Sam Altman visits UC Berkeley

Sam Altman visited UC Berkeley and took questions from the audience.  Here’s a quick summary of what I found interesting.

What industries are excitable?

  • Software startups still have a long way to go
  • Energy
  • Biotech (cycle times have come down)
Markets
  • YC funds the best startups it can find – even if its the same market it’s backed before
  • You should be skeptical if heaps of people are doing what you’re doing
  • Most successful companies have been the first to their markets, e.g. Facebook was the first college social network (when everyone said you can’t make money of poor college students); Google was the only search engine to launch that year
Traction
  • The best way to get traction is build something people want and will tell their friends about
  • Focus on the product at the beginning –> growth hacking comes later
  • Charge early customers so they give honest feedback
Other random tips
  • You should only ever go to 1 incubator/accelerator (if you’re not accelerated then there’s something wrong)
  • Companies that raise $30m early fail more often than those who raise $300k.  The sense of frugality and resourcefulness early on is super important and set the culture for the company which is really hard to change
  • Founding team should be able to carry the company a long way.  Avoid hiring people for as long as possible
  • YC funds the best founders who have a passion around an idea we like

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