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How to think like a startup
Loic Le Meur

How do startup
entrepreneurs
find ideas?

“In the beginner’s mind there are many
possibilities, but in the expert’s mind
there are few”
- Shunryu Suzuki

Meditation and mindfulness is popular in
Silicon Valley and now in Davos

Provide benefit to the customer - anything else
is a waste
Learning to see waste and then systematically
eliminate it

“I am still learning.”
- Michelangelo, at age 87

Airbnb started because of a shortage of hotel rooms in San Francisco

Uber started because of a shortage of cabs in Paris

Ryan Hoover,
Product Hunt
Started just from an email list
Gathered a small community of
people addicted to new
products

Naval Ravikant,
Angel List
Weekly email of curated angel
investors

Craig Newmark,
Craigslist
Request and Gives from Craig’s
friends

Jamie Siminoff,
Ring
Tried 3 different ideas in his garage
Struggled to find initial funding

Now approaching 1,000 employees

The Ring founding story

Create an environment for creativity - Further future

Create an environment for creativity

Create an environment for creativity

Create an environment for creativity

Create an environment for creativity

Millennials don’t
want to own
anything and care
about improving
the world

Improve the world

“I just wanted
more electric cars
on the road”
- Elon Musk

“Make the world better”

“All business
should make the
world better”
- Leila Janah
LXMI

They don’t care about copying
...and making it better

Instagram stories
and Snapchat
stories

Snap's Spectacles are the beginning of
camera-first future

SV entrepreneurs surround themselves with
investors who provide more than $

Teams are remote, own the business and
don’t feel like employees
Mix of highly experimented professionals and very creative millennials

Matthew
Mansfield

Dami
Dina

Kevin
Wolf

“We’re too slow and too old in this company”

Jean-Jacques
Borie

SV entrepreneurs
launch their
product really
fast

"If you're not
embarrassed by
the first version
of your product,
you’ve launched
too late"
- Reid Hoffman

Entrepreneurs iterate quickly

Entrepreneurs
break the rules
Travis Kalanick and Uber got sued
non stop but kept going
Uber and Airbnb were illegal from
day one in many places but
kept operating

Entrepreneurs make everything transparent

Even your own company is rated

Entrepreneurs acknowledge issues and respond quickly

Elon Musk turns a tweet into a company wide change in 6 days

Elon Musk turns a tweet into a company wide change in 6 days

#1 Advantage
of a start up...
Speed

“We’re going in
full throttle. That
ought to keep
those fighters off
our back.”
- Luke Skywalker

Speed is the #1 competitive weapon
Rapid product beats competition
Rapid results builds team morale which leads to more success
Rapid results generate more interest
Rapid results increases valuation

(NFX Guild)

Always keep
momentum.

The competitor to be
feared is one who
never bothers about
you at all, but goes on
making his own
business better all the
time.
- Henry Ford

Set the time, not the output
What product can I build in:
3 months? (Directhit, Xfire)
8 days? (Hot or Not)
30 days? (Jiff)
1 month? (Meerkat)
(NFX Guild)

Twitter’s MVP

Linkedin’s MVP

Facebook’s MVP

Google’s MVP

How startups win
No QA

No Board of Directors

No Usability Studies

No Bus Dev Deals

No Focus Groups

No PR

No Politics

No Marketing Spend

No Endless Debates

No Budgeting Process
(NFX Guild)

“At Google X, we
embrace failure.”
- Astro Teller

Most Startups Fail

Entrepreneurs fail fast

And pivot

Startups ranked by number of years from founding to $1 billion valuation

Flickr should have built Instagram but they
did not move fast enough

Entrepreneurs work with an ecosystem of
developers

Twitter decided developers weren’t so
important anymore

Entrepreneurs
Embrace wikipedia
style volunteer
collaboration
Slush and their 2,200 volunteers

Entrepreneurs
challenge the
current players by
re-inventing the
model
Metromile charges insurance
protection per mile

Entrepreneurs
constantly reinvent
their business
Uber selling data

Tesla next?

Thanks!
Loic Le Meur
More on my newsletter at

leade.rs/loicnewsletter
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twitter.com/loic
loic@leade.rs

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