I'm not a great speaker. The awkward delivery he describes is unfortunately pretty much the norm. Believe it or not, I used to be even worse.
The pauses convey information about the speaker's state of mind about what he is talking.
I usually find that such talks contain much more digestible information than surface-level slick talks.
Don't change your style! The talk rocked, but there are valid points in the article about setting about booths etc.
Agreed, though it depends on your audience and your message.
John Carmack is the most awkward public speaker I've ever seen and also one of the people whom I most enjoying listening to.
(Loopt CEO, I think you were saying really interesting stuff, but I found it hard to take in, because I was trying to read the words on your slides at the same time. I think your talk would have been much better with zero words on the slides.)
Oh, and if anyone's worried about their public speaking skills, remember Knuth. Content trumps flair. :-)
The rest of the paragraphs in that section are off. I didn't see the presentation, but just reading the writer's complaints about unanswered questions tells me that pg's speech was effective. The goal was to get the audience to want the answers to those questions.
EDIT: removed silly domino's in NYC joke
If this was downtown (Tribeca/Soho), John's would have been the choice. Talk to them a couple days in advance, I'm sure they could handle it. If not, go to 3 or 4 places and get a variety. Just not Domino's.
For what it's worth I agree. It just sounds like the OP couldn't find anything big to complain about, so picked on Paul's style rather than the substance of his talk.
The event was great. We are trying here in NYC, but one of the largest problems here is because (as you said) startups are not culturally accepted as the norm, its harder to get word of mouth about your product going. Therefore allow me to plug spottmusic.com here. :)
In other recorded presentations of other events it just seems like you take the casual/personable approach to a presentation vs. an overly formalized approach.
I would not give you any negative points for your stage presence at these events. I would suggest some more upscale footwear at times though...
While nothing presented was especially groundbreaking, I'm just happy YC decided to venture to the east coast. That in itself is better than nothing. It's their first event over here, and a decent one at that. As for next time, the OP's request of getting MBAs to wear ties and developers to wear black shirts is a bit opposite of startup atmosphere. Dress codes are kind of frowned upon. Plus, if you did that, it'd turn into a high school dance with ties on one side and black shirts on the other.
Oh, and if PG and company would have spent a good amount of time on "YC, the school, their process" I think there would have been a large amount of disappointed folk. Why go to a YC event of you don't know what YC is? I'd speculate most there were quite familiar with YC and its process and were looking more for startup advice, similar to the stuff given.
As a Boston resident, I'd laugh at this ridiculous statement if I weren't too busy crying.
That said, one of main points of the keynote was that chance meetings are what make places like NYC and the valley so conducive to startups. The loose structure really lent itself well to socializing, and so this was the perfect event for those chance meetings.
I personally got a lot out of it, and would love seeing more meetups like this.
For instance, what if the color coding was expanded upon and added to the invite application? Each individual could place themselves in the category that describes them the best and then know at the time of the event the people they should be talking to rather than wandering around hoping their next chance meeting is the one that makes the difference.
PG delivered, if you observe his prior interviews you will notice that is his style. Personally, it feels authentic, and transparent. A trait many speakers lack.
The serendipitous nature of the event added to the allure, it encouraged folks to have a conversation.
Video department could of used some help but that's just nitpicking.
This all comming from someone who didn't get invited, yet drove from Philly, one of the first one there, waited in line, and was magically allowed in.
Well done, YC.
On the west coast it's mostly a matter of things arising from chaos. You do what you can in terms of nailing the logistics (pizza, beer and fast moving lines) but the meat is who you get into the room, not what the person at the microphone is saying.
I'm not saying YC and pg couldn't have made it better, the OP should be lauded for some of the critique. (Criticism of YC tends to be controversial.) But the OP seems to have accidentally discovered exactly some of the differences between east coast and west coast cultures.
The fact that you say 'these things are usually what you make of them' leads me to think there is tons of room for improvement with the way these events are run. I've been to quite a few tech meetups and some are definitely more well run than others and are easier to access (people wise). A lot of that has to do with how the organizers set up the event and the information they pass along.
I would not be critiquing a blog post full of specific, useful advice on how the event could have been made better. There is advice like that in this entry, but you have to reach through piles of raw "someone should have told me more about something" thoughts before you can get there. I would have been much more interested in a blog post that read something along the lines of: "I attended this event and I thought it was a bit unfocused. Here's what I would have wanted this to be and here's what I think it should look like."
I hope YC listens to the feedback anyway. It's valuable, but count me personally disappointed.
Though I think they should have a special color sticker, for MBA's without programming/design skills, Managing Consultants and general Harvard douche-bags who think they are the smartest person in room.
> for MBA's without programming/design skills, Managing
> Consultants and general Harvard douche-bags who think they
> are the smartest person in room.
Seems to be a common problem over there. It is on the west coast too, but... it seems maybe not as pervasive and I think it's easier for them to realize here that their skillset isn't the most important one in the room.
My frustration was this:
I feel like diversity fuels creativity and innovation. I like finding myself in a room with a variety of different sorts of people, and the YCNYC event felt like I was in a room with approximately 1000 copies of myself. The most visible example of this was the number of women present. I personally know many times more women in technology than I saw in that entire crowd of a thousand or so.
