Tech's Biggest Startup Success Stories Share Their Do's And Don'ts

Startup School 09

Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley micro-seed capital and incubator firm, held its third annual Startup School at UC Berkeley this weekend.

Speakers such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter cofounders Biz Stone and Evan Williams of Twitter, and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh showed up to share their triumphs and failures with several hundred memorized students, hackers, and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The do’s and don’ts >

Paul Graham of Y Combinator

DO: Believe in luck as it's a big factor for startups and things aren't always concrete direct cause-and-effect.

DON'T: Just focus on your co-founders' perfomance; trust and character are sometimes more important.

Paul Graham is the founding partner of Y Combinator, co-founder of Viaweb.

Greg McAdoo of Sequoia Capital

DO: Startups, even in recessionary times, and stay small, stay focused.

DON'T: Stop thinking about business models and promoting your hard dollar return on investments to potential customers.

Greg McAdoo is a partner at Sequoia Capital.

Jason Fried of 37signals

DO: Charge prices for valuable products that you make, it creates pressure to keep improving.

DON'T: Overwhelm your products with features, it's the 1% that most people use and it's the method of prioritizing that crafts great software.

Jason Fried is the founder of 37signals.

Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine

DO: Give away your product, freemium is a great way to market and the freeloaders are paid for by the 10% of users that end up buying.

DON'T: Set limiting trials, ticking clocks discourages uptake from customers.

Chris Anderson is the editor in chief of Wired Magazine.

Paul Buchheit of FriendFeed

DO: Start something you care about, do it now.

DON'T: Start companies only for the money because once the startup feels hopeless and the rollercoaster is at the low, you're more likely to give up.

Paul Buchheit is the founder of FriendFeed and creator of Gmail.

Biz Stone & Evan Williams of Twitter

DO: Try something new and work on side projects all the time.

DON'T: Just focus on useful products, make fun products that are as useful as ice cream, too.

Biz Stone and Evan Wiliams are founders of Twitter.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook

DO: Build projects and tools that people want, it's then that you can build a business around that.

DON'T: Be scared to change, take risks, and disrupt things; it's through iteration and mistakes that products become perfect.

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook.

Mitch Kapor of Lotus

DO: Nothing; inaction is an action as well and both affect your startup.

DON'T: Just settle of meritocracies, always build diverse teams to cultivate your startup culture.

Mitch Kapor is a partner at Kapor Capital and founder of Lotus.

Tony Hsieh of Zappos

DO: Things to make you happy, but heavily scrutinize and explore the route to happiness.

DON'T: Make compromises in hiring, it's the basis for building your corporate culture and in turn your business.

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos and founder of LinkExchange.

Mark Pincus of Zynga

DO: Be aware and masterful of controlling your board, it's the heart of your business.

DON'T: Just get too wrapped up with your ego in terms of over-worrying about valuations or doing Fake CEO things such as speaking to panels.

Mark Pincus is the founder of Zynga, Tribe, SupportSoft, and Freeloader.

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