“Understand your Users” – Paul Graham

Paul Graham offers 13 sentences to guide start-ups and new ventures.

"One of the things I always tell startups is a principle I learned from Paul Buchheit: it's better to make a few people really happy than to make a lot of people semi-happy. I was saying recently to a reporter that if I could only tell startups 10 things, this would be one of them. Then I thought: what would the other 9 be?

When I made the list there turned out to be 13:

1. Pick good cofounders.

2. Launch fast.

3. Let your idea evolve.

4. Understand your users.

5. Better to make a few users love you than have many that are ambivalent.

6. Offer surprisingly good customer service.

7. You make what you measure.

8. Spend little.

9. Get ramen profitable.

10. Avoid distractions.

11. Don't get demoralized.

12. Don't give up.

13. Deals fall through.

Having gotten it down to 13 sentences, I asked myself which I'd choose if I could only keep one.

Understand your users. That's the key. The essential task in a startup is to create wealth; the dimension of wealth you have most control over is how much you improve users' lives; and the hardest part of that is knowing what to make for them. Once you know what to make, it's mere effort to make it, and most decent hackers are capable of that.


  1. Anderseen said “Product Market Fit”, which is similar but not the same.

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