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Startup NDAs: Why you shouldn’t be afraid of someone stealing your startup idea

Watch the Facebook Live Eventhttps://www.facebook.com/OneMonthEdu/videos/643075412510551

This is probably the biggest topic I run into when I talk to would be founders. They ask questions like:

  • How can I protect my startup idea so no one else steals it?
  • I want to find someone to help me work on my startup / raise investment, but I’m scared that if I talk about my idea, they’ll just take it any develop it without me
  • Will you sign an NDA?

The answer is that you shouldn’t be afraid about someone stealing your startup idea.

There’s a few reasons for this:

The idea isn’t the hard part, it’s the execution.

It’s commonly believed in the startup community that if no one else has had your idea before, it’s probably not very good.

It’s like music — every chord progression has been written before somewhere.

The key is that there are so many different ways to execute the same idea. And your job is to figure out the right way.

Think about the number of times a text or photo-sharing website or application has become successful. There was blogger, and then Twitter, and then Tumblr. Facebook, and then Instagram, and then Pinterest. Each of these is essentially the same idea, executed in very different ways.

But on top of that, the most important part of the execution is things you don’t see: the team you’re able to put together, the culture you’re able to build, the way you manage it, your marketing strategy. All of those things are equally important as the product itself that you’re building.

One of my favorite sayings about this comes from Jake Schwartz, CEO of General Assembly:

If all it takes to steal an idea is hearing about it, it’s not a good idea. Not to diminish an idea, they have power. But it’s about all the hard work. — Jake Schwartz, CEO of General Assembly

There’s a distinction between what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. You might want to consider talking a lot about the first and less about the second.

No one cares about your idea

Most people are too preoccupied working on their own thing to care about yours. It’s like walking outside and assuming everyone’s judging you, when in fact, everyone is worried about being judged themselves and no one cares about you.

If you don’t believe this, Dave McClure came up with an exercise for you: take your list of ideas and pick the 3rd or 4th. Not the idea you love the most, but one that you don’t care about as much.

Then try to call up a company that could be a competitor and try to convince them to steal your idea. You’ll be surprised how hard it actually is. They’re working on their own thing and they don’t have time to steal your idea. Ideas are work.

Being precious about your idea will prevent you from being able to execute it

This is probably the biggest reason why you shouldn’t worry about someone stealing your idea. If you’re worried about that, then you’re not worrying about actual important things, you’re just being paranoid.

Honestly I think the paranoia comes from how startups and startup ideas are portrayed in movies like The Social Network. Where all it takes is a flash of insight and a few hours of coding to make an idea happen. That’s not real life.

Your job as a startup founder is quite the opposite of trying to hold onto your idea, it’s to try to tell everyone about it and convince them that it’s a good idea. You have to be going around talking about your idea constantly, because you are your own best marketer.

Your pitch will suck at first, so you have to do it hundreds of times before you figure it out. How are you going to do that if you’re afraid to tell anyone in the first place?

You also have to find the right team, including investors. How will you find those if you don’t tell people what you’re actually working on.

Keeping your idea close to you is safe, but it’s also stupid. It’s a great recipe for not actually ever building it, and then being bitter years later because someone else built the idea that you “had first.”

No one will sign an NDA

Some people think, can’t I just get everyone I talk to to sign an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) preventing them for sharing the information?

No, not really. First of all, no one in tech will sign an NDA. Especially investors. They hear thousands of startup pitches and if they had to sign NDAs for each one, they wouldn’t be able to do or say anything. They’d have to spend all their time keeping track of NDAs.

Also you have no power when you just have an idea. So why should some stranger sign your NDA? Whenever I get an email from someone saying they want to share their idea but they want me to sign an NDA first, I say “No thanks.” Why should I?

You don’t have the resources to enforce an NDA anyway

Even if you could get someone to sign an NDA, it takes lots of time and money to enforce an NDA. That’s not the kind of legal battle you can afford to get into when you’re starting a startup. It’s unlikely that you have the money.

