From Zero to One

Some of the key ideas from the great book Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel are described below.

1. Zero to one:

Doing more of what we already know takes the world from 1 to N

Ever time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1. Active creation is singular

Challenge the status quo

Think differently

2. Don’t be afraid to ask contrarian questions:

Question the past thinking. First step to thinking clearly is to question what we know about the past

4 lessons from dot com crash
1. Making incremental advances
2. Staying lean and flexible, no plans but lots of iterations
3. Improving on the competition
4. Focus in on the product, not sales

According to Thiel
1. Better to risk boldness instead of triviality
2. A bad plan is better than no plan
3. Competitive markets destroy profits
4. Sales mater just as much

My thoughts on this are that a lean approach is for mediocre products while zero to one is for exceptional products

Formulate informed hypotheses instead of doing absolute opposite of what didn’t work. Constantly ask yourself what important truth very few people agree with you on. Or what valuable company nobody is building yet

3. Avoid competition:

If you want to build lasting profits, don’t compete in undifferentiated commodity business

Creating trumps competing. Better to focus on dominating majority of small niche market

4. Build a monopoly:

Monopoly means new products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for creator

Competition means struggle for survival. It distorts our thinking. We tap ourselves in it

Most monopolies seem to share the following characteristics (not a checklist)
1. Propriety technology. Biggest advantage. Difficult to replicate. Compeetiors can’t replicate as fast as they want to in order to keep up. So Aim for 10x improvement. Then you make difficult for others to catch up
2. Network effects. To leverage people’s ability to spread a product amd generate filrivilty by sharing with others
3. Economy of scale. Twitter vs yoga business
4. Branding and positioning is important but only if there is something substantially valuable underneath

Bottom line. Dominate a specific niche and then scale. Think Amazon

Don’t become disruption. Don’t disrupt and compete. Leads to problems a startup shouldn’t be dealing with

Niche first and expand later

5. Become a definite optimist:

Success is not a matter of luck. Success is never accidental. Rarely they’re lucky. They plan to make that happen

Thiel’s recommendation for success
1. Figure out what you want and why you want it
2. Develop a long term plan for the future
3. Execute against it strategically

6. Leverage the power of exponential growth:

Keep it simple and improve as fast as possible

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