Lecture 1 – How to Start a Startup (Sam Altman, Dustin Moskovitz)

Four Key Areas:

  1. Idea
  2. Product
  3. Team
  4. Execution


Even though Execution is 100x harder and more important than the idea and you will probably pivot and evolve many times before your perfect your product but that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t important. A bad idea is still bad. Good execution on a bad idea will not get you too far.

Definition of an idea includes:

  1. Size and growth of the market
  2. The growth strategy for the company
  3. Defensibility strategy
  4. and more

Planning and long-term are important. Idea – mission for your company is very important, required to get a whole team behind you to work on something for the next 10 years. We should start by targeting a small group of people and capture a large user group later.

You can change everything in a startup but you cannot change the market. If a market doesn’t want to grow or exist, you cannot change that.

You must why this is the right time to start this company. 2 years ago should be too early and 2 years later would be too late. You should be able to explain your idea in one sentence in simple words.


2. Product

Great Idea -> Great Product -> Great Company

In the early stages, you should focus on building a great product and talking to your customers. The important thing at that stage is to build a product that user love, raising money, PR, etc. is a lot easier if you have a great product.

You have the choice between building something that a lot of people like or something that some people love. The advice is to build something that some people love. It is easier to expand from some people love to a lot of people love. Word of mouth brings organic growth. Do one simple thing extremely well.

Feedback is super important when building a product. Founders directly connect with the end user so sales, customer service, etc. Keep feedback loop short and very frequent.

Metrics: Focus on Growth

  • Total Registrations
  • Active Users
  • Activity Levels
  • Cohort Retention
  • Revenue
  • Net Promoter Score

Startups live on growth. It is a great indicator of a great product.

Why you start a Startup?


Question: How do I identify growing markets?
Think about what people are using, esp. young/growing population.