Paul Graham and Ron Conway: Optimizing Startups and Entrepreneurs

By July 30, 2010
Keywords : Future of Retail

Three is enough. Startups with teams of four or more don’t tend to succeed,Y Combinator partner Paul Graham said this morning at TechCrunch's Social Currency CrunchUp. Any more than three founders shows a lack of confidenc


“It’s like they weren’t really sure their idea would work, so they got all their friends to come along with them,” said Graham, also a noted essayist and 2008 Time Magazine top 25 most influential people on the web.

“It’s like how college freshmen always go around in clumps. By they time you’re ready to graduate,those clumps don’t look right,” Graham said.

“Two or three-person teams are optimal,” Graham said.

Carrying on the triad theme, Paul was part of a panel with fellow investor Ron Conway, moderated by Techcrunch’s Michael Arrington.

Conway thinks that entrepreneurship is still misunderstood in the Valley.

“The idea that a Google comes only once every 10 years is wrong,” Conway said, noting that today’s VCs and entrepreneurs are smarter in the past.

“During the bubble, 77 percent of entrepreneurs failed,” Conway said. “Now it’s 40 percent.”

While Valley entrepreneurs are traditionally young, the average age is around 26. Conway says that his favorite kind of entrepreneur is the 18-year-old kid.

“I love when we invest in a company run by an 18 year old, because it will be incredible,” Conway said. “Anything is possible in their minds. They’re the best entrepreneurs.”

Conway gives an example one company he has invested in: Facebook.

"Every six months when I talk to Mark Zuckerberg, it’s like I'm talking to a different person,” Conway said. “He's growing algorithmically as an entrepreneur."

Conway and Graham also talked about some weaknesses they’re seeing in today’s crop of entrepreneurs.

“I’ve noticed that entrepreneurs aren’t as decisive as they should be,” Conway said. “Right now I’m on a decisiveness kick.”

"Entrepreneurs need to be tough,” Graham said. “It doesn’t matter what their idea is, as long as they’re tough.”

“You don’t want middle-of-the-road corporate drones,” Graham said. “You want people who are manic. Mania is good.”

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