Before the Startup

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“So this is the third counterintuitive thing to remember about startups: starting a startup is where gaming the system stops working. Gaming the system may continue to work if you go to work for a big company. Depending on how broken the company is, you can succeed by sucking up to the right people, giving the impression of productivity, and so on. [2] But that doesn’t work with startups. There is no boss to trick, only users, and all users care about is whether your product does what they want. Startups are as impersonal as physics. You have to make something people want, and you prosper only to the extent you do.
The bootstrapper crowd (Amy Hoy, patio11, etc) often level this as a criticism of VC-backed startups — that they are a gameable system, a series of hurdles from accelerator to series A to series B to acquihire. Whereas (they say) bootstrapping isn’t gameable, it relies on making something users want, and it teaches you to deal with raw reality head-on. [1] Maybe they are only looking at a dysfunctional subset of VC-backed startups though? One common pattern seems to be that a person enters a particular field, notices that many people around them are unimpressive and focused on perception, “networking” and system-gaming — and concludes that the field is corrupt.
But in actuality, they’d only seen the bottom tier of the field, and the higher tiers have more genuine talents who also despise bullshitters.[2] [1] http://unicornfree.com/2012/why-blacksmiths-are-better-at-st…
[2] I’m thinking specifically of academia as another example of this pattern. Since bullshitters do manage to reach the higher tiers of both startups and academia, there’s a genuine question as to whether the bullshitters will someday come to dominate both of these areas, and whether this has already happened. By definition, a field that has been taken over by bullshitters is not going to let you know that this has happened.”[IsaacL](https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=IsaacL)


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“Before the Startup”