The unwritten rules of Silicon Valley

silicon valley

Around the world Silicon Valley is admired for its prolific startup ecosystem. Some regions attempt to emulate its success by design, while others try to distill its essence or dissect its makeup.

While the various regions from which startup ecosystems emerge often shape the culture or challenges their communities face, there is undoubtedly knowledge to be gained from the relatively tiny spot on America’s West coast that has produced roughly 30 Fortune 500 companies.

So what are the things we can learn from Silicon Valley and its successful startups that you won’t find in books? Which unwritten rules does its entrepreneurs live by?

The question was posed on Quora:

“When it comes to the success of your startup, vs. the ecosystem at large, is anything sacred? Are there general rules regarding recruiting from other startups, non-public information getting disseminated (and what to do when it lands on your desk), interactions between advisors/investors/founders/employees or anything else? If so, what are they?”

Here are some of the responses.

From Ben Parr — Investor, entrepreneur, ex-editor-at-large Mashable:

  • Don’t waste your investor’s money, or nobody will ever give you money again.
  • Founders work harder and longer than their employees. Period.
  • Help fellow entrepreneurs when they ask for your help or advice. The world is built on good Karma.
  • Listen to the critics, ignore the haters. There are always haters.

From Jason M. Lemkin — CEO @ EchoSign (acquired by Adobe):

  • If I haven’t heard of your start-up, it doesn’t exist
  • You pretty much get “credit” as “one of the guys” for a successful start-up as long as you were one of the first 30-50 employees, and had an impact. Not quite founder status, but pretty good.
  • Having a super-strong reference from the CEO/a founder of a well known, successful start-up pretty much lasts forever (10+ years) and is golden.
  • Anything you put in a deck and email outside of your domain will find its way to your competitors, period.
  • Failing is OK early, but the great ones don’t really fail. They may not have an RBI at every-at-bat, but they find a way to make something of their start-up. Acqui-hire. Small zero/low gain M&A. Soft landing. Something.

Be sure to check out the other responses.



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