How to START a STARTUP with Michael Seibel (Reddit, YC, Twitch)

Hey everyone!

I just watched again this super insightful talk by Michael Seibel at Startup Istanbul this weekend, and I had to share some of the key points with you. If you’re thinking about starting a technical startup, this is a must-read. Michael breaks down the essentials in such a straightforward way, and I’ve pulled out the main nuggets for you.

The Smart Stuff in 14 Slides

Michael kicks off by saying, “This is it, like literally, this is all the smart stuff I know.” He’s distilled his wisdom into just 14 slides, so you know it’s going to be packed with valuable insights. Let’s dive in!

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Building Your Team

First off, when starting a technical startup, aim for 2 to 4 co-founders with at least 50% of them being engineers. Why? Because technical skills are crucial. Plus, everyone needs to have about a year’s worth of savings. And by savings, he means enough to live frugally, not luxuriously.

Idea vs. Team

Interestingly, Michael emphasizes that having an idea isn’t the most important thing initially. Instead, focus on having a solid team. Often, one team member will have a kernel of an idea that can be developed collaboratively. The key is brainstorming and ensuring everyone is on board and has ownership.

Solving Personal Problems

Investors love startups solving personal problems. If the founders deeply understand the problem, they are more likely to succeed. So, focus on issues you are very familiar with and passionate about.

Focus on Daily and Weekly Problems

When developing your product, try to solve daily or weekly problems rather than monthly or yearly ones. This approach makes it easier to find a market fit and get user traction quickly. Michael uses Uber as an example: people need transportation multiple times a day, making it a high-frequency problem.

Fundraising and Incorporation

If you’re looking to raise money in the U.S., incorporating there is a must. It’s a simple process and makes raising funds much more straightforward. And when it comes to fundraising, speed is crucial. Schedule investor meetings tightly to create buzz and momentum.

MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

Many startups falter at the MVP stage. Michael stresses getting a product in front of users quickly. Don’t spend too much time iterating without feedback. Launch early, get user input, and refine based on that.

PR and Press Relations

Michael shared his own experience of wasting over $150,000 on PR firms. His advice? Do your PR yourself in the early stages. Building relationships with reporters is like business development: get warm introductions, follow up, and provide value.

Growth is King

Lastly, growth is the ultimate solution. It’s the key metric that attracts investors, not just your team or past experiences. Fast growth can solve many problems, including fundraising.

That’s it, folks! These insights from Michael Seibel are pure gold for anyone thinking of starting a technical startup. Remember, focus on your team, solve personal and frequent problems, and don’t be afraid to launch early and iterate based on real user feedback.

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