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StartU Fireside Chat with Keith Rabois Key Takeaways

On Thursday, April 19th, StartU hosted a fireside chat during its Stanford launch event with Keith Rabois (Partner at Khosla Ventures), moderated by Josh Constine (Editor at TechCrunch). 

In addition to being an Investment Partner at Khosla Ventures, Keith is co-founder of real estate startup OpenDoor. He began his career as a senior executive at PayPal (and is considered part of the influential “PayPal Mafia”) and went on to serve in influented roles at LinkedIn and as Chief Operating Officer of Square. 

During the fireside chat, Josh asked Keith several tough questions, and he has generously summarized Keith’s responses below. 

On Finding Opportunities

Before you can do what you love, you have to find what you love. Explore a breadth of fields, interests, and disciplines before going deep. Pick something you’re endlessly interested in, and preferably that you think is growing more important to the world and is highly valuable to at least a subset of people out there. Relationships matter. The people you meet those first days of college or when you move to a new city could be your connection to an incredible job. Stay open hearted in those moments.

On Teams

The team you build is the company you build. You’ll spend an outrageous amount of time with them, and it’s tough to change the culture of something that already has momentum in a certain way. Learn how to assess people’s strengths and potential quickly. Promote or partner with those that show great output, regardless of their resume or experience. Find underutilized people and recruit them to your company or project.

On Changing Jobs

You want to find the steepest learning curve. When you plateau in your learning, jump to something else. If you want to stay in power at a fast-rising company, your rate of learning must exceed its rate of growth. Join companies with a high density of talent, that promote winners quickly, that understand growth mechanics, and use quantitative thinking — not just instinct.

On Having Opinions

Figure out what your agenda in life is, and be vocal about it. People can choose who to follow so don’t worry about alienating some people if you’re building an audience of others. Blogging is the easiest way to prove you’ve been thinking critically about something.

On Pitching a Startup Or Anything Else

You must convey your excitement and unique aptitude for the task. A classic slide deck of 10-15 slides is still one of the most powerful and efficient ways to do this. Craft a strong narrative. Convince a venture partner or someone else to be your champion and help convince they’re colleagues to support you.

On Diversity in Venture Capital

VCs get hired because they have a track record as a strong executive or a visionary investor. Discrimination in hiring, promotion, and selecting leadership has limited the diversity of workers with exposure to their company’s board or investors who might one day hire them as VCs. Everyone must do their part to open up opportunities to people with a wider range of backgrounds. And you can always start by making angel investments, even small ones, to prove your foresight.

On Audacity

One of the only variables you can fully control is how much effort you put in. Whether you’re looking for advisors, funding, or a raise, you won’t know what you can get until you ask.

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