I have started 8 startups (as at 2006), some have done well, some are still doing well, some have failed and some never got off the ground at all.

However many I end up doing before I push up the daisies, not one will turn out the same, and you can never learn too much each time around. On that basis I am always interested to hear about other’s experiences and find the lessons of others are often very similar to mine.

I believe that these stories can be very useful to those starting out and I wished I had read a few before embarking on my first adventure at 17 years of age.

Paul Graham, a clever and successful US technology entrepreneur, gives a funny and compelling account of his startup in this article on his excellent site, summarised here.

Want to start a startup?

(This essay is derived from a talk at the Harvard Computer Society.)

You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.

And that’s kind of exciting, when you think about it, because all three are doable. Hard, but doable. And since a startup that succeeds ordinarily makes its founders rich, that implies getting rich is doable too. Hard, but doable.

If there is one message I’d like to get across about startups, that’s it. There is no magically difficult step that requires brilliance to solve.

http://paulgraham.com/start.html