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PayPal Cofounder Max Levchin’s advices for young programmer who’s thinking of starting a startup

PayPal Cofounder Max Levchin’s advices for young programmer who’s thinking of starting a startup

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston is one of our favorite books (Cue: An incomplete reading list for this summer). For start-up entrepreneurs it’s a must read- full of gold! We are peeking some from the book to give you a quick view. Today some advices from PayPal Co-founder Max Levchin.

Try to have a good cofounder. I think it’s all about people, and, if you are doing it completely alone, it’s really hard. It’s not impossible, in particular if you are a loner and introverted type, but it’s still really hard. One of the ways PayPal changed me is that I used to be really introverted, and I sort of still am, but not anywhere near to the extent that I used to be. A big part of it was that I had run a company before PayPal, alone, and I thought it was fine. I could deal with it. But, you only can count on energy sources and support sources from yourself. There’s really no one else who you can go to and say, “Hey, this thing is going to fall apart any minute now. What the hell are we going to do?”
The thing that kept us going in the early days was the fact that Peter and I always knew that both of us would not be in a funk together. When I was like, “This fraud thing is going to kill us,” Peter said, “No, I’ve seen the numbers. You are doing fine. Just keep at it. You’ll get it.” On the flip side, when Peter would be annoyed by some investors or board dynamics or whatever, I was usually there trying to support him. That sort of sounds touchy-feely, but I think you have to really have good people. If you have a good team, you are halfway there. Even more importantly, perhaps, you have to have a really strong co-founder. Someone you can rely on in a very fundamental way.

Later Max Levchin founded Yelp and Slide.

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