Portrait of a businessman Graham eyes | Предприниматель

Portrait of a businessman Graham eyes

Most investors, before writing a check, carefully examine the strengths and weaknesses of the business plans. The focus of the founder of Y Combinator, Paul Graham – the people who stand for ideas. Here are five qualities that he expects the business.


It turned out to be the most important thing for the founder of a startup. When we opened the Y Combinator, then thought that the most important would mind – there is such a myth in Silicon Valley. But when a person has overcome a certain threshold IQ, the most important is determination: there is a lot of obstacles.

A good example – Bill Clerico and Rich Aberman of WePay. They founded the financial start-up, they will have endless negotiations with the large bureaucratic companies, which seem to be trying to ignore you. But when you drawn to Bill Clerico, will have to do what he asks – it is clear that this guy is not going to retreat.


From the founder does not want that kind of determination, which is heated with the phrase “Believe in the dream.” The startup world is unpredictable, we must be able to change the dream to fly. For me, the best metaphor that describes a combination of determination with flexibility – it is a position player in college football, which is often necessary to change the direction of running, and then turn back to get away from rivals.

The current record belongs to the flexibility, perhaps, Daniel Gross of Greplin. He filed a request with a bad YC project in the field of electronic commerce. We said that we give funding if he will come up with something else. He agreed. Before you set up Greplin, Gross has come a couple of ideas that were rejected.


Not so important to be able to solve tasks, as to be able to give birth to great ideas. In the startup world, most good ideas at first seem to be bad – unless advantages are obvious, someone has embodied them. So need a mind that creates ideas with the necessary degrees of madness.

An example of such an idea – Airbnb. We financed, except insane stunt could not believe that there are many people willing to live with other people. We just liked the founders. Hearing that they earn by selling breakfast cereal with images of Obama and McCain on the box, we realized that our people are. It turned out that their idea was insane in the right.


Successful founders of startups – are good people, but with a gleam in the eyes of a pirate. They can not be called exemplary. With respect to ethics, they do everything right, but not to the standards of conduct. So I use the word “audacity” and not “evil.” They are a pleasure to break the rules, but not the ones that really matter.

Sam Altman from Loopt – one of the most successful business people supported us, so we asked him what the question is added to the request for funding for Y Combinator, to find more people like him. He advised to ask whether the applicant had to hack something in its favor – in the sense of beating the system and not get into other people’s computers. And this issue has now become one of the key when evaluating bids.


Hard to start a startup alone. Most successful companies – two or three of the founders. It is important that they are genuinely sympathetic to each other and they work well together. If the relationship is not as close and you can break them, then it will happen.

Emmett Shear, and Justin Kan of Justin.tv – an example of close friends, who together are capable of much. They are familiar with the second year and actually read each other’s thoughts. I am sure that they have to argue, as all the founders, but I do not feel any tension in their relationship.

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