Billionaires Build by Paul Graham

Today I revisited Billionaires Build by Paul Graham. In the essay he describes the components of a successful Y Combinator pitch.

For me the essay is a framework of the most important questions startup founders should think through before building their product.

It’s also a great framework for Product Manager that are working on a new product or feature.

I found it to be similar to Amazon’s Press Release template for new product initiatives.

Two Questions

The essay can be boiled down to two questions founders or PMs need to answer:

  1. What do users want?
  2. What new things could you build for them?

Know Your Users

What YC looks for, above all, is founders who understand some group of users and can make what they want. 

What YC Partners Look For

The best thing you can do in a YC interview is to teach the partners about your users. So if you want to prepare for your interview, one of the best ways to do it is to go talk to your users and find out exactly what they’re thinking. Which is what you should be doing anyway.

Key Questions:

  1. Have you discovered a real need? How do you know?
  2. Are you able to satisfy the need?
  3. Is there a path to a big market?
  4. Who are your competitors?

Solution Elements

There have to be some people who want what you’re building right now, and want it so urgently that they’re willing to use it, bugs and all, even though you’re a small company they’ve never heard of.