(1) Several months ago Mike Arrington wrote an article called “Too Few Women In Tech?Stop Blaming The Men.” He suggested that the lack of women is not due to discrimination but “that not enough women want to become entrepreneurs.” Since our applicant pool seems to bear this out, it seems a likely explanation. I wonder if it’s not that not enough women want to start startups, but that not enough women even consider it as an option. I wish now that I’d started a startup in my twenties instead of wasting those years in a series of boring corporate jobs. So I decided to conduct a thought experiment: now that I know more about startups, what advice would I give to myself as a 25-year-old, and how likely would I have been to start a startup even with the benefit of that advice?If you think you want to do a startup in a particular area, become an expert on your own.
People will dismiss your idea, complain about the functionality of what you’ve built, or publicly criticize you.At Y Combinator, we advise startups to launch early.So the longer you can live on your savings, the more time you’ll have to figure out your idea and get users. As embarrassed as I am to admit it, downgrading my quality of life would have been a significant barrier to starting a startup.(I have no idea if women generally care more about quality of life than men, but it was certainly true for me.) Learn more about startups My next piece of advice would be to understand what being a founder is really like.The media often glamorizes successful founders and makes their paths seem easier than they actually were. Finding a technical cofounder would have been difficult for me.
At Y Combinator, we recommend reading all of Paul Graham’s essays about startups and I give each team a copy of Founders at Work at the first dinner. You may discover that some aspects of founding a startup are not things you want to endure: rejection, the daily emotional roller coaster, a general sense of uncertainty, etc. I was an English major and didn’t know any computer programmers. If someone in your IT department is actually good, befriend them. This may feel uncomfortable but it won’t be the first uncomfortable thing you have to do if you want to start a startup.
Do a test run I never thought I’d say this because I believe it takes complete dedication for a startup founder to succeed but, the advice I’d give to myself as a 25-year-old would be to work on a startup on weekends at first.
If you aren’t sure whether you should be a founder, test things out for a little while without actually burning your boat. My job was unchallenging and filled with a lot of bureaucratic crap, so I worked on Founders at Work as an interesting project to help keep my spirits up. In fact you might find yourself working almost every day of the year.
Andrew Mason of Groupon spoke at YC last summer and told us that he sometimes didn’t feel like he was part of the human race for the past few years. Paul Graham always said having a successful startup is like condensing 40 years of working into 4 extremely stressful ones. Thick Skin Founders face all sorts of rejection in the early days.
You are suddenly in a world where you get slapped around a lot, so if you take slaps personally it is going to be distracting.
Now I’d tell myself: take a class or get a friend to teach you.