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Startup Carton

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A curated collection of the best free resources for new founders and entrepreneurs. In a carton — where the world's greatest startups once fit and even started from.

Table of Contents

1. Start Here
You are not too late (Kevin Kelly)
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Right now, today, in 20[XX] is the best time to start something on the internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute. This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh to have been alive and well back then!”
The Challenge of the Future (Blake Masters & Peter Thiel)
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The path from 0 to 1 might start with asking and answering three questions. First, what is valuable? Second, what can I do? And third, what is nobody else doing? The questions themselves are straightforward. Question one illustrates the difference between business and academia; in academia, the number one sin is plagiarism, not triviality. So much of the innovation is esoteric and not at all useful. No one cares about a firm’s eccentric, non-valuable output. The second question ensures that you can actually execute on a problem; if not, talk is just that. Finally, and often overlooked, is the importance of being novel. Forget that and we’re just copying. The intellectual rephrasing of these questions is: What important truth do very few people agree with you on? The business version is: What valuable company is nobody building?
Startup = Growth (Paul Graham)
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Usually successful startups happen because the founders are sufficiently different from other people that ideas few others can see seem obvious to them. Perhaps later they step back and notice they've found an idea in everyone else's blind spot, and from that point make a deliberate effort to stay there. But at the moment when successful startups get started, much of the innovation is unconscious.
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"Startup" is a pole, not a threshold. Starting one is at first no more than a declaration of one's ambitions. You're committing not just to starting a company, but to starting a fast growing one, and you're thus committing to search for one of the rare ideas of that type. But at first you have no more than commitment. Starting a startup is like being an actor in that respect. "Actor" too is a pole rather than a threshold. At the beginning of his career, an actor is a waiter who goes to auditions. Getting work makes him a successful actor, but he doesn't only become an actor when he's successful.
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The real question is not what growth rate makes a company a startup, but what growth rate successful startups tend to have.
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When I first meet founders and ask what their growth rate is, sometimes they tell me "we get about a hundred new customers a month." That's not a rate. What matters is not the absolute number of new customers, but the ratio of new customers to existing ones. If you're really getting a constant number of new customers every month, you're in trouble, because that means your growth rate is decreasing. The best thing to measure the growth rate of is revenue. The next best, for startups that aren't charging initially, is active users. That's a reasonable proxy for revenue growth because whenever the startup does start trying to make money, their revenues will probably be a constant multiple of active users
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The fascinating thing about optimizing for growth is that it can actually discover startup ideas. You can use the need for growth as a form of evolutionary pressure. If you start out with some initial plan and modify it as necessary to keep hitting, say, 10% weekly growth, you may end up with a quite different company than you meant to start. But anything that grows consistently at 10% a week is almost certainly a better idea than you started with.
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It's hard to find something that grows consistently at several percent a week, but if you do you may have found something surprisingly valuable. If we project forward we see why. weekly yearly 1% 1.7x 2% 2.8x 5% 12.6x 7% 33.7x 10% 142.0x A company that grows at 1% a week will grow 1.7x a year, whereas a company that grows at 5% a week will grow 12.6x. A company making $1000 a month (a typical number early in YC) and growing at 1% a week will 4 years later be making $7,900 a month, which is less than a good programmer makes in salary in Silicon Valley. A startup that grows at 5% a week will in 4 years be making $25 million a month.
The only thing that matters (Marc Andreessen)
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In honor of Andy Rachleff, formerly of Benchmark Capital, who crystallized this formulation for me, let me present Rachleff’s Law of Startup Success:

The #1 company-killer is lack of market.

Andy puts it this way:

  • When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins.
  • When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins.
  • When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.
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The only thing that matters is getting to product/market fit.

Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of “blah”, the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.

And you can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it—or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You’re hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can. Reporters are calling because they’ve heard about your hot new thing and they want to talk to you about it. You start getting entrepreneur of the year awards from Harvard Business School. Investment bankers are staking out your house. You could eat free for a year at Buck’s.

