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[Entrepreneurship Mindset] iiiNNO Top 3 Pick of Y Combinator Startup School Training – How to

These 3 videos are probably ones of our favorite YC startup school lessons. These sharing and insights address frequent questions or challenges founders face. 

At iiiNNO, we help entrepreneurs and startup companies to accelerate 10X. The things the speaker shared blew out of our minds, and hopefully the knowledge will also help you all.  The idea of presentation profoundly changes the way we designed our incubation/accelerator program and the way we mentor. 

YC Startup School: How to Win by Daniel Gross (Video #1)

Would you like to achieve 10X grow? If yes, then this is a video just going to help you with such. However,  many of the things may not be intuitive to what you have already known.

Who should watch this video?

  1. want to know how world class entrepreneurs are performing and delivery consistent progress

  2. how to move to the next level

  3. want to know what is a mental model


Essentially, entrepreneurs need to perform at the peak as if you are training as an Olympic athlete with a strong mindset of taking care of all aspects that may impact the progress of your startup.  Working hard may simply not cut it as input does not equal output. Founders need to both work hard and work smart. One needs to have a mental model where you will be able to bill someone 500 USD per hour and more

  1. Sleep:

  2. Don’t cut your sleep unless there is an urgency, and sleep as much as you need. As lack of sleep may risk your cognitive capability. 

  3. Don’t depend on alarm clock.

  4. Food:

  5. No junk food as it impairs your judgement. 

  6. Eat what is healthy.

  7. Drink lots water

  8. Exercise 

  9. Spend time outdoor with sun

  10. Cardio exercise

  11. How to fall in love with exercise

  12. Don’t over do it

  13. Celebrate success

  14. Surround with active people who runs, and sign up with running event

  15. Mind

  16. Sabbath: Spend one day not as hard as you can per week to refresh (e.g. go to the beach, woods)

  17. Read: Reading book is not simply about the information, but begin to think

  18. Mindfulness: experience yourself as 3rd person when things go south. People tend to do something negative as by-product of insecurity.  (e.g. I am angry vs I am experience anger)

  19. Spend time in flow

  20. try to work yourself in a flow

  21. try the team work in a flow together

  22. Don’t be auto pilot

  23. try different and optimize through iteration (e.g trying different time of having meeting)

How to become a really inspired leader : Robert Kegan’s Adult Development Theory

Why is this important and applicable? Knowing which stage you are and other, give you insight in how to work with other and building an amazing team.

  1. Stage #1

  2. Act

  3. acting out by emotion (e.g. cry when hungry)

  4. Challenges

  5. Note

  6. Baby

  7. Stage #2: Imperial Mind

  8. Act

  9. extremely self-fish, focus on one goal

  10. very transactional

  11. not able to think for others

  12. Failure to leadership & challenge

  13. hard to collaborate, don’t feel compel

  14. Note: most kids here

  15. Stage #3: Socialize Mind

  16. Act

  17. see very well how other people see yourself too clear as result one loses

  18. decision is driven by how people see them

  19. Failure to leadership & challenges

  20. hard to have independent view of this phase

  21. Note: most adult here

  22. Stage #4: Self-Authoring Mind

  23. Act

  24. less affirmation by society

  25. have independent mind and take on the “3rd person view rather then 1st view”

  26. have your own morale

  27. play infinite game

  28. Failure to leadership & challenges

  29. good for early stage founder, bad to scale, hard to learn from others

  30. Note: great phase for founder before product-market fit

  31. Stage #5: Self-Transforming Mind

  32. Act

  33. game designer rather a game player

  34. embrace opinion of others. Run any idea when it comes

  35. drop the entire existing idea for some other better qualify idea.

  36. think in system, and quickly be able to have people’s idea in map and where that idea resides.

  37. able to manage high productivity and senior executive

  38. Challenges

  39. very few people are here.

  40. Note:

  41. ability to get A+ player to work together

  42. be here after product-market-fit


  1. You are an Olympic athlete and learn how to bill other people 500 USD per hour

  2. The competition is about stay health and eat well

  3. Express yourself as 3rd person view specially during the bad days, and not be caught in bad days

  4. Launch and iterate yourself. Collect data of yourself and know what works for you and not in order to perform at next level.

  5. Ask people interesting and compel question.

  6. Play finite game. It is not zero sum game.

YC Startup School: How To Evaluate Startup Ideas by Kevin Hale (Video #2)

So you have an idea and you want to know if you have more likelihood to succeed? Here is how YC selects their applicants and how they coach team and ones they invested in.

Who should watch this video?

  1. want to know how to get to YC and build a startup that grows

  2. you have a lot of idea, don’t know which one to select

  3. you are in middle of building your product, how to pivot

  4. you are startup in in scale mode, but the growth has slowed down

Why some investor shutdown your ideas and some work with you?

