Startup Playbook创业剧本(一):创意

Bible for startups

本文原作者:Sam Altman
翻译:梅晨斐任宁

We spend a lot of time advising startups. Though one-on-one advice will always be crucial, we thought it might help us scale Y Combinator if we could distill the most generalizable parts of this advice into a sort of we could give YC and YC Fellowship companies.
我们花费了很多的时间为创业公司提供咨询建议。虽然我们很清楚一对一的项目建议一直非常重要,但我们同样认为如果能够把所有建议中的共性部分提取出来,以某种“剧本”的样式给到YC内部团队YC所有投资的公司,将会对Y Combinator未来的发展非常有帮助

Then we thought we should just give it to everyone.
之后我们觉得应该把这些内容公开给所有人。

This is meant for people new to the world of startups. Most of this will not be new to people who have read a lot of what YC partners have written—the goal is to get it into one place.
对于初次进入创业世界的新手们来说,它将很有意义。对于那些经常阅读YC合伙人文章的人来说,里面大部分内容可能已经很熟悉。但本文的目的是将所有相关的建议汇聚到一起。

There may be a part II on how to scale a startup later—this mostly covers how to start one.
未来将会有第二部分文章,聚焦于创业公司如何快速成长。本篇为第一部分,涉及如何成立一家创业公司。

Your goal as a startup is to make something users love. If you do that, then you have to figure out how to get a lot more users. But this first part is critical—think about the really successful companies of today. They all started with a product that their early users loved so much they told other people about it. If you fail to do this, you will fail. If you deceive yourself and think your users love your product when they don’t, you will still fail.
创业公司的首要目的是制造出用户热爱的产品。如果你已经做到了这一步,接下去要思考的就是如何获取更多用户。但是这第一步非常关键,想一想今天那些伟大的公司吧。这些公司的天使用户都非常热爱它们在起步时推出的产品,以至于会自发推荐给身边的朋友们。如果你没能做到这一点,你的产品将来不会成功。如果你欺骗自己并且固执地认为你的用户喜欢你的产品(而实际上他们并没有),你仍然将会失败。

The startup graveyard is littered with people who thought they could skip this step.
创业项目的墓地里散落着那些自认为可以跳过第一步的创业者和创业项目的名字。

It’s much better to first make a product a small number of users love than a product that a large number of users like. Even though the total amount of positive feeling is the same, it’s much easier to get more users than to go from like to love.
更好的做法是,做一款能让一小部分用户“热爱”的产品,而不只是被一大群人仅仅“喜欢”而已。可能对你来说,这两种方式带给产品团队总的正面意义没什么差别。但从产品未来的发展来看,被一小部分人“热爱”的产品会比被一群人“喜欢”的产品,发展的道路要轻松得多。

A word of warning about choosing to start a startup: It sucks! One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we get from YC founders is it’s harder than they could have ever imagined, because they didn’t have a framework for the sort of work and intensity a startup entails. Joining an early-stage startup that’s on a rocketship trajectory is usually a much better financial deal.
如果要给那些正在考虑是否要创业的人一个词来形容创业的感觉,那就是:“糟糕透顶”。我们从所有YC创始人那里得到的一条共性的反馈意见就是,创业是一件比你所能想象的更加艰苦的事情。因为你无法准确的算出一家创业公司需要完成的工作量和工作强度。加入一家已经步入上升轨道的早期创业公司,从财务角度考虑可能是一个更好的决定。

On the other hand, starting a startup is not in fact very risky to your career—if you’re really good at technology, there will be job opportunities if you fail. Most people are very bad at evaluating risk. I personally think the riskier option is having an idea or project you’re really passionate about and working at a safe, easy, unfulfilling job instead.
换个角度来说,成立一家创业公司对你的职业生涯来说并没有特别大的风险。如果你有很强的技术实力,即使你的创业项目失败了,找一份其它的技术工作并不困难。大部分人都不太会去评估风险。从我个人的角度看,屈从于一个安全、轻松、不带来成就感的工作,而不去从事自己真正热爱的创意或项目,反而是件风险更大的事情。

To have a successful startup, you need: a great idea (including a great market), a great team, a great product, and great execution.
为了成就一家成功的创业公司,你需要:一个伟大的想法(和一个足够大的市场),一个伟大的团队,一款伟大的产品和卓越的执行力。

THE IDEA创意

One of the first things we ask YC companies is what they’re building and why.
我们会问所有YC创业公司的第一个问题是,他们的产品是什么,以及为什么想做这件事。

