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Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator. September I've done several types of work over the years but I don't know another as counterintuitive as startup investing.
The two most important things to understand about startup investing, as a business, are 1 that effectively all the returns are concentrated in a few big winners, and 2 that the best ideas look initially like bad ideas.
The first rule I knew intellectually, but didn't really grasp till it happened to us. The total value of the companies we've funded is around 10 billion, give or take a few. But just two companies, Dropbox and Airbnb, account for about three quarters of it. In startups, the big winners are big to a degree that violates our expectations about variation.
I don't know whether these expectations are innate or learned, but whatever the cause, we are just not prepared for the x variation in outcomes that one finds in startup investing. That yields all sorts of strange consequences.
For example, in purely financial terms, there is probably at most one company in each YC batch that will have a significant effect on our returns, and the rest are just a cost of doing business.
And yet it's true. To succeed in a domain that violates your intuitions, you need to be able to turn them off the way a pilot does when flying through clouds.
It's a constant battle for us. It's hard to make ourselves take enough risks. When you interview a startup and think "they seem likely to succeed," it's hard not to fund them.
And yet, financially at least, there is only one kind of success: In the same day of interviews you might meet some smart 19 year olds who aren't even sure what they want to work on.
Their chances of succeeding seem small.
But again, it's not their chances of succeeding that matter but their chances of succeeding really big. The probability that any group will succeed really big is microscopically small, but the probability that those 19 year olds will might be higher than that of the other, safer group.
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The probability that a startup will make it big is not simply a constant fraction of the probability that they will succeed at all. If it were, you could fund everyone who seemed likely to succeed at all, and you'd get that fraction of big hits.
Unfortunately picking winners is harder than that. You have to ignore the elephant in front of you, the likelihood they'll succeed, and focus instead on the separate and almost invisibly intangible question of whether they'll succeed really big.
Harder That's made harder by the fact that the best startup ideas seem at first like bad ideas. I've written about this before:Virtual reality is posed to become a fundamental technology, and outfits like Magic Leap have an opportunity to become some of the largest companies ever.
September I've done several types of work over the years but I don't know another as counterintuitive as startup investing. The two most important things to understand about startup investing, as a business, are (1) that effectively all the returns are concentrated in a few big winners, and (2) that the best ideas look initially like bad ideas.
What You'll Find in this Article: 1. Instructions for how to (and how not to) pick a topic. 2. Lists of topic ideas (in the categories of food and health, obesity and dieting, recycling and the environment, families and relationships, and science and technology, with videos and many links to research and student essay examples.
Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier. Describe a problem vividly.
Propose a solution.
Argue that the solution is practical, feasible, cost-effective, and workable. Explain why it is better than other. I'm a big picture, big thinker kind of guy. So while my editors mess around with the most important people right now, I'm swirling a brandy snifter full of smart and compiling a list that tells the story of the human race: the All-Time TIME of All Time™.
The table below presents an abbreviated geologic time scale, with times and events germane to this essay. Please refer to a complete geologic time scale when this one seems inadequate.