March 30, 2021

What Makes Founders Succeed

A summary of one of our favourite blog posts from Jessica Livingstone.

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Jessica Livingston is an American author, coordinator of the Startup School and a founding partner of the seed stage venture firm Y Combinator.  

Delve into the most salient points from the article below.

What Makes Founders Succeed

Perseverance: The Key to Startup Success

  1. According to Livingstone, the most important quality in a startup founder is determination. Many founders experience uncertainty, isolation, and lack of progress, but their perseverance keeps them going. They often face rejection from investors, journalists, and established companies, but continue to push their ideas forward.

Adaptability: Embracing Change and Learning

  1. Successful founders need to be adaptable. As they develop their ideas, they often change their initial plans. Examples include PayPal starting as an encryption software company and Flickr growing out of an online game. Founders must be flexible in understanding users' needs and be ready to adjust their plans accordingly.

Empathy: Staying User-Centric

  1. Livingstone emphasizes the importance of empathy for users. Successful founders never lose sight of creating products and services that people want. By keeping their focus on user needs, they guide their startups through the challenging process of trial and error.

Craftsmanship: Pride in Building Quality Products

  1. The founders interviewed by Livingstone were not solely driven by monetary gains. They took great pride in their craftsmanship, focusing on building high-quality products that would change the world. Many of them continued working on ambitious projects even after achieving financial success.

Overcoming Rejection: A Common Theme Among Founders

  1. Livingstone points out that founders often face rejection in the early stages of their startups. People generally like the idea of innovation, but are hesitant to accept specific innovations because they don't fit their existing knowledge or expectations. Founders must persevere through these challenges to bring their ideas to life.

Startups: The Essence of Productivity

  1. Livingstone argues that startups are the essence of productivity, and understanding their unique nature can lead to increased productivity in the corporate world. Early-stage startups may appear "unbusinesslike," but their unconventional approach to problem-solving is what ultimately drives innovation and growth.

Inspiring Future Founders

  1. Livingstone hopes that her interviews with successful founders will inspire aspiring entrepreneurs. By understanding the journeys of these founders, readers can see that starting a startup is a daunting but achievable endeavor.

Although there is no magic formula for success in startups, Jessica Livingstone's insights from interviews with successful founders reveal key traits that contribute to success: perseverance, adaptability, empathy, and a focus on craftsmanship. By understanding and embracing these qualities, aspiring entrepreneurs can increase their chances of success in their own ventures.

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