How to Build the Future (Elon Musk)
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Whatever this thing is that you're trying to create, [think about] what would be the utility Delta compared to the current state of the art times how many people it would affect. So that's why I think having something that makes a big difference but affects a sort of small to moderate number of people is great as is something that makes even a small difference but affects a vast number of people like the area under the curve.
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If you think technology just automatically gets better every year, it actually doesn't. Technology only gets better if smart people work like crazy to make it better. That's how any technology actually gets better. And by itself technology... if people don't work on it, it will actually decline.
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You can look at the history of civilizations, many civilizations, and look at say ancient Egypt where they were able to build these incredible pyramids, and then they basically forgot how to build pyramids. And then even hieroglyphics, they forgot how to read hieroglyphics. Or you look at Rome and how they were able to build these incredible roadways and aqueducts and indoor plumbing and they forgot how to do all of those things. And there are many such examples in history so I think you should always bear in mind that entropy is not on your side.
Building a Startup (Mark Zuckerberg)
Advice for First Time Founders (Y Combinator)
50 Entrepreneurs share priceless advice (Blockshelf)
Be careful not to lose twice (Both Sides of the Table)
Biggest Mistakes First-Time Founders Make (Michael Seibel)
How I Burned 10 Million Dollars So You Don’t Have To (Matt Munson)
Lessons for early stage founders (Calvin French-Owen)
The 20-year-old entrepreneur is a lie (Meredith Somers / MIT Sloan)
Climbing the wrong hill (Chris Dixon)
Grow the puzzle around you (Jessica Livingston)
Why not to do a startup (Marc Andreessen)
You Probably Shouldn’t Work at a Startup [Evan Armstrong]
2. Ideas
Why smart people have bad ideas (Paul Graham)
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"The biggest cause of bad ideas is the "still life effect": you come up with a random idea, plunge into it, and then at each point (a day, a week, a month) feel you've put so much time into it that this must be the idea. How do we fix that? I don't think we should discard plunging. Plunging into an idea is a good thing. The solution is at the other end: to realize that having invested time in something doesn't make it good."
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"If you're starting a company that will do something cool, the aim had better be to make money and maybe be cool, not to be cool and maybe make money. It's hard enough to make money that you can't do it by accident. Unless it's your first priority, it's unlikely to happen at all."
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"The hard part about figuring out what customers want is figuring out that you need to figure it out. But that's something you can learn quickly. It's like seeing the other interpretation of an ambiguous picture. As soon as someone tells you there's a rabbit as well as a duck, it's hard not to see it."
How to get startup ideas (Paul Graham)
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"The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It's to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself."
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"Just as trying to think up startup ideas tends to produce bad ones, working on things that could be dismissed as "toys" often produces good ones. When something is described as a toy, that means it has everything an idea needs except being important. It's cool; users love it; it just doesn't matter. But if you're living in the future and you build something cool that users love, it may matter more than outsiders think."
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"Live in the future and build what seems interesting."
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"By far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has."
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"Why do so many founders build things no one wants? Because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas. That m.o. is doubly dangerous: it doesn't merely yield few good ideas; it yields bad ideas that sound plausible enough to fool you into working on them."
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"So if you can't predict whether there's a path out of an idea, how do you choose between ideas? The truth is disappointing but interesting: if you're the right sort of person, you have the right sort of hunches. If you're at the leading edge of a field that's changing fast, when you have a hunch that something is worth doing, you're more likely to be right."
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"Finding startup ideas is a subtle business, and that's why most people who try fail so miserably. It doesn't work well simply to try to think of startup ideas. If you do that, you get bad ones that sound dangerously plausible. The best approach is more indirect: if you have the right sort of background, good startup ideas will seem obvious to you."
How to brainstorm great business ideas (Courtland Allen)
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Most people equate product ideas with business ideas. That's wrong. Your product is only one part of your business. There are at least four parts in total:
  1. the problem you're solving and the people who have it (i.e. the market)
  2. the distribution channels to reach customers
  3. the monetization model you use to make money
  4. the solution to the problem (i.e. your product or service)

Great business ideas are strong in all of these areas.

