115 Startup Quotes from Successful High-Level Founders

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Startup quotes are a great way to learn from those who have been there and done that. And getting bite-sized advice from startup founders can be quite impactful and memorable. However, not every startup quote applies to all, so it’s important to be mindful about how each quote relates to your situation. Either way, I think you’ll find these to be enlightening. Enjoy!

115 Startup Quotes from High-Level Founders

  1. “The product that wins is the one that bridges customers to the future, not the one that requires a giant leap.” – Aaron Levie, Co-Founder of Box.net
  2. “User experience is everything. It always has been, but it’s still undervalued and under-invested in. If you don’t know user-centered design, study it. Hire people who know it. Obsess over it. Live and breathe it. Get your whole company on board.” – Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter
  3. “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO
  4. “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, Co-founder of General Electric and Inventor of the light bulb.
  5. “It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.” – Paul Graham, Y-Combinator co-founder
  6. “An entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and a want to create.” – David Karp, Tumblr founder and CEO
  7. “The best startups generally come from somebody needing to scratch an itch.” – Michael Arrington, Founder and Co-editor of TechCrunch
  8. “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki, Co-Founder of Alltop and renowned entrepreneur
  9. “Stay self-funded as long as possible.” – Garrett Camp, Founder of Expa, Uber, and StumbleUpon
  10. “If you’re going to put your product in beta – put your business model in beta with it.” – Joe Kraus, Partner at Google Ventures
  11. “I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
  12. “You don’t need to have a 100-person company to develop that idea.” – Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet, Co-Founder and former CEO of Google
  13. “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn Co-founder
  14. “Before dreaming about the future or making plans, you need to articulate what you already have going for you – as entrepreneurs do.” – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder
  15. “What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone. Know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.” – Dave Thomas, Founder, Wendy’s
  16. “There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.” – Phil Libin, Evernote CEO
  17. “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs,  Apple Inc. co-founder, chairman and CEO
  18. “Be humble. Don’t be cocky. Don’t be flashy. There’s always someone better than you.”  – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO
  19. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”  – Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder and former CEO
  20. “If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.”  – Ray Kroc, McDonald’s Founder
  21. “The very best startup ideas have three things in common: They’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing. Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo Google, and Facebook all began this way.” – Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Y-Combinatorstartup quote: the very best startup ideas - paul grahahm
  22. “If you just work on stuff that you like and you’re passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.”  – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder and CEO
  23. “When you find an idea that you just can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.”  – Josh James, Omniture CEO and Co-Founder
  24. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”  – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder and CEO, Apple
  25. “If you’re passionate about something and you work hard, then I think you will be successful.”  – Pierre Omidyar, eBay Founder and Chairman
  26. “Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a beginning, a struggle and a victory.”  – Mahatma Gandhi, Political and Spiritual Leader
  27. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”  – Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  28. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”  – Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple
  29. “To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” – Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group
  30. “Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous, and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly. If you are CEO, these choices will lead to a courageous or cowardly company.” – Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware
  31. “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals.” – David Ogilvy, Founder of Ogilvy & Mather
  32. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple
  33. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox
  34. “Any time is a good time to start a company.” – Ron Conway, Founder of Angel Investors
  35. “The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’… Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I’m not going to feel good about how I’m spending my time. And that’s what this company is.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
  36. “High expectations are the key to absolutely everything.” – Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart
  37. “Life is fragile. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow so give it everything you’ve got.” – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
  38. “Rule No. 1: Never lose money; Rule No. 2: Don’t forget Rule No. 1.” – Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  39. “No man can be successful, unless he first loves his work.” – David Sarnoff, CEO of RCA
  40. “It’s not about having a specific set time; both personal and professional lives are 24/7. It’s simply, more about making the right allocation to each one and recognizing that it’s going to be different every single day” – Ellen Kullman, CEO of Dupont
  41. “You don’t need to be a genius or a visionary, or even a college graduate for that matter, to be successful. You just need framework and a dream.” – Michael Dell, CEO of DELL
  42. “You have to be very nimble and very open minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how your adapt.” – Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp
  43. “It’s not about how to get started; it’s about how to get noticed.” – Steve Case, CEO of America Online
  44. “Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.” – Ryan Freitas, Co-Founder of About.me
  45. “If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon
  46. “Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.” – Jeffrey Zeldman, Founder of A List Apart Magazine
  47. “The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.” – Ingvar Kamprad, Founder of IKEA
  48. “Always look for the fool in the deal. If you don’t find one, it’s you.” – Mark Cuban, Owner of Dallas Mavericks
  49. “There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.” – Jason Fried, Founder and CEO of Basecamp
  50. “Fail often so you can succeed sooner.” – Tom Kelley, Founder of Ideo
  51. “Get big quietly, so you don’t tip off potential competitors.” – Chris Dixon, Co-Founder and CEO of Hunch
  52. “Don’t play games that you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.” – Tony Hsieh, Founder and CEO of Zappos
  53. “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone, Co-Founder of Twitter
  54. “The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.” – Seth Godin, Founder of Squidoo
  55. “Data beats emotions.” – Sean Rad, Founder of Adly and Tinder
  56. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” – Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn
  57. “Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will absolutely be doing things different from everybody else.” – Sara Blakely, Founder of SPANX
  58. “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.”  – Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company
  59. “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.” -Arianna Huffington,  Co-Founder of The Huffington Post Media Group
  60. “Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical.” – Howard Schultz, Founder and CEO of Starbucks
  61. “Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, CoFounder of Google
  62. “Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” – Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
  63. “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” – Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
  64. “I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one.” – Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft
