Most startup ideas are non-obvious in their very early phase. If there was already proof one way or another that they were good or bad, they would be already done, or already dropped, respectively.
Also, the founders have much more knowledge about their startup. You have what you got from that one paragraph description you read. That's a huge asymmetry of information.
PG's essay explicitly calls us out:
"At YC we're excited when we meet startups working on things that we could imagine know-it-alls on forums dismissing as toys. To us that's positive evidence an idea is good."
A C-level position at a YC startup will grant you a 100k+ salary at a YC company that did manage to make it to a series A afterwards even if your company didn’t make it that far.
It’s a self accommodating industry (IMO).
If you're a developer you can make that anyway, isn't that basically an entry level salary in SF?
I'm very curious how much you can pay yourself as a YC founder after your first round, is there any data on this? Must be more than 75k.
If one can deliver real value to end-users, and the growth takes a phenomenal turn, then different kind of non-viable thoughts would emerge, I'm sure.
And no, what the person he's responding to is saying aren't objective truths.
Alternatively, a strategy could fund the ones that are building a terrible, but profitable future, and using the money you make to live somewhere else.
It almost seems like a prisoner's dilemma sort of situation. If you don't fund the baddies, and someone else does, then you'll be poor in a terrible future.
The lowest hanging fruit in tech has already been taken years ago and the human needs haven't changed that much. We need to communicate, we need to listen to music, we need to move around, etc.
I've personally seen many times how companies prefer doing those hand processes, even after having paid me for developing a solution to solves that. Humans are strange creatures.
The big problems that most people want solved and can indeed be solved have already been solved. For the most part we're now in the phase of solving small problems, refining current solutions, and maybe creating new problems with its own set of solutions.
Of course there are many big problems that haven't been solved because those are extremely difficult and expensive to solve which falls outside of the realm of startups. For example an HIV vaccine, super efficient solar cells, cold fusion, efficient energy storage, brain computer interface, dark energy, dark matter, etc.
Hard problems like self driving cars and natural language interfaces are way beyond the capabilities of a small startup.
But anyway, the point is that there are a lot of new opportunities opening up because of that new enabling tech, and many of them are accessible to small companies.
Facebook had a similiar idea to others. But they limited it to Harvard. So anyone who joined was part of a social club that they saw in real life. That gave them trust and people more freely posted. Next they rolled out to only ivy league schools. Next all colleges. Then highschools. When they released to the public the colleges still had semi-private networks allowing them more freedom. Then facebook did something no one thought was possible, they allowed you to login to hotmail import your contacts. Now you are friends with people you may not have talk to in years.
The original idea only shaped a broadvision. Each decision really provided the vision and a path for growth.
The original vision is important. If you tried to take a dating app and follow the Harvard facebook roll-out it wouldn't work because people wouldn't want to be seen as looking for a mate. Dating sites try to connect strangers.
- Where have all the IoT companies gone?
- Cool seeing machine learning being used inside applications (The audio analyzer to separate and boost voices for conference calls comes to mind)
- Surprised at how many "meh" reactions I had. Too many grocery/fashion and not enough bio/energy game changers and I left feeling mostly uninspired by overall visions.
More power to everyone hustling out there though.
Was talking to some VC folks the other day and asked this same question. The answer I got was under performance, not enough unicorns per investment and the number of companies even hitting profitability was much lower than other sections of their portfolio.
Previous discussion :
Also I am in YC Startup School too, which allows you to see what's coming up in the world, and that's awesome too.
It's amazing to see that a significant percentage (~30%) of ideas they have come up with have been also thought of by others e.g. from the YC list independently to an uncanny extent.
Honestly it should not have caught me by surprise but it did.
Imho the concept of multiple discovery  applies just as much to innovation as it does to scientific discoveries.
> It's become popular in recent years to say that the idea doesn't matter. ... But the pendulum has swung way out of whack. A bad idea is still bad and the pivot-happy world we're in today feels suboptimal. Great execution towards a terrible idea will get you nowhere. There are exceptions, of course, but most great companies start with a great idea, not a pivot.
 e.g. http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html. Controversial, but I'm a believer.
Looks like it ranges 60-80k [after their fee] for a 10% stake.
That feels pretty expensive for an accelerator, especially one that's new, with little network effect yet.
If I was someone more established with an existing network and knowledge of how these things work, that would be a different story.
I think if you already have a co founder and an idea and/or prototype, then that fee/stake for value might seem unacceptably expensive.
The core difference lies in the execution. If you can execute on even a marginally “okay” idea, you can build on that, but even the greatest idea in the world has no chance without that execution.
Corollary: don’t worry about protecting your idea, worry about how you can be the best person to execute it.
Speaking about other people, as I mentioned it's about 72 of us, 40% ish with tech background, the rest with business and/or industry experience.
