Fri · Feb 19

Startup Advice I’ve Given On Snapchat

In a way, Snapchat Stories is the platform we always wanted to create when we founded back in 2007.

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It's a lightweight platform for sharing whatever is on your mind with a broad, younger audience. You can read more about why I love it here.

As I've been experimenting with it for the past couple weeks, I've had lots of requests for startup advice. Since Snapchat Stories are ephemeral and only last for 24 hours, I thought I'd also share some of the advice I've given here:

How to do online marketing

Approach your marketing like an engineering problem. You wouldn't outsource the engineering of your core product, so don't hire some outside firm to do your early marketing. In general, you should never hire someone else to do what you don’t know how to yourself.

Airbnb almost didn't make it

At the end of 2008, Airbnb's founders were about to give up. They had amassed lots of credit card debt, and their product just wasn’t working.

They came to Michael Seibel and I for advice, and we convinced them to apply to YC at the last minute. They did, they were accepted, and things turned around from there. Almost dead ≠ dead.

What we teach you at YC

  • Talk to your customers to identify a problem that people have.
  • Build something you think solves that problem.
  • Test your hypothesis, and iterate again and again.

(Notice that trips to Necker Island are not on this list.)

Advice from other founders

I often ask friends and other founders to share quick advice too. Dalton Caldwell said, "You have to pace yourself -- and most importantly, don’t spend all your money." Kevin Hale said, "Don’t lie to yourself and get to work." Chamillionaire said, "Follow your passion. When things get tough, passion will take you to the finish line."

Startups are not fair

Just because someone else raised money doesn’t mean you will be able to. All startups aren’t created equal, and fairness doesn’t matter here. Play the hand you are dealt.

Don’t waste all your startup's money on frivolous stuff

We have a visual reminder of this in YC's new San Francisco office: The giant fancy piece of art hanging on our wall was previously purchased and owned by a startup that died.

How to survive jetlag

  • Travel tired so you can fall asleep.
  • Use caffeine to your advantage.
  • Exercise in the morning.
  • Stay hydrated and eat your meals at the correct time.

If you want more quick startup advice from Justin, follow him on Snapchat and send a snap question to @justinkan.

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