I have spent years reading about how to build a startup, and if I have learned one thing, it is that everyone has a different perspective on how to build one.
Some people think that you should launch as early as possible. The stories of Stripe and Airbnb seem to reinforce the value of this approach. Some people think that you should go all in for a big PR launch. Slack exercised this approach, and did exceptionally well.
Knowing how other companies got started provides you with a lot of valuable knowledge. If you know that launching early worked for another company, you know that it is an approach that you could try. But then again, it may not work for you.
You could ignore most of the startup advice you read on the internet and still build a successful company. This is because every company is unique, and as long as you are delivering value to the world, then that’s all that matters.
YC’s mantra is simple: “Make something people want.” I cannot emphasize how important this advice is in building a good business.
Businesses may seem like some abstract concept that deserves to be considered in a certain way. Fundamentally, however, businesses are just groups of people who are in pursuit of one goal. If you can help someone achieve a goal, then a business can exist.
Notice that this advice says nothing about the fact that you have to raise capital. Or that you have to do a glitzy press launch. Or that you have to measure product-market fit using a certain metric. Or that you have to do a private beta. It’s simplicity is what makes it powerful.
If you want to build a startup, you only need to make something people want.
Reading stories of what other people have done arms you with knowledge on strategies you can try, but the strategy that works for one company may not work for yours. Slack already had connections that helped them do a press launch. Maybe you don’t, so why would you invest your time in doing a press launch?
Build something that meets a need, literally any need that one person has. Even if the person who has that need is yourself. There’s a chance that your product doesn’t end up becoming a venture-backable business, but that is fine. If you are doing something that provides value to the world, it doesn’t matter if you are venture-backable or not.