Experience is overrated
Yesterday I was reading an essay about Michael Seibel (CEO of YCombinator) on things that people that want to start startups tend to focus too much on. One of the factors was experience. Seibel argues that people tend place too much importance on experience (of the corporate type) but that really doesn’t matter if you’re building a great startup because you will only learn those things while you actually build the company. Work experience can teach you the motions of starting a company and building a product but you will only learn to actually do those things when you do them for yourself.
Experience can be counterproductive
Experience can actually be counterproductive. The more experience you get the more you realize how hard it is do certain things so you don’t do them. Being inexperienced can be a huge advantage because you don’t know the magnitude of the challenge that you’re about to face which also means that you will approach the situation with a fresh perspective.
I just graduated from college but I consume A LOT of content on startups/technology/startup and I already feel how knowing some of the big challenges that founders faced early on could deter me from pursuing hard problems.
Focus on eliminating blockers not accumulating experience
Reading these and other similar essays has changed the way I assess my readiness to start a company. First, I think that no experience will actually teach me how to truly turn my side project into something bigger. On the contrary, I think that the more experience I get at a bigger company the less likely I am to actually start something myself due to increased complacency. However, there are definitely reasons why I am not ready to start a company tomorrow. These are roadblocks that I am currently phasing that will be there whether I am working at a big company, finishing my undergraduate degree or working on my own company. Below are four of the roadblocks that I am currently phasing before I start my company
- Understand a big problem that some people feel deeply
- Define and validate a solution that serves that need
- Have the capacity to build the first iteration of the product
- Have a co-founder to help me in the journey (optional in the beginning)
If I focus on eliminating these roadblocks one by one, then I should be ready to take the plunge. This is an intentional effort to think about starting a startup from first principles rather than from analogies. It will take some time to see results on this but it seems the best to move forward. I will write an update when the time comes.