If you have any entrepreneurial aspirations, you've likely heard of Y Combinator (YC), an accelerator based in Silicon Valley that's been called "the world's most powerful start-up incubator" (Fast Company) or "a spawning ground for emerging tech giants" (Fortune). Twice a year, YC carefully selects a batch of start-ups, gives them $120,000 of seed funding each (in exchange for some equity), and then helps nurture the fledgling ventures to the next stage of development. YC hosts dinners where prominent entrepreneurs come to speak and offer advice. They hold "Demo Days," where the start-ups can pitch their concepts and products to investors, and they have "Office Hours," where budding entrepreneurs can work through problems with the seasoned entrepreneurs who run YC. Then, with a little luck, these new start-ups will experience the same success as previous YC companies, Dropbox and Airbnb.
Given Y Combinator's mission, it makes perfect sense that YC has ties with Stanford University, another institution that has hatched giant tech companies--Google, Cisco, Yahoo and more. Back in 2014, Sam Altman (the president of Y Combinator) put together a course at Stanford called “How to Start a Start-Up,” which essentially offers students an introduction to the key lessons taught to YC companies. Altman presents the first two lectures. Then some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley take over. Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook co-founder), Peter Thiel (PayPal co-founder), Marc Andreessen (Netscape creator/general partner of Andreessen Horowitz), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo CEO, prominent Googler), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn co-founder), Ron Conway (Silicon Valley super angel), Paul Graham (YC founder)--they all make an appearance in the course.
You can watch the complete set of 20 lectures above, which covers everything you need to start a start-up--from creating a team, to building products users love, to raising money, to creating the right culture and beyond. Altman's site also features a recommended reading list, plus a set of additional resources. (Bonus: A Georgetown undergrad has created an ebook pulling together the class notes from the course. If you download it, please donate a few bucks so he can pick up some ramen.) The videos for "How to Start a Start-Up"--which will be added to our collection of Free Online Business Courses--can be found on YouTube and iTunes U.
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