Ideas for startups (Paul Graham)
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"The fact is, most startups end up nothing like the initial idea. It would be closer to the truth to say the main value of your initial idea is that, in the process of discovering it's broken, you'll come up with your real idea."
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"Treating a startup idea as a question changes what you're looking for. If an idea is a blueprint, it has to be right. But if it's a question, it can be wrong, so long as it's wrong in a way that leads to more ideas."
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"So an idea for a startup is an idea for something people want. Wouldn't any good idea be something people want? Unfortunately not. I think new theorems are a fine thing to create, but there is no great demand for them. Whereas there appears to be great demand for celebrity gossip magazines. Wealth is defined democratically. Good ideas and valuable ideas are not quite the same thing; the difference is individual tastes."
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"One of the most useful mental habits I know I learned from Michael Rabin: that the best way to solve a problem is often to redefine it. A lot of people use this technique without being consciously aware of it, but Rabin was spectacularly explicit. You need a big prime number? Those are pretty expensive. How about if I give you a big number that only has a 10 to the minus 100 chance of not being prime? Would that do? Well, probably; I mean, that's probably smaller than the chance that I'm imagining all this anyway."
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"Making things cheaper is actually a subset of a more general technique: making things easier. For a long time it was most of making things easier, but now that the things we build are so complicated, there's another rapidly growing subset: making things easier to use."
How To Decide What To Build (Daniel Gross)
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People often tell me they want to start a startup, but they don’t know what to build. “I’m not a person with ideas”, they’ll say. Stop that narrative. You are whatever you tell yourself you are.
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Focus on the repeat offenders. The ideas that you keep coming back to. When I think of a new idea, I get deeply infected with it. It takes over my mind. It’s all I can think about. Over time, most of the ideas fade. But a choice few keep on coming back. Pay attention to those. You know you’ve got something good when you’re thinking about it in the shower.
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Make sure you enjoy thinking about it. Your primary edge as a founder will be the number of hours you spent thinking about a specific problem. Over time, you should accumulate more hours than almost anyone on earth. This will only work if it doesn’t feel like a chore. If you genuinely are fascinated by the problem
Big Breakthrough Ideas and Courageous Entrepreneurs (Marc Andreessen)
Evaluating a Business Idea (Russ Siegelman)
How to Evaluate Startup Ideas (Kevin Hale)
Idea Evaluation (Stanford)
People, Products, and Epiphanies (Google Design)
The Myth and Magic of Generating New Ideas (Dan Rockmore)
Vinod Khosla on How to Build the Future (Y Combinator)
How the most successful B2B startups came up with their original idea (Lenny)
3. Strategy
Entrepreneurial Strategy
Strategy for Start-ups (Erin Scott and Scott Stern)
Idea to Impact: Strategy for Startups (Scott Stern and Erin Scott)
Entrepreneurial Strategy (Gans, Scott, and Stern)
Entrepreneurial Strategy Compass (Entrepreneurial Strategy)
Target Big Markets (Don Valentine / Sequoia)
Do things that don't scale (Paul Graham)
Scaling Ventures: Linking Strategy and Execution (Wharton)
Ideas are easy, execution is everything (John Doerr)
Competitive Strategy
Strategy (Michael Porter)
The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy (Michael Porter)
Aligning Strategy & Project Management (Michael Porter)
Simple Rules - How to Thrive in a Complex World (Don Sull)
Developing a Strategy for Execution (Don Sull)
Many Strategies Fail Because They’re Not Actually Strategies (HBR)
A Taxonomy of Moats (Jerry Neumann)
Moats before (gross) margins (A16Z)
Charlie Munger on Moats (25iq)
Company alignment

The pyramid of clarity (Asana)

Business Planning

Why a startup’s initial business plan doesn’t matter that much (Marc Andreessen)

