Hi Kat and Catheryn. Useful library, thanks for working on it.
I have two quick suggestions for you:
1) Show creation date AND last modification date on each document; and allow users to see creation date when they search. Why? Because certain topics age better than others.
2) Make a zip archive of all resources that people can download and consult offline. Why? Because not everyone lives in California or in developed countries, and more or less >50% of internet users in the world have spotty access, particularly in developing countries. You want to give these people a way to download the entire thing when they're using WiFi in an internet cafe, and then watch things back home where they have no internet.
(There's stuff like zsync, but then you have to use a compatible compressor, and those tend to be pretty obscure...)
You name each zip release with a number and a date. For example #1 will be dated today.
Each time you update you increase the # by 1 and mark the date. You provide seperate small update files named #2 update, #3 update. If I had downloaded the full archive #1, I can just download #2 and #3 update and have the latest version.
If I never downloaded the library I can just download the most recent version and then keep it updated using update files.
- Types of content so I can isolate videos quickly.
- Sidebar is sorted alphabetically. This way some of the important categories get buried at the bottom - in our experience, links at the bottom see much less interaction than at the top. Would it also make sense to have a view categories are sorted based on their "subjective" importance ? Alphabetical is awesome for searching a particular thing, but sometimes not so good for discovering important categories.
- We never really did this, but having some kind of popular vs less popular resources is also nice as a future idea.
- Happy to share our resources/list with you in any way if it helps.
Three ideas for improvement
1. SUMMARIES & RATINGS
I've founded or been early at 6 different startups now, and in each I've felt so overwhelmed by all the things I need to know or think about, leading to a stack of 'articles to read / videos to watch' that never gets drawn down. I'd love to see crowdsourced or curated summaries for each article or link, and a rating system to be able to see which are a) staff picks, and b) community picks, so I can start with the highest quality resource. Maybe even bootstrap this with a summarizer bot of some kind.
2. PROBLEMS & SEQUENCING
Framing these according to what problem I'm facing would also be great. E.g. Getting initial customers, making architectural investment or not, etc. I'd love to be able to pick this resource up, put in the problem I'm facing, and get wisdom out.
Related is sequencing, because at different stages of company different problems come up. Would love to see a dashboard for my startup (or my role in the startup) that focuses on resources that matter to the problems I'm facing now. If this dashboard were built by YC, it could capture three perspectives side by side - internal company comments, internal YC community comments, and broader HN comments. That'd be fantastic.
3. COMMENTS & COMMUNITY STORIES
Finally, I think drawing upon the wisdom of founders / early stage operators with a comments system would be great. I love reading war stories from founders because they often do the job of tying a general principle to something that resonates with me. I'd be careful to frame the community in a way to get these types of quality contributions and not just typical forum fodder. A common use pattern on HN is starting in the comments section THEN moving to the resource if the comments seem interesting, and I see the same opportunity here.
Regarding deep tech hardware, on the one hand you have PG stating his support for from-scratch thinking, on the other hand you have this de-facto "ship and iterate" model from the SaaS world which just doesn't apply to nontrivial hardware projects.
I have to say this problem isn't specific to YC: the vast majority of advice liberally distributed to founders by VC and early stage investment world actors can range from irrelevant to dangerously misleading for founders in some of these spaces.
The lesson here is: take what you will and treat nothing as gospel.
1) Shipping-and-iterating is uncomfortably hard. Putting your product out there in front of users is painful. It's a lot easier to just constantly brainstorm ideas or hide in the coding cave.
2) As a founder, it's tempting to think that your startup is unique: what you're building is uniquely challenging, important and highly non-trivial.
Anecdotally, I've seen far too many founders (including my own past self) use 2 as an excuse not to do 1: most of the time, those never even launch. And not just in the hardware space, but also in: health-tech, bio, fin-tech, gov-tech, legal-tech, insur-tech, prop-tech, food-tech, logistics, and even B2B SaaS ("what we're building is hard and needs enterprise-grade robustness / security").
There may be ways to build massively successful companies that don't involve rapid shipping-and-iterating cycles, and in general there may be ways to build successful companies while ignoring or even doing the exact opposite of what YC advises.
But YC would know a few things about hard-tech from having funded possibly hundreds of such companies, including several massively successful companies. In fact, the top 3 YC companies of all-time as of 2020 are all in highly-regulated spaces: Stripe, Airbnb and Cruise . Cruise in particular is a hardware company (self-driving cars) whose billion-dollar success was largely due to their ability to ship-and-iterate much, much faster than pretty much every other self-driving car company out there.
