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Archive for October, 2014

Paul Graham – How to start a startup

Paul Graham, Y Combinator founder (and former boss) recently gave a guest lecture in Sam Altman’s startup class at Stanford. It’s intended for college students, but much of it is applicable to potential founders at other ages. The video of the lecture can be found here but PG also summarized it in an essay.

For those who don’t have the time to watch/read the whole thing, my favorite quotes are below:

Startups are very counterintuitive. It’s like skiing in that way. When you first try skiing and you want to slow down, your instinct is to lean back. But if you lean back on skis you fly down the hill out of control.

The way to succeed in a startup is not to be an expert on startups, but to be an expert on your users and the problem you’re solving for them.

If you start a startup, it will take over your life to a degree you cannot imagine. And if your startup succeeds, it will take over your life for a long time: for several years at the very least, maybe for a decade, maybe for the rest of your working life. So there is a real opportunity cost here.

Do not start a startup in college [...]. You can do things in your early 20s that you can’t do as well before or after, like plunge deeply into projects on a whim and travel super cheaply with no sense of a deadline.

At its best, starting a startup is merely an ulterior motive for curiosity. And you’ll do it best if you introduce the ulterior motive toward the end of the process.

Feedback on the Trophée Excellencia

(Trophee Excellencia Sept2014) Team Excellencia (2)I was very honored to be the master of ceremony of the Trophée Excellencia last Tuesday.

Co-organized by EPITA and the Syntec Numérique, the trophy main objective was to promote the digital sector towards young women, breaking stereotypes and raising awareness that the trades of new technologies are just as interesting as those of medicine, culture, media and sport.

Three trophies were rewarded during the evening

  • The digital entrepreneur trophy went to Agnes Jbeily of Datanoos
  • The digital women involved in a non-for-profit action went to Ludwine Probst of Duchess France
  • Three young women received scholarships from EPITA

We also used this event to echo the HeforShe movement started out last week by actress Emma Watson to push more men to support gender equality, in tech as well as in other sectors.

(Trophee Excellencia Sept2014) Veronique Torner et Philippe Montarges (Alter Way) et Daniel Jarjoura (Startup42) (3)

I must admit I was very fortunate to be at the forefront of this event and meet all these amazing and charming women. They really do break stereotypes and I hope this will inspire a new generation of young women to work in tech.

Last but not least, the highlight of the evening for me was definitely to receive a bouquet of roses from Véronique Di Benedetto, the President of Femmes du Numérique, as a thank you for hosting the evening. Women always receive roses at the end of ceremonies, now it’s men’s turn :) Thanks Véronique!

(Trophee Excellencia Sept2014) Daniel Jarjoura et Veronique Di Benedetto (4)

If you missed the event, Olivier Ezratty has, as usual, uploaded superb pictures of the event on his website. See you hopefully next year for an even bigger event!

I met a lot of interested people

That’s basically the sentence I heard over and over during our first weekly review at StartUp42. Young entrepreneurs going out meeting potential customers or random investors often confuse interest for politeness. Let’s be clear: most people you meet, especially people you don’t know, will never tell you up front that they’re not interested by your product or that you’re doing it wrong. They’ll just smile and tell you that what you’re doing is very interesting.

I don’t blame them, why would you go through the troubles of explaining to a passionate entrepreneur that you wouldn’t buy/invest/recommend his product? My advise to startups: focus on the only way of showing real interest: money!