Paul Graham

Best quotes by Paul Graham

Paul Graham is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and author. Best known for funding Y Combinator.

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Work with people you want to become like, because you'll become like whoever you work with.


It's a bad sign when a startup brags that it's disrupting some industry. The success or failure of startups depends on the effect they have on users, not the effect they have on industries. Disrupting industries is incidental.


The future is not hard to see. You've already seen it. You just didn't realize it, because you dismissed it as a toy.


If you're an investor and you meet a founder you feel is truly playing the long game, it's scary not to fund them.


More startups have a chance of becoming really big than their founders realize (or want to admit to themselves). The reason for this apparent paradox is that it would take an enormous amount of work.


A secret for discovering really great things: look for things that are said to have a "cult" following. Sometimes this is literally true, but other times it's because the thing is genuinely great, but not everyone knows yet.


If you're a domain expert and you feel that it's almost too late to start startup x, it's the perfect time to.


It would be convenient if you could do great work by working only moderately hard. Maybe there are some people who can. But I can't think of any.


I would be so excited to read an investor update where "we've achieved product-market fit" was followed by "now we're going to put our heads down and just grow" instead of "now we're going to spend months trying to raise money."


One way (admittedly not the best way) to find startup ideas is to ask what organizations would be good to compete with. Universities, for example, are dream competitors. They're so inefficient. But the best of all may be governments.


The most important factor in doing original work is to do it before the errands, not after.


One big advantage a founder CEO has over appointed ones: the founder CEO can have a thesis about the identity of the company that's used to guide decisions. An appointed CEO can inherit such a thesis, but can rarely invent one.


When deciding what to do, the best choice is often one that's simple but hard.


When a change that makes something more powerful also makes it simpler, it's probably a good idea.


Startup founders, here is a fortune cookie for you: "Your expenses are too high. You have hired too many people."


Talking to a founder about how to ensure the first version of his idea is lightweight enough that it gets dismissed as a toy.


People are good at not noticing things they could do, but would be really hard.


Does the sentence "Install the app to set up your device and create an account" scare you? It sure scares me. To me it means "You will spend the next hour dealing with complicated things that don't work."


I have never voluntarily looked at a startup's deck. As soon as a founder starts to open their laptop, I ask them to stop, and just tell me in words what their startup does.

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