In Episode 9 of YC’s Startup School Radio, our host Aaron
Harris first sat down
with YC partner Geoff Ralston to talk about his keen interest in funding education startups both at YC and through the Imagine K12 accelerator he founded. In the second portion of the
episode, Aaron talked to David Bladow, the co-founder and
CEO of BloomThat, the YC S13 company that’s been dubbed the “Uber for flowers,” delivering organic floral arrangements within 90 minutes.
In Geoff’s interview, he talked about how the evolving nature of work has contributed to his focus on new education technologies — and how the best founders are the ones who know how to learn new things:
Geoff: It is also true however that [in the past] the job security was much better. If you were a farmer, you stayed
on your farm forever and it was very unlikely that you would do anything
else in your career. The [current] realities of a lifetime where you will be
forced to have multiple careers and multiple expertise, learn multiple
things, sort of goes to the heart of why I am interested in education. …You can’t do that unless learning is
something that becomes a part of how you do your job, and how you think
about your life.
Aaron: I guess when you think about being a founder it isn’t a single
skill set. There is no thing that you go and say, ‘Oh, you’ve learned
this, therefore you can start a company.’ It’s actually an amalgamation
of lots of different skills and I think a lot of it is a mindset, the
determination that you’re going to go do all of those things necessary
to make your company succeed.
Geoff: I’ve always been so impressed with people, you see them around
you in life and in the workplace, where something comes up that’s
necessary to do, you would say okay, someone’s got to do it, and they
say, ‘Okay, I’ll do it’ and then it gets done. They figure out how to
make things happen. How to pull together the different threads of
creation or whatever they’re doing and make it so and that’s what a
startup is. If you’re an engineer when you start a startup you might
actually have to be the head communications officer where they have to
do radio shows like this, even if you’re kind of a geeky guy like I am, or
you know, I hesitate to say it, but like you are. And here we are, talking
on the radio.
You better be able to learn how to do things. But one of
the things we’ve noticed at Y Combinator is that some of the very best
enterprise companies that are created by kind of really super smart,
super competent, kind of geeky guys who understand how to build software
is when they actually learn how to do enterprise sales all on their own.
Aaron: Right, which isn’t a skill that you think they’d have. The
classic idea here is someone who doesn’t want to talk to people.
Geoff: Exactly, they seldom have it. But the best ones gain it. It’s
really impressive. And once they do that, they make for the very very best