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Startups in 13 Sentences
One of the things I always tell startups is a principle I learned from Paul Buchheit: it's better to make a few people really happy than to make a lot of people semi-happy. I was saying recently to a reporter that if I could only tell startups 10 things, this would be one of them. Then I thought: what would the other 9 be?
The best way to come up with startup ideas is to ask yourself the question: what do you wish someone would make for you?
There are two types of startup ideas: those that grow organically out of your own life, and those that you decide, from afar, are going to be necessary to some class of users other than you. Apple was the first type. Apple happened because Steve Wozniak wanted a computer. Unlike most people who wanted computers, he could design one, so he did. And since lots of other people wanted the same thing, Apple was able to sell enough of them to get the company rolling. They still rely on this principle today, incidentally. The iPhone is the phone Steve Jobs wants. 
(This essay is derived from a talk at the 2009 Startup School.)
I wasn't sure what to talk about at Startup School, so I decided to ask the founders of the startups we'd funded. What hadn't I written about yet?
I'm in the unusual position of being able to test the essays I write about startups. I hope the ones on other topics are right, but I have no way to test them. The ones on startups get tested by about 70 people every 6 months.
Corporate Development, aka corp dev, is the group within companies that buys other companies. If you're talking to someone from corp dev, that's why, whether you realize it yet or not.
It's usually a mistake to talk to corp dev unless (a) you want to sell your company right now and (b) you're sufficiently likely to get an offer at an acceptable price. In practice that means startups should only talk to corp dev when they're either doing really well or really badly. If you're doing really badly, meaning the company is about to die, you may as well talk to them, because you have nothing to lose. And if you're doing really well, you can safely talk to them, because you both know the price will have to be high, and if they show the slightest sign of wasting your time, you'll be confident enough to tell them to get lost.
(This essay is derived from a talk at Defcon 2005.)
Suppose you wanted to get rid of economic inequality. There are two ways to do it: give money to the poor, or take it away from the rich. But they amount to the same thing, because if you want to give money to the poor, you have to get it from somewhere. You can't get it from the poor, or they just end up where they started. You have to get it from the rich.
If you look at a list of US cities sorted by population, the number of successful startups per capita varies by orders of magnitude. Somehow it's as if most places were sprayed with startupicide.
I wondered about this for years. I could see the average town was like a roach motel for startup ambitions: smart, ambitious people went in, but no startups came out. But I was never able to figure out exactly what happened inside the motel—exactly what was killing all the potential startups.