On February 20th, Michael Seibel came to speak to the A. Richard Newton Series course about his journey with Y Combinator (YC), a leading startup accelerator, and what entrepreneurs can do to be successful at YC today.
Seibel was the co-founder and CEO of Justin.tv for four years and later became the CEO of Socialcam. Socialcam was in a YC batch and raised funding by investors Yuri Milner, Tim Draper, Laurene Powell Jobs and more, which was later sold to Autodesk, Inc. Justin.tv transformed into Twitch Interactive and later sold to Amazon for over $900 million.
Seibel attended Yale University where he studied Political Science on track to becoming a lawyer. Later, Seibel met his co-founder, Justin Kan at Yale and decided to pursue Justin.tv full time. “I’m not too fond of talking about my background,” Seibel said. “When you explain your company to someone, never talk about the background of how you got there. Just talk about your product, what it does and how you plan to grow it.”
Throughout the lecture, Seibel spoke about the advice he gives to startups every day. He requires that each startup team consists of 2-4 individuals with at least half of the team holding technical positions. He stated that in order for startups to be successful, you must be focused and be ready to quit your current job to be more dedicated to the development of the product.
In order to ideate, Seibel mentioned that it is important to have personal experience and focus on solving daily problems. It is important to realize that many people might be working on solving the same problem, but the one that becomes successful is the one that solves it the best. Seibel continued stating that the minimum viable product should be something the user should be able to have as soon as possible. He mentioned that from the beginning, it is important to find a co-founder that you know and trust and to start building your product instead of talking about it to others.
In order to convince the class to pursue an idea they believe in, no matter how good or bad, he assured, “Something you know that you think is right and other people think is wrong is normally an idea that works.” Seibel proved that in some cases, some lacking ideas, even in previous YC batches, can lead to successes if executed properly.
Students later had the opportunity to ask their own questions to Seibel regarding what YC looks for in a startup to get an interview, what the first steps are to begin a company, and how to find the best co-founder.
Seibel ended the lecture by stating, “It can be hard to seek a mentor or ask someone a question, but I read every single one of my emails, so there should be no excuse for you on who to contact.”
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