In tech, we tend to lionize the founders who make the leap into working on their idea full-time. We celebrate when people quit their jobs and talk about “building the plane on the way down”.

But not everyone is interested or in a position to leave gainful employment to explore a new field or build something they can see in their mind. And not every great idea requires a full-time commitment. Continue reading

On April 24th, 2011, I sat down with my friends Kalvin and Randy for an intense 10 minute interview with Paul Graham, Sam Altman, Jessica Livingston and several other partners at Y Combinator (YC). We were hoping to convince the world’s most powerful startup accelerator to accept our Reloveit, our idea for “a Mint.com for photo books”, into their Summer 2011 batch of startups. Continue reading

I recently finished reading a new book about startups. It’s called The Science of Growth: How Facebook Beat Friendster and How Nine Other Startups Left the Rest in the Dust. It’s written by Sean Ammirati, who is a partner at Birchmere Ventures and an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon, where he teaches a courses on entrepreneurship. He was previously COO of ReadWriteWeb and cofounded mSpoke, a content recommendation engine that was acquired by LinkedIn.

The book is a spiritual successor to Four Steps to the Epiphany, in that it is an intellectual framework for thinking about high-growth entrepreneurship written someone with deep experience in the field. While there’s a cursory similarity to Good to Great / Great by Choice in comparing pairs of winner/loser companies, it really shines as a way of thinking about, talking about, and analyzing startups at different stages of growth: Continue reading

The New York Times’s sub-brand The Upshot [1] recently did a piece called What It’s Really Like to Risk it All in Silicon Valley. The article follows Nathalie Miller, who left Instacart to start Doxa, a company in the recruiting space focused on getting women into technology firms. The piece includes commentary from a number of folks on the Silicon Valley experience, including Tristan Walker of Bevel, Julia Hu of Lark, and Jason Shen (me) of Ridejoy, talking about the often unspoken challenges of entrepreneurship.

As the writer Claire Cain Miller explained to me, her goal in following Miller for 6+ months was to tell the story behind the hype of the Valley, and show that doing a startup is not all about unicorn status, launch parties, and huge rounds of financing. I had fun talking to her and they even sent a photographer out to take a photo of me in DUMBO.

It’s a great piece and you can read the whole thing here.


[1] The mission of The Up Shot: making events in the news and things in the world clearer, so people can converse about them, and cut through the fog with a certain confidence, as when we say, “The upshot of it is…” (source)

As you may have heard, Y Combinator is going back to its roots with something called the YC Fellowship. Today is the last day to apply. [1]

It’s a equity-free grant of $12k for super-early-stage startups where founders will have an 8 week program to work on their idea. You don’t have to move to the Bay Area, a cofounder, or even a prototype but all are encouraged. It’s positioned as an experiment in reducing the barrier to entry (i.e. activation energy) for starting a startup. Continue reading