How to Start a Start-Up: A Free Course from Y Combinator Taught at Stanford

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.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

Related Content:

Peter Thiel’s Stanford Course on Startups: Read the Lecture Notes Free Online

Start Your Startup with Free Stanford Courses and Lectures

Download Marc Andreessen’s Influential Blog (“Pmarca”) as a Free eBook

1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

This is Your Brain in Love: The Stanford Love Competition Shows What Love Looks Like on an MRI

We hear it so often it’s almost a cliché, one I’m sure I’ve repeated without giving it much thought: You can’t measure love in a laboratory. But we probably can, in fact. Or at least neuroscientists can. Last year, one joint Chinese and American team of neuroscientists did just that, defining the feeling we call love as “a motivational state associated with a desire to enter or maintain a close relationship with a specific other person.” This doesn’t cover the love of pets, food, or sunsets, but it gets at what we celebrate with candy and red tchotchkes every year around this time, as well as the love we have for friends or family.

Using fMRI scans of three groups of 100 men and women, the researchers found that an “in-love group had more increased activity across several brain regions involved in reward, motivation, emotion, and social functioning,” reports Medical Daily. The longer people had been “in love,” the greater the brain activity in these regions. Whether the brain states cause the emotion, or the emotion causes the brain states, or they are one in the same, I can’t say, but the fact remains: love can be quantifiably measured.

Meanwhile, Brent Hoff separately decided to exploit this fact for what he calls a “Love Competition.” With the help of Stanford’s Center for Cognitive Neurobiological Imaging (CNI), Hoff enlisted seven contestants of varying ages---from 10 to 75---and genders to enter an fMRI machine and “love someone as hard as they can” for five minutes. Whoever generates the most activity in regions “producing the neurochemical experience of love” wins. Gives you the warm fuzzies, right?

While "the idea that love can be measured may seem deeply unromantic,” writes Aeon magazine, “the results were anything but.” The contestants were not restricted to romantic love. Ten-year-old Milo gives his love to a new baby cousin, because "she's very cute." Dr. Bob Dougherty of CNI predicts early on that an "older guy" like himself might win because experience would better help him control the emotion. But at the beginning, it's anyone's game. Watch the competition above and find out who wins.

Given that this is billed as the “1st Annual Love Competition,” might we expect another this year?

Related Content:

What is Love? BBC Philosophy Animations Feature Sartre, Freud, Aristophanes, Dawkins & More

This Is Your Brain on Jane Austen: The Neuroscience of Reading Great Literature

Steven Pinker Explains the Neuroscience of Swearing (NSFW)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

29 Sketchbooks by Renowned Artist Richard Diebenkorn, Containing 1,045 Drawings, Now Freely Viewable Online

Richard Diebenkorn (U.S.A., 1922–1993), Untitled from Sketchbook #4, page 23, 1943–1993. Ink wash with pen and ink on paper. Cantor Arts Center collection, Gift of Phyllis Diebenkorn, 2014.4.25. © The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

We owe the way we see California today in part to the painter Richard Diebenkorn, "whose deeply lyrical abstractions evoked the shimmering light and wide-open spaces" of the state "where he spent virtually his entire life." Those words come from his 1993 New York Times obituary, which suggested that Diebenkorn's resistance to brief aesthetic movements and art-world fads (a resistance aided by the distance between California and New York) would ensure that the influence of his vision long survive him. Now, thanks to Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center, we can look more closely than ever at what went into that vision in a new online exhibition of Diebenkorn's sketchbooks.

"Throughout his long career," writes the Stanford Report's Anna Koster, "Diebenkorn, AB '49, kept a sketchbook – a 'portable studio,' as he called it – to capture his ideas. These books, now in the Cantor's collection, span 50 years and represent the range of styles and subjects he explored, including deeply personal portraits of his wife, studies of the figure, landscape studies and compositions that point to Diebenkorn's signature blend of figuration and abstraction." The sketchbooks, donated by the artist's widow and the Diebenkorn Foundation, currently sit on display at the Cantor's exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: The Sketchbooks Revealed, which runs through August 22, 2016.

But if you can't make it to northern California before then, you can have a look at all of them online and behold in detail their 1,045 drawings spanning fifty years of Diebenkorn's life. They give not only an insight into how he rendered the material for so many of our California dreams, but how he handled his famously contrarian oscillations between styles, from Abstract Expressionism to figuration and back to the abstract again, with some of his richest work in-between. "I was never throwing things away when I switched from one way of painting to another," he once said. "You can see a continuum from representation to abstraction, although I must say it never felt like a smooth transition while I was in the middle of it."

via Stanford News

Related Content:

45,000 Works of Art from Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center Now Freely Viewable Online

178,000 Images Documenting the History of the Car Now Available on a New Stanford Web Site

The Art of Living: A Free Stanford Course Explores Timeless Questions

How the CIA Secretly Funded Abstract Expressionism During the Cold War

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Stanford Launches Free Course on Developing Apps with iOS 8

i0s8 apps stanford

Quick note: Whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS, Stanford eventually releases a course telling you how to develop apps in that environment. iOS 8 came out last fall, and now the iOS 8 app development course is getting rolled out this quarter. It's free online, of course, on iTunes.

You can now find "Developing iOS Apps with Swift" housed in our collection of Free Computer Science Courses, which currently features 117 courses in total, including some basic Harvard courses that will teach you how to code in 12 weeks.

