If You Want To Start A Startup... READ THIS

by SamPorta. Posted on Sep 10, 2020    12    16

I'm Samuel Porta - Founder and CEO of the Georgia Tech Startup queues. I've spent years working on startups so I thought I would post some useful tips for anyone else looking to get started.

New entrepreneurs almost always fall victim to one of these 4 mistakes when they start a startup - Here is how to avoid all of them. Enjoy!

If you'd prefer to watch my video discussing these points here is the link: https://youtu.be/8zSivkPS1iA

So what are the 4 mistakes that almost all new entrepreneurs fall victim to?

#1 Focusing on a Product/Solution

Many entrepreneurs are too quick to get fixated on a product or a particular solution to a problem. Creating a Startup is NOT about the product/solution it is about the PROBLEM. Remember - There are a million ways you can solve any problem, what’s more important is to figure out if people care enough about a problem to pay for a solution.

#2 Pitching your idea

When scoping a problem you are not trying to sell an idea. You are trying to see if people resonate with the problem with zero salesmanship added. If people care about a problem without you selling it then you wont need to sell your solution when you finally make it - people will seek you out.

#3 Asking for “Expert Advice”

Expert advice about your problem does not matter. One person is not going to tell you all that you need to know about your problem space. Not everyone is going to care about the problem so you need to get a wide sample. If 10 people say they don't care about a problem - that information is much more likely to be accurate than if just 1 person says they don’t care.

#4 Wasting Years of Time

Too many entrepreneurs rush to create a product or solution and spend years working on it without ever knowing if it would be successful at the end of the day. An entrepreneur's most valuable resource is time so wasting years going in the wrong direction is a very expensive mistake that can very easily be avoided. So now we have discussed the mistakes that new entrepreneurs make, I'm going to take you through how to systematically avoid all of them.

Part 1: Focus on the problem

Don’t even think about a solution to your problem. Remember, When you first begin a startup: The problem is all that matters. Once you have your problem in mind you need to test the underlying assumption that people care about this problem which we accomplish through unbiased interviews.

Part 2: Biases Now what do I mean by unbiased?

If you care about an idea you are subconsciously going to be biased in favor of it - which will be reflected in the way you phrase your questions.

“Do you wish your dog was better behaved?”

There are 3 problems with that question

  1. It's a yes or no question:
  2. The phrase better behaved adds a bias
  3. It's a cornering question

So how would we ask that same question correctly? Like this: How does your dog typically behave?

Why is this better?

  1. It is Open ended - not a yes or no
  2. And it is Neutrally worded - there is no positive or negative slant to the question.

Part 3: How to do the interview

  1. Prioritize open ended questions: You want to use questions starting with What, how, why… and you want to avoid questions starting with do, should, can. Now of course some follow up questions can be yes or no but if you can ask an open ended question it’s far better.
  2. Avoid biasing adjectives in your question: Words such as Love, hate, like, dislike. Instead Use neutral wording like: How do you feel about X… Remember: the goal here is to determine how they really feel about the topic.
  3. Go where the pain is: If you hear emotional phrases like I hate, or I can't stand or I wish this didn't exist these are gold. People are far more likely to pay for something that addresses a serious pain
  4. Dig deeper with each question: Open ended questions bring great insights so make sure to follow up their comments up with further questions
  5. Tangents: Don't be afraid to go on tangents if an interviewee raises an unexpected point. If you get a response you didn't expect, go down that rabbit hole as it will often provide useful insight of a possible solution you could make.
  6. Interview as many people as possible: The more potential customers you can interview the better as this will give you more data to effectively validate or invalidate the urgency of your problem.

Part 4 - What to do after the interviews: Ask yourself: Is there enough evidence that people care about this problem significantly?

If the answer is no - that’s great. You’ve quickly been able to identify that you would have wasted your time if you walked down that road. Believe me you’ll be glad not to waste years of your life.

If the answer is yes - that’s Awesome - you can now go all in knowing that you have the evidence to back up your beliefs and more importantly eager customers waiting to buy your solution - whatever that may be.

I hope this helps!


The_Magic_Sauce 2

If You Want To Start a Startup, STOP. Start Reading This Before You Start The Startup.


  SamPorta 1

u/The_Magic_Sauce Yeah that works too :)

sansastark9 2

Hi thanks so much for this! Really insightful and helpful. I have another question about start-ups that I’m going to throw in here in case you find the time to read and reply, it would be much appreciated! Thank you so much

How does one make money and wealth via an entrepreneurial venture?

Imagine I have an affordable product priced at say $8.99 and my cost is 2.99 that’s still just a 2.34x mark-up and only 6 per product. How is it even possible for a small business to generate profit? How are people doing it? Yes I’m aware it takes times to build revenue and generate profitability, but HOW are they doing it? Specially when in the world today expenses specially digital ads and influencers and other digital marketing costs are so high! How do small or big start-ups make profits despite incurring such high costs and high competition in practically every industry?

Not to mention so many other costs exist whether you sell online or offline - such as transaction fees, logistics, commissions, distribution fees, etc etc etc etc).
Most people say volume is the key but how do you generate volume if you don’t put in money into producing and marketing those higher quantities which then pushes back the timeline of profitability? Also when you spend so much money to achieve volumes, don’t you spend time just playing catch up instead of generating profits?

  SamPorta 1

Hi u/sansastark9,

Thank you for your question - its a phenominally big question and I wouldn't ever be able to do it justice with a simple reddit post as the best answer is going to require more of an understanding of specifically what you are doing and how.

If you'd like you are more than welcome to DM me and we can have a more in-depth offline discussion that will hopefully prove more valuable than a quick reddit reply.

Seedpound 2

Hate to say it but this is very confusing and I'm going to move on .
[yes, I watched portions of the video too ]


Hi u/Seedpound,

Thank you for your comment - if you are confused it is likely that others are too - can you elaborate what you were confused about?

Warm Regards


Seedpound 1

Maybe it's just me


u/Seedpound if you are confused I can guarantee others are too - I'd be happy to elaborate on any confusion - after all the point of this post and my entire channel is to help entrepreneurs :)

- Sam

sims0207 3



No worries u/sims0207 I hope it helped!

RossDCurrie 5

Looking at your post history, you're basically just spamming your video across multiple subs related to startups, and hoping it doesn't get deleted/downvoted.

You should consider engaging with posts other than your own. This is a community, not a marketing channel.


Hi u/RossDCurrie,

You are right that this is a community - its a community of entrepreneurs.

If you notice my channel is new and small - its not about making money - if it was I would be selling things in my videos or in my messages.

The goal of these videos is to help young entrepreneurs succeed in entrepreneurship by learning from other entrepreneurs.

All of my posts are to spread awareness which is exactly what people do in a community.

RossDCurrie 1

>All of my posts are to spread awareness which is exactly what people do in a community.

It's spam.

  SamPorta 1

Sorry you feel that way u/RossDCurrie

I had a look through your history too and you have a lot of good content and responses to peoples posts.

Do you believe it is fair to say that sharing your perspective through the written medium isn't spam but spending days creating a video to do the same is?

RossDCurrie 1

>Sorry you feel that way u/RossDCurrie

More of an objective statement than an emotional expression.

>Do you believe it is fair to say that sharing your perspective through the written medium isn't spam but spending days creating a video to do the same is?

The medium is not the issue, it's how you're attempting to distribute/promote it.

If someone came here and posted a link to their blog, the issue would be the same.

I mean, you do you, the odds are in your favour that if you keep spamming you'll hit something people react well to. There are probably better, faster ways to get the same attention though.