We look for clear, concise answers here. This is both to evaluate you as a founder and the idea itself. It’s important to be able to think and communicate clearly as a founder—you’ll need it for recruiting, raising money, selling, etc. Ideas in general need to be clear to spread, and complex ideas are almost always a sign of muddled thinking or a made up problem. If the idea does not really excite at least some people the first time they hear it, that’s bad.
我们期待明确、简洁的回答。这个问题是为了评估创业想法,也是为了评估创始人本身。作为一名创始人,你的思考能力和表达能力是同等重要的,在招聘、融资、销售等环节都会需要。创业想法通常来说需要非常简洁,这样会易于传播。复杂或难以表达清楚的创业想法通常代表了模糊的思考,或者本身就是一个伪需求。如果当别人第一次听见你的创业想法却并没有表现出兴奋的话,这是一个坏消息。

Another thing we ask is who desperately needs the product.
我们还会问,哪些用户会极度想要你的产品。

In the best case, you yourself are the target user. In the second best case, you understand the target user extremely well.If a company already has users, we ask how many and how fast that number is growing. We try to figure out why it’s not growing faster, and we especially try to figure out if users really love the product. Usually this means they’re telling their friends to use the product without prompting from the company. We also ask if the company is generating revenue, and if not, why not.
最理想的情况下,你自己就是目标用户。次一级的情况是,你非常理解目标用户的需求。如果项目已经有一些用户基数,我们会询问用户的增长情况和增长速度。我们会尝试去找出用户没有快速增长的原因,并且特别想弄清楚用户是否真的热爱这款产品。通常情况下如果用户真正热爱产品,在公司没有主动推广的情况下也会主动和身边的朋友推荐这款产品。我们同样也会询问公司是否已经产生现金流,如果没有的话,为什么。

If the company doesn’t yet have users, we try to figure out the minimum thing to build first to test the hypothesis—i.e., if we work backwards from the perfect experience, we try to figure out what kernel to start with.如果目前还没有用户,我们会想办法建立最小的可行性产品去测试我们的假设——也就从产品未来最完美的模样往回倒推,尝试去找到那个最起初最基本的内核。

The way to test an idea is to either launch it and see what happens or try to sell it (e.g. try to get a letter of intent before you write a line of code.) The former works better for consumer ideas (users may tell you they will use it, but in practice it won’t cut through the clutter) and the latter works better for enterprise ideas (if a company tells you they will buy something, then go build it.) Specifically, if you are an enterprise company, one of the first questions we’ll ask you is if you have a letter of intent from a customer saying they’ll buy what you’re building. For most biotech and hard tech companies, the way to test an idea is to first talk to potential customers and then figure out the smallest subset of the technology you can build first.It’s important to let your idea evolve as you get feedback from users. And it’s critical you understand your users really well—you need this to evaluate an idea, build a great product, and build a great company.
如果要测试创业想法,你可以尽快发布产品然后观察用户反馈,或者直接销售产品(就像在写代码前先表明注释)。前一种方式适用于直接面向个人消费者的产品(用户可能会告诉你他们会使用产品,但实际上并不会真正去做),后一种方式适用于面向企业消费者的产品(如果有企业客户承诺愿意为你的产品付费,那么你可以动手去做了)。特别是当你的产品面向企业客户时,我们会问的第一个问题是是否已经有客户承诺一旦你们的产品发布他们会出钱购买。对于大部分的生物科技和硬件科技创业公司来说,测试创业想法的最好解决方案是,先和潜在的客户交流,然后找出可操作的能够解决问题的最小可行性产品。随着你不断得到用户的反馈,你的想法也要能不断随之演进。理解你的客户非常重要,这是你评价自己的想法,打造伟大的产品和公司的前提。

As mentioned earlier, startups are really hard. They take a very long time, and consistent intense effort. The founders and employees need to have a shared sense of mission to sustain them. So we ask why founders want to start this particular company.
如上所说,创业的道路非常艰辛。需要长时间,高强度持续的努力。创始人和团队成员需要共享一个核心的理念来支撑。所以我们会问所有创始人为什么想要创立这么一家独特的公司。

We also ask how the company will one day be a monopoly. There are a lot of different terms for this, but we use Peter Thiel’s. Obviously, we don’t want your company to behave in an unethical way against competitors. Instead, we’re looking for businesses that get more powerful with scale and that are difficult to copy.
我们同样也会问这家公司将如何成为一家垄断企业。在这件事情上有许多想法百花齐放,但是我们采用Peter Thiel的观点。明显的,我们不希望你的公司采用不正当手段对付你的竞争对手。相反,我们在寻找是那些随着扩张能获取影响力,并且难以复制的公司。

Finally, we ask about the market. We ask how big it is today, how fast it’s growing, and why it’s going to be big in ten years. We try to understand why the market is going to grow quickly, and why it’s a good market for a startup to go after. We like it when major technological shifts are just starting that most people haven’t realized yet—big companies are bad at addressing those. And somewhat counterintuitively, the best answer is going after a large part of a small market.
最后,我们会询问市场。我们会问现在市场有多大,增长的速度怎样,以及为什么在十年以后它将成为一个很大的市场。我们尝试去理解为什么这个市场将会快速增长,以及为什么这是一个适合创业公司进入的市场。我们希望看到的是主要的技术转型正在发生,然而大部分人还没有意识到。大公司往往很难注意到这些。而且某种反直觉的情况是,最好的答案是追逐一个巨大市场里的细分领域。