As always, courses from other disciplines can be found on our larger list, 1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

Peter Thiel’s Stanford Course on Startups: Read the Lecture Notes Free Online

peter thiel

Peter Thiel has many claims to fame in Silicon Valley. He co-founded PayPal in 1998, before selling it to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. He later launched various hedge funds, and made early investments in Facebook. He's an unabashed libertarian, a proponent of Seasteading and Singularity, a critic of the American university system, and the creator of the annual Thiel Fellowship, which pays promising college-age students to “stop out” of school for two years and launch business ventures instead.

Finally, Thiel is also now the bestselling author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the FuturePublished in mid-September, the book received a pretty rave review in The Atlantic, where Derek Johnson calls it "a lucid treatise on capitalism and entrepreneurship" and perhaps "the best business book I've read."

The book itself is actually a distillation of thoughts Thiel presented in a course he taught at Stanford in 2012. And it just so happens that the notes from that course -- CS138 Startups -- are freely available online. They come courtesy of Blake Masters, a student in Thiel's class, who later helped the entrepreneur write Zero to One.

Below, you can find the lecture notes for 19 classes, which, when originally published on Masters' site, became pretty popular in the tech community.  Links to these lectures will be permanently housed in our collections of Free Online Business Courses and Free Online Computer Science Courses. Other Stanford courses on entrepreneurship can be found here: Start Your Startup with Free Stanford Courses and Lectures.

Lectures Notes: CS138 Startups

Class 1: The Challenge of the Future

Class 2: Party Like it’s 1999?

Class 3: Value Systems

Class 4: The Last Mover Advantage

Class 5: The Mechanics of Mafia

Class 6: Thiel’s Law

Class 7: Follow The Money

Class 8: The Pitch

Class 9: If You Build It, Will They Come?

Class 10: After Web 2.0

Class 11: Secrets

Class 12: War and Peace

Class 13: You Are Not A Lottery Ticket

Class 14: Seeing Green

Class 15: Back to the Future

Class 16: Decoding Ourselves

Class 17: Deep Thought

Class 18: Founder as Victim, Founder as God

Class 19: Stagnation or Singularity?

For a huge collection of free courses, please see our large and ever-expanding collection: 1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

178,000 Images Documenting the History of the Car Now Available on a New Stanford Web Site


The Revs Program at Stanford, dedicated to producing scholarship about the past, present and future of the automobile, recently advanced its cause by launching a new website featuring 178,000 images of cars. Divided into 12 collections, the Revs Digital Library features lots of race cars, and then some more race cars. But there are some more everyday models too -- like the Beetle, Citroën, Corvette, Mini and even the Gremlin. You won't find, however, any trace of the much-maligned Edsel.


The images came to Stanford as a gift from the Revs Institute for Automotive Research, located in Naples, Florida. If you'd like a quick primer on finding and gathering information about vintage cars in the archive, watch the introductory video below. It'll teach you how to sift through the digital library in rapid fashion.

The images above come from the Revs Digital Library.

via Stanford News/Coudal

Related Content:

Yale Launches an Archive of 170,000 Photographs Documenting the Great Depression

UC Santa Cruz Opens a Deadhead’s Delight: The Grateful Dead Archive is Now Online

Young Robert De Niro Appears in 1969 AMC Car Commercial

Highlights from the First Ever Stanford Code Poetry Slam

I was lucky enough to be living in Chicago when Marc Smith's Poetry Slam movement became a thing. What fun it was to hit the Green Mill on Sunday nights to hear such innovators as Lisa Buscani or Patricia Smith tearing into their latest entries in front of packed-to-capacity crowds. Those early slam poets inspired a lot of other wordsmiths to brave the mic, a glorious revolution whose gleam was inevitably tarnished for me once it caught on for real.

I remember thinking something like, "If I never hear another poem about someone's relationship troubles, it'll be too soon."

To further illustrate my waning enthusiasm, here's the above thought, rendered in Standard Spoken Word Venacular:


I never heeeear  

Another Po

Em About Someone's 


Troubles, it'll be



Some two-and-a-half decades further along, Leslie Wu, a doctoral student in Computer Science at Stanford University, has been crowned the winner of the inaugural Code Poetry Slam, and I'm mourning the loss of those long-ago relationship troubles.

To create her winning entry, "Say 23," Wu donned a Google Glass headset, as she recited and typed 16 lines of computer code, which were projected onto a screen. When Wu ran the script, three different computerized voices took over performance duties, sampling the 23rd Psalm along with an uncredited snippet of In the Hall of the Mountain King.

I may be too hot-blooded to appreciate the artistry here.

Melissa Kagen, who organized the competition with fellow graduate student Kurt James Werner, stated on the university's website that in order "to really get into the intricacies you really need to know that language."

I guess that goes double for the competitors. According to Werner, Wu's poem wove together a number of different concepts, tools, and languages, including Japanese, English, and Ruby. Philistine that I am, I had always thought of the latter as an uncapitalized gemstone and nothing more.

Not that I'm aligning myself with those curmudgeons whose typical reaction to a Rothko or a Jackson Pollack is, "My two-year-old could do better." For one thing, I've got teenagers, and given their druthers, they'd eat their way through the contents of Werner Herzog's shoe closet before agreeing to learn so much as a single line of code.

What a wonderful world in which so many of us are free to pursue our individual passions to the point of poetry!

If you're the type to whom code poetry speaks---nay, sings---you should consider putting something together for the fast approaching second slam. Have a look at the work of the eight finalists, if you're in need of inspiration. Entries are being accepted through Feb. 12.

Find 74 free courses from Stanford in our collection: 825 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Related Content:

Learn to Code with Harvard’s Intro to Computer Science Course And Other Free Tech Classes

Codecademy’s Free Courses Democratize Computer Programming

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky, an award-winning, handwritten zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

« Go BackMore in this category... »