The woman in charge of sales was so tenacious that I used to feel sorry for potential customers on the phone with her.
You could sense them squirming on the hook, but you knew there would be no rest for them till they'd signed up.
The way a startup makes money is to offer people better technology than they have now.
But what people have now is often so bad that it doesn't take brilliance to do better.
But the smarter they are, the less pressure they feel to act smart.
So as a rule you can recognize genuinely smart people by their ability to say things like "I don't know," "Maybe you're right," and "I don't understand x well enough."This technique doesn't always work, because people can be influenced by their environment.
A lot of would-be startup founders think the key to the whole process is the initial idea, and from that point all you have to do is execute. If you go to VC firms with a brilliant idea that you'll tell them about if they sign a nondisclosure agreement, most will tell you to get lost. The market price is less than the inconvenience of signing an NDA.
Another sign of how little the initial idea is worth is the number of startups that change their plan en route.
An undergrad could build something better as a class project. Online dating is a valuable business now, and it might be worth a hundred times as much if it worked.
An idea for a startup, however, is only a beginning.
But most of those weren't truly smart, so our third test was largely a restatement of the first.
When nerds are unbearable it's usually because they're trying too hard to seem smart.
Good people can fix bad ideas, but good ideas can't save bad people. One of the best tricks I learned during our startup was a rule for deciding who to hire. It might be hard to translate that into another language, but I think everyone in the US knows what it means.