From Failed Start-ups to Better Thinking: Lessons from Apoorva Mehta and the Power of Effective Note-Taking


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 28, 2023

4 min read


From Failed Start-ups to Better Thinking: Lessons from Apoorva Mehta and the Power of Effective Note-Taking


Starting a company is no easy feat, and Apoorva Mehta, the founder of Instacart, knows this all too well. With 20 failed start-ups behind him, Mehta understands the importance of having a strong belief in the change you want to bring to the world. It's not just about starting a company for the sake of it, but rather about solving a real problem that you genuinely care about. Mehta's journey teaches us valuable lessons about perseverance, passion, and the power of finding a problem worth solving.

Lesson 1: Believe in Your Idea and Timing:

Mehta's success with Instacart was not a stroke of luck. He strongly believed in the idea and recognized that the timing was right. He observed the success of Uber and Lyft, which indicated that people were embracing the convenience of on-demand services. Mehta's lesson here is clear: if you want to start a company, you must have unwavering faith in your idea and be attuned to the needs of the market. Ensure that your concept aligns with current trends and consumer demands.

Lesson 2: Solve a Real Problem You Care About:

After numerous failed attempts, Mehta realized that his lack of success wasn't due to an inability to create a functional product. Instead, he discovered that he didn't genuinely care about the products he was developing. This realization led him to lesson number two: solve a real problem you actually care about. Building something just for the sake of it won't lead to long-term success. Find a problem that deeply resonates with you and work towards providing a solution that can bring about meaningful change.

Lesson 3: Embrace Challenges and Continual Learning:

Mehta's decision to leave his job at Amazon, despite not having another role lined up, showcases his desire for growth and challenges. He spent a whole year developing a social network for lawyers, an industry he knew nothing about. This willingness to immerse himself in a field he was unfamiliar with demonstrates the importance of constantly seeking new knowledge and being open to learning. By putting himself in a position where he had to solve problems in an industry he was unfamiliar with, Mehta expanded his skillset and gained valuable insights that eventually contributed to his success.

Better Thinking through Effective Note-Taking:

The concept of effective note-taking is not just about jotting down information; it's about cultivating better thinking. Andy's Evergreen Note system, which allows for seamless exploration of interconnected ideas, is reminiscent of Pinterest. Each note is connected, enabling a smoother flow of interests and ideas. The goal is not simply to take notes, but rather to think more effectively. Instead of focusing solely on the act of note-taking, we should ask ourselves how we can develop insights over time and shepherd our attention effectively.


Apoorva Mehta's journey from failed start-ups to the creation of Instacart teaches us valuable lessons about perseverance, passion, and the importance of solving real problems. To succeed as an entrepreneur, it is crucial to believe in your idea, solve a problem you genuinely care about, and embrace challenges that push you to continually learn and grow.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Identify a problem you are truly passionate about: Align your entrepreneurial endeavors with something that deeply resonates with you. Passion will drive your motivation and increase your chances of success.
  • 2. Continually seek growth and challenges: Don't settle for mediocrity. Embrace new opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone and allow you to acquire new skills and insights.
  • 3. Cultivate better thinking through effective note-taking: Explore systems like Andy's Evergreen Note to enhance your thinking process. Focus on developing insights and shepherding your attention effectively, rather than simply taking notes.

In conclusion, Apoorva Mehta's journey and the power of effective note-taking remind us that success in entrepreneurship requires more than just a good idea. It necessitates passion, perseverance, and a commitment to constant growth and improvement. By applying the lessons learned from Mehta's experiences and adopting effective thinking practices, we can increase our chances of entrepreneurial success.

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