They provided us with advice on what to do first to validate the idea, get traction with first customers, and many opportunities to do mock investment pitches where we would get comments from a committee with what we need to improve or what investors would ask.
Additionally there were some courses about different aspects of startups, from design thinking to unit economics, sort of like a mini mba.
So far it has been very valuable for me.
However, on the criticism side, it's sort of early days for them so they could not give too much advice for example on how to tell if a team works or not, with my first team that I had formed we spent 5 weeks (out of 10) spinning in circles not being able to decide on any idea. We generated around 12 but discarded them as soon as any friction came. So we had disbanded and stressed out, then I met another person who had a firm idea what to do and had already validated it, just needed a tech person, and this is going much better now.
60% of the program attendees are pretty much as you described, including my co founder. They have found the tech partners here.
Or how can you call a driver a non employee while specifically giving him orders to drive.
This is the real innovation.
"is raising a $7.5 million seed financing at a valuation north of $30 million"
"We’re told several top venture capital firms were vying for a stake in Tandem. One firm even gifted the founders a tandem bike, sources tell TechCrunch, resorting to amusing measures to sway the Tandem team. But it was a16z — which has an established interest in the growing future of work sector, evidenced by its recent investment in the popular email app Superhuman — that ultimately won the coveted lead investor spot."
From TC: Tandem provides a virtual office for remote teams, complete with video-chatting and messaging capabilities, as well as integrations with top enterprise tools, including Notion, GitHub and Trello.
My thoughts: seed valuations for YC Demo Day are probably on a all time high, VC's giving gifts to be able to get in rounds looks like something out of Silicon Valley HBO, ok I remembered everything on SV HBO is based on real life events.
What's the rationale there? "Ohh their name is Tandem. Let's buy them a Tandem bike to convince them to accept our term sheet. It's our fiduciary responsibility to do this stupid thing".
For me, that's just a red flag. How little can you add to a company besides money, that you have to resort to this chaplinesque strategy?
Unless I really am missing the point, because a $500 bicycle really is a pretty cheap machine these days, let alone a $500 tandem.
Maybe it’s that I’m personally more focused on downsizing than accumulating :)
Similar to Governors convincing Bezos to open HQ2 on their state by writing product reviews on amazon.com, giant cactus and what not.
It's actually super common. I've probably received 20+ random gifts. Everything from shoes to jackets to bitcoin miners and bottles of wine (I don't drink).
If there's a $7.5m deal that will eventually be worth 10x that (say it returns $75m to the investor), a $200 tandem bike doesn't really move the needle.
I didn't know that, I knew that was normal practice on recruiting but I didn't imagined it on fundraising.
> that will eventually be worth 10x
The seed stage VC's are probably targeting more on the 100x - 1,000x range :)
Once we have supercapacitors and room temperature superconductors, a lot of these problems go away, though.
There are a few problems with the swapping idea:
- People like to have ownership over their batteries (and the battery capacity)
- Logistics around swapping availability and costs
But the biggest one is:
- Charging continues to get faster and capacity continues to increase.
Whatever small amount of time is currently saved by swapping will be irrelevant by the time anyone could overcome the current obstacles to get something off the ground - it's a bad strategic bet.
This was very confusing for me since I use Discord only for chat for various open source projects.
Tandem is voice and video chat - the part of Discord I never use.
Once you have a SINGLE full-time remote employee your team should operate as a fully-remote team. That means online meetings, online communications, documentation, etc.
Good luck. I'm happy to see someone trying to get into LinkedIn's business. I've used LinkedIn close to when it started, but it is really getting on my nerves.
If they succeed, that could be really interesting on how to compete with an established company where the network effect is their real edge.
Alas. It's just about printing designs on sneakers.
Looking at their site, there doesn't appear to be any obvious secret sauce (the app is not available where I am) except perhaps that the range of 'kinks' they're catering to is limited to the mildest and most popular, so maybe they're targeting a slightly more mainstream userbase?
This is compelling to a lot of hardware companies, where they often have 1 model that represents >50% of their compute workload. Making a Tensil ASIC for that model becomes much cheaper than GPUs at scales of 1000 chips or more.
I'm happy to talk in more detail if this interests you! email@example.com
ASIC set-up costs are only a problem on low volume production runs, and in that case generic purpose hardware is probably a cheaper solution anyway.
If you have some high computation or bandwidth requirements that can't be met with of the shelf hardware, then FPGAs are probably still a better solution.
So if you ask me, Tensil is just trying to ride the AI wave.
and a 6.5k or 10k PER MONTH for someone to buy your SaaS subscriptions seems super expensive. I'm not too versed in the SaaS market but is this really something that you need a dedicated "SaaS expert" to manage for you?