So that’s it.

What is Payment Processing?

Key Takeaways

Payment processing allows you to accept payments online. Here are three options to get you started:

  1. Easy: Services like Gumroad or Shopify are easiest. They come with basic themes and customizations.
  2. Medium: The Stripe checkout button. You’ll need basic development skills, but in exchange, you can customize the experience a lot more.
  3. Advanced: The Stripe API or Paypal API. You’ll need expert development skills however, you’ll have 100% control over customization.

Your Assignment

  • Decide which payment processing option is best for you. To get started, read about GumRoad, Shopify, and Stripe Checkout (20 minutes). If you have questions about getting started, contact us at teachers [at] onemonth.com.

Additional Resources to Keep You Learning

How Will You Make Money?


 

 

 

You should have an answer to the question “How will you make money?” early on. You may even have several answers. It needs to be plausible. People (like investors) may push back and argue with you about whether or not it’s a feasible business model. If you’re asking people for money, it’s a question you will have to deal with. So, you better be prepared for it.

That being said, you pointed out a few important things. For one, it’s okay to not be sure which will be the ideal business model or price. The process of getting to profitability is something you’ll have to face eventually if your startup continues to grow. You may be able to push it off for a while in favor of focusing on growing usage. That’s the second point, if your product is growing quickly, you’ll often find investors willing to fund your growth despite the lack of a proven business model.

There are only a few major business models though: Advertising, Subscription, E-commerce, Business Development, and Lead Gen are some of the major ones.

Let’s take Facebook as an example. In the early days, Facebook was growing so fast that they were able to get a ton of money before they had to worry about their business model. But it was pretty clear their business model was going to be advertising. It’s a fairly straightforward path to monetization for a social network. Though not all social networks monetize solely through advertising (LinkedIn charges users for premium accounts).

There are some others (like Medium) where the business model is still unclear, but I bet that the founders have a path (or several) towards monetization in their heads.

Yes, solving a problem should be the most important thing for you to focus on. But the reality is that if you’re trying build a big business, you have to have an idea how it’s going to be a lucrative problem to solve.

LLC vs. Corporation: Which is Right for Startups?

If You’re Starting A Startup:

If you’re starting a startup, and you want to deal with equity, you’ll need to start something known as a C-Corp.*

The two major ways you can create a company are as a C-Corporation (C-Corp for short) or a Limited Liability Company (LLC). If you want to have equity in your company, then you shouldn’t start an LLC. An LLC is just for multiple partners owning a business. A C-Corp will let you take investment and have equity in your company.

Another important thing about a C-Corp is that you’ll have a Board of Directors. That might start out as just you and your Co-Founder, but as you grow and get more investors, they may join as board members as well.

For now, you probably don’t need to know about A-Corps or B-Corps (but if you want to geek out, we won’t stop you from Googling). Focus on LLC vs Corporation.

*Of course, for questions specific to your particular situation, it’s best to seek the advice of an attorney or accountant.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you want to take investment (and have equity in your company), you’ll need to start a C-Corp.
  • The two main forms of company structure are C-Corp and LLC.

What Are Convertible Notes and Why Use Them?

Throughout our previous entries on raising funds as a startup, we’ve been talking about raising money for your company by sharing equity with venture funds.

When you’re a company in its early days, sharing equity is difficult. Moving equity from your company to another requires a lot of time to hash out an agreement everyone can live with. It requires lawyers to work out the actual contracts. The whole process can cost upwards of $50-$100K. That is a lot of money for a company still looking for its first round of seed money.

Rather than dealing with the hassle of transferring equity, a lot of venture funds find it better to offer funding to startups using convertible notes.

Convertible notes are debts that convert into equity when a startup raises an actual equity round of funding. In essence, the venture fund offers to give you a loan of whatever amount. Instead of paying them back in actual money, the startup agrees to pay them in preferred equity. The venture fund gets the same agreement as whoever has invested in the series A round, with a bit of a discount as a good faith offer for investing earlier.