Some kinds of hardcore tech, even deep software tech that has no compliance issues, has extremely steep engineering hurdles that must be cleared before you have the most minimal of MVPs that will have any currency with customers. How do you iterate fast when the most minimal demonstration of capability requires writing hundreds of thousands of lines of highly sophisticated code from scratch? Or requires physical engineering that necessarily takes years to complete? Many of these kinds of opportunities exist but almost all of the “ship-and-iterate” guidance is for companies that are using core tech, not creating core tech. That’s playing the startup game on easy mode.
If we end up in a place where a “tech startup” is defined as companies that are technically trivially to execute and amenable to rapid ship-and-iterate, which admittedly is most of them, then we might as well elide “tech” from the nomenclature. At that point, they are merely tech-enabled ordinary businesses, and what ordinary business isn’t tech-enabled these days? If deep tech problems could be solved by slapping together some open source and layering on clever marketing, they wouldn’t be problems.
It feels like we’ve redefined “tech startup” to exclude doing hard technical things, but aren’t honest about that change in definition.
PS. If your criticism were right my coding cave is a 1000m2 factory, which has to be some kind of record. /s
> not much of the strategy content applies to hardware companies
While it's probably a good idea to not blindly follow every single piece of advice (by YC or anyone), saying that not much of the content applies is probably a bit of a stretch. Considering how many successful companies YC has funded in the hard-tech space, I'd be receptive to at least some of their advice / insights.
You also mention:
> you have this de-facto "ship and iterate" model from the SaaS world which just doesn't apply to nontrivial hardware projects.
Again, it may be a good idea to question the advice of "ship and iterate", but saying _it just doesn't apply to nontrivial hardware project_ is again a bit of a stretch. As the above commenter mentions, the success of Cruise is a good counterexample.
It sounds like they might be suggesting that a smaller prototype can be shown to customers. 3D printing in particular can help with that; I think Valve demo’d a new controller that was partly 3D printed several years ago.
There are spaces where even a small prototype will easily run into the six figures in pricing.
However, in this case your comment:
> As a consequence of the challenging form factor we've set for ourselves
does seem to indicate that decisions you have made yourself are one of the factors causing you to slow down here. Something to consider...
I think what people are trying to say is that there maybe ways to get a partial solution to a smaller part of your customer base much quicker and for less money.
I do love the quantity of information that's available here. Now, although YC is clearly for-profit, I'd love it if there were more resources about some of the non-profits that they have funded over the years.
Searching for 'non-profit' comes up with 4 relevant results. I've read through these previously and have taken some of their advice for a non-profit startup that I've began working with. That being said, I've done a lot of research elsewhere (e.g. looking through comments on Goodreads and Reddit about books for non-profits, tax advice, etc.) since I can't glean info from HN or YC as I usually can for other topics.
I'd love to read through any interesting resources about non-profit development if there are HNers that have some. Any takers?
Edit: I should clarify that I've signed up and invited some of the others from our non-profit for Startup School. We haven't participated yet because we are still hashing out features for our MVP and figuring out a fundraising strategy.
We've helped 80+ developer-focused companies over the last few years as a consultancy, after our careers as founding marketing leaders.
The Heavybit Library is also really incredible, with lots of video content (transcribed, searchable) with a similar focus to what's here. https://www.heavybit.com/library/
Looks like it’s working now.
One category that seems notably missing is exits. I'm sure this is some of interest to 100% of the community, and doesn't seem as widely discussed as fundraising, but arguably more important.
A lot has changed in viewpoints since PG's 'Don't Talk to CorpDev'. Consensus is moving towards developing relationships with partners being a benefit. ONe of the best pieces I've read on the subject is Patrick Lowndes' 4 part documentation on selling VendorHawk to ServiceNow.
It would be great if YC are willing to share their views on harnessing partnerships, inflection points (ie, it's not always best to raise the next round, and an inflection point should bring together all the options), creating a competitive bidding process, due diligence, how investors think of exits etc etc etc.
Run free :)
If we feed the transcriptions to GPT3, would it start giving great startup advice and building startups for us?
Which books had the biggest impact on your startup endeavours?
(massive spoilers: talk to customers early, build your product quickly, get feedback often, make decisions quickly, raise more money than you think you need, when you become CEO your job duties will be very different than what you might expect, build something people love (genius-level advice), ...)
Books about my specific subject area? Absolutely. Once you get into the weeds of your own niche, they are a huge help to knowing the niche.
Might want to add `overflow: hidden` on the container with `border-radius` (.SharedDirectory-module__section___1ljf9). Currently hovering over the first link shows a background over the rounded corners.
Online version of YC is great resource and good way to do things now that we don't want to meet in person as much.
This is an invaluable resource!!!