Signing up with a typical SaaS service these days typically involves 1) a qualification call with an SDR (wastes 30ish minutes), 2) a redundant qualification call with an AE (roughly 30 minutes where they probe you for price sensitivity), 3) a 2-3 day delay while they draw up a really high anchor for your price, 4) two or three iterations of you fighting the price (wastes an hour each time), 5) you sign a contract with a lingering uncertainty you got ripped off.
Repeat for the 20-30 SaaS providers you end up using. It's a huge time suck for a dubious benefit. I would love to pay to make that go away in the future.
Wouldn't you just need them to arrange and liaise with the vendors at the beginning? Once the plans are finalised, why is Vendr.com still needed?...
So if your company is large this becomes a real issue I guess. Also by having a third-party IT vendor, you can buy anonymously. This shields you from unreasonable negotiations and future solicitation.
It's a tough sell but I can get the idea
talar: Huge potential here. Cars are on their way out, and scheduled grocery delivery can replace it.
spotless materials: Coatings can make a huge difference in the way we interact with materials... in fact, for the most part, that's all we interact with. better coatings make things better.
encellin: I believe that interacting with our bodies on a more finely tuned small scale is the future.
my petrol pump: I can see a lot of convinience happening here. Recurring customers whos lives are made better.
rejuvenation technologies: I want to see life extension succeed. If they have something that works then that's fantastic for us all.
tensil: Baking AI seems like a good compromise for a lot of reasons. known capabilities, and known weaknesses make for predictability.
I hope they can get this to work! The issue is their paper uses technology covered by other players in the space who have a decade head start and significant research budgets. Maybe they'll get bought out, but my guess is delivery and CMC are hurdles they'll run up against and then have a hard time getting follow-on investors. FIH for this idea is going to be really hard. If they can get this going, I'd love to see adding in additional components of the telomerase holoenzyme.
Edit - Their IP position is actually pretty strong and they are already thinking about delivering the other holoenzyme components: https://patents.google.com/patent/US20140242155A1
I hope they lean on the exosome delivery idea discussed within, "In highly preferred embodiments, the delivery vehicle is an exosome". That would really differentiate them from the competition. The real test will be biodistribution in non-rodent models. I will be following closely!
A ton of these already exist. Blue apron, Home Chef, Hello Fresh, Amazon (although I believe amazon is currently pickup only). Does talar do anything different than the already established companies?
>spotless materials: Coatings can make a huge difference in the way we interact with materials... in fact, for the most part, that's all we interact with. better coatings make things better.
Again, there are a bunch of established companies making spray on and dip on coatings for clothing, fabric, tools, and other miscellaneous items that does essentially the same thing. Is there anything new here that the others don't do?
So now somehow these random delivery people all have to have keys to my apartment (including the main entrance)?
Why would I want some rando coming into my home and placing things? I have my food/ingredients spread across a few different cupboards in my apartment, how am I supposed to specify where I want things to go?
EDIT: Oh apparently it's
"Upon on signing up, your assigned House Manager will contact you to understand your buying and stocking preferences."
Yeah that really doesn't sound like something that will scale well.
And still wouldn't want some rando coming into my house and into my cupboards/fridge/etc. Really weird.
Unfortunately a big problem with ASICs is economics/operational issues for the startup cost making a chip. This isn't a traditional engineering problem to solve. I'd be concerned if the founding team doesn't have someone good at that stuff and solving hard technical problems with many years of ASIC experience. Hardware is hard!
Scheduled grocery delivery is an innovation? Seems like the same story, different decade.
A microsurgical cell transplant system could usher in an entire class of new treatments that could be adapted in a variety of ways. I think its more likely to succeed, and could have a much larger impact.
"hire CTO" as a goal
Team capabilities star ratings...
> ______ is a bloated industry. It is opaque and old-fashioned, and it has not substantially improved through the technological revolution in the way other industries have, in part because there are tremendous barriers to entry for new innovative players.
> ______ is taking a crack at changing ______ for the better by starting with what we know: ________________________. We are building a nimble, transparent, highly effective ______ platform and hope to go live in 2020.
CURRENT_YEAR + 1
I live in Europe, and have never been to India, so I don't know about the situation there. But personally I can't imagine paying for a service that would maybe save me 5 minutes per week.
Though I might worry a bit about the what if someone spills petrol and drops a cigarette business. Petrol stations have underground tanks and some distance from habitation to deal with that.
When was this company created? I thought the Git trademark policy disallows anybody new from naming things “Git”-thing.
If your "GitStart" startup was intended to help "unpleasant, silly, incompetent, annoying, senile, elderly or childish person[s]" to start doing something, I think you'd have no problems from a trademark perspective.
If your "GitStart" startup is to help people start doing something with Git, the (trademark-ed) source code management system, then you might be in trouble.
However, I don't think it's the case, since the word GIT has been used by other entities long before GitHub came to be. Otherwise, we wouldn't have GitLab, for instance.
See https://git-scm.com/about/trademark for their policy on this.