Your first startup will probably be terrible, and that’s ok.

Building a shitty first startup is one of the most important things you will ever do:
Whenever I was stuck writing essays, my tenth-grade English teacher used to tell me this:

“Start with a crappy first draft. It doesn’t matter if it sucks - just write something.”

This advice applies to perfectly to startups.
It is important to build a shitty first startup, because the first step is always the hardest.

Without a first draft (no matter how bad), you have nothing to build upon.

It is always easier to improve upon something bad, than to start from scratch.
Before @twitch, I built a pretty bad company with a couple of my college friends:

It was called Kiko, a web-based calendar app. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
We had absolutely no idea how to program or write web applications, and no money in our bank accounts.

But more importantly, we had nothing to lose.

Luckily, we caught ourselves a programmer (@eshear)
In six months, we cobbled together the worst demo ever, fuelled entirely by pizza and beer in-between World of Warcraft playing sessions.
I literally googled ‘how to make something drag and drop on your website’, and copied and pasted the code into our app.
Eventually we stumbled across the @ycombinator Summer Founders Program.

We were amazed by the concept that people might pay us to build our shitty idea instead of pouring our own (non-existent) money into it.

So we applied.
We got an email back from @paulg, who told us that there were 3 categories of applicants:

- Good founders & ideas
- Bad founders
- Okay founders + bad ideas

We were in category 3.
After a tumultuous interview process and by some miracle, we were accepted into the program.

We got our first investment to build our calendar app.

But the problem was that none of us really knew why people used calendars or what they were looking for.
As a college kid, all I knew was that I had class on Monday and Wednesday from 10:30 to 12:30.

I didn’t need a calendar to remember that.
We never did any customer development, or talked to anyone who actually used a calendar.

After we launched, we got a couple users but they quickly churned.

We had raised money from YC and a couple of investors, but we were slowly burning all our cash.
When we eventually ran out of money, we didn’t know what to do. Our only option was to sell our company.

The problem: we didn’t know how to do that either.
I suggested the only place I knew where to sell things: eBay.

When no one could suggest anything better, we listed Kiko on the site for $50,000 and a prayer.
I sat in my underwear in my friend’s NYC apartment, desperately refreshing the auction page.

Suddenly, offers started flying in: $50K, $85K, $100K, $150K, $200K…

We ended up selling our shirrt first startup on eBay for $258,100.
Before that, I was ready to quit startups. I had resigned myself to moving back in with my parents and going into real estate, which my mom worked in.

Suddenly, it seemed that tech startups weren’t so bad after all.
After my first shitty startup, we started justintv which became Twitch, I joined YC as a partner ,and so on…

The moral of the story is this:
If we could do it so damn incompetently, you have absolutely no excuse not to try.

So get out there and build your shitty first startup!

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More from @justinkan

18 Nov
If you are in your twenties listen up

Here’s what I wish I could tell my younger self:
Be kind to others and especially yourself.

You will become much happier, fulfilled, and more pleasant to be around.
Kindness goes beyond being ‘nice’ or polite -

it is about being intentional and going above and beyond to extend your compassion.
Read 12 tweets
16 Nov
If you constantly complain that you are not good at XYZ, it means you don’t care enough.

You can get good at anything you want to.

Here’s how I went from being cripplingly shy, to being able to speak in front of ten thousand people:
One of my mentors and early investors in justintv, @paultoo (inventor of gmail), told me this:

“It's not about your Y intercept. It's about what your slope is.”
In other words, it's not about where you start; it's about how fast you're growing - your rate of progression is what really determines your ultimate outcome.
Read 23 tweets
14 Nov
These are the four areas I'm excited to invest in and most bullish on:

- Climate change
- AI and robotics
- Consumer and digital commerce
- Creator economy

Here's why:
1. Climate change.

It is one of the most pressing generational challenges we are facing.

The best entrepreneurs are usually the ones who are interested and attracted to tackling the hardest problems.
2. AI & robotics

I'm interested in investing in companies working with smart data and machines.

Humans are faulty. Good technology automates it away.

I’m an early investor in @cruise, a self-driving car company building for a driverless future.
Read 6 tweets
8 Nov
@ycombinator is the Harvard of Silicon Valley, and it’s not even close.

As a former partner, this is my step-by-step guide on how to get into the most prestigious startup accelerator in the world:
Let’s start with the application process:

The first thing you need to know is that the person reading your YC application is reading a metric shit ton of other applications.

Make your application as concise and simple as possible.

Skip all the buzzwords.

Don't get trapped in the jargon - it muddles the accessibility of your idea.
Read 25 tweets
3 Nov
Thinking of quitting your job to go all-in on your startup?

Don't do it.

Well, not until you have at least these four things figured out:

Stop glorifying titles like ‘founder’ or ‘CEO’ and letting them lure you into taking big impulsive leaps.

While these steps will not guarantee success, not hitting them at all will almost certainly result in failure.
1. Find (a) co-founder(s):

You can’t always do it alone. Building a company with one or more co-founders will make things much, much easier.

But don’t be fooled - finding good co-founders is one of the hardest processes you will ever face in your startup journey
Read 16 tweets
1 Nov
It’s 2013.

I’m running a failing services company into the ground, binge-drinking daily, and suffering from severe anxiety and depression.

If you have ever felt like you’re drowning, keep reading:
Exec was an errand-running service. When that model started failing, we pivoted towards a cleaning service.

(side note: services are a terrible business to scale. Don’t do it unless you have no other options or just love doing that service)
I was swamped with a feeling of malaise. The first thing I thought about everyday when waking up was how the startup was failing.
Read 21 tweets

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