When I first heard about Startup School from a friend, I had many doubts but he managed to push me into applying. This was also a perfect gift because immediately after acceptance, the first session began on my birthday. I loved that.
Startup School is a free, 10-week course that educates founders about how to grow and manage their startup through video lectures from entrepreneurs, office hours (virtual meetings), reporting and progress reports. It is separate from the company’s core accelerator program.
The program was rich and full of information. The best sessions were also the office hours. The group discussions and sharing the experience with fellow entrepreneurs.
I enjoyed all the lessons. Couldn’t wait for a new lesson each week. They were relevant and exactly what I need at this stage in business. For this post, I decided to pick the lesson that hit home with me and actually shared in detail what I’ve been hoping to hear and learn more on. It was simply on getting meetings with investors and how to raise money.
Here are key points for me:
1Before you think about meeting with investors to raise money, you first need to answer the question of if you actually need to raise money.
2Focus on building your product and building your company. If you get a little further along, you have your idea or your prototype, you start to see oh, if I actually had a little more money I’d be able to do X, Y, and Z, which would make me go faster.
3Think very carefully about whether or not the blocker between you and the next step of growth is actually hiring.
4Before you start spending money on user acquisition, it probably makes sense to start acquiring people for free. Get users who love your product to tell their friends about how much they love the product, and then you get them for free and you don’t need to raise money.
5Most of the people who are advising companies in accelerators have no idea what they’re doing. They’ve never worked at a startup, they’ve never started a startup, they’ve never funded a startup outside of the accelerator. You’ve got to ask yourself why on Earth should I take advice from this person who’s never done any of the things that they’re telling me I should do, never seen any of these things work?
6There are basically these groups of angels that like to get together for meals and grill new founders and then not invest. It’s this sport of ripping people apart because they are successful investors or something, and they just want to show you how good they are. Before you take money from, or before you go chase an angel down, do some research ahead of time to figure out whether or not they actively invest.
7Meetings do not equal progress.
8No one should ever be allowed to make you feel as if you have to do anything for them to get their money other than build a big company. No one should ever be allowed to violate your personal space or make you feel uncomfortable. If it happens, walk away.
I could really pick a lot of pointers from the lesson, but the points I shared are enough. A bonus point from our group moderator, ‘My past experience has taught me to avoid people who call themselves “investors”, while refusing to give any money. Don’t waste any time or equity.’
Watch the video lesson to get more. Above all, we’re excited to have graduated and completed the Y Combinator Startup School 2018 Programme. Here’s our profile after graduation.