The top 10 things I learned at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco

Disrupt is a huge event chocked full of lessons for founders, investors, and the startup industry. The following is the best advice I gathered from the event.

On VCs

  1. Better to have 1 main funder than multiple due to the bystander effect: each investor will assume that the other will step in to help, but no one ends up helping.  Credit: SV Angel
  2. VCs are a great shoulder to lean on for support, but not an outsourcing firm for hiring employees and helping you in non-core areas such as accounting. Credit: SV Angel
  3. 95% of VCs add no value, and 70 to 80% add negative value. So be careful when you pick your VC because they don’t have entrepreneurship experience. Make sure they will be the right partner. Credit: Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures)

On raising money

  1. Bootstrap your business and focus on creating a very good business engine before worrying about monetization or raising money. Once you have a great product, VCs will come running after you. Monetization comes next. Credit: Adi Tatarko (Co-founder and CEO Houzz)
  2. Sell as little equity as you can and raise as little cash as you can until after series A. If you sell more than 50% of your company by series A, you have sold yourself extremely cheaply. Credit: SV Angel

On starting your business

  1. Don’t be afraid of regulation. To bypass it, talk to regulators about their concerns and prove to them how you are better to the consumer and to the goals set by the regulations than the regulated companies themselves.  Credit: Logan Green and John Zimmer (Lyft)
  2. Good cash flow management is very important in the beginning. For example, GoPro noticed international distributors paid up front, even before shipping, so they prioritized them and leveraged the cash they sent them to finance the domestic business. Credit: Nicholas Woodman (CEO and Founder GoPro)

On managing your business

  1. Managing by “trying to be liked” is a pathway to failure. You need to manage others, and be good or harsh to them, no matter what they think about you. Communicate based on clarity. Don’t hope that they will understand what you meant. Don’t worry about how they think about you. Credit: Dick Costolo (CEO – Twitter)
  2. There are several ways to be successful. Everyone is different! Don’t follow an idol. Find your individual superpower, whatever that is, and leverage it. Credit: Dick Costolo (CEO – Twitter)
  3. Fear drives you a lot harder than success. Stay on the edge, and if you are too comfortable, it is a recipe for disaster. Credit: Nicholas Woodman (CEO and Founder GoPro)


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