The Best-Kept Secrets of Startups

I’m amazed at the quality of questions and answers on Quora. Do you know Quora? If not, you’re missing a really intriguing resource.

Best kept secrets of startups

Recently I found this question on Quora:

What are the best-kept secrets about startups? What are some things that people could benefit from knowing that is largely secret – in the sense that very few people know about it?

There are some great answers there. Furthermore, the voting on answers puts them in exactly the same order I’d put them. The most popular answer has more than 800 votes:

The startup CEOs who get asked to tell their stories have survivorship bias. They get to tell their stories looking backwards and fit a narrative that makes it all make sense and where every move was part of a master plan. I think a much more realistic but less flattering version that most could tell: Our hair was on fire the whole time. We thought we were going out of business until the day we sold. There’s a lot of luck involved. Told anonymously because if you ask me publicly, I’ll tell you the exact opposite of this story.

That’s the best possible answer. And please note the last sentence, which doubles its value.

And the next highest answers, in order:

  1. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel to be successful.
  2.  It’s often about choosing a hard enough problem — though not too hard a problem! — and being the “last one standing” when opportunity comes a-knocking.
  3. You don’t have to move to the Bay Area to be successful.

And it goes on from there, with answers very much worth reading.


  • Manish Vanjara says:

    I visited Quora. Indeed it is pandoras box with lots of topic and tons of information. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Clint Wilson says:

    Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo true Tim:) “You don’t have to move to the Bay Area to be successful.” – we just completed a few partnerships with year old start-ups in Manila doing >$5MM in YRR and never heard of many of our partners in SF:)


  • Stephen Lahey says:

    Just logged in to Quora to have a look at this thread. Fascinating responses — thanks for sharing this.

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