I'm very much onboard with much of the other advice, and would have agreed with this bit for something like 25 or 26 years of my life. My goodness, I sure wasted a lot of people's time.
Create more value than you capture, but don't be afraid to sell. It gets easier with practice, and it is a core competence in a startup founder. You've got to be able to sell to customers, sell to investors, sell to the press, sell to your employees, etc etc. The most direct path to what you want is a) describing why it is in X's interest to give it to you and then b) asking for it. It works. Astoundingly well.
Relatedly, "quality content will win out" is not a marketing strategy. Much closer to the truth is this old chestnut: if your ideas are any good, you'll have to shove them down people's throats.
P.S. You're not a nobody. You're someone who has something X should want, but does not yet have a personal introduction, means of social proof, or whatever it is that the supposed "somebodies" have. You can fix that, and you should fix it, ASAP. The ROI on fixing it will be spectacularly better than more cold emails.
Is anybody else watching Food Network's food truck race show? There's a young woman on the leading team who demonstrates this every week.
In one case the teams were tasked to butcher a slab of beef. Instead of hacking away at it like the other teams did, she just asked the butcher at the local store they were partnering with (another area they excel in) to do it for them.
She's relentless (and shameless) about asking for what she wants, and gets it.
Is this true? It makes me think of Helicobacter pylori and the guy who gave himself an ulcer to prove that he discovered a cure. But maybe that "chestnut" only applies to schema violators?
Good ideas are different, so people need social proof. That's not how geeks are accustomed to proving things, so we're slow.
I would change that to "especially if an idea is fantastic/revolutionary".
Sure, I have a bunch of ideas and I have refined them. Yeah, I can write comments and get karma. I have gotten projects funded for nothing, but I would never write a bet on myself. I've just never thought myself as someone good enough for anything, but I simply try.
I know that this isn't something healthy, but it has, ironically, helped me out. I've taken risks that no sane person would take, because I always thought that I was going to lose anyway. Can you imagine a 17 y/o trying to make a dynamic haptic UI? (what the hell was I thinking?)
Sure, I have failed a lot. I have tried to run before I could crawl, but in the process I've learnt and gained far more than those who played it safe. So, maybe hopelessness in the right dose might actually be a good thing. After all what's there to lose, if you think that you have nothing to lose?
Wow, I never really thought of the idea of having no opinion of myself whatsoever. It's an interesting idea--one that might make me a lot happier.
I know that this sounds silly, but this is an improvement.
For the life of me I can't think about a pattern that follows specific types of opinions. It's just the nature of this chaotic world. There is an infinitely large range of possible permutations of experiences and reactions to those experiences. So, it's quite tough to say if given the same set of circumstances whether or not two people will have the same opinion, or think the same way. Hence, it's tougher to extract a broad pattern surrounding such things. Unless you spend a lot of time with the person and find out the why and how.
That might depend on whether you live in a region stifled by software patents, or need another market that is. It's sad that many may not even attempt projects because it can be a minefield out there. Even when it turns out you're first, you can still burn through your capital defending it.
Copyright should be enough.
Although, I think that it will make a good product, but I can't follow through as I don't have any money at all. Neither do I have any guarantees for institutional investors to pour money into it. It just costs too much to do MEMS based research and set up a production facility for it, but as I grow older I intend to do something about it.
Moreover, I doubt it if I am smart enough to take it to the level I see in my head.
That's because you're good. Possibly really good.
EDIT: Dunning-Kruger seems to be more about the less-competent side. The more-competent side I meant to point out is more commonly called the Imposter phenomenon. http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2006/07/the_imposter.p...
It was surprising how little of my advice seemed very specific to being a female.
yeah agree re: lack of female-specific advice. seems to me you either do it or you don't.
Definite +1 on talking to alumni. That helped us a lot, and everyone we talked to was happy to give advice. While most alumni are in Silicon Valley, they are spread out all over the place.
Most of the alumni I reached out to I had met at conferences, so that is another good way to build your network. Chat up people - you never know who you're sitting next to.
would y'all describe HN as highbrow? seems pretty populist to me. e.g., every time there's mention of elite universities or anything prestigious in 'the establishment', it gets ripped to shreds and denigrated as being for elitists.
Whilst the actual level of the articles and discussion may be in doubt, the important point is that HNers would like them to be intellectual.
By all means apply! But have a backup plan. I have known people that have looked for funding only from YC. That's just as silly as only applying to Berkeley and then giving up on your PHD if you don't get in. As they say in football, that's not a high percentage play.
There were plenty of women PHDs at my graduate school, and men too! So I know people of many genders can navigate processes with lots of rejection.
They psychology of these things is quite complicated.
Bottom line: Within 10 minutes of meeting you (or less, if you're very good), whether you're XX or XY shouldn't matter.
Whomever you're speaking with should be thinking "damn. That's an amazingly driven founder." Period.
Although it is not a practical consideration, I do wonder what would happen if everybody followed the nothing ventured nothing gained advice and sent cold the 'optimal' amount of cold solicitations. There would have to be a point of diminishing returns eventually, in aggregate.
Is this an important property of good advice - that people do not follow it, otherwise it ceases to be good advice?
For instance, "Eat healthy food" is good advice, and doesn't become less good even if everyone began following it.
Marketing advice, though, is probably more susceptible to "becoming bad," since it typically depends on making your product stand out. Thus, as more people follow a bit of advice on how to stand out, the less this advice actually helps them stand out.
Also loved this quote: "If you ask 100 people out for coffee and even ONE agrees to go with you, that’s one more coffee than you’d get by doing nothing. Net win."
I would love to hear more from female founders like you though. It's quite encouraging.
I still keep in close contact with a number of people I met from that event last year. There are very few places where you can meet fellow hackers who are entrepreneurial focused. Hearing what the speakers have to say is just the icing on the cake.
You're on your way, peepster.
Maybe I'm being genetics-biased but the name "Y combinator" always had for me a "macho" association -- Y being the chromosome unique for men. When I read the title "woman ... Y combinator" it really stands out to me. And I see nothing wrong in the idea of also having something like the "X combinator" which would be intentionally more oriented towards women in the business.