Early investing venture funds often find working with convertible notes preferrable to working with equity transfer for a few reasons:

For one, issuing a convertible note is easier. It can take weeks of discussion to transfer equity, but you can really issue a convertible note in only a couple of days. They also make it easier for the venture fund to work out the valuation of the startup by putting the discussion off until the series A round, when there is actual data to base their valuation on (rather than just a hunch). That considerably lowers the risk of their investment.

For startups, the convertible note also simplifies things. Convertible note agreements are short, maybe ten pages at most. They can often be found online and modified according to the template.

Instead of the high cost of hiring a lawyer to transfer equity, the documents for a convertible note can often be found online. As a result, they can help generate quick funding in exchange for onle a few hundred to a thousand dollars. For a company that has limited time and financial resources, that is a tremendous advantage over complicated agreements.

Key Takeaways:

  • Convertible note are a form of debt taken on during seed funding that converts into equity when a startup begins an actual equity round of funding (usually in series A).
  • Convertible notes are preferrable to startups because they are quicker, easier, and cheaper to issue than equity. They are better for venture funds because they make valuation more flexible.
  • You can find a lot of online templates for convertible notes that you can use. Usually a lawyer is only needed in a limited capacity when working out a convertible note agreement.

Links

12 Podcasts Every Entrepreneur Should Be Listening To

Podcasts are a great medium for learning about, well, almost anything — but they’re especially useful for learning about starting and leading a company. After all, most future entrepreneurs are super busy, so you need a way to digest information that’s easy, flexible, and accessible.

To help you get started, we’ve put together the entrepreneur’s podcast starter set.

These shows each meet the following criteria:

Actionable: Although theories are good, concrete tips you can implement right away are better.

Engaging: Unfortunately, it’s hard to pay attention to even the most fascinating interviews and conversations if they’re presented poorly. Each podcast on this list has high-quality audio and dynamic hosts.

Innovative: None of these podcasts will cover things you already know. You’re listening to learn, not to rehash the same tired lessons.

Focused: As previously mentioned, your time is valuable. If you’re listening to an hour-long podcast, it should have six times the information as a 10-minute one — not just six times the talking.

1. To learn how to start a startup…

How to Start a Startup

How to Start a Startup

Listen to How to Start a Startup. Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, originally taught this 20-part series as a Stanford class. He starts with the basics, like how to create a team and build a product, and ends with advice for after you’ve achieved product-market fit. Altman is brilliant — and he also brings in many startup heavyweights, including Reid Hoffman, Marc Andreesen, Aaron Levie, and more.

You’ll learn:

  • How to develop a great idea
  • How to build a high-quality product
  • How to put together a winning team
  • How to execute on the first three

Start with:

Episode #1, in which Sam Altman gives an overview of the course.

2. To learn how to pitch to venture capitalists (VCs)…

The Pitch

Listen to The Pitch. This podcast is essentially an audio version of Shark Tank: Each episode, a different startup comes on to give their elevator pitch to a panel of investors and answer their follow-up questions.

After the investors have quizzed the founders, they’ll discuss whether or not they’d invest and why.

You’ll learn:

  • What goes into a good pitch
  • What types of questions VCs ask (and how to answer them)
  • What makes or breaks their decision to invest

Start with:

Episode #10, in which Dollar Beard Club founder Chris Stoikos pitches his startup to Marvin Liao, Howie Diamond, and Ryan Hoover.

3. To learn how to get traction…

Traction

Listen to Traction. Coming to you from NextView ventures, this show delves into the weird, inspiring, unexpected, and ultimately genius ways startup founders have made progress in the very early days of their companies. It’s a great antidote when you’re in the “startup trough of sorrow,” which is what entrepreneurs go into when they have a major failure.

You’ll learn:

  • How to pivot
  • How to ignore the disbelievers
  • How to forge on through the worst times

Start with:

Episode #7, in which Jay Acunzo talks to Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and CEO of The Muse.

