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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 59. What Goes Wrong

It’s been more than seven years since we started Y Combinator (YC). In that time we’ve funded 467 startups, so I’ve seen a lot of patterns. There’s a talk I always want to give at the beginning of each batch, warning everyone about things that I know are probably going to happen to them. I finally wrote down all my thoughts and I’m going to share them with you now.

We all know that a lot of smart and talented people start startups. You see huge numbers of startups getting started, and yet there are actually only a handful of startups that are big successes. What happens along the way that causes such failure?

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It’s like there’s a tunnel full of monsters that kill them along the way. I’m going to tell you what these monsters are so you know to avoid them.

Determination

In general, your best weapon against these monsters is determination. Even though we usually use one word for it, determination is really two separate things: resilience and drive. Resilience keeps you from being pushed backward. Drive moves you forward.

One reason you need resilience in a startup is that you are going to get rejected a lot. Even the most famous startups had surprising amounts of rejection early on.

Everyone you encounter will have doubts about what you’re doing—investors, potential employees, reporters, your family and friends. What you don’t realize until you ...

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