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Y Combinator合伙人:新创企业要成功,不能偏离这7条原则

Derek T. Dingle 2016年11月15日

来自Y Combinator合伙人和连续创业家迈克尔·赛博尔的真知灼见。

Y Combinator合伙人,世界级创新大师迈克尔·赛博尔为参加硅谷TechConneXt峰会的企业家们上了一堂精彩纷呈的创业课。Y Combinator是一家种子加速器,曾推动多家初创公司获得惊人的成功。赛博尔以已故的塞隆尼斯·孟克表演爵士乐《勇往直前》(straight no chaser)的方式,分享了一些关于科技创业的教益。

创业者渴望听到赛博尔的建议有诸多原因。首先,他利用自己的技术和商业才能共同创办和运营了Socialcam(2012年以6000万美元的价格售出)和Justin.tv/Twitch(2014年被收购,成交价高达9.7亿美元)等公司。现在,他成为YC合伙人。从软件行业到航空航天业,这个创业孵化器每六个月资助100到120家公司,涉及各种领域。此外,非洲裔美国企业家可能尤其赞赏赛博尔的想法:“我希望每个找到YC的少数族裔创始人,都能跻身行业前20%。我希望每个少数族裔的创始人都能拥有优秀的团队,迅速成长,并占据一个庞大的市场,让那些以创始人种族为由不愿投资的投资人变得像白痴一样。” 他称,在YC投资的公司中大约15%的团队有黑人或拉丁裔创始人——这在硅谷风险投资圈前所未闻。

在他20分钟的讲话中,他道出了在硅谷挣扎、生存和成功的真相:“这不是实现梦想的地方。这是个赚钱的地方。”虽然他说得略显直白,但事实证明,赛博尔的坦率令人耳目一新,而且他言语幽默又振奋人心。

在以下经过编辑的摘录中,我们挑选了他在TechConneXt的分享中七大要点:

走上创业之路

如果有人要创业,我会告诉他们先准备够花一年的现金。年轻时这很容易做到,跟两个、三个或四个室友住在一起,吃一年拉面花不了太多钱。但你得愿意辞去目前的工作。我们经常说的一句话是,“如果你不是100%投入,怎么能期待我们这样做?”这些先决条件真的、真的、真的很难。这是人们正在寻找的模式。我要告诉你的是,带上你应用到产品中的所有天赋,开始思考如何让自己适应这种生活。

抛弃那种凭借创意就能获得融资的幻想

创意会改变; 创意是一种商品,课堂里正在讲授的课程都是错的。事实并不是你想出一个好主意就能得到钱,然后做出点什么东西。这不过是一个谎言。你与谁共事才是最主要的。当你考虑做什么时,我会建议他们跟有可能成为联合创始人的朋友先认真讨论下,如果你们都能兴奋起来,好啦!跟你一起聊的人就是你的创业伙伴。

热衷于解决问题

创意是一种解决方案。第一个解决方案不会太好,但没关系。投资者完全可以接受。如果你对要解决的问题没有热情,你就不会想出第二个、第三个、第四个、第五个想法。如果你的客户每天都碰到一个问题,而不是隔天才碰到一个问题,你就拥有多得多的机会为他们提供帮助。

了解你的市场规模

每个投资者都想知道你的市场规模。为什么?答案很简单。你得把公司发展到十亿美元的估值,投资人才能赚到钱,如果市场很小,打造价值十亿美元的公司就很难。有两种方法可以做到这一点。如果你要进入已存在的市场就容易些。比如你要建一家在线小型商业银行,只要在线查询小型企业银行市场规模,砰!你就知道你的市场多大。如果你想创业的领域之前不存在,就要弄清楚有多少潜在客户,你计划每年收取多少费用,砰!市场规模有了。这不是什么艰深学问,只是不知不觉踢你出局的潜规则之一。