4. To learn how to grow your business from an idea to an 45-person company…

StartUp Podcast

Listen to StartUp. In 2014, public radio veteran Alex Blumberg decided to start a new podcasting company. He also decided to record his entrepreneurship journey and produce it… as a podcast. (Very meta.) StartUp is now heading into its third season, and Gimlet Media — Blumberg’s company — has six podcasts in its roster, $7.5 million in funding, and 45 people on its staff.

You’ll learn:

  • How to write (and rewrite) your business plan
  • How to handle inter-company conflict
  • How to figure out equity, organization, responsibility, and more

Start with:

Episode #1, in which Blumberg pitches famous Silicon Valley investor Chris Sacca.

5. To learn more about the startup world…

This Week in Startups

Listen to This Week in Startups. Once a week, host Jason Calacanis and a rotating group of guest experts sit down to talk about their experiences, their future plans, and of course, the latest news in entrepreneurship. Calacanis has a blunt, straight-forward style, which means the conversations are usually extremely interesting and sometimes controversial.

You’ll learn:

  • What’s happening in Silicon Valley
  • How insanely smart people see the world
  • How to be more innovative

Start with:

Episode #423, in which Calacanis talks to Mark Cuban about which startups he’s excited about and why he still invests in new companies (despite having billions in the bank).

6. To learn how to be more creative and grow faster…

Seeking Wisdom

Listen to Seeking Wisdom. This show comes from David Cancel, a five-time entrepreneur and former Chief Product Officer of HubSpot. Cancel is a highly respected fixture of the tech community, and you’ll understand why once you hear his innovative leadership and learning techniques.

You’ll learn:

  • How to hire the right people
  • How to organize your teams
  • How to find awesome mentors

Start with:

Episode #4, in which Cancel discusses why you should give your employees more autonomy.

7. To learn what goes into an ultra-successful company…

Collective Wisdom for Tech Startups

Listen to Collective Wisdom for Tech Startups. Founder Collective is a well-known venture capital fund that’s invested in Uber, Buzzfeed, HotelTonight, and SeatGeek, among others. In this podcast, Founder Collective’s leaders talk to founders whose names you’ll definitely recognize: Phillip Crim, the founder of Casper; Sam Yagan, the CEO of OkCupid; Stephen Kaufer, the cofounder and CEO of TripAdvisor, and many more.

The wisdom is definitely useful, but this show also stands out for its digestible format. Each interview is available both as a full-length show and in roughly one-minute clips.

You’ll learn:

  • How to get tech reporters to cover your startup
  • How to set your own salary
  • How to build a culture that survives an IPO

Start with:

Episode #4, in which Scott Belsky talks about founding and growing Behance.

8. To learn how to be a stronger leader…

The Growth Show

Listen to the Growth Show. As you can tell from the name, this show is focused on growth — and because growth is such a broad topic, you’ll get suggestions on everything from designing a happier life to balancing innovation and competition.

The guests are equally varied. Although founders feature pretty heavily, authors, speakers, executives, and even a violinist have all appeared on the show.

You’ll learn:

  • How to grow almost anything (your team, your abilities, your brand, your idea, your business, etc.)

Start with:

Episode #52, in which HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar talks to Canva’s co-founder, Cliff Obrecht, and its head of growth, Andre Pinantoan.

9. To learn about design and product management…

Inside Intercom Podcast

Listen to Inside Intercom. In a unique twist, the guest and the host change every episode. The two things you can count on? The host will be an Intercom employee, and the guest will be a leader in product management, design, marketing, or startups.

When you’re fairly new to any (or all) of these worlds, it’s really beneficial to get first-hand insight into from some of the best, most experienced practitioners.

You’ll learn:

  • How the design process works
  • How to start and scale a marketing team
  • How to sell before you have sales reps

Start with:

Episode #12, in which Emmet Connolly, Intercom Director of Product Design, talks to Mike Davidson, former VP of Design at Twitter

10. To learn how to start, scale, and fund your startup…

Startup School

Listen to Startup School Radio. Every week, host and Y Combinator partner Aaron Harris talks to two guests to get their practical advice on running an early-stage company. His guests are always fascinating, intelligent, and wildly successful; for example, past guests include Peter Reinhardt, CEO of Segment; Suhail Doshi, CEO and co-founder of Mixpanel; and Solomon Hykes, CTO and founder of Docker.

