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Science vs Hype: Investor-Scientist Michael Seibel Drops Game for Startup Founders: 5 Things To Know


As partner and CEO of the renowned Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator Y Combinator (YC), Michael Seibel is no stranger to startups. He is credited with saving Airbnb and when Seibel gives advice, people listen. He did so recently via a Twitter thread.

Seibel became YC’s first African-American partner in October 2014. He co-founded Justin.tv, which in 2014 became Twitch Interactive and was sold to Amazon for $970 million. Seibel also co-founded Socialcam, which was sold to Autodesk Inc. for $60 million. 

In June 2020, Seibel joined the Redditt board of directors after Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the social media site, resigned and urged that his seat be filled by a Black person. 

Y Combinator is known to have helped well-known startups make it. Redditt, for example, got its start at YC in 2005. So did Dropbox and Stripe. “Considered the ultimate validation for early-stage startups, Y Combinator has long established its name as the world-renowned accelerator,” according to Envzone.

Y Combinator provides early-stage startups with seed investment, seed funding and advice.

Seibel often tackles science vs. hype in the startup ecosystem. The science doesn’t lie.

Investor Seibel recently dropped some game for startup founders. Here are five things to know. 

1. Seibel: Don’t forget the reason why

In the hunt for funding, many startup founders are so focused on money that they forget the passion behind the startup.

If you find yourself competing to win the love of investors, “remember that you build your company to service your customers and the world. Investors are simple service providers who help you with capital along the way,” Seibel tweeted.

2. Customer first

Don’t forget your startup’s customers. Having famous investors is cool, but the customer is who you need first. “If you look around the startup ecosystem you can find too many founders who believe that famous investor + lots of employees = winning. I bet most of your VC backed competitors feel this way and you can use this to defeat them (they aren’t talking to customers nearly enough),” Seibel tweeted.

3. Trainable talents

It takes more than smarts to be a successful founder, Seibel said.

“Too many successful founders are celebrated for their intelligence. Not enough are celebrated for their discipline, focus, understanding of when to copy and when to innovate, and ability to ignore what is not vitally important. These last 4 are trainable,” Seibel tweeted.

4. ‘Don’t peak in high school’

Seibel laments that many founders are trying to be with the cool kids. Focus on value instead of image, he advises. “Too many startup founders are trying to relive high school with their startup. They are trying to be the cool kid in the eyes of investors, their peers, and the press (but not their customers). And their companies don’t create any value. Remember – don’t peak in high school!”

5. Seibel says, don’t believe the hype

Seibel tweeted, “The more of a scene the startup world becomes – the more founders focus on work that has nothing to do with serving their customers. If your founder peers are doing this – don’t copy them!”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?



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