Pricing Framework

MIT 15.818 Pricing (Catherine Tucker / MIT OCW) ⭐

Startup Pricing 101 (Kevin Hale)

Pricing your Product (Sequoia)

There are Only 3 Pricing Strategies for Your Startup (Tomasz Tunguz)

The Winning Pricing Strategy for Earliest Stage Startups (Underscore VC)

Pricing Lessons from Working with 30+ Seed & Series A B2B Startups (Tyler Gaffney)

How to Determine the Best SaaS Pricing Strategy for Your Startup (Lighter Capital)

A Rake Too Far: Optimal Platform Pricing Strategy (Above the Crowd)

Pricing Experiments You Might Not Know, But Can Learn From (Peep Laja)

A Simple Framework for Pricing Pages (Good Better Best)

4. Primary Market Research (PMR)
Market Segmentation

How to do Market Segmentation (Bill Aulet)

Market Segmentation with SensAble Technologies: Part 1 (Bill Aulet)

Market Segmentation with SensAble Technologies: Part 2 (Bill Aulet)

Beachhead Market

What is a Beachhead Market (Bill Aulet)

How to Select a Beachhead Market (Bill Aulet)

Define your Beachhead Market through Customer Interviews (StartupSOS)

Total Addressable Market (TAM)

How to estimate market size? (TAM) (Slidebean)

How To Calculate Your Startup’s TAM The Right Way (Slidebean)

Customer Analysis & User Engagement

How to Create an End User Profile and a Persona for Your Startup (Vlad Bodi)

How to build an End User Profile

Part 1: Intro (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 2: What is an End User Profile? (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 3: How to Build an End User Profile (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 4: Why Build an End User Profile? (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 5: Conclusion (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

How to build your Persona

Part 1: Meet Raffaele Colella, Founder of Cannonball (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 2: How to Find Your Persona (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 3: What is Cannonball? (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 4: What is a Persona and How Do You Find It? (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 5: Who is Cannonball's End User? (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 6: Who is Cannonball's Persona? (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 7: How to Make a Detailed Persona Profile (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 8: How to Treat Early Persona Feedback (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 9: Persona Explained (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 10: Advice & How Persona Drives Strategy (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Part 11: Conclusion: How to Find Your Persona (MIT Entrepreneurship 101)

Who is your Customer? (Bill Aulet)

How to Talk to Users (Eric Migicovsky)

You Have a Great Idea and Nobody Cares (Richard Banfield)

General Advice about PMR

Debrief on PMR (Bill Aulet)

PMR Tips: 15 Points of Wisdom for Better Interviews from a Pro (Bill Aulet)

5. Product Market Fit (PMF)

The only thing that matters (Marc Andreessen)

Product/Market Fit (Marc Andreessen)

Zero to Product/Market Fit (Andrew Chen)

The real Product Market Fit (Michael Seibel)

How To Find Product Market Fit (David Rusenko)

12 Things about Product-Market Fit (Tren Griffin)

The Product Market Fit Journey (Adam Fisher)

The Product Market Fit Cycle (Carlos E. Espinal)

How to Determine Product Market Fit in Your Industry (HubSpot)

The Road to a $100M Company Doesn’t Start with Product (Brian Balfour)

PMF: What it really means, How to Measure it, and Where to find it (Eric Jorgenson)

How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product Market Fit (Rahul Vohra)

How to know if you've got product-market fit (Lenny Rachitsky)

The Never Ending Road To Product Market Fit (Brian Balfour)

A Quantitative Approach to Product Market Fit (Tribe Capital)

Product Channel Fit Will Make or Break Your Growth Strategy (Brian Balfour)

Finding Language/Market Fit: How to make customers feel like you’ve read their minds (FRR)

6. Pitch Decks

Startup Pitch Decks (Cirrus Insights)

Starting your fundraising pitch deck (Stripe)

Pitching your early stage startup (Patrick McKenzie)

How to design a better pitch deck (Y Combinator)

