you can either build something a large number of people want a small amount, or something a small number of people want a large amount. Choose the latter. Not all ideas of that type are good startup ideas, but nearly all good startup ideas are of that type.
Live in the future, then build what’s missing.
Because a good idea should seem obvious, when you have one you’ll tend to feel that you’re late. Don’t let that deter you. Worrying that you’re late is one of the signs of a good idea.
When searching for ideas, look in areas where you have some expertise. If you’re a database expert, don’t build a chat app for teenagers (unless you’re also a teenager). Maybe it’s a good idea, but you can’t trust your judgment about that, so ignore it.
The two most important things to understand about startup investing, as a business, are (1) that effectively all the returns are concentrated in a few big winners, and (2) that the best ideas look initially like bad ideas.
Meanwhile, the one thing you can measure is dangerously misleading. The one thing we can track precisely is how well the startups in each batch do at fundraising after Demo Day. But we know that’s the wrong metric. There’s no correlation between the percentage of startups that raise money and the metric that does matter financially, whether that batch of startups contains a big winner or not.
Except an inverse one. That’s the scary thing: fundraising is not merely a useless metric, but positively misleading. We’re in a business where we need to pick unpromising-looking outliers, and the huge scale of the successes means we can afford to spread our net very widely. The big winners could generate 10,000x returns. That means for each big winner we could pick a thousand companies that returned nothing and still end up 10x ahead.
Labels and studios is that the people who run them are driven by bonuses rather than equity. If they were driven by equity they’d be looking for ways to take advantage of technological change instead of fighting it. But building new things takes too long. Their bonuses depend on this year’s revenues, and the best way to increase those is to extract more money from stuff they do already.
Being relentlessly resourceful is definitely not the recipe for success in big companies, or in most schools. I don’t even want to think what the recipe is in big companies, but it is certainly longer and messier, involving some combination of resourcefulness, obedience, and building alliances.
The most dangerous thing about our dislike of schleps is that much of it is unconscious. Your unconscious won’t even let you see ideas that involve painful schleps. That’s schlep blindness.
So the reason younger founders have an advantage is that they make two mistakes that cancel each other out. They don’t know how much they can grow, but they also don’t know how much they’ll need to. Older founders only make the first mistake.
In the past, founders rarely kept control of the board through a series A. The traditional series A board consisted of two founders, two VCs, and one independent member. More recently the recipe is often one founder, one VC, and one independent. In either case the founders lose their majority. Founders retaining control after a series A is clearly heard-of. And barring financial catastrophe, I think in the coming year it will become the norm.
what matters most is determination. You’re going to hit a lot of obstacles. You can’t be the sort of person who gets demoralized easily.
Intelligence does matter a lot of course. It seems like the type that matters most is imagination. It’s not so important to be able to solve predefined problems quickly as to be able to come up with surprising new ideas. In the startup world, most good ideas seem bad initially. They’re not Goody Two-Shoes type good. Morally, they care about getting the big questions right, but not about observing proprieties. That’s why I’d use the word naughty rather than evil. They delight in breaking rules, but not rules that matter.
now a third type has appeared halfway between them: the so-called super-angels.  And VCs have been provoked by their arrival into making a lot of angel-style investments themselves. So the previously sharp line between angels and VCs has become hopelessly blurred. One of the biggest differences between angels and VCs is the amount of your company they want. VCs want a lot. In a series A round they want a third of your company, if they can get it. They don’t care much how much they pay for it, but they want a lot because the number of series A investments they can do is so small. In a traditional series A investment, at least one partner from the VC fund takes a seat on your board.  Since board seats last about 5 years and each partner can’t handle more than about 10 at once, that means a VC fund can only do about 2 series A deals per partner per year
That tends to produce deadlocks. Raising an old-fashioned fixed-size equity round can take weeks, because all the angels sit around waiting for the others to commit
But in fact the way most fortunes are lost is not through excessive expenditure, but through bad investments. The most dangerous way to lose time is not to spend it having fun, but to spend it doing fake work.