Sahil Lavingia

Sahil Lavingia quotes on startup Insights

Founder Gumroad, funder @

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If you want less competition, pick a harder problem.


Startups need both the experience of people who’ve done it before and the optimism of people who haven’t.


I think the #1 reason startups fail is the founders run out of energy.


The best startups solve a problem no one even knew they had.


The best startup ideas come from the intersection of new technology and an old human need.


Work on a product you’d buy yourself, then go sell it to everyone like yourself.


Some of the most successful startups were started because the founders couldn’t get jobs.


Startups: let's do it and ask for permission later. Big companies: let's have a meeting to see if we should ask for permission to do it.


Successful startups happen by solving problems in ways large companies can’t.


You will discover the business you should build when you start to build the business you thought you should build.


Founding a startup is like putting all of your eggs in one basket, and then throwing that basket off a cliff.


You can guarantee yourself the ability to start a startup: Buy a domain. Learn to code so you won't need to pay for engineers. Learn a bit of design so you won't need any designers. There you go. Now you can launch anything.


I don't buy the narrative that 90% of startups fail.


Things that will probably not kill your company: someone who takes your idea and clones it, big companies, other competitors. Things that will: cofounder breakups, impatience, running out of money, shinier object syndrome. Most startups die by suicide.


Great customer support will get you: - A cult following - A better product through customer feedback - A humbled team It might be more important than having a great product!


CMO will soon stand for Chief Meme Officer.


The most important question is "what problem does my customer have?" The second-most important question is "why haven't they solved it yet?"


Figure out how your customers can share your product for you. No one can sell your product better than someone who has already paid for it.


Startups should be scary, not dangerous. Scary: pivoting, getting critical feedback, managing people smarter than yourself Dangerous: raking up credit card debt, sacrificing your health and wellbeing


Do not improve your product based on the feedback of those who do not use your product. Improve your product by talking to the people who already use your product, but aren't in love with it. Reward early adopters, who in turn will reward you with more users.


If someone asks how your startup is going and you haven't acquired a single customer, don't forget: zero is a number... So "we have a number of paying customers now" is a valid answer!


Hiring is the hardest thing about startups. Everyone will tell you it's the hardest thing you'll ever do, and you'll believe them. And you will *still* underestimate just how hard and time-consuming it really is.


The best way to find a technical cofounder is to become one yourself.


How the size of a VC fund relates to how much they actually invest in new startups... A “$40M fund” deploys $32M towards startups (-20% in management fees). Then at least half is reserved for follow-on capital: $16M. Cash is deployed over 3+ years. So $40M fund → $5M per year.


Startups that are hiring ninjas, rockstars, gurus and wizards should be afraid of culture clash.


If you wish to start a startup from scratch, you must first invent the universe.


Startups are full of light hypocrisy. No one gets a title, except for me, the CEO! We're totally flat – all of you work for me. The best idea always wins. I pick which one's best, though.


A CEO doing customer support is either a great leading indicator of startup success or a great leading indicator of startup failure.


Increasingly convinced that the primary use of a lot of startup culture is to squeeze more hours out of each employee. Free catered meals, OKRs, and unlimited vacation days maximize hours per salaried employee – instead of, for example, paying overtime.


Startups are more boring than you think. And the more successful, the more boring.


"Make money online" sounded scammy until I realized that defines the pitch of most startups. We use software and the internet to help people earn money so that they can have more freedom and time to do what they really want. That's pretty cool!


Some startups are research experiments. Sometimes the best outcome is for them to realize there is no current solution, report back, and find a new hypothesis to investigate. That's not failure, that's necessary.


Your startup can offer more than just software: - Community - Hope - Charity - Motivation - Advice from mistakes you've made - Interactions that make people feel good!


What's the difference between a startup and a business? Nothing. Call your company whatever makes you more excited about building it.


Nothing is more valuable to an early stage startup than alignment. Between the CEO, founders, team, investors, and customers. (And nothing more destructive than misalignment.)


A startup reflects its founders much like the dogs in cartoons reflect their owners.


You learn more at the fringe than you do at the center.


A side effect of remote work is that it minimizes the implicitly competitive nature of startups: You no longer compete with each other to hire the same few people. You no longer compete for the same real estate, driving prices up. Going more remote means less frenemies.


The #1 reason to raise money is so you don't have to raise money anymore.


Shipments speak louder than words.


I see a lot of investors get blamed when startups prioritize growth at all costs instead of sustainability. It turns out, while VCs are nice enough to play bad cop, it's probably the CEO/founders who are still responsible for making the ultimate decision. So, blame accordingly!


The minute you're tired of pitching your startup over and over again is the same minute you've gotten really good at it.


Fits are two-way. Meaning, if you feel someone isn't working out for the company, there's a very good chance they feel the company isn't working out for them. Once I realized that, building the "right" team became a lot easier. (Still super hard.)


One reason to found a startup is that years later you'll be able to save money when visiting SF by crashing with former employees.


The more open we are as a company, the shorter new employee onboarding is. It also gets cheaper, because many SaaS products charge per user.

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