How to Start a Startup Lecture- How To Be a Great Founder

Presenter – Reid Hoffman

Focus for this presentation

  • Founding Team – it is usually best to have 2-3 people on the team. When he looks at things as an investor, this is the best way to go
    • broad set of skills
    • more adaptable
    • can compensate for each others weaknesses
    • you need to have a high level of trust with your cofounders (not always, but frequently fatal)
  • Location- great founder seek the location and networks that allow them to be successful. Where are the strongest networks for this?
    • Silicon valley is good for some of those tasks
      • Groupon was NOT in Silicon valley, in the early days it needed sales forces to grow. They actually grew in Chicago.
      • If you were doing a fashion startup, it would probably make more sense to be in the networks that support what you are doing
  • Should I be Contrarian? It is pretty easy to be contrarian, it is more difficult to be contrarian AND right. Contrarian is relative to the audience – “what do I know that other people don’t know?” In the early days of LinkedIn, 2/3 of the people he talked to thought he was nuts. What HE knew was that he could leverage people that had interest in the initial market that would want to help grow the network effects
    • There are a lot of ways to be contrarian.
  • When should I Do the Work versus Delegate? Both…
  • Should I be Flexible or Persistent? You need to be both. You should have an investment thesis on why you think something you are working on is a good idea. Ask yourself if you are increasing or decreasing your confidence int eh investment thesis.
  • Should I be Confident or Cautious? You need to be able to hold a belief, but smart enough to listen to critical feedback, market, etc.
  • Should I focus internally or externally? Both – you need to balance and be flexible along these lines. It will vary daily.
  • Should I work by Vision or Data? Data only exists within a vision you are working through.
  • Should I take risks or minimize risks? You need to think about how to take risks, BUT part of the skillset of an entrepreneur is how to take focused and intelligent risks. If you are right about one thing, a lot of other things break your way.
  • Should I focus on the short term or long term? You should always have a long term vision in mind, but you need to focus immediate attention on the problem that is front of you. Ask “am I largely on path?”
    • Good strategy ‘path’
      • Product strategy
      • Product distribution
      • Financing
  • How do I know if I may be a great founder? General skills:
    • Product person
    • Leadership skills
    • Persuading people
    • Networks
    • Recognize whether you are on track or not
  • How do I evaluate if I am a great founder?



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