#33 - The Challenges a Repeat Founder Faces
Y Combinator
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Who is Tikhon Bernstam? 00:00

Tikhon is a Y Combinator backed founder and investor. He started Scribd and Parse. He later sold Parse to Facebook.


How did Tikhon get into Y Combinator? 00:49

Tikhon was in graduate school in theoretical physics, when he read Paul Graham's essay on How to Start a Startup. Inspired by what he saw, Tikhon applied, not at all sure that he would get in, but once accepted, Tikhon dropped out of grad school and moved to Cambridge, where YC was based at the time. The rest is history!


How did the idea of Scribd emerge? 02:35

YouTube was a hot startup at the time, and everyone wanted to be the "YouTube of X," much like in the 2010s everyone wants to be "Uber for Y."

Seeing that viewing documents in the browser was a huge pain, Tikhon and co started Scribd, a "YouTube for documents."


How did Scribd benefit from Y Combinator early on? 04:34

Not knowing much about what they were doing early on, Tikhon and team found feedback from the Y Combinator team to be incredibly useful. They would look at the Scribd's progress and be able to immediately steer the guys in the right direction, saving them invaluable time in wasted effort.


How much money did Scribd raise after Y Combinator? 06:55

Funding environment was very different back in the early days of Y Combinator than it is now, and after the demo day, Scribd team survived on savings, and the generosity of their parents.


How did the Parse team come up with the idea? 10:14

The founders did not want to waste time building products, so instead they spun out 12 different landing pages and launched them all, measuring which one gathered the most interest. Parse won.


Why does Tikhon look to invest in really large markets? 32:27

Because without a market, even a great relentless team with a great product cannot succeed.


Why does Tikhon Bernstam invest in Solo founders? 33:50

A lot of successful founders had started as solo founders, and Tikhon says that startups are already hard, and if you are willing to persevere on your own, that only shows an additional strength of character.


What is the optimal investment strategy? 38:40

Invest in a big market, even if it's already crowded. A great product in a big market will outperform a novel product in a small market.


What is a major challenge for a repeat startup founder? 43:52

Repeat founders feel the pressure of having to work on a big idea. Unfortunately most big discoveries seem to come from people working on small things first.

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