How to Build Your Seed Round Pitch Deck (Y Combinator)

The YC Seed Deck Template (Y Combinator)

How to convince investors (Paul Graham)

What questions to ask during pitch meeting (Alex Morgan)

VC Feedback for passing on Everpix (Everpix)

The Art Of the Investor Pitch Deck (Blake Armstrong)

7. Deals, Terms & Fundraising
Startup perspective: Raising money

How to raise money (Paul Graham)

How to raise money before launch (Delian)

Raising money for a startup (Khan Academy)

Your Cap Table is your Life (Carlos E. Espinal)

Letter of Intent (Feld)

How To Read A Startup Term Sheet (SVB)

What Seed Financing Is For (Fred Wilson)

Getting a seed round from a VC (Khan Academy)

A Guide to Seed Fundraising (Y Combinator)

Raising a Seed or Series A Round (Unusual VC)

Series A Fundraising Guide (Marathon VC)

Safe Financing Documents (Y Combinator)

Model Legal Documents (NVCA)

Bootstrapped my startup to 10 million users with $0 funding. AMA! (Indie Hackers)

VC perspective: What they look for & how they evaluate startups

What we look for in founders (Paul Graham)

10 skills I look for before writing a check, by Mark Suster (Part 1) (Part 2)

Trends in VC Financing (CooleyGo)

Startup Fundraising (Julian Shapiro)

Investor Herd Dynamics (Paul Graham)

Open Source Deal Memo Template (Point Nine Capital)

All revenue is not created equal: The keys to the 10x revenue club (Bill Gurley)

How to value a startup - 9 methods explained (StephNass)

A visual introduction to VC financing (Venture Dealr)

When Is a “Mark” Not a Mark? When It’s a Venture Capital Mark (Scott Kupor)

VC Math 101: Pre-money, Post-money, Seed, Series A, B, C, D, up rounds and down rounds (amattn)

YC Founders Made These Fundraising Mistakes (Y Combinator)

Venture Insanity Calculator (Grid)

8. Finance

Finance as Strategy: When and How Startups Should Build a Finance Function (A16Z)

The Art of Startup Finance (Entrepreneurship)

The ultimate guide to financial modeling for startups (EY)

Building A Startup Financial Model That Works (Visible VC)

Startup Costs: Expenses You Should Include In Your Plan (SVB)

Startup Financial Models (Kruze)

Startup Financial Models - SaaS (StephNass)

9. Metrics

A16Z Startup Metrics (Part 1 / Part 2)

The red flags & magic numbers investors look for in your startup’s metrics (Andrew Chen)

How to set KPIs and Goals (Y Combinator)

Nine Business Models and the Metrics Investors Want (Y Combinator)

Startup Metrics You Need to Monitor (Visible VC)

A Founder’s Guide to Startup Metrics (Baz Banai)

10X: Metrics for Early Stage Startups (Daniel Gross)

12 KPIs you must know before pitching your startup (Phil Nadel)

DTC Metrics, Explained (Zachariah Reitano)

10. Recruiting

Recruiting - The 3rd crucial startup skill (For Entrepreneurs)

Avoid falling into the trap of "credentialism" (Youtube / Gary Tan)

How to hire the best people you’ve ever worked with (Marc Andreessen)

Hiring, managing, promoting, and firing executives (Marc Andreessen)

How to interview an Executive (Delian)

Hiring Employees (Julian Shapiro)

The Art, Science and Labor of Recruiting (Vinod Khosla)

LinkedIn’s Head of Recruiting on Handling Salary Negotiations (Linkedin)

11. Team
Co-Founders

How To Choose A Co-Founder (Elad Gil)

How to Fire A Co-Founder (Elad Gil)

Why you won't find a tech cofounder (Indie Hackers)

How to Split Equity Among Co-Founders (Michael Seibel)

Keeping your slice of the pie / Startup founder's guide to equity [Part1] [Part2] [Part3]

Startup Equity Calculator (Foundrs)

People

Leaving it all on the field (Jeff Jordan / A16Z)

