Y Combinator's 22 Pieces of Essential Startup Advice

And how to map your assumptions early on

My monthly fundraising support email goes out to over 800 investors this week. Share your deck and round details to be included:

Today at a glance:

  • Opportunity → Personal Network GPT

  • Framework → Assumption Mapping

  • Tool → Hiring Tool

  • Trend → Managers

  • Quote → YC’s Pocket Guide

💡 Opportunity: Personal Network GPT

Last week premium members joined me for a workshop on startup acquisitions with Kenan Saleh, who sold his last company to Lyft. He posted an interesting idea on X recently:

Retrieving a mental list of “people I know who…” is really hard. You’re bound to miss people and, more than that, not be aware of second-order connections that you could ask for intros to.

Relationship management CRMs like Affinity try to help with this but are expensive for early stage companies.

With the launch of GPTs, there’s an easy opportunity to disrupt and undercut incumbents. Users would input their list of connections from LinkedIn, X, or Gmail and ask the GPT to find specific people for you. You can simply feed it a CSV with connection data from these apps (each of which is downloadable or easily scrapable).

Even if I don’t think most AI startups have been killed by GPTs, existing markets with legacy incumbents are definitely fair game.

🧠 Framework: Assumption Mapping

Before launching a new product you’ll have plenty of assumptions about how that product will do in market. But how do you know those assumptions are based in reality?

Assumption mapping helps founders evaluate the assumptions they have about a new product’s feasibility, viability, and desirability:

  1. Desirability → Is your assumption that your target user wants what you’re offering correct? Do you have research that backs up this assumption?

  2. Viability → Does the product have a sustainable business model? What about your plan to acquire customers? What data exists to support that this can be a viable business?

  3. Feasibility → Is it possible to execute this? What are the key milestones, processes, and activities that you need to build or reach?

Founders can place each one of the questions below into one quadrant of the graph to help them determine which actions they still need to take. Unless something’s in the top left quadrant, it may not be ready for prime time or worth pursuing right now.

🛠 Tool: guidde

guidde is the generative AI platform that lets anyone in your team create how-to videos and visual documentation in seconds for your employees and customers. Editing is as easy as a presentation and you can embed them anywhere: Zendesk, ServiceNow, Gmail, Slack, Confluence, and much more.

Click capture on their browser extension and the app will automatically generate step-by-step video guides complete with visuals, voiceover and call to actions. The best part? It’s 100% free. Try it here.*

📈 Trend: Managers

The subreddit r/managers is a community where people discuss everything related to being a manager.

Over the last few months it’s quickly spiked to over 30k members. Members discuss everything from how to conduct a direct report meeting to whether or not employees actually like having a company Christmas party. This is a subreddit with high-value customers that’s waiting to be unbundled.

Premium members get a quick 3 step guide on how to build a business on top of this subreddit:

💬 Quote: YC’s Pocket Guide

If you’re only going to read one list of startup advice make it this one:

There is so much good startup advice here. My three favorite:

  1. Find the 90/10 solution → Power laws are everywhere in startups. You’re better off doing things that work for the majority of users, moving faster, and building an opinionated product than trying to solve everyone’s problem. That’s a fast track to nowhere.

  2. Launch now → Your product will never be “ready” so don’t wait for it to be perfect. Just launch it and get feedback. You’ll learn more and be able to more quickly reach a version of the product that users actually want to use and pay for. I started Megaphone with an emoji as our logo (this is still true, actually) and nothing more than a Typeform. But we still reached $10k MRR within a few weeks because it was solving a key pain point around growth for other founders.

  3. Founder relationships matter more than you think → This one might be confusing at first. Of course your co-founder relationships matter! You’re building a company with them. But I think most founders underestimate how open, vulnerable, and trusting they need to be with their cofounders in order for their company to be a success. People say a co-founder relationship is like a marriage, but they’re wrong — it’s harder. Even if you have all the momentum in the world with your startup things won’t always be going well. You’ll disagree and fight. This alone can kill the company even if everything else is going right.

🔗 Houck’s Picks

  • Open Source CEO helps founders, investors, and leaders in tech outperform the competition. Join 15,000 weekly readers at Google, Canva, Stripe, TikTok, Sequoia and more. Come learn with us! (Link)*

  • A playbook to hit #1 product of the week on Product Hunt (Link)

  • 12 early interesting GPTs to try out (Link)

  • How to think about buying software businesses in 2024 (Link)

Upgrade with a free trial for the full batch of picks this week:

  • Here’s what founders should do if you have $0 for marketing

  • A quick hack for hiring product leaders

  • Why Brian Chesky thinks founders should be micromanagers

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