Build for customers, not VCs

by Dalton Caldwell3/21/2024

It’s easy to analyze your way out of taking the first step. It’s something we see a lot, particularly when founders try to choose what to build based on what they think VCs will like.

These founders will find a great problem that they could solve, only to convince themselves it’s not “venture scale.” Before they’ve written a line of code or even talked to a single person about it, they’re trying to predict market opportunities and exit strategies a decade down the road. That’s just not how early stage startups work.

In this episode of Dalton & Michael, we’ll talk about the risks of “thinking like a VC”, how to know when you’re stuck in this mindset, and how to unlearn it (spoiler: stop reading so much about who’s raising what.) We’ll also cover a short list of things that we’ve found actually matter when starting a company — it’s simpler than a lot of people think.


  • Dalton Caldwell

    Dalton is Managing Director, Architect and Group Partner at YC. He was the cofounder and CEO of imeem (acquired by MySpace in 2009), and the cofounder and CEO of