Pinterest Founder’s Advice To Startups: Don’t Take Advice Read more

Ben Silbermann, co-founder of photo sharing and collecting startup Pinterest, spoke at SXSW this morning.


He has some simple advice for entrepreneurs: don’t take it.

“Don’t take too much advice,” says Silbermann. “Most people who have a lot of advice to give — with a few exceptions — generalize whatever they did,” he says.

People frequently ask Silbermann if Pinterest’s invite-only membership tactic is the reason it’s successful. “It is impossible to A-B test that,” says the founder. “Maybe we would have gotten users faster if we hadn’t done that.”

“Every company carves its own path, and [founders] are under pressure to make their startups look like the last successful company everyone remembers.”

Silbermann also advises startups to keep close relationships outside of work. Talk to people about anything besides your company — like life and sports, says Silbermann. Those people and conversations help keep him sane. “If you don’t take care of yourself in the process you won’t be a part of the ride.”

Silbermann also says to remember who helped you when they had nothing to gain from it. Those people, he says, are mentally valuable.

His final piece of advice: don’t over analyze everything.  Silbermann says he has been guilty of over-thinking problems. He encourages others to “just built things and find out if they work.”

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