I know that YC is going to appeal to a certain sort of person, but I would've been much more impressed with the whole event if it had been apparent that the organizers had gone just a little bit out of their way to reach out to different kinds of people who work in technology in the city. There are so many, doing so many amazing things, coming from so many backgrounds. Get people together who don't normally talk and see what new ideas start forming.
If NYC has any chance of outranking the Bay Area when it comes to start-ups, it's going to be because the NYC scene learns how to leverage the extreme diversity of talent out here. Not because a thousand young, male nerds get in the same room together to talk about the same stuff they all just read on Hacker News.
Anyway. That's my rant. I did enjoy PG's talk, even though he has a kind of odd aspect on stage. Glad I went, but it could've been something more than what it was.
- “be transparent”. You have to expect that startups are going to be looking for talent (founders are always recruiting).
- “tell us what we don’t know”. They don’t know what you don’t know (nevermind what a 1000 people don’t know). They just tell you their stories and at best you would be inspired and motivated. They succeeded at that.
- “engage”. They spent several hours talking to people. I would rather them engage this way than to engage stage to audience.
Having all these people in one room was the great thing about this event. I met other founders who are trying to make it, MBAs who are looking to join startups, cs students and YC alum. Not to mention pitching to many people, engaging in discussions about my startup and getting feedback. I would not label that a lost opportunity.
After thinking about it for a while that night, I came to the conclusion that this was the point.
It was a bit difficult to network, however. As other posters have pointed out, there were so many attendees and since there were no indicative markings on the badges, it was impossible to distinguish between a potential "match" and a friendly (but potentially unproductive) conversation. But hey, hindsight is 20/20. Looking forward to next time.
As you mentioned in your talk, you're unlikely to run into Sean Parker while strolling down 5th Avenue. NYC-area Meetups are enjoyable, as are, at times, General Assembly and other NYC institutions. But as you joked about on stage, they are not a substitute for the daily serendipity and access to talent that Silicon Valley has to offer. This is one of the Valley's greatest strategic advantages. That being said, there is a tremendous talent pool in NYC and last night helped reaffirm this fact. Over the course of my two entrepreneurial decades in this great city, I have never seen a NYC startup event attract such a targeted, valuable and eager audience. It's very possible that the YC brand-name was responsible for this feat. Would YC have any interest in sponsoring a regular NYC networking event? In addition to increasing YC-startup visibility and access to local talent, this could serve as a great boon for the NYC startup community.
1. I thought PG's informal speaking style was actually quite cool, no issues with that. However, he did seem a bit distracted. At times, it felt like he wasn't sure what he wanted to say next.
2. There were too many people. Maybe I shouldn't complain, since I am not sure if I would be invited if YC didn't invite so many, but it meant that the speakers/alumni were crowded-out most of the time. Having booths would make it easier to find alumni, but it makes it more like a career fair so I am not sure I like that too much either. Another alternative would be to split up the area into multiple sub-areas for each of the speakers, and have a separate parallel Q&A. I have seen this done successfully in other industry conferences.
3. I thought the presentations were generally quite good and left me inspired (and scared as well). Talking about YC's application process would have been a waste of time since most people seemed quite familiar with YC anyway. The one thing I would have changed - having some time for on-the-spot Q&A.
4. The lack of explanation about color coding was a major complaint. I would have had 2 icons per badge instead of color coding - one indicating if you were a designer/developer etc., and the other icon indicating whether you were looking for a job, trying to hire etc. Good, obvious icons are way easier to understand than color codes.
Overall, I am happy that YC came to NYC, and that I got the opportunity to meet so many cool people. So thank you YC team for that, and for bringing me a couple of steps closer to making the leap :)
Overall I can't complain though. Personally I met some great people at the event and got to shake hands with some alumni. It was a great experience and not a missed opportunity for myself. Thanks YC for that. I will take the sentiments toward the NYC startup scene as a challenge. :)
I'd suggest "Richard Feynman", in honor of the inventor of this idea, but that might not achieve the desired effect.
For instance if you were to speak as well as some of the YC Alumni then the following could happen;
Group 1 - YC Alumni - BREAK - PG
Group 2 - PG - BREAK - YC Alumni
Obviously this would add a few extra problems, including increased costs although, this could easily be solved having a small fee for attendance (again I don't know the exact details of how YCNYC worked so if it was a free meetup charging $10 say wouldn't bother people and would help to recoup the additional costs etc)
This would make the event appear much smaller than what it actually is thus, making it more informal as well as allowing, people to network in the Evening as well.
And I got to tell you something: It's the first time in my life that anybody from THE valley said out loud "I think it's cool to have a startup in NYC". I've been in the scene here for years before it was cool, and it was music to my ears to hear that. And of course we'd love it if Paul announced that they were coming to NYC -- but I came to realize that if they did that part of what makes Y Combinator so cool wouldn't come along for the ride (sort of like opening CBGB in Vegas).
The same thing happened at SydStart the other day - lots of great and inspirational speakers but all of them that were involved with large companies (BigCommerce, Freelancer.com etc.) had a "we're hiring" at the end of their talk.
Part of hacker culture is judging someone by ideas, which is why we're known for the t-shirt and shorts attire. But I don't think it's fair nor helpful to judge someone by their attire at a post-work event.
We know gobs and gobs of NYC's tech talent works in the financial services industry. I'm happy to see the diversity, even if I got a few pitches from folks looking for a l33t technical co-founder.
You should reconsider if it's more lame to wear a suit or to be judgemental.
Please don't make assumptions.