've attended? Not really, one big difference: the overall quality of the attendees. I'm a shy person, but there were so many people talking about writing code (vs. big idea people) that I felt like I fit right in.

Is it simply a day-long sales pitch for YC? The only real pitch-man the year I attended was Jeff Bezos, his talk was a pitch for AWS. However, he was so impressive during the Q&A that I can forgive him.

It's what you'd expect from Y Combinator... Top Notch speakers, being candid and telling stories as if you're personally having a conversation with them. Speakers stayed after and were approchable.

It is well worth a few hundred bucks to attend... and ridiculous in that it is free.

So yeah, apply. It's worth it.

The talks are interesting, with some fun (sometimes conflicting) variation between approaches, advice, and strategies. The people, as usual, really make it worthwhile. I met a lot of really interesting people last year and had a lot of wonderful conversations.

Startup School is my favorite tech conference-alike-thingy (not really sure I'd call it a conference), by far. I'd be going this year if it wasn't in the middle of my trip to Nepal.

I flew there all the way from Chile last year, only for startup school, and it was completely worth it! It was a very simple, yet awesome event, and I met some great people. I fully recommend it, in fact I have just applied for this year's startup school :P

A question in the similar category: how many people were invited to past Startup School? Less than one hundred? In the hundreds?

Googling reveals 750 attendees: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:eU-e6C9...

No idea how many applied, of course. Given the HN audience, it could have been thousands.

For anyone on the East Coast, we're having a similar event at MIT in September, open to anyone.


Any details on the speakers?

MIT thread - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1617168 Last year MIT thread - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=860701

West coast 4 life ;)

I assume he meant for Startup Bootcamp

Yeah, I misread. Apologies. I too am interested in the speakers for Startup Bootcamp

I'll post them next week. We've got a great lineup this year.

2010 Startup Bootcamp thread http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1617168

Can't scroll on iPhone.

That's a bit ironic, as the scrollbar is styled like the iphone's scrollbar - at least on Chrome.

Fixed-- thanks.

Awesome. Works great now.

Is this explicitly geared towards startups looking to raise funding and look for a big exit?

No. Many speakers last year bootstrapped their startups into profitabily. In fact, I would say that East Coast startups in general do not fit the built-to-flip model.

This event is a good time to hear about when it would make sense to raise money, and how you might go about doing it.

A few interesting new speakers this time: Andy Bechtolsheim (Sun), Ron Conway, Tom Preston-Warner (GitHub) and Brian Chesky (Airbnb).

Brian gave the student commencement address at RISD the year we graduated, it was a masterpiece, unrivaled in the annals of higher education. I have HIGH hopes for this talk.

I wasn't there, but I can imagine. Brian is a beast.

That list probably isn't complete yet either, those are just the current confirmed speakers.

If I remember correctly, last year the list wasn't final until right around the time that acceptances were sent out.

The list is definitely incomplete judging by the number of speakers at earlier Startup Schools.

Yes, I'm still working on a bunch of other speakers.

Will this be recorded for those of us who can't make it down to the bay area?

Last years talks were live streamed if I recall and are still accessible at: http://www.justin.tv/startupschool. I'd say its safe to assume that'd also be the case this year.

Yes, you can catch the talks on Justin.tv again this year.


I'd personally prefer having talks downloadable in a standard format (say, mpeg) rather than only via justin.tv, but they're still much better than nothing. (Or maybe they have a download feature I haven't been able to find?)

I just let them load in my browser and grab them out of my Flash cache

ls -ltr /var/folders/jH/jH90qqJaGnOB1gJOwGbGKE+++TI/TemporaryItems/

on my Mac

Not the most elegant solution, especially from an encoding / portability perspective.

BUT, happy they're stream-able period! I will sadly not be in the area, but look forward to seeing it online.

The lack of startup school this year is a big reason why I organized the founder conference. And then I bump into pg, and ask him how come there was no startup school this year. Of course there is one, he said. We just didn't announce it yet.

Now he did :-)

You could have just emailed me and asked.

Here was my thought process: I had attended AngelConf last year, and wanted to see if it was going to happen again. I checked that site, and it was still the old stuff, and the time was up. So I assumed AngelConf was a one-time thing.

Later on, I wondered about startup school and did the same thing: I checked the web site, and nothing new... So my brain recognized a pattern: you guys must be too busy this year to do those conferences. So I was convinced that startup school was not happening. Therefore I didn't even think of asking you. Until I met you and asked you why you were not doing it anymore, which proves how convinced I was that my brain was smart :-)

[apologies for the long and boring explanation, but now you know - next time, I suggest putting a small link saying it's coming again in 2010, and my brain won't make the wrong inferrence]

AngelConf was run in 2010 too. http://angelconf.com/

Will you be posting videos from the Founder Conference online?