At YC, the founder Paul share that investor needs to think how an idea can possibly win and work with the founder. Therefore, they welcome all the idea

What does good problem have in common?

  1. So a good problem has one of the following elements

  2. popular: happen frequently (million people have it and use everyday)

  3. growing: more people have it (> 20 %)

  4. urgent: need it solve now (need solution right now has addressable market > 1 billion)

  5. expensive: willing to pay (total addressable

  6. mandatory: no choice but to solve (the law has change or regulation requires new service)

  7. Good problem would allow people to switch

  8. if startup wish to change a behavior of switching from an existing service to a new one, then need to clearly understand the following theory (Behavior = M + A+ T)

  9. Behavior = motivation (customer really feel the need)  + ability (what startup can offer) + trigger (what does need to happen)

Don’t search for a problem for a solution

Often YC encounters entrepreneurs to decide first what the solution or underlining technology, then try to search for the problem. It is better to define the problem first, then growing the use case and scenario, then be open to the solution

What is the unfair advantage?

Really great companies have most of it, but start your startup with at least one

  1. Founder advantage:  (are you 1 in 10 of all the people who can solve this problem? Most entrepreneurs to start with does not have such advantage)

  2. Market advantage: Is the market you are addressing growing at more than 20% (if this is your only advantage, then it would be one of the weakest advantage)

  3. Product advantage: Is your product 10X better/cheaper/faster than your competitors?

  4. Acquisition advantage: Are you able to attract customer at 0 cost? (can your company grow by word of mouth?)

  5. Monopoly advantage: Would be be more difficult for other to enter? (such as market place <where winner may take all> or network effect <where company grows as the network grows)

How to talk to user by Eric Migicovsky (Video #3)

Talking to user is critical factor of building a startup. Founders need to extract market insight from the users and need to maintain a long lasting relationship during the start to the end of life cycle.

Great founders maintain director relationship, and it is CEO’s role to do such.

Who should watch this video?

  1. all founders need to participate in speaking with users

  2. all engineers and people involve in building the products/service

Two things that YC encourages founders to do

  1. talk to the users

  2. build the product

Common mistake founders

  1. Talk about user’s life and not your product

  2. the goal is all about to extract data to improve your market position, your product building and NOT about your product/service

  3. Talk about specifics, and not hypotheses

  4. please don’t ask question, if we build this function or this.. would you more likely to pay or use

  5. ask questions about the context or motivation about how users encounter such problem

  6. Listen and don’t talk

  7. speaking to users is not the same as pitching to investors. Please listen and take notes about what the users want to share. The key is to bring hard data

Top 5 questions to ask during user interview

  1. what is the hardest things about approaching solving this problem?

  2. what are the pain points?

  3. what are the inconvenience?

  4. need to make sure

  5. what is the last time you encounter this problem?

  6. need to extract the context of how this problem occurs and how the user currently solve

  7. extract such data allows you to make sure your product/service actually solve the real cases or past life actual examples

  8. why would this hard?

  9. what are the specific things are difficult?

  10. the goal is to also understand how to market your product/service

  11. customers don’t buy what, and customers buy the why. (e.g. this is the reason why I bought this product/service because I was trying to …)

  12. what have you done so far to solve this problem?

  13. are the users already trying to experiment or tools used to solve this?

  14. this question help to understand what are the better tools (who are the potential competitor(s) or if the users are active to solve (is it worthy to solve?)

  15. what don’t you like about the problem you are trying to solve?

  16. this is your potential feature sets?

  17. what is the differences between existing function and your potential solution

Three stages to ask users question

  1. Ideal stage: what is the problem?

  2. find first users with problem with signing up or interested

  3. how to find first users? --> start with yourselves by test out interview question, then with your friends.

  4. drop in to where users are (e.g where are the fire fighters? then go to fire station) --> you are helping people to solve their pain and not selling.

  5. go to events and conference

  6. tips

  7. take note, take note, take note (or bring a friend or see if you can record with permission)

  8. keep it casual and feel free to react

  9. Prototype stage: who is your best customer?

  10. this is critical as it may set the path of your company

  11. 3 questions that may guide you to pick the right customer

  12. how much the money spent or wasted?

  13. how frequent do people encounter? (more regular basis, the pain is hight and more receptive to new solution)

  14. how large is the budget for solving this problem

  15. Launch stage: how to iterate to product market fit?

  16. note: what is product market fit?

  17. many people have a very different description of it, one of the best definition I hear from various YC mentor is --> when people are marching to your office, and want it more than you can handle)

  18. ask people top 3 feeling people have if this product/service is taken away

  19. tips

  20. don’t ask customer what feature people want

  21. ask people willing to pay more for the feature intend to built

  22. discard tactical comments (such as I love your product). Need to be specific about what like and don’t like


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