Dress for Success

20 Simple Rules for Startup Success

Dave Pell
2 min readJul 28, 2015


  1. Raise only as much money as you absolutely need.
  2. Avoid the temptation of a high valuation. What’s important is that it’s fair.
  3. Say this sentence at least once during every investor pitch: “The story of my company and its values can’t be reduced to a PowerPoint deck.”
  4. Find an office space with low ceilings, painted sheetrock walls, and, whatever it takes, no exposed brick.
  5. Do not get distracted by false lure of the mobile space. Focus, focus, focus.
  6. Don’t worry about who you hire. Anyone can execute. Just make sure the idea seems cool. And never hire an engineer who doesn’t put personal hygiene and appearance first.
  7. Focus on being profitable early on. No one is going to give you a high valuation just because you have a lot of users or tons of revenue.
  8. If your business is pressured by a city or state government, then step back, realize that the public good is about something bigger than just one company. If you make a little less money, does it really matter?
  9. Remember, no startup that gave away branded fleeces has ever failed.
  10. Remain fixated on what’s important in life and demand that your team observes a weekly technology Shabbat; from sundown each Friday night to sunrise on Wednesday.
  11. Don’t be deterred just because Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Uber have already built the thing you are just now mocking up on whiteboard. It’s better to be small and nimble than large and nimble.
  12. Don’t worry about what the user thinks they need. Make the technology you know they’ll want and don’t take no for an answer.
  13. Customers will never take you seriously unless you charge for your services. Nothing in life is free.
  14. Pivoting is for pussies. Domain expertise is for small thinkers. Adapting is for wimps.
  15. There’s nothing you can’t learn by reading a post from a 20 something tech journalist.
  16. Give key employees their stock upfront in one lump sum. It builds trust.
  17. Remember the tech startup that hit it big with a CEO who wasn’t wearing a bowtie? Neither does anyone else.
  18. If Andreessen favorites one of your tweets, then chill. It’s over. You’re gonna be fucking rich.
  19. Be humble. Be nice. Be generous. Remember, no one ever got oral sex from a much more attractive person just because they were worth a few billion on paper.
  20. If a day goes by when you haven’t said the word Unicorn, then you’re not serious about success.

Dave Pell Earns His Oral Sex the Old Fashioned Way. By Writing NextDraft: The Day’s Most Fascinating News



Dave Pell

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.