Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Notes from Reid Hoffman talk at Stanford

Just listened to an archive of Reid Hoffman's talk at Stanford a few months ago. The link to the talk is here.

Key take-aways:
  • Think of entrepreneurship like investing. In investing, there are 2 strategies: (1) portfolio diversification/risk mitigation, and (2) accurate contrarian theories. Entrepreneurship is like investment approach #2. If it's conventional wisdom, probably not a good start-up idea.
  • Test your hypotheses as quickly as you can. Work as if you're going to succeed, but get to your failure points as quickly as possible. Sequence it so that you test the biggest risks as early as possible.
  • 2 reasons for this: (1) Don't want to waste your time. If you could have found something out in 1 year that would have led you to abandon your idea, but you waited until year 3 to test it, then you've wasted 2 years. (2) There's a market readiness and luck factor to all startups. Sometimes you're going to be lucky, sometimes you're going to be wrong. If your time cycle for testing out new ideas is long, you won't have as many chances over a career to be lucky.
  • Success in entrepreneurship is solving the easiest, simplest problem that's valuable--not necessarily by coming up with the most elegant solution to a very difficult problem (especially if it's not valuable)
  • On competition: Best scenario, do something where there are no competitors. Second best scenario, do something where there are slothful competitors (like banking). Don't go after an aggressive, smart, incumbent competitor head on.

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