When & How to Fire an Employee at a Small Startup (Elad Blog)

How to Work Together (Y Combinator)

How to Build a Better Startup Team (Stanford GSB)

People Challenges Can Sink Startups (Stanford GSB)

Motivating Employees Without Fear (Kevin Hale)

When & How to Fire an Employee at a Small Startup (Elad Gil)

How to Create an Employee Handbook (Y Combinator)

Handbook for new Employees (Valve)

Culture

Culture (Netflix)

How to Become a Magnet for Talent and Assess Talent (Delian)

The real reason people won't change (HBR)

The Holloway Syllabus on Company Culture (Holloway)

Building a Culture of Experimentation (HBR)

Rewarding Talent

Rewarding Talent Handbook (Index Ventures)

How to Offer Stock Equity to Your Employees (Y Combinator)

Equity Compensation Guide (Holloway)

Buffer Salary Formula (Buffer)

BoD

Your Board of Directors is Probably Going to Fire You (Jerry Neumann)

12. Operations
For Founders

Running your startup (Patrick Collison / Stripe)

‘Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups (First Round)

Building a High Performance Organization (Ray Stata)

Growing with your company's complexity (Irrational Exuberance)

Make Operations Your Secret Weapon - Here’s How (First Round Review)

Building a Startup That Will Last (HBR)

Here’s Why Founders Should Care about Happiness (First Round)

For Operators

Scale up a Startup: The Importance of Operations (Raul O. Chao)

At a Tech Startup, Operations Must Wear Many Hats (AbstractOps)

What Is Operations In A Startup? Don’t Worry, It’s Simple… (Paul David Mather)

The Most Productive Meetings Have Fewer Than 8 People (HBR)

Do Less. More. (Mark Suster)

13. Engineering
Basics

The Effective Engineer (Edmond Lau)

What Qualities Make a Good Startup Engineer? (Effective Engineer)

The Product-Minded Software Engineer (Gergely Orosz)

A Look at WhatsApp: Engineering for Success at Scale (Facebook)

Code Reviews

How to do a code review (Github)

How to Make Good Code Reviews Better (Gergely Orosz)

How to Review Code as a Junior Developer (Pinterest Engineering)

Becoming an Effective Engineering Manager

The Engineer to Manager Transition (David Loftesness)

Things I've learned transitioning from engineer to engineering manager (Gergely Orosz)

Become an effective software engineering manager (LeadDev)

What Makes Great Startup Engineering Leaders? (Talent Snap)

Building Successful Engineering Teams

Building an Engineering Team [Triplebyte]

How to build a startup engineering team (Increment)

A Software Engineering Culture Test (Gergely Orosz)

How to develop a healthy startup engineering culture (Inside Spendesk)

Cultivating a high performance engineering team (Stephen Kiers)

Building a Top-performing Startup Engineering Team (Plotly)

How I Structured Engineering Teams at LinkedIn and AdMob for Success (First Round)

Building and Motivating Engineering Teams (Camille Fournier)

Scaling engineering organizations (Stripe)

14. Product
Building your product

Building Product (Michael Seibel)

How to Plan an MVP (Michael Seibel)

Let's talk product-led growth (Sandhya Hegde)

If your product is Great, it doesn't need to be Good (Paul Buchheit)

Turning Products into Companies (Michael Skok)

How to build learning and fun into your applications (Daniel Cook)

How Coda builds product (Lenny)

16 product things I learned at Imgur (Sam Gerstenzang)

Product Management

The ultimate product management cheat sheet for startup CEOs (Journal)

Product Management in Startups: MVP to 4.0 roadmap and PM tasks (Slidebean)

Being a Product Manager at an Early Stage Startup (Product Coalition)

Product Management: Startup founder vs. Product Manager (Product Rise)

The PM’s Guide to Working With Engineers (Abhishek Chakravarty)

15. Design

Tools for Practical Design (Y Combinator)

Designers in tech — who does what? (Maja Bergendahl)

