Growing the Puzzle Around You: Lessons from Y Combinator and WeChat


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 24, 2023

3 min read


Growing the Puzzle Around You: Lessons from Y Combinator and WeChat

Starting a successful startup requires a unique combination of qualities, experiences, and interests. The stories of Y Combinator and WeChat exemplify this idea, as both companies grew out of the founders' distinctive backgrounds and perspectives. In this article, we will explore the common points between these two companies and extract actionable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Y Combinator, the renowned startup accelerator, began with a hypothesis about a product that people wanted. Despite not fitting the conventional mold of a successful founder, the co-founder of Y Combinator possessed three defining characteristics that were critical to the company's success. Firstly, he had a keen sense of social awareness, earning him the nickname "The Social Radar." This ability to pick up on subtle social cues allowed him to understand the dynamics between people and make informed decisions.

Secondly, he had a strong aversion to being at the mercy of others. This drive for independence and self-reliance pushed him to take charge of his own destiny and pursue unconventional paths. Finally, he was known for being a "straight shooter," always providing honest and direct advice. These qualities, though unconventional, played a crucial role in the growth of Y Combinator.

On the other hand, WeChat, the popular Chinese social media and messaging platform, was built on the principles of intuitive design, human psychology, and technological feasibility. Allen Zhang, the father of WeChat, emphasized the importance of being a product creator who is in a relationship with the users, rather than just engaging in business transactions. He believed that product managers should have big hearts and treat users with genuine empathy.

Zhang's product philosophy revolved around 15 mindful product principles, including being innovative, useful, beautiful, easy to use, unobtrusive, honest, timeless, and environmentally friendly. He also stressed the significance of not skipping over small details and embracing a "less is more" approach to design. Zhang's focus on quality and user-centricity allowed WeChat to thrive and become a platform that users trust and rely on.

From these stories, we can extract several actionable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • 1. Embrace your uniqueness: There is no one mold for a successful founder. You don't have to conform to societal expectations or emulate the success stories you see in the news. Instead, focus on your distinctive combination of abilities and interests.
  • 2. Follow your passion and play to your strengths: Starting a startup requires immense dedication and hard work. To sustain the journey, it is crucial to be genuinely interested in what you're building and leverage your natural strengths.
  • 3. Ignore the mainstream's opinion: Don't let external judgments or societal norms dictate your path. Trust your skills, ideas, and instincts, even if they seem unconventional or go against the mainstream.

In conclusion, both Y Combinator and WeChat demonstrate that successful startups grow organically from the founders' lives, experiences, and distinctive qualities. By embracing your uniqueness, following your passion, and staying true to your vision, you can create a startup that resonates with users and stands the test of time. Remember, you are a jigsaw puzzle piece of a certain shape, and by growing a new puzzle around you, you can make a meaningful impact on the world.

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