Investing in Startups: Tips from Paul Buchheit | Startup Investor School Day 2

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This article is a summary of a YouTube video "Paul Buchheit - Startup Investor School Day 2" by Y Combinator
TLDR Investing in startups requires experience, luck, and taking risks, and successful investors prioritize investing in founders with great teams and pursue seemingly impossible ideas to achieve great success.

Traits and Qualities of Successful Founders

  • 📧
    Paul Buchheit, the inventor of Gmail, and the speaker in the video, has been a long-time partner at YC and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the startup world.
  • 🚀
    Paul Buchheit expresses his confidence in starting his own company, FriendFeed, after observing the process and success of other startups.
  • 💡
    The most important thing in a startup is having a really great team, finding people who are smarter and more insightful than you are.
  • 🚀
    Taking on seemingly impossible challenges can lead to success, as demonstrated by the founders of Justin TV and Cruise.
  • 👥
    The quality of the founders is crucial in determining the success of a startup, as everything else stems from their capabilities and vision.
  • ⏩
    Moving fast is essential for success as a founder, as exemplified by Brett rewriting maps in a weekend and the Meraki team building a product with limited resources.
  • 💪
    Determination is the most important trait in a startup founder, as starting a startup is really hard and unpleasant.
  • 💡
    The determination and willingness to charge straight into a brick wall is the most important quality to look for in a founder.

Importance of Product and Customer Satisfaction

  • 💡
    "The best kind of morality is a product that people like so much that they just want to tell people about it." - Paul Buchheit on the importance of creating a product that customers love and want to share.
  • 💡
    The unpredictable idea of livestreaming one's life 24/7 led to the success of, which eventually pivoted to Twitch and was sold to Amazon for a billion dollars.
  • 🚀
    "Make something people want. This is key. This is our slogan make something people." - Paul Buchheit emphasizes the importance of creating a product that people actually want.

Value of Investing in Talented Individuals

  • 🤔
    Big companies often miss out on groundbreaking ideas because they prioritize short-term profitability and fail to recognize the long-term potential of innovative startups.
  • 📈
    The founder of wufu, Kevin Hale, who Paul Buchheit invested in, later became a partner at YC, showcasing the value of investing in talented individuals who can contribute to the success of startups.
  • 💰
    Invest in optimism and the future you want to see, not the future you fear.


  • What is the importance of experience in investing in startups?

    — Experience is necessary to become an expert in investing in startups, as it is more of an art than a science.

  • Who is Paul Buchheit and what are his achievements?

    — Paul Buchheit is a YC partner who invented Gmail and sold his company FriendFeed to Facebook.

  • How important is luck in the success of a startup?

    — Luck plays a crucial role in the success of a startup, as demonstrated by the speaker's experience of joining Google due to their product and work with Linux.

  • What is the key factor for success in startups?

    — Attracting the best people and making something people want are the key factors for success in startups.

  • How should investors determine a founder's determination?

    — Investors can determine a founder's determination by asking about their past failures and persistence in handling challenges and taking risks.

Timestamped Summary

  • 💰
    Investing in startups is an art that requires experience, and YC partner Paul Buchheit invented Gmail and sold FriendFeed to Facebook.
  • 👨‍💼
    💰 Successful investor shares experience and patterns of favorable and unfavorable outcomes in investing, emphasizing the importance of luck and taking risks in startups.
  • 💰
    11:48 pivoted to video game streaming and sold Twitch to Amazon for a billion dollars, while successful Y Combinator alumni started their own companies and emphasized the importance of having a great team and investing in founders who know what they're talking about.
  • 💰
    Invest in non-software companies for giant exits, prioritize your own startup, move fast in decision-making, invest in optimism and the future you want to see.
  • 💡
    Pursue seemingly impossible ideas to attract top talent and achieve great success in startups.
  • 📹
    A group of four people stuck a camera on Justin's head and streamed it, allowing them to quickly test and iterate their concept.
  • 💰
    Don't let past mistakes hold you back from investing, but be cautious of ICOs and too much funding for startups, while investing in hard tech companies requires excitement and trust in the founders' determination.
  • 📈
    Learn from past mistakes but also ignore the past to be a successful investor.
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This article is a summary of a YouTube video "Paul Buchheit - Startup Investor School Day 2" by Y Combinator
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