PodSession: Startup School

Want to found a startup! First you should go to school and learn a few things. Last Saturday’s Startup School at Stanford brought together about 600 people from across the country and in some cases the world to learn what it takes to take a business from zero to profit without going broke. Om and I both attended and talked about the event and the current environment for new startups in this week’s PodSession.

The event was organized by Y Combinator, a venture firm focused on seed funding for geeky projects. Students in the Y Combinator program can try startup life for three months with some seed funding and see if their ideas and execution are good enough for the next round of funding and clients. I interpret the venture firm’s goals as “drop out of college and flip your company to Yahoo!” based on partner Paul Graham’s past essays.

The day featured half-hour speeches from successful founders, industry observations from Om Malik and Tim O’Reilly, and advertisements from lawyers, venture capitalists. Google had a 30-minute recruiting pitch complete with multiple slides on their benefits package and some press release highlights.

Paul Graham’s lessons for startups speech is available on his site. I learned more about Flickr’s early marketing from Caterina, including fanatical involvement in message boards, making introductions within the community based on profile data, and rewarding people for their viral marketing efforts. Joshua Schachter of del.icio.us talked about building projects in your spare time and waiting for things to take off before leaving your well-paying job. Om talked about companies and products that caused “behavior change” such as the iPod or online e-mail and change the way we live our lives.

This week’s PodSession, Startup School, is 24 minutes in length, a 11 MB download.