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Y Combinator Startup School 2007 Notes

Y Combinator Startup School 2007 Notes

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Published by: otterley on Mar 26, 2007
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Talk IMark J. Macenka, Goodwin Procter LLP: “The Great Value of Avoided Mistakes”mmacenka@goodwinprocter.com
Mark is a partner at Goodwin Procter who specializes in corporate law.
Study and analyze the market – do not underestimate the competition
Stay focused
Bad breath is better than asphyxiation
o
Don’t worry about dilution of ownership
o
Don’t fear having an independent board of directors
Develop a network to solicit strategic and tactical advice on business/legal issuesCapital Structure
Keep the structure as simple as possible
Think about your choice of entity (LLC vs. partnership vs. S/C corporation) asearly as possible and seek counsel re: consequences
Keep your documentation in good order Ownership of IP
Ensure others (including former employers, universities) don’t own any of the IPessential to your business
Ensure consultants assign or license rights in IP they develop to you
Avoid joint ownership agreements whenever possible
Ensure third party code contributions are used within the confines of their applicable licenses
Keep confidential information confidential, else you may lose trade secret protectionFounders Issues
Ownership
Board membership
 Noncompetition agreements
Stock limitations
o
Vesting
o
Transfer restrictions
Right of first refusal
Other rights of repurchase
o
Internal Revenue Code § 83(b)
 
Talk II
 Paul Buchheit is the creator of Gmail. He no longer works at Google.
Advice = limited life experience + overgeneralization
“That’s impossible” = “According to my very limited experience and narrowunderstanding of reality, that’s very unlikely.”
The secret to success may well be to redefine it!
o
Old definition: “I made a pile of money”
o
 New definition: “I learned a lot”
o
Seek opportunities to learn, especially things that no one really knows
.
Useful startups
o
Ensure that the suffix “that actually works” is true
Search … that actually works
Email … that actually works
o
Try making order of magnitude changes
o
Being useless in new ways does not make you fundamentally differentfrom other startups
Building a product that is perfect for everyone is impossible! Your two choicesare:
o
Build a product that is tolerable for everyone
o
Build a product that is perfect for a subset, and then let others comearound
 
Talk IIIChris Anderson, thelongtail.com - “Long Tail Companies”
Chris is the founder of Wired Magazine.
To take advantage of the long tail, consider Joe Kraus, founder of JotSpot: Instead of focusing on dozens of markets of millions, consider millions of markets of dozens.

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