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Learn from Successful Entrepreneurs

Lihong and I love learning from entrepreneurs and angel investors. They are as close as one can get to seeing the future before it happens. Those interested in starting a new company would be wise to take advantage of their wisdom and free resources. Here are our favorite links and key takeaways from four of our favorites: Paul Graham, Naval Ravikant, Eugene Wei and Peter Theil.

Paul Graham

Creator of Ycombinator, the most successful angel investment firm in the world. We recommend that you check out their about, resources, and companies pages. These are the best resources you will find on how to create a successful startup and what they look like.

“Build something useful as simply as possible, then grow”

Must read:

Naval Ravikant

Naval is regarded globally as one of the greatest thinkers and entrepreneurs of this generation. He often shares his insightful views on Mindfulness and Startups on Twitter @naval.

"No one can compete with you on being you. Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most."

Must read from Naval:

Here is an excerpt:

Eugene Wei

Eugene is an technology influencer, especially in the area of social media. @eugenewei

Must read:

Key insights from this deep paper include:

  • People are easily addicted to social media because it is a way of gaining social capital. Facebook, Twitter...etc are tools that provide Status as a Service (StaaS).

  • People join great apps for the utility, but they stay for the social capital (see charts).

  • Proof of Work (PoW) is critical in StaaS business because it defines the scoreboard which users compete on. It separates users by their skill at that Proof of Work and creates a relative status ladder.

  • A StaaS must also provide its users a mechanism to enjoy the social capital they've earned. This is why anonymous networks like Whisper and Secret are difficult businesses; users claiming ownership of those posts would be destructive to their overall status in society.

  • All StaaS businesses have their own PoW to enforce scarcity of status. Clever lip synch and dance number on , short quip on Twitter, beautiful photo on Instagram, insightful answer on Quora, etc.

  • Copying PoW in StaaS businesses tends to fail because they duplicate an existing status game of an incumbent, just with a non-existent graph. A duplicate status token with much less liquidity is worthless. Witness Twitter knockoffs like Mastodon

  • For a StaaS to succeed as a stand alone business, it must own the primary marketplace in which the social capital is generated, usually some sort of feed.

Peter Thiel

First investor in Facebook and serial successful entrepreneur.

Must read:

First three key takeaways from the blog post.

  • Be contrarian – “The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself”. You can’t fake authenticity. Be willing to share your thoughts and feelings. Revolutionary breakthroughs appear obvious in hindsight, but are invisible to most; because it’s hard to ignore reality and imagine which does not yet exist.

  • Focus on strengths - Like the book, “First Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently”, Peter argues that we should relentlessly focus on our strengths. Do things that we are good at and that add value to the world.

  • Don’t copy the past - “Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

Feel free to tell us about your favorite entrepreneurs and angel investors.

Thank you for your interest!

McPhail Family


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