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Now that basically everyone can start an Internet company, and with more funding alternatives available than ever before, what challenges and requirements do new startups face? When everything’s also “100-percent mobile, cloud, and social“? When ideas are commodity and execution is everything?

Read lots of great books and talked to smart people. That’s kind of how one learns anything.”: Elon Musk when asked how he learned to build a SpaceX rocket.

Entrepreneurship is learning by doing, but just like Elon, one needs to read up. I’ve put together a collection of posts from smart people (from the past year or so), that I frequently find myself passing on to entrepreneurs. 25 posts filled with exceptional advice and thoughts to help you from getting slaughtered, whether it’s mobile, consumer, marketplace, hardware, or SaaS startup you’re building. Would you already have read them all, congratulations on great cherry picking, and please pass on to your fellow entrepreneur who might be struggling! Ps. Reading the quotes only doesn’t qualify 🙂


It seems that many entrepreneurs are confusing creativity with innovation. Now more than ever, I see apps, services, and companies that are uninspired or uninspiring. While this itself is not a problem, the fact that many of these ideas are funded creates a benchmark for mediocrity.” Dilemma’s Innovator by Brian Solis of Altimeter Group

“Silicon Valley has all these incredible visionaries saying they are changing the world yet can’t change their own neighborhoods.”  Why Does America Hate Silicon Valley? by Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher


Seed Financing

“You may not see venture money ever again, so make that seed round count and look for funding alternatives early… With super high capital efficiency, transparent markets, standardized investment terms, the rise of platforms, post seed chaos is the “new normal” in startup life. Better get used to it.” The Glorious Post Seed Startup Financing Chaos by Fred Destin

Equally important: How to thrive in and learn to embrace the chaos

Series A crunch

“It took us nine months to raise our series A… In no time, we went from near-death to being oversubscribed in our series A… If you’ve built a strong business, yet still find yourself on the brink of near-death, know that with preparation and perseverance, you will be able to overcome even the most daunting challenges.” Fundraising: A Candid Account Of The Highs And Lows by  Avid Larizadeh of Boticca


On People

“How to make 46% better return on equity” Why Your Next Board Member Should Be A Woman by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures

“How you deal with the departing employee will be noticed by the remaining employees. Even if the departing employee was not liked, a bad cultural fit, or worse incompetent, the remaining employees will have some empathy for them on the way out and if you handle it well, that will send an important message to the team.”
Asking An Employee To Leave The Company by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures

On Competition

“One of my biggest pet peeves when speaking with entrepreneurs about their business is the way some talk about their competition. Specifically, I get annoyed by entrepreneurs who are overly dismissive of their competitors.  … at least  1 or 2 that are going to pose a formidable threat in some meaningful way.” Competition by Rob Go of NextView Ventures

On Doing Right Things

“Picking daily work and making strategic decisions based on personal preference, not on how critical they are to the startup.” The Founder’s Lie About Comfort Zones by Andreas Klinger

On Success

“I’m sure this doesn’t always apply, but the most successful founders I know are nicer than average. They’re tough, they’re very competitive, and they are ruthless, but they are fundamentally nice people.” Super successful companies by Sam Altman of Y Combinator

“Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves.” Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid List by Amy Morin

Postmortem Of A Venture-backed Startup

“Companies don’t get sold, they get bought.”

 “Rather than delivering us millions of their [brands] customers on a silver platter, they were keeping tabs on us so that they could get access to OUR audience if we ever took off!… Investors know this. You sound stupid when you talk about your impending “big deal” with “XYZ brand” that’s going to drive massive customer acquisition and revenue.” Lessons Learned from the rise and fall of @Sonar by Brett Martin


On Design

“Don’t hire stylists. They’ll spend their time trying to make you happy replicating what’s in your head, rather than trying to make your clients happy.” Design for Start-Ups by Andy Budd

On Mobile Development

“For every platform you’re on, integrations and functionality has to be rebuilt all the time. Do you really have resources to do that, or will you become bogged down in maintenance so you can’t develop new features or grow your business?” Mobile: Why multi platform development can be the route to failure by Tine Thygesen of Everplaces

On Growth Hacking

“Elegant understanding of core product value. Don’t spam & trick, alienates users in long term.”

“Eliminate ego culture. Don’t believe the hype. Hire A people.”

“Simple framework: Acquisition, Activation, Engagement, Virality” How we put Facebook on the path to 1 billion users by Chamath Palihapitiya of S23P (Summary: slide 31)

The Age of Devop

“The illusion is that there is no hardware involved and anyone can just power up AWS, Rackspace or Azure… shift the balance and has the developer taking over a bigger and bigger piece of operations…Web developers have also become omnipresent devops. You build it, you run it.” The changing face of web development by Steffen Tiedemann Christensen of 23 Video

The Complexity Cost

“The value is in what gets used, not what gets built. … It’s often subtle or intentionally hidden features that cost the most in the long term. …What might take two weeks right now adds a marginal cost to every engineering project we’ll take on in this product in the future.” The one cost engineers and product managers don’t consider by Kris Gale of Yammer

On Doing Things That Don’t Scale

“I have never once seen a startup lured down a blind alley by trying too hard to make their initial users happy.” Do Things That Don’t Scale by Paul Graham of Y Combinator

“Obsess over customers” by Jeff Bezos of Amazon Watch

On Building Consumer Startups

“For consumer startups with non-transactional models (ad-based or unknown business models), you need something closer to 10 million users versus 1 million users to get Series A funded.” Ten million users is the new one million users by Chris Dixon of A16Z

On Building Marketplaces

“Network effects are tricky and hard to describe but fundamentally turn on the following question: Can the marketplace provide a better experience to customer “n+1000” than it did to customer “n” directly as a function of adding 1000 more participants to the market?…  If you have something like this in place it is magic.” All Markets Are Not Created Equal: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces by Bill Gurley of Benchmark

On Building SaaS

“There’s a tacit assumption that if only we just stopped spending to grow, we’d be profitable. Thus, this “really is” a profitable company, and the only reason it’s not is growth, which means market domination, which is a Good Thing…. The fallacy is: That time never comes. No company stops trying to grow!… Growth becomes harder and harder for SaaS companies because of cancellations.” The unprofitable SaaS business model trap by Jason Cohen of WP Engine

On Building Hardware

Not every product can be made in a toy factory.” by Cyril Ebersweiler of HAXLR8REssentials on prototyping and financing needs of hardware startups.


One does learn a lot by listening: For almost 5 years now, I’ve been going to school with Jason Calacanis of Inside.com, to listen smart people share their candid learnings at This Week In Startups. So should you. (Haven’t stopped since the first 50 episodes.)


Whenever you struggle with dark moments or think you’ve hit the rock bottom, talk to someone. It’s a strength, not a weakness, to reach out to others. Whatever you’re experiencing and feeling at the moment, you’re not alone. James Altucher knows awful lot about it.

Paula is Digital Product Advisor and Top 100 Women in Tech in Europe, focusing on Product, Go-to-market, and Internationalization strategies. Rated as one of the very best startup mentors in Europe, she has to date mentored over 150 digital technology companies on product, marketing and growth. Pick My Brain! is her fixed price service tailored to early stage startups, gender wage gap adjusted for female founders. Contact Paula for digital strategy work or book her as keynote speaker about #Startups #WomenInTech #GenderEquality #Entrepreneurship. Read more about her work and connect @Twitter, @LinkedIn. “You never learn anything when you speak, only when you listen”Roelof Botha / Douglas Leone, Sequoia Capital