Cheat sheet: Understanding the role of design in startups (John Zeratsky)

The Ultimate Guide to the Founding Designer Role (First Round Review)

Scaling Product & Design at Airbnb (Y Combinator)

The Role of a Designer in Early-Stage Startups (UX Collective)

The Job of the ‘Product Designer’ and its Importance in a Startup (UX Collective)

Biased by Design (BbD)

16. Go-To-Market (GTM)
GTM Basics

Go-To-Market Strategy (Bill Aulet)

Go-To-Market Strategies (Michael Skok)

Go-To-Marketing Strategies for Startups (Kim Walsh)

Acquiring Customers (Julian Shapiro)

Know Your Customers’ “Jobs to Be Done” (HBR)

1000 True Fans (Kevin Kelly)

Experimentation

How quick go-to-market experiments can help you reach PMF (kalungi)

How to Conduct the Perfect Marketing Experiment (Hubspot)

Growth
Growth Fundamentals

Why "Growth" (Brian Balfour)

Seek Authentic Growth (Brian Balfour)

Growth for Startups (Y Combinator)

Growth Inflections (Lenny)

Profits vs. Growth (AVC)

Here's What a Real Growth Strategy Looks Like (First Round)

When "Grow Your Revenue!" Is Wrong (Daniel Gross)

Why Figma Wins (kwokchain)

How Technology Grows (a restatement of definite optimism) (Dan Wang)

The fundamental problem with SV's favorite growth strategy (Tim O'Reilly)

Network Effects

The Network Effects Bible (NfX)

The hierarchy of engagement (Sarah Tavel)

Hierarchy of engagement, expanded (Sarah Tavel)

The Reversal of Network Effects on Large-Scale Social Media Platforms (Cornell)

Product-led Growth (PLG)

Leah's Product-led Growth Guide 3.0 (Leah Tharin)

Product-led Acquisition (Julian Shapiro)

Product-led growth vs the freemium model (PLA)

Part 1: WTF is GTMF + PLG? Yes, Go-To-Market Fit is a Thing (Tom Humphrey)

How to Master Product-Led Growth (Noah Weiss & Harry Stebbings)

PLG and Sales in 2023 (Kyle Poyar)

Self-serve first: the overlooked but essential paradigm (Gokul Rajaram)

Sales-led Growth (SLG)

Sales Led Growth (Parative)

The PLG for Sales-Led Guide (Leah Tharin)

PLG, SLG or both?

PLG vs. SLG: The SaaS Growth Debate (PricingSaaS)

PLG & Sales in 2023: How to combine them for Efficient Revenue Growth (Kyle Poyar)

Community-led Growth (CLG)

What is Community-Led Growth? (Notorious PLG)

Community Led Growth (Kevan Lee)

How Notion achieves 95% organic traffic through CLG (Productify)

The Evolution of Expert Communities (lcamtuf)

Building a team for Growth

How to build a growth team – lessons from Uber, Hubspot, and others (Andrew Chen)

How to Set Up, Hire and Scale a Growth Strategy and Team (Y Combinator)

How to Set Up, Staff and Scale a Growth Program (Y Combinator)

What to look for when you’re hiring a Head of Growth (Andrew Chen)

Six rules of hiring for growth (Lenny Rachitsky)

Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow (HBR)

Growth Operations

Meaningful metrics: How data sharpened the focus of product teams (Duolingo)

How a sense of urgency leads to growth at Duolingo (Duolingo)

The Path to 1 Billion: Lessons learned from Growing Instagram (Bangaly Kaba)

Growth Hacking & Tactics

Alex Zhu (TikTok) on Igniting Viral Growth & Building a User Community (Greylock)

Growth Hacking for Startups and Venture Capital (Andrew Chen)

How Duolingo reignited user growth (Jorge Mazal)

E-mal to convert Monthly users to Annual (Kalzumeus)

17. Sales
Basics

How to sell (Tyler Bosmeny)