Yes, once I figure out how to dub soundtracks...

Paul, is there any way we can get a confirmation email that our submission was added? A confirmation email would set me at ease after submitting something I care so much about.

If you got the confirmation page afterward, we got it.

I'm semi-technical — designer and front-end developer and building my own startup at the moment. However, since the conference is centered around programmers, I'm wondering whether I'll be accepted to go (application already submitted). Any other designers/front-end people go to last years?

Anything planned for the Midwest?

Sadly, no. There are definitely entrepreneurial/startup-minded people in the Midwest, but they are scattered and not organized, there's nothing approaching the concentration of talent and events that exists in the Bay Area.

That's one of the main reasons why I'm dropping everything and moving to San Francisco in about a week to work on my startup. As much as I like Chicago, the connections and resources just aren't there yet.

So, no then? I'm pretty sure he didn't ask his question because he was unaware of the existence of flight. Your link initially led me to believe that there is actually some other conference called Hipmunk in the Midwest, but instead it was a LetMeGoogleThatForYou.com-style flight search page.

For those of you actually interested in events in the Midwest, I can tell you that we're doing some interesting things in Cleveland that I can scrounge up more information about. Nothing conference-level that I'm aware of, but events with founders and incubators are becoming more and more frequent.

Edit: Cleveland Startup Weekend is in November and there's some sort of kickoff party in a few days. http://cleveland.startupweekend.org/

I think PG hears a lot about location ("We're the YC of Alaska!", "Do we have to move if we get into YC?") and is getting tired of it. If you want to start a startup, moving to a startup hotspot will help a lot. If you want to attend cool conferences, move somewhere that frequently has cool conferences, or be willing to get on a plane for a good event.

The Midwest won't have a successful Startup School clone (at least not with speakers of this caliber) because it's not dense enough with startup people. Maybe there are enough people to make the event worthwhile in all of the Midwest, but it's such a huge area that a lot of people would still be facing very long drives or flying.

When people say "I want an event like this in <my region>", they really mean "I want an event like this within a 2 hour drive of my house, preferably closer." They don't mean "I live in Ohio and would happily travel to Kansas for this event." If someone were to announce an event like this in, say, Minneapolis, a lot of people form Indiana and Ohio would realize that that's not what they had in mind when they asked for a Startup School clone in the Midwest.

And now PG's invested in a flight comparison startup, so just as people sometimes link to http://www.justfuckinggoogleit.com/, he can link to Hipmunk to say "just fucking fly here."

I didn't mean anything quite so rude. I meant it more as invitation. Lots of the people who come to Startup School fly in to do it. That's why we have 2 weeks between acceptances and the date of the event-- so people can buy cheap plane tickets.

No cheap tickets from Chile on such short notice though... :(

just fyi, the cheapest fares typically have 21-day advance purchase restrictions.

I think asking why Silicon Valley almost completely ignores the midwest when there is engineering talent here in spades (I'm in Chicago and we have the population and the top flight engineering schools to, I believe, merit some attention) is perfectly legitimate and saying "just go to SV" is a "let them eat cake" answer which misses the fundamental issue.

Even if the answer is as simple "YC's plate is totally full just keeping up with the SV scene" or "pg hates the cold", that would be more compelling than just a brush off and link to some plane tickets.

pg's written entire essays on the subject. But the bottom line is: if you're into startups, Silicon Valley is the best place. It'll take more than a conference or two to make Chicago a startup hub.

If you want a different opinion, read 37signals' blog and books. They're right there in Chicago.

"Why does Silicon Valley ignore the Midwest" strikes me as missing the point entirely. Regions don't become entrepreneurial by the careful attention of people from other, more entrepreneurial regions. They do it themselves. That is the point of entrepreneurship!

Are there typically ancillary events planned before/after? If accepted I'll be flying some distance to attend, and would love the chance at more time for conversation with the like-minded.

Last year, there was some sort of food-based reception right afterwards on campus. For the evening, a few YC companies threw after-parties at their offices in SF.

I think the session should be live streamed or recorded and hosted somewhere for non valley people. pg?

Always is. Details will follow, I'm sure.

It will be on justin.tv


I'll not apply for this one, but for the next one, I'll apply, and (big) maybe I get accepted. I think it would be a pretty interesting experience.

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