拿出最简可行产品

最简可行产品(MPV)。一旦你成立起团队,做出了一款有瑕疵的产品,这就是你需要着手解决的事情。说清楚些,不是从一开始就要这么干。你不要说,“我要请人做个MVP,证明是个好点子后组建团队。”有七个原因可以证明这样做不对,但其中最重要的一个是大多数投资者不会投资。然而,你需要他们的资金。大多数投资人一看到外包开发团队就会说,“不,谢谢你。”最简可行产品是你第一次有机会把产品展示给用户,那一刻的确令人提心吊胆。很多人选择拖延,因为他们认为,“如果我发布了一款糟糕的产品,业务可能永远没法顺利起步。”事实上,一些商业专家确实就此讨论过。这完全是胡说。很少有人记得谷歌什么时候上线。也很少有人记得亚马逊或Facebook什么时候上的线。人家现在都做得很好。做出什么就赶紧交给用户。如果你正在解决客户经常遇到的视频问题,你的产品再烂他们也会用,总好过没得用。从这一点开始,你会了解到他们喜欢什么,不喜欢什么,产品就会逐渐改进。

了解启动和控制权的价值

我们要告诉创业公司的是:“启动之前你们什么都不是”。我不想听你的想法。我不想听你的伟大战略。我不想听到你的伟大幻想。我只想听到你的公司已经启动了。然后我们可以谈一谈。现在,成立一家公司要比以前便宜得多。我一直想告诉创业者,要掌握控制权。不要把控制权拱手让与投资者。如果你告诉我这样一个不错的投资者,拿到我的钱后才能启动公司,那么控制权就握在我手里。我会不慌不忙,甚至先去度个假。如果你告诉我你们已经启动了,那我就得留心了,因为下一次你再来跟我谈时,你的公司可能已经成长起来,价格自然也更高。你的产品上线会让我恐惧,而恐惧是让别人认真对待你的好办法,比喜爱有效多了。

要么成长,要么死亡

从启动那一刻起的每一周,如果没有成长就是在走向死亡。这事不复杂。我们会做很多准备和额外工作帮你成长。创业公司时时刻刻面临着失败。你会问,“为什么没实现每周成长?”

你永远也解决不完技术问题,永远也解决不完经营问题,永远处理不完人事问题。公司越大,问题就越多,这是必然的。所以还不如专心成长。此外,我曾经得到的最好建议之一是,成长是树立企业文化的第一要务。每个人都想加入赢家的团队,而一个致力于成功的团队每周都在成长。(财富中文网)

译者:Peter Pei

审校:夏林

Entrepreneurs who attended our Silicon Valley-based TechConneXt Summit were treated to a master class from Michael Seibel, a partner at Y Combinator, the seed accelerator that’s propelled scores of startups to stratospheric heights. This world-class innovator offered lessons on tech entrepreneurship the way the late Thelonious Monk played jazz—straight no chaser.

There are a number of reasons why company founders covet Seibel’s advice. For one, he’s applied his technical chops and business prowess to co-found and operate Socialcam, acquired for $60 million in 2012, and Justin.tv/Twitch, purchased for $970 million in 2014. Today, he’s affiliated with YC, which has funded 100 to 120 companies in a range of sectors—from software to aerospace—every six months. Moreover, African American entrepreneurs can fully appreciate Seibel’s approach: “I want every minority founder that goes to YC, to be in the top 20% of the batch. I want every minority founder to have such a good team, so much growth, such a big market that investors look like idiots if they let race get in the way of making an investment.” At YC, he says roughly 15% of its portfolio companies have either a black or Latino founder—unheard-of within the Silicon Valley venture community.

In his 20-minute talk, he laid out the real deal of scratching, surviving and making it in the Valley: “This place is not about realizing your dreams. This place is about making money.” And although blunt in his delivery, Seibel proved to be refreshing, engaging, and motivational in his candor.

In the following edited excerpts, we reveal seven powerful nuggets he shared at TechConneXt:

Take the entrepreneurial journey

I tend to tell people they need to have a year’s worth of cash. When you’re younger, this is a lot easier, this is like a year’s worth of cash to live with two, three, four roommates and eat ramen. You need to be willing to quit your job. One of the things we say all the time is that “If you’re not in 100%, how do you expect us to be?” These prerequisites are really, really, really hard. It’s the pattern that people are looking for. What I would tell you is take all the genius you’re applying to the product and start thinking about how you can get yourself set up in this kind of life.

