Michael Serbinis: What I've Learned by Moe Abdou


Building Flash Teams 
Like working on a hit movie, the key to success in an early-stage startup is in direct proportion to the quality of the players on the team.   


Why Not you
When you anticipate a future that’s radically different than the present, the only choice you have is whether or not you want to get involved.  Ask yourself what Malcolm X asked, 

“If not now then when, if not me then who?”

Malcom X

The Will To Win Is Everything
In the midst of building a startup, the overwhelming majority of time, you’ll be fighting against gravity and you’ll have to rely on your will get you through.  Strategy is perishable, but the will to succeed when you’re in the pit of despair is what makes the difference.


Learning To Think Bigger
Learning to think bigger starts with surrounding yourself with higher caliber people who aren’t afraid to tackle the world’s most complex problems; they know that through support and partnerships, they can have true, lasting impact.


The Moment Of Inspiration
This is the nudge you get when you discover something broken in the world.

The First Conversation
The first conversation with a potential founding team is about the shared mission of the company, the culture that you seek to build, and the kind of values that would make up that culture.  Culture is "the HOW” and is your most potent weapon.  Think of it like good hygiene.

The First Six Months
The first six months of a startup are about getting an experience together.  Build and get an MVP in the hands of consumers, and continually iterate until you get it right.

The Leader of A Startup 
The leader is the Chief Storyteller whose primary responsibilities include making sure there’s money in the bank, players on the field and a proper direction to head in.

Pushback Is Always Good 
One of the realities of building companies is that very few people will make it through the entire journey. There will be people that you need at the beginning, people you need in the end, and ones that make it work in the middle. Don’t take staff turnover personally.

Principles and Pattern Recognition Improve the Odds of Success
Think Bigger.  Focus on the 1% of the 1% (those super passionate and underserved).  Build technology and iterate fast.  Have a relentless pursuit of viability vs traditional business models.  Compete or perish.  Own the podium.

Partnerships Are The Centerpiece of Global Expansion 
There’s no single recipe that fits all deals.  Focus on the incumbents who aren’t as nimble as you and always seek a win-win-win strategy.  In lieu of economics and market dynamics, which are certain to change, look for partners who share your deepest values and have buy-in at the highest level of leadership.

Radical Candor Really Helps when working with partners
There can’t be one winner. If there’s only one winner, you’re both losers.


Approaching Big Problems
It starts with understanding that you will never be able to eat an elephant at once. Break down the problem and solve it piece by piece.


There Are Three Kinds of People
There are dreamers and there are those who are stuck in reality — and then then there are those who can turn one into the other.  Those who see a better world ask themselves “if it’s going to happen why not me.” 



Further Reading
  • The Leadership Driving Coolhaus’ Ice Cream Empire — “The earth is craving people who try to be revolutionary, push the envelope, and take risks,” Natasha Case shared, reflecting on her time as a student at Berkeley. An architect by trade, the first step Natasha takes to fulfill this calling is physically drawing her vision.
  • Common Founder Brad Hargreaves Shares How His Time at General Assembly Inspired Him to Reimagine Co-Living — Albert Wegner, a partner at Union Square Ventures, recently wrote a moving post about finding and living our purpose. Despite the question ‘What is your purpose?’ proposing deep self-reflection, a challenge he dually recognizes, Albert’s writing inspired me to ask the guests who join me on 33founders the same question. As 33founders has evolved, my highest goal is to give individuals an opportunity to share their lives outside of their title; Unveiling their desires as well as the drive that keep them awake at night.
  • The Startup Glossary: Founders Share Their Go-To Learning Tools — Whether you mispronounced your boss’ name (It’s just Mike, not Mique) or were caught taking a selfie in the elevator, we all have our collection of embarrassing office moments. My most cringeworthy thus far happened when my dad asked our team to go around the table and share the resources we use to learn.


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