The 9 Unwritten Rules of Silicon Valley

To make it big in the tech hotbed, startup founders need to know how to navigate the culture.

The 9 Unwritten Rules of Silicon Valley
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Silicon Valley has the most vibrant startup scene in the world.

But it also has its own unique culture, and not knowing the specific rules of the game can hurt your chances of making it big in the Valley.

We went through Quora to find out what people who have been-there-done-that have to say about the unwritten rules of Silicon Valley. 

1. "You pretty much get 'credit' as 'one of the guys' for a successful start-up as long as you were one of the first 30-50 employees, and had an impact.  Not quite founder status, but pretty good." — Jason Lemkin (Storm Ventures, managing director) 

2. "Don't waste your investors' money, or nobody will ever give you money again." — Ben Parr (Dominate Fund, partner)

3. "Any good idea will be copied within 18 months by 3 companies. But remember that truly world class execution is pretty rare, and most other teams will screw up somehow. Of course, so will you." — Adam Sah (been part of 6 startups, 3 IPOs)

4. "Don't steal salespeople or other key people from have to teach them your system anyway (they usually assume you wanted to get them because they knew the competitor's system, and tend to be tougher to retrain), they tend not to be loyal (if they'll do it with you, they'll do it to you), it gives you a bad name in whatever industry you're in, not just the Valley, and it's bad karma." — Alexandra Damsker (Entrepreneur, recovering lawyer) 

5. "In my limited experience, I've never seen a truly equal founding partnership. At the end of the day, one person always cares more than the other(s). This might change over time, but it's not likely to. If you're that person, don't be bitter. Accept your role and you'll be more fulfilled and productive." — Evan Kuo (coder, designer)

6. "Speed and momentum is everything. Getting things done fast takes precedence over pretty much everything else. In fact, your startup might be criticized for having a burn rate that's too low because your CEO tries to save money to keep the company afloat." — Andy Micone (TechCast Global, Futures advisor)

7. "The only acceptable reason for an employee to leave your company is if they're going to start their own company. For any other reason, you as the founder are the one that's at fault, be it in hiring the wrong person, having a bad company culture, being a bad manager, etc." — Anonymous

8. "One of the major unwritten rules is that you always frame your startup to the public in terms of its benefits to society, not its ability to make money. If you salvage medical equipment, for example, on the East Coast you might say 'we find bargains on medical equipment and resell it for big markups' -- in Silicon Valley you say 'we find neglected life saving machines and put them in places where they can benefit the greatest number of sick people.'" — Anonymous

9. "Legal documents are basically a checkbox in the early days of your company.  Don't get creative, go Delaware C Corp and try to use the most standard docs for all fundraising that you can.  Get a lawyer who lives in the valley and has successfully closed rounds before." — Anonymous

This story first appeared on Business Insider

Sep 25, 2015
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