„The most contrarian thing of all is to think for yourself.“

Notes On Startups OR How To Build The Future by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

„In the most dysfunctional organizations, signalling that work is being done becomes a better strategy for career advancement than actually doing work – if this describes your company, you should quit now.“ (p 10)

„Instead ask yourself: how much of what you know about business is shaped by mistaken reactions to past mistakes? The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.“ (p 22)

„Entrepreneurs are always biased to understate the scale of competition, but that is the biggest mistake a startup can make. The fatal temptation is to describe your market extremely narrow so that you dominate it by definition.“ (p 28)

„Proprietary technology is the most substantive advantage a company can have because it makes your product difficult or impossible to replicate… As a good rule of thumb, proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension to lead to a real monopolistic advantage. Anything less than an order of magnitude better will probably be perceived as a marginal improvement and will be hard to sell, especially in an already crowded market.“ (p 48)

„The perfect target for a startup is a small group of particular people concentrated together and served by few or no competitors. Any big market is a bad choice, and a big market already served by competing companies is even worse.“ (p 54)

„As you craft a plan to expand to adjacent markets, don’t disrupt: avoid competition as much as possible.“ (p 57)

„But leanness is a methodology, not a goal. Making small changes to things that already exist might lead you to a local maximum, but it won’t help you find the global maximum… But iteration without a bold plan won’t take you from 0 to 1. A company is the strangest place of all for an indefinite optimist: why should you expect your own business to succeed without a plan to make it happen? Darwinism may be a fine theory in other contexts, but in startups, intelligent design works best.“ (p 78-79)

„The most common answer to the question of future value is a diversified portfolio: ‚Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,‘ everyone has been told. As we said, even the best venture investors have a portfolio, but investors who understand the power law make as few investments as possible. The kind of portfolio thinking embraced by both folk wisdom and financial convention, by contrast, regards diversified betting as a source of strength. The more you dabble, the more you are supposed to have hedged against the uncertainty of the future. But life is not a portfolio: not for a startup founder, and not for any individual. An entrepreneur cannot ‚diversify‘ herself: you cannot run dozens of companies at the same time and then hope that one of them works out well. Less obvious but just as important, an individual cannot diversify his own life by keeping dozens of equally possible careers in ready reserve.“ (p 90-91)

„It does matter what you do. You should focus relentlessly on something you’re good at doing, but before that you must think hard about whether it will be valuable in the future.“ (p 91)

„Great companies can be built on open but unsuspected secrets about how the world works. Consider the Silicon Valley startups that have harnessed the spare capacity that is all around us but often ignored… Airbnb saw untapped supply and unaddressed demand where others saw nothing at all… only by believing in and looking for secrets could you see beyond the convention to an opportunity hidden in plain sight.“ (p 102-103)

„So when thinking about what kind of company to build, there are two distinct questions to ask: What secrets is nature not telling you? What secrets are people not telling you?“ (p 103)

„The best place to look for secrets is where no one else is looking.“ (p 104)

„The best entrepreneurs know this: every great company is a conspiracy to change the world: when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator.“ (p 106)

„Now when I consider investing in a startup, I study the founding team. Technical abilities and complementary skill sets matter, but how well the founders know each other and how well they work together matter just as much. Founders should share a prehistory before they start a company together – otherwise they’re just rolling dice.“ (p 109)

„As a general rule, everyone you involve with your company should be involved full-time. Sometimes you’ll have to break this rule; it usually makes sense to hire outside lawyers and accountants, for example. however, anyone who doesn’t own stock options or draw a regular salary from our company is fundamentally misaligned…. If you’re deciding whether to bring someone on board, the decision is binary.“ (p 113)

„The most valuable kind of company maintains an openness to invention that is most characteristic of beginnings. This leads to a second, less obvious understand of the founding: it lasts as long as a company is creating new thing, and it ends when creation stops. If you get the founding moment tight, you can do more than create a valuable company: you can steer its distant future towards the creation of new things instead of the stewardship of inherited success. You might even extend its founding indefinitely.“ (p 116-117)

„Its better to think of distribution as something essential to the design of your product.“ (p 130)

„The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be build by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete.“ (p 141)

„An entrepreneur can’t benefit from macro-scale insight unless his own plans begin at the micro-scale.“ (p 170)

ZERO to ONE. Notes On Startups, or How To Build The Future. Peter Thiel with Blake Masters., 2014, Virgin Books, and imprint of Ebury Publishing.

We provide our insights through quotes directly taken from books, articles, videos, info graphs and other media. We do not add, comment or reflect on the topics highlighted or represent the media in its intentions or as a whole. We hope to inspire you to dig deeper, discover and fall in love with your own eureka moments.

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