The Path Forward

First thoughts on the YC Playbook

By November 10, 2015 3 Comments

Sam Altman of YC recently published a Playbook which sets out the advice they give to startups. In many ways it is similar to The Path Forward that we announced a couple of months back – both of our underlying thinking is rooted in Lean Startup methodologies, we share a strong belief in the importance of building products people will love, and both of us are motivated by a desire to share what we’ve learned for the benefit of others and to learn more in the process.

However, there are two really significant differences:

  1. The YC Playbook is written for all startups whilst The Path Forward is written for ecommerce and marketplace startups. That focus allows a greater degree of detail and specificity. This stands out most clearly in The Path Forward blueprint for entrepreneurs in their first year which helps founders set priorities in their first year – work on the idea (hopefully for two months), then once that’s done move to the product (hopefully for four months) and then turn to working on making the business scalable. That sequence and timeline work for ecommerce and marketplace companies and hence make sense in The Path Forward, but need adjusting for other types of business and hence don’t fit in the YC Playbook.
  2. The YC Playbook is authored by Sam Altman (admittedly with the help of Paul Graham and a bunch of other smart people) whereas The Path Forward has multiple authors. I have written articles in my areas of expertise, the Forward Partners team have written others in their areas of expertise, and people from the community have contributed as well (if you would like to contribute let me know in the comments). You could think of The Path Forward as an evolving library of articles written by experts in different aspects of starting ecommerce and marketplace companies. We started The Path Forward and at the moment it has a strong Forward Partners feel to it, but over time we want it to become a community owned project. The YC Playbook will always be a YC project.

I’m glad I’ve got that straight!

My final comment is to say go read the YC Playbook! There’s lots of really important stuff in there for founders to remember. If you’ve read Paul Graham’s essays and other stuff by Sam Altman then some or all of the themes will be familiar to you, but repetition helps with memory, and you really want a lot of this stuff to become second nature.