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In fact, I’m kind of surprised it took as long as it did. Andrew: Did you get the sense, by then, of the kind of entrepreneur you wanted, that maybe there was a kind of entrepreneur that you thought you wanted but wasn’t a good fit? People who really did think of it just as a summer job at the end of the summer, they would go back to school, just like people do at a summer job. We can tell in a 10-minute interview how smart someone is. There’s often a point in the interview where we all kind of look at one another and decide, “Okay. But we didn’t want somebody to say, “We’re the Y-Combinator of Silicon Valley.” We wanted to be the Y-Combinator of Silicon Valley. We’ll do a batch out in Silicon Valley.” We decided at the last minute to do it in Silicon Valley. If you can’t do it in someplace, tell us here.” Right? So we were starting to learn determination was the most important thing. How can you know that somebody is determined for real, and not just, “This is it. You just hit a few tennis balls across the net at them and see how hard they hit it back. But telling how determined someone is in a 10-minute interview, we are often fooled. We’re funding these guys.” At that point, the remainder of the interview, we’re just chatting. : This interview is sponsored by Wufoo, which makes embeddable forms in surveys that you can add to your website right now. It’s also sponsored by Shopify.com, where you can create an online store right now, within five minutes, and have all the features that you need to keep selling online. And it’s sponsored by Grasshopper, the virtual phone system that entrepreneurs love because it has all the features that they need, and can be managed directly online. Hey, everyone, it’s Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. I interview entrepreneurs about how they build their business to find out what the rest of us can learn from their experiences. Or, sorry, who would have done all that very important work? Somehow I seem to be able to look at a web app and think, “No, this is wrong, this is right.” And now I can say it, “Well, it’s because I’ve worked with 172 startups. What did you learn from that first experience of working with a batch of entrepreneurs on new companies? We learned some of these we had done by accident were really good. Paul: It’s okay if people are doing a search that’s not exactly the same thing as Google. And, Paul, I’m going to ask you about that smile in a minute because I’d love your feedback on some of the ways that I do my interviews here. He is the co-founder of Y-Combinator, which funds and advises startups. Paul: Well, what happened was I was giving them advice, sort of in real time, that they should raise money from angels. Now I have tons of experience, probably more than anybody else.” But I seem to always have some kind of natural ability to do this. Like funding a whole bunch of startups at once is really good because they can all help one another. How do you know if the business idea is going to be big enough? One of your startups was going to get into search, or . So for example, Octopart does electronic parts search. There’s a startup in the current batch that hasn’t launched yet, or at least hasn’t outed themselves, what I see as doing search. Now I see that these guys can go public or be sold”? Find somebody who’s done it themselves and that’s the person to ask. You just want to fund people who are good, and some of them will go public, and some of them will just explode on the starting line, and there’s not much you can do about it. So then they went through the program, they had a product at the end. At that point, did you say, “Now I see an exit for myself. But if someone wanted to find someone local to advise their startup, I guess the best thing to do would be to do what I suggested in that original talk about how to start a startup. A lot of people can’t, if you bring them an idea, rattle off a solution. Some guy will call up with an idea and he’ll kind of bat the idea back and forth with them and brainstorm until there’s something that’s fundable there. I’ve noticed, empirically, there seems to be a high correlation between playing poker and being a successful startup founder. Andrew: But then that’s not fooling you, that’s just .
When they first started out, they were walking around to the existing search engines, trying to sell the technology to them for a couple million. I’ll support them.” Paul: Yeah, these guys are good. So you have to assume that if they do something that’s good for them, it’ll be good for you too. He can help shape an idea, he can help draw out the best in you. I suppose you might not like the dilution, but a lot of people think it’s a good deal.
She says, “I like them, there’s something about them. So we thought, “Well, as long as everybody treats summer jobs as a throw-away thing, we’ll have this summer program, and if it turns out to be a disaster, no one will blame us.
For both the hirers and the employees, summer jobs are kind of like a throw-away thing.
Paul: Well, seeming really tough and calm during the interview. Andrew: Because you guys are going to get better and as long as this information is out there, you might as well get it all the way out there and even the playing field. Matt Maroon of Blue Frog Gaming, he was a professional poker player, I mean, talk about poker-faced. For example the Airbnb guys, at one point they were running out of money in their startup.
So he came in for his interview and he just seemed absolutely unflappable. This guy is not a wimp.” And actually, we were right. But to this day, he is genuinely unflappable, and I probably would want to fund more people who are really good poker players. They’d been working on their startup for quite a while before Y-Combinator. At one point, they were out of money, and they made their own packaged breakfast cereal with an Obama and Mc Cain theme.