You’ll learn:

  • How to launch a startup
  • How to overcome major obstacles
  • How some of the most successful entrepreneurs think

Start with:

Episode #35, in which Aaron Harris interviews Paul Graham, author and co-founder of Y Combinator.

11. To learn how to build an amazing culture…

Mission & Values

Listen to Mission & Values. Host Bryan Landers explores, as he puts it, “the ‘why’ behind startup work, and the ‘how’ behind their decisions.” In practical terms, that means asking CEOs questions like, “Do your employees have a shared characteristic — something that makes them a good cultural fit?” and “Can you tell me about your transparency value?”

You’ll learn:

  • How values impact the day-to-day of your startup
  • How to assess cultural fit
  • How to scale your values

Start with:

Episode #1, in which Landers talks to Zapier CEO Wade Foster.

12. To learn the best startup advice and latest tech trends…

a16z

Listen to a16z. You might not’ve heard of this podcast, but you’ve probably heard of Andreessen Horowitz, the VC firm that produces it. Some of the episodes cover tech news, others delve into trends, and the rest (and frankly, the most useful) provide how-tos. There are three to four episodes per week; we recommend only listening to the ones most relevant to you.

You’ll learn:

  • The most important industry news
  • Where the software world is headed (and how to prepare)
  • How to run a startup

Maintaining Healthy Relationships While Working at a Startup

The thing about putting your all into your startup is that, technically, then you don’t have anything left for the other important facets of your life. This week, Mattan tackles why maintaining healthy relationships are important, and how you can (re)structure your time to push your business forward without leaving your friends behind.

The universally acknowledged and unpleasant truth is that when you’re running a startup, you’re going to be working unbelievably hard. Harder than you ever thought possible. It’s tempting to see the huge time commitment you’re making as a binary choice between relationships and work. But that doesn’t have to be true. Maintaining a good work/life balance is just that: balance. Here are three tips to help you keep all your plates spinning:

1. Relationships Are An Important Investment

Don’t simply write off your relationships in favor of taking care of, er, business. While relationships require energy and attention, you’ll eventually get that commitment back in the form of support, help, introductions, and resources. Those outcomes shouldn’t be why you’re investing time and effort into family, friends, and significant others — but they are an inevitable benefit.

2. A Change Is Gonna Come

That said, with so much of your time taken up by a startup, something has to give or change in how you invest time and energy into relationships. Think of new channels and mechanisms you can use to keep in touch with people. Perhaps consider putting together a friend update newsletter. Even the gesture of shooting a quick email to people you care about will be appreciated.

3. Constant Vigilance!

A key ability in managing your startup commitments, personal wellbeing, and other relationships is knowing when and how to say no. You can’t take every meeting, and you can’t see every movie, and you can’t always go out for drinks. Set aside one day, or a specific amount of time per week, for meetings/coffees/socializing, and then ruthlessly prioritize how you spend it. You have to be honest about your time commitments, both with yourself and with everyone else.

Still, remember that first point about relationships being worth the effort. Even if you don’t have the time to meet with someone, do still reach out out to them. People will appreciate that you’re thinking about them. All relationships are, are communication over time. So keep the lines of communication open and keep track of your time. The rest will, so to speak, balance out.

Finding A Technical Co-Founder Or Developer For Your Startup

How do you find a co-founder or a developer to come onboard your startup?

How do you speak to Code Monkeys? And what do you do if you don’t know any developers? For entrepreneurs with business and non-technical backgrounds, these issues can seem like huge and overwhelming bars to making your idea a reality.

The good news is that you can take concrete steps to find technically-minded folks and get them excited about your projects. It just takes a little research, a willingness to ask around, and the ability to form sentences more coherently than Kanye West.