A few other thoughts on ideas:
其它一些与创业想法有关的是:

We greatly prefer something new to something derivative. Most really big companies start with something fundamentally new (one acceptable definition of new is 10x better.) If there are ten other companies starting at the same time with the same plan, and it sounds a whole lot like something that already exists, we are skeptical.
相比于拷贝其它项目的创业公司,我们更喜欢那些具有独创性的公司。大部分伟大的公司都是从一个创新领域的基础开始的(一个可以接受的对于新产品的定义是10倍则更好)。如果已经有10家类似的公司在同一时间使用同一套解决方案盯住同一块市场,并且听上去解决方案与市场上已有的方案非常相似,我们会很怀疑项目的前景。

One important counterintuitive reason for this is that it’s easier to do something new and hard than something derivative and easy. People will want to help you and join you if it’s the former; they will not if it’s the latter.
一个重要的反直觉的理由是, 从事于一个创新性的领域,比复制一个难度低的产品反而更加容易。如果你从事于一个创新性的领域,人们会更倾向于帮助你,加入你。

The best ideas sound bad but are in fact good. So you don’t need to be too secretive with your idea—if it’s actually a good idea, it likely won’t sound like it’s worth stealing. Even if it does sound like it’s worth stealing, there are at least a thousand times more people that have good ideas than people who are willing to do the kind of work it takes to turn a great idea into a great company. And if you tell people what you’re doing, they might help.
好的想法早期听上去都是坏点子。所以对于你的创业想法不用太过保密,如果它真的是一个好的点子,它在早期听上去也不值得被偷。即使这个点子看上去就很有价值,也只是千分之一的人真正愿意动手将伟大的想法变成伟大的创业公司的人。并且如果你告诉别人正在从事的项目,他们也许还会帮助你。

Speaking of telling people your idea—while it’s important the idea really excites some people the first time they hear it, almost everyone is going to tell you that your idea sucks. Maybe they are right. Maybe they are not good at evaluating startups, or maybe they are just jealous. Whatever the reason is, it will happen a lot, it will hurt, and even if you think you’re not going to be affected by it, you still will be. The faster you can develop self-belief and not get dragged down too much by haters, the better off you’ll be. No matter how successful you are, the haters will never go away.
说到告诉别人你的创业想法,能让那些第一次听到创业点子的人感觉兴奋是很重要的。但同时几乎每个听到你想法的人都会说这是一个糟糕的主意。也许他们是对的。也许他们并不擅长于评估创业公司,或者他们只是嫉妒。不管是哪种情况,这会经常发生,它会伤害你,并且即使你自认为不会受到影响,它还是会伤害你。你能越快地建立起自信心,不被那些流言所伤害越好。无论你已经多么成功,那些憎恨你的人永远不会消失。

What if you don’t have an idea but want to start a startup? Maybe you shouldn’t. It’s so much better if the idea comes first and the startup is the way to get the idea out into the world.
如果你没有好的点子但是仍然想成立一家创业公司怎么办?也许你就不应该这么做。更好的做法是,先拥有一个好的点子,然后通过成立公司把这个点子变成一款实际的产品带到人们面前。

We once tried an experiment where we funded a bunch of promising founding teams with no ideas in the hopes they would land on a promising idea after we funded them.
我们曾经做过一个试验,投资那些具有潜力但是暂时没有点子的创始人们,希望他们在拿到我们的钱之后能够想出一些好点子并且付诸实现。

All of them failed. I think part of the problem is that good founders tend to have lots of good ideas (too many, usually). But an even bigger problem is that once you have a startup you have to hurry to come up with an idea, and because it’s already an official company the idea can’t be too crazy. You end up with plausible sounding but derivative ideas. This is the danger of pivots.
他们无一例外都失败了。我觉得部分的原因在于好的创始人倾向于产生非常多好的点子(往往太多)。但是一个更大的问题是一旦公司注册已经完成,你往往会急于想出一个创业点子。但因为你已经成立了正式的公司,所以这个新点子就往往不能太过疯狂。最后的结局是你得到别人花言巧语的赞美,以及一个平庸的点子。这是转型的危险。

So it’s better not to try too actively to force yourself to come up with startup ideas. Instead, learn about a lot of different things. Practice noticing problems, things that seem inefficient, and major technological shifts. Work on projects you find interesting. Go out of your way to hang around smart, interesting people. At some point, ideas will emerge.
所以更好的方式是不要急于逼迫自己想出好的点子。相反,学习许多不同类型的事情。锻炼自己观察问题的能力,找出那些看上去低效的事情,观察那些革命性的技术转型从事你感兴趣的项目。跳出你自己的小圈子,与那些聪明且有趣的人在一起。不经意间,好的点子会自动冒出来的。

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