A startup that prematurely targets a growth goal often ends up making a nebulous product that some users sort of like and papering over this with ‘growth hacking’. That sort of works—at least, it will fool investors for awhile until they start digging into retention numbers—but eventually the music stops.
In the first few weeks of a startup’s life, the founders really need to figure out what they’re doing and why. Then they need to build a product some users really love. Only after that they should focus on growth above all else.
Sam Altman in Before Growth
You should start with an idea, not a company. When it’s just an idea or project, the stakes are lower and you’re more willing to entertain outlandish-sounding but potentially huge ideas. The best way to start a company is to build interesting projects.
Sam Altman in Startup advice, briefly
I get asked this question fairly often, and I now have a lot of data on what works, so I thought I’d share my response. No matter what you choose, build stuff and be around smart people. Think about risk the right way.
Sam Altman in Advice for ambitious 19 year olds
The key thing is enabling users to do things they do in real life much more easily— yes, you could have called a cab company, but it took a long time, the cab didn’t always come, you didn’t know when it was near, you had to have cash or get a nasty look from the cabbie, etc.
Sam Altman in Electrons and Atoms
When non-technical solo founders say “I’ll do whatever it takes to make this business successful” (which they almost always say), I say something like “Why not learn to hack? Although it takes many, many years to become a great hacker, you can learn to be good enough to build your site or app in a few months.
Sam Altman in Non-technical founder? Learn to hack
The most successful founders do not set out to create companies. They are on a mission to create something closer to a religion, and at some point it turns out that forming a company is the easiest way to do so.