Notes on Startups Or How To Build The Future

DV Weekend Pickup #45

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel was an original founder of PayPal, founder of Palantir, board member at Facebook, and a tech investor with an impeccable track record.  He is by all accounts a Silicon Valley legend.  

"If you've invented something new but you haven't invented an effective way to sell it, you have a bad business - no matter how good the product."

At first glance you'd think this book is heavily tech focused but you quickly realize it's a challenge to businesses across all industries.  Can you go from 0 to 1?  As in, can you create something that nobody else is creating?  

"Customers won't care about any particular technology unless it solves a particular problem in a superior way.  And if you can't monopolize a unique solution for a small market, you'll be stuck with vicious competition."

In theory, this sounds like a dream! In actuality, well know it's damn hard to do!  Thiel will claim if you're able to answer these 7 questions...

  1. The Engineering Question:  Can you create breakthrough technology (vs. incremental improvement?)
  2. The Timing Question:  Is now the right time to start this particular business?
  3. The Monopoly Question:  Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. The People Question:  Do you have the right team?
  5. The Distribution Question:  Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
  6. The Durability Question:  Will your market position be defensible 10-20 years into the future?
  7. The Secret Question:  Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don't see?

...then you've got a chance to make something magical happen.  "The next Bill Gates is not going to create an operating system. The next Larry Page and Sergey Brin will not create a search engine," says Thiel.  

Zero to One is anything but your average take on starting a business, but it is a great read for anyone who wants see business from a different angle.  And sometimes, it's amazing what you can see when you simply change your view.

Crush the day!