Discard the myth you’ll gain financing on the strength of your idea:

Ideas change; ideas are a commodity, and the lesson that’s being taught out there in the world is just simply wrong. It’s not you come up with a genius idea and you get the money and then you build something. That’s just a lie. Whom you’re working with is primary. When you think about what you want to work on, I tend to tell people to brainstorm the problems with people who you might want to be your co-founders because when you all get excited, bam, the same people you’re brainstorming with can be the people you can start a company with.

Be passionate about problem solving:

Ideas are solutions. The first solution that can be released won’t be good, and that’s OK. Investors are completely happy with that. If you’re not passionate about the problem that you’re solving, you’re not going to be coming up with the second, third, fourth, fifth idea. You have so many more opportunities to help your customer if they have a problem every day than if they have a problem every other day.

Know the size of your market:

One question every investor wants to know is how big is your market. There’s a very simple answer to why. They don’t make money unless you build a billion-dollar company and it’s hard to build a billion-dollar company in a small market. There’s really two ways of doing this. It’s really easy if you’re building a company in a space that already exists. Let’s say you’re building an online small business bank. All you have to do is look up online how big small business banking is and, bam, you know your market size. If you’re looking up something that never existed before all you have to do is figure out how many potential customers there are, how much you’re going to charge per year and, bam, there’s your market size. This isn’t rocket science but it’s one of those sneaky things that can disqualify you without you really knowing.

Achieve MVP status:

Minimal Viable Product. Once you have that team and once you have that product that has a problem you will solve, this is what you get to work on. Let’s be clear, you don’t start with this. You don’t say, “Let me hire someone to build an MVP and prove that there’s something good here, and then hire my team.” There are seven different reasons why that’s a bad idea but the most important one is most investors will not invest. You need their money. Most of them will look at outsource development team and say, “No thank you.” When you think about your minimal viable product, this is the first opportunity you have to get something in customer’s hands and it’s very scary. A lot of people delay this because they think, “If I release something that sucks, I’ll never be able to get my business off the ground.” In fact, some business gurus talk about this. It’s complete bulls**t. Very few of you remember the day that Google GOOGL -0.79% launched. Very few of you remember the day that Amazon AMZN 0.19% launched or the day that Facebook launched. Those guys are doing pretty well. Just get anything in your customer’s hands. If you’re solving a video problem that the customers have often, they will use whatever piece of crap you release because it’s better than nothing. Then from that point forward you’ll learn what they like and what they don’t, and you’ll make it better.

Learn the value of launching and leverage:

What we tell startups: “You’re nothing until you launch.” I don’t want to hear about your idea. I don’t want to hear about your great strategy. I don’t want to hear about your delusions of grandeur. I want to hear you launched. Then we can have a conversation. Nowadays, launching is significantly less expensive. One thing I always try to tell founders is that you want to own leverage. You don’t want to give the investor the leverage. If you tell me—this good investor—that you can’t launch until you have my money, now I have all the leverage. I can take my time. I can go on vacation. If you tell me we’ve already launched, well now I’ve got to pay attention because the next time you talk to me, you might be growing and the price might go up. By launching, you put fear into me and fear is a great way to get someone to take you seriously. Way better than love.

Grow or die:

The second that you launch, every week that you’re not growing, you’re dying. Don’t think about this as some kind of complicated setup. We have to do a lot of prep work and a lot of extra stuff to prepare yourself to grow. A startup is constantly in the state of failure. You say, “Why doesn’t it grow every week?”

You’ll never get ahead of your technical debt. You’ll never get ahead of your operational problems. You’ll never get ahead of your personnel problems. The bigger you are, the more problems you will have, guaranteed. So you might as well grow. Also, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was that growth was the No. 1 thing to help start your culture. Everyone wants to be on the winning team, and a winning team grows every week.

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