Bullet points on evaluating startup ideas

  • Places where people have a big passion already but the economic models doesn't make sense.
  • It's hard to keep living in the future. The minds wants to rest in the present. Inspiration comes in bursts.
  • To get intuition on a certain topic, you need first to learn the rules upon which that field is based to then forget them.
  • When you know that you can build it better, take the leap of faith if it won't happen without you.
  • The most rewarding thing about my job is that I never have to work very hard to explain why I love it.
  • Work on a super hard problem that no-one else is working on.
  • If you have to use someone else's name or authority to get your point across, there is little merit to the point (you might not believe in it yourself). If you believe in something to be correct, focus on showing your work to prove it. Authority derives naturally from merit, not the other way around.
  • A platform is composable if its existing resources can be used as building blocks and programmed into higher order applications.

Best founders

  • MVP as a wedge into the market and then leverage that into a much larger opportunity.
  • Timestamp the vision.
  • Predict something non-obvious about the future of the world before other see it & make it market ready for their ultimate vision.

Analyse and idea

  • If with a new technology:
    • Can only be done this way.
    • Take full advantage of the new technology/benefits.
  • Motivation around the topic.
  • Potential of the idea.
  • Knowledge around the core technology.
  • Capacity to attract top talent with the idea.
  • Profit potential.
  • Probability of success.
  • Every felt the problem.
  • Do you like who the customer is.
  • Can we have product led growth.

On how to begin

  1. Where am I now.
  2. The very next step forward.
  3. The goal/dream.

How to find a problem

  • Reformulate as a question -> bite off a partial solutions off of it.
  • Bring something inaccessible to the masses.
  • Find the problem intolerable & feel like there must be a way to solve it.

How to find something people want

  1. Something people use that's broken.
  2. Turn luxury into a commodity.
  3. Look at what big companies should be doing and then do it.

Zero to one

  • Doing what we know how to do takes the world from 1 -> n.

  • College can teach you many things many don't know what to do with those skills.

  • What important truth do very few people agree with you? Many people believe in X, but the truth is Y.

  • Two types of progress: horizontal (1 to n) or vertical (0 to 1)

    • Horizontal is focused on copying things that work and improving them
    • Vertical is focused on breaking new ground
  • “Competition can make people hallucinate opportunities where none exist”

  • Build + maintain a monopoly

    • Monopolists lie to protect their monopolies — they inflate the size of markets in which they compete seem larger, to deflect attention; “everyone is competing with us” (Google has a monopoly on search and search advertising, but talks about being a broader technology player)
    • Non-monopolists tell the opposite lie — ”we’re in a league of our own”; understating the true scale of real competition
  • Capitalism and competition are opposites

    • Capitalism generates profits
    • Competition eliminates profits
  • Definite vs. Indefinite / Optimism vs. Pessimism — a great 2x2 matrix for thinking about mindsets for innovators

Previous successes

Musk

Looked at the present, where the internet was, and thought about the obvious opportunity this was going to be. No rocket science, no genius. Seeing the truth when everyone is laughing and having math to prove it.

Next company, x.com (Paypal) -> putting your financial information on the internet. Trust your reasoning from first principles.

Reason from axioms vs reason by analogy. In the important moments in life you should reason from first principles.

See where it's going because he could see where it was that day. Conventional wisdom is still a few years later.

If this could b done, this would have been done along time ago -> a math that you believe in. See reality, asses probabilities, ignore the rest/noise.

Bezos

  1. Saw web usage growing 2300% YoY.
  2. Made a list of the top 20 products to sell online & picked the one that could only happen online.

For any infant technology -> Anything that can be done using traditional methods should probably be done that way.

You best theories are going to be creating guesses, not simple speculations.

Airbnb, Coinbase, Stripe

  1. Timing was important:
    • Preexisting product.
    • Preexisting competitor.
    • 10x Better Product Possible.
  2. Most founders and investors thought these ideas were terrible (either too hard to execute or plain bad ideas).
  3. Each opportunity turned out to be bigger than what the founders expected.

Axioms

GDP percentage of the west is in decline:

  • Influence and capability to defend itself will also decline (although people will probably not notice this).
  • Capability of states to crack down on civilians will increase -> people will try to look for alternatives.

The west focusing more on equality rather than in excellence. Focus in defending universal values of:

  1. Freedom of speech.
  2. Free markets.
  3. Protection from search & seizure.

📮 Subscribe to receive my (very rare) notes and updates via email:

Hey, I'm Jaume 👋

I'm an engineer building what's next