It just takes a little research, a willingness to ask around, and the ability to form sentences more coherently than Kanye West.

1: Speak the language

The first and most essential thing that will endear you to technically-minded potential co-founders and developers is surprisingly basic: the ability to sound at least familiar with their area of expertise.

You don’t have to become a complete programming geek, but you do at least need to put enough effort and do enough research to be cocktail-party-literate in code.

Computers are a science, and there’s a technical jargon that separates people who know what they’re talking about from people who get made fun of on the Whartonite Seeks Codemonkey tumblr. You need to either learn enough that you’re able to correctly communicate your needs — like knowing the difference between Swift, Android, and website building — or be able to frame your pitch so that your co-founder can tell you what you need.

2: Make sure you (sound like you) know what you’re talking about

In the pitch itself, developers get excited in the details. Having tangible research, the results of an MVP experiment, domain experience or field credentials go a long way towards proving your credibility.Make sure you front-load all of that when reaching out to people.

Remember that it’s not just on your co-founder or developer to bring some tangible skill to the table. You have to prove that you’re showing up with the skills that are going to make your startup a success and make someone excited about working with you. To that end, it’s definitely a faux pas to be stingy about what you’re offering someone to come onboard. Resist that proprietary possessive fallacy that your idea is yours. When you start collaborating with someone else, the idea gets bigger than just you. And most of the time, that’s what makes it better.

Resist that proprietary possessive fallacy that your idea is yours. When you start collaborating with someone else, the idea gets bigger than just you.

3: Brevity and clarity are an entrepreneur’s best friends

When you’re reaching out to co-founders and developers, bear in mind that successful emails are short, direct, and spelled correctly.

Even if you have the Best Idea Ever, dial down the hyperbole. Yours isn’t the first idea a developer’s heard and it won’t be the last. You’ll be much more convincing if your pitch is based on evidence.It’s even better if you can provide figures, like the example from Derby Jackpot does, of what the market demand is and what kind of opportunity you’re trying to seize. When in doubt, think “Just the facts,” and not “What would Kanye do?”

If you already know what technology requirements your project needs, specify that. But if you don’t, don’t trying and bluff your way through it. The Derby Jackpot pitch makes no mention of what platforms they want to launch on or what components they need to make virtual horse racing a reality. And that’s fine. The email makes up for it by cleanly and clearly presenting the idea. It also wraps up quickly, with an easy invitation for interested developers to ask questions and learn more. Leave them wanting more.

4: And remember, the social network isn’t just a movie…

If you don’t know where to start looking for a technical co-founder or developer, that’s okay. There are other people out in the world who do, and chances are you know some of them. Pack that pitch email with details of what you’re looking for in terms of time commitment/what you can offer, and send it out to 5–10 of your friends. Ask them to refer you not just to one or two folks who may be interested in your project, but to include people who may know someone else who is. Ask for introductions and more than likely, a few degrees of separation later, you’ll have a strong list of candidates.

The more effortless it is to help you out, the more likely people will do it.

As with your pitch email, you want to make the referral process as easy as possible. The more effortless it is to help you out, the more likely people will do it. One good way to think about phrasing your request is with a scorecard. Avoid a lengthy back and for by detailing what you’re looking for and what you’re not. What kind of commitment you’re looking for, what your budget is, whatever logistical constraints you have: any detail at all will help your network find the person who can best help you.

5: Look around and use online resources in your search

If you’ve tapped into your network and come up dry, that’s okay. Here are a few ways to tap into the world of the internet (and the ground) to find a developer:

  • Check and see if you can insert yourself into a pre-existing network or local community. You may live somewhere with meetup groups, tech or programming-specific schools and bootcamps, and tech-related business events. All of these are great avenues to explore and make connections.

If you’ve left no in-person stone unturned and still come up short, don’t despair. There’s still a magical land called the Internet, where people can connect with each other across space and time.