Entrepreneurial Selling: What's Your Story? (Craig Wortmann)

Entrepreneurial Selling: The Story Matrix (Craig Wortmann)

Entrepreneurial Selling: Art of Conversation (Craig Wortmann)

Entrepreneurial Selling: Entrepreneurial Sales Model (Craig Wortmann)

Alibaba IPO: Jack Ma's Original Sales Pitch in 1999 (Bloomberg Originals)

Cold Contacting / E-mails / Calling

How to write cold emails in startup sales (Devin Dixon)

How to cold email investors? (Y Combinator)

Cold email hacks (HubSpot)

The case for cold contacting (Sophie Bakalar)

Upfront Contract

Start Selling with the Upfront Contract (Sandler)

Extended Upfront Contract with Danny Wood (Sandler)

Upfront Contract Role Play (Sandler)

Startup Sales

Early Stage Sales (Stanford)

Entrepreneurial Sales (Chuck Eesley)

Entrepreneurial Sales and Marketing (Chuck Eesley)

Don't sell features and benefits (Sandler)

How To Become A Customer Acquisition Expert (Brian Balfour)

How to find and win your first 10 B2B customers (Lenny)

Scaling Sales

New Sales Models (David Sacks / Yammer)

Building a Scalable, Predictable Sales Machine (Mark Roberge)

The Sales Acceleration Formula (Mark Roberge)

Scaling the Sales Force (Stanford)

How to Hire the Right VP of Sales for Your Startup (Amy Volas)

On Combining Bottom-up Adoption AND Enterprise Sales (A16Z)

The “$20M to $500M” Question: Adding Top Down Sales (A16Z)

Enterprise Sales

The Enterprise Sales Learning Curve (Khosla Ventures)

How to Move Upmarket: The Guide to Enterprise Sales (Dock)

The Enterprise Sales Process I’ve Used to Close $100,000,000+ (Amy Volas)

How to sell your SaaS to Enterprise Customers (Vadim Kravcenko)

Selling To The Fortune 500, Government, And Other Lovecraftian Horrors (Kalzumeus)

Product-led Sales (PLS)

The ultimate guide to product-led sales (Elena Verna & Lenny)

B2B Product-Led Sales Guide (Elena Verna)

The Product-led Sales Playbook (Pocus)

18. Branding
How to build a formidable brand (Tony Hsieh / Zappos)
Brand Starter Kit (Sociology of Business)
The Startup Brand Fallacy (for consumer startups) (Andrew Chen)
💡
For early consumer startup efforts, it’s better to focus on the basics. Understand your users, deliver a great product to the market that grows by itself, built moats, monetize in a user-aligned way. Grow your team, work with the best advisors/investors/etc. The basics.
The Hierarchy of Engagement (Sarah Tavel)
Your Startup is a Movement (David Sacks)
Seven ways to get attention to your product (Lenny Rachitsky)
People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves (Zander Nethercutt)
19. Marketing
Marketing and Sales (Bob Jones / MIT)
Growth Marketing (Julian)
Growing Initial Demand (Lenny Rachitsky)
From Marketing to Product and vice versa (Konstantinos Giammalis)
My step-by-step guide to landing pages that convert (Indie Hackers)
How startups die from their addiction to paid marketing (Andrew Chen)
How behavioral science can boost your conversion rates (Lenny Rachitsky)
Viral Coefficient: What it does and does NOT measure (Andrew Chen)
How to engineer marketing success (Kalzumeus)
How the biggest consumer apps got their first 1,000 users (Lenny Rachitsky)
Your guide to quick wins in SaaS marketing (Kyle Poyar & Tom Orbach)
The marketing playbook for the 1% (Marketing Ideas)
20. When Things Don't Go As Planned

All About Pivoting (Dalton Caldwell)

Startup Failure Post-Mortems (CBInsights)

Why Startups Fail (Tom Eisenmann)

The Hidden Patterns of Startup Failure (NfX)

Created with love by @afletsas.

Last updated: 30 Jan 2024