Wherever you go online, just make sure you follow some basic etiquette. Take the ten minutes to get a feel for the community you’re entering. Get a sense of its tone, read the rules, and make sure you’re posting in the appropriate way, in the appropriate space. You don’t want to immediately spam a thread with requests — and just like in reaching out to individual developers, make sure that you come across as thoughtful, engaged, and able to provide some value to the discussion.

It’s all about the long game

However you reach out, it’s people who are going to make your company. You want to create a connection that’s strong enough to see you through all the exciting challenges of building and launching your idea. So don’t be afraid to reach out, put in the time to make connections with both tech-minded individuals and communities. The best thing you can do is to a take those extra few weeks to really get to know someone. Then find your team, and get to work.

Founder Friday Series

This post is part of a series of short, candid, quick videos and essays on entrepreneurship and starting your own business– I call it Founder Friday.

If you want to see more of these, leave a comment and let me know that you like it.

Why I Do Startups (Plus Startups vs. MBAs)

Why do I do Startups?

When you’re running a startup you certainly don’t do it for the money. Paper valuations, even those worth millions, end up coming out to $0 most of the time (90% of startups fail).

And I certainly don’t do it for the stability (there is none).

So why do I do it?

It’s kind of selfish. I do it because I love what I’m doing at any given moment — all the stress, uncertainty, and anxiety around finding product market fit.

I get off on constantly having new problems to solve.

Maybe it’s because I’m trying to escape boredom. Boredom scares the shit out of me. Doing the same thing every day sounds like hell.

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.” — Thomas Carlyle

But I also think of the act of running a startup as building the life I really want to be living.

That means a life in which I’m constantly learning, facing new challenges, and then achieving and conquering those challenges. The feeling of going from being totally underwater and drowning, to occaisionally being able to come up for air, to swimming, and eventually surfing — that’s an amazing feeling and I’ve grown quite addicted to it.

The more experience you have trying new things and figuring it out, the more confidence you build in yourself and your ability to tackle bigger and greater problems.

Like in improv comedy, after you throw yourself on stage enough times without any lines, you learn to trust yourself in new and unexpected situations. There’s no way to put a value on that. It’s priceless.

It’s about trusting yourself. Knowing that you can be thrown into an uncertain situation and knowing that you’ll be alright.

Trusting that you have the ingenuity to figure it out. I believe everyone has that ingenuity but few people are willing to let themselves be scared enough to figure it out.

STRESS

People often talk about stress as something negative.

But stress can also perceived as something positive — a challenge, a new obstacle, something exciting. Weightlifters and runners talk about stress, but they perceive it differently. It’s a stress that makes you better, it’s a stress that makes you stronger.

Being at a startup is about constantly learning, and improving things like leadership, your ability working with people, and your ability to master yourself.

Developing new skills is never boring.

That’s why I do what I do.

Startups vs MBAs

Of course, some people go back to school to get an MBA. I considered it for a while.

When you get an MBA, you spend 2–3 years, pay $200k, and you get a degree. You read case studies, interview business leaders, and learn frameworks for tackling problems.

Harvard Business School relies heavily on case studies — business situations that are dissected as white papers. But these case studies are simplifications. They only show a small part of the whole picture. As Ben Horowitz would say, that’s not the hard thing about the hard thing.

If you only ever study case studies, then you’re missing out on the nuances of the situation — the people, your biases, the holistic picture — the things that are really hard that you can’t learn from a book.

To me, deciding between going to business school versus starting a business is a no-brainer. I think the best way to learn is to do something yourself. The problems you run into are the kind you never would have anticipated. The speed at which you learn those problems is so much faster.

And also you don’t end up with student loans. (Ideally, you get paid to learn.)

Plus, interestingly, entrepreneurs get paid more if they go back to the workforce (as long as they’ve been running their companies for at least 2 years). The set of experiences you get are so unique and valuable.

Starting a business is the future of education.

That’s it for today’s #FounderFriday. If you have questions, post them below or email founderfriday at onemonth.com.