  65. “Don’t take too much advice. Most people who have a lot of advice to give with a few exceptions generalize whatever they did. Don’t over-analyze everything. I myself have been guilty of over-thinking problems. Just build things and find out if they work.” – Ben Silbermann, Founder of Pinterest
  66. “If other people are putting in 40-hr work weeks & you’re putting in 100-hr work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing, you know that you’ll achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.” – Elon Musk, Founder & CEO of SpaceX & Tesla
  67. “In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO
  68. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down” – Steve Jobs, Apple CEO
  69. “The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world.” – Marc Benioff, Founder of Salesforcestartup quote: "the secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world." - Marc Benioff
  70. “There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time. I started an apparel-manufacturing business in the tech-boom years. I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance and start your business.” – Kevin Plank, Under Armour CEO
  71. “It takes humility to realize that we don’t know everything, not to rest on our laurels, and to know that we must keep learning and observing. If we don’t, we can be sure some startup will be there to take our place.” – Cher Wang, HTC CEO
  72. “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.” – Larry Page, Google Inc. CEO
  73. “The thing that I learned early on is you really need to set goals in your life, both short-term and long-term, just like you do in business. Having that long-term goal will enable you to have a plan on how to achieve it. We apply these skills in business, yet when it comes to ourselves, we rarely apply them.” – Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Co. CEO
  74. “The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson. I cannot just expect the organization to improve if I don’t improve myself and lift the organization, because that distance is a constant.” – Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and CEO, PepsiCo
  75. “The way I think about culture is that modern humans have radically changed the way that they work and the way that they live. Companies need to change the way they manage and lead to match the way that modern humans actually work and live. We’re trying to re-craft culture in a way that really matches that. I think that 99% of companies are kind of stuck in the ‘90s when it comes to their culture.” – Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO
  76. “I try not to make any decisions that I’m not excited about.” – Jake Nickell, Threadless CEO
  77. “The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
  78. “If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.” – Larry Page, CEO of Google
  79. “I’m responsible for this company. I stand behind the results. I know the details, and I think the CEO has to be the moral leader of the company, … I think high standards are good, but let’s not anybody be confused, it’s about performance with integrity. That’s what you have to do.” – Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric
  80. “It’s in our best interest to put some of the old rules aside and create new ones and follow the consumer—what the consumer wants and where the consumer wants to go.” – Robert Iger, CEO of Walt Disney
  81. “There are many things that go into creating success. I don’t like to do just the things I like. I like doing things that cause the company to succeed. I don’t spend much time doing my favorite activities.” – Michael Dell, CEO of Dell
  82. “Capital isn’t scarce. Vision is.” – Sam Walton, CEO of Wal-Mart
  83. “I think as a company, if you can get those two things right — having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff — then you can do pretty well.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
  84. “We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency: With hundreds of TV channels, billions of Web sites, podcasts, radio shows, music downloads and social networking, our attention is more fragmented than ever before. Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. They’ll be the richest, the most successful, the most connected, capable and influential among us. We’re all publishers now, and the more we publish, the more valuable connections we’ll make. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Fitbit and the SenseCam give us a simple choice: participate or fade into a lonely obscurity.” – Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable
  85. “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” – Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
  86. Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves—and by which they are willing to be judged. – Frederick W. Smith, CEO of FedEx
  87. When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts. – Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle
  88. I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature. – John D. Rockefeller, CEO of Standard Oil
  89. “We are really competing against ourselves, we have no control over how other people perform.” – Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable
  90. “In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.”  – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
  91. “I’ve been very lucky, from the beginning. I’ve found that as long as you’re fundamentally good – as long as you’re not being bad to people – people give you a lot of room to be yourself, because being yourself is being honest. And that’s what people want to see.” – Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon
  92. “The heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation.” – Robert Iger, CEO of Walt Disney
  93. “Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.” – Frederick W Smith, CEO of Fedex
  94. “Surviving a failure allows you more self confidence. Failing is a great learning tool, but it must be kept to an absolute minimum.” – Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric
  95. “Great companies with the way they work, first start with great leaders.” – Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft
  96. “It’s great to innovate — I have full respect for that — but it’s also great to get a return on all the innovation and all the investment you make.” – Hock Tan, CEO of Broadcom
  97. “In business, it is more important to get along with other people than to be smarter than them — although that doesn’t hurt either.” – Leslie Moonves, Former CEO of CBS
  98. “We have to stay focused on both the details of value creation as well as careful management of our balance sheet.” – Walter Nicholas Howley, Former CEO of TransDigm
  99. “EQ equals IQ – emotional intelligence, intellectual intelligence. Now, I don’t mean they’re the same. I just mean that they are probably equally important. Most of the trainwrecks that I’ve seen in the media business or generally in other industries, have come about more from a fascinating lapse of EQ or social relations more so than they have come about due to a failure of analytic intelligence.” – Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner
  100. “Help others rise. Greatness comes not from a position but from helping build the future. All of us in positions of power have an obligation to pull others up.” – Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
  101. “Being a leader is really different … I keep trying to learn and get better every day and learn from my mistakes and listen to the people I care about.” – Debra Cafaro, CEO of Ventas
  102. “Perform on today’s job, but when an opportunity comes along, if it makes sense for you to take it, don’t hold yourself back.” – Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin
  103. “If you don’t love your job – whether you don’t think you’re being fairly compensated or challenged or it’s not a fulfilling job, you need to act on that.” – Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
  104. “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you.” – Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  105. “To achieve high standards in a particular domain…1) you have to be able to recognize what good looks like in that domain. 2) you must have realistic expectations for how hard it should be (how much work it will take) to achieve that result — the scope.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
  106. “Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.” – Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
  107. “Our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.” – Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
  108. “For me, it matters that we drive technology as an equalizing force, as an enabler for everyone around the world.” – Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google
  109. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk in a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
  110. “Work takes on new meaning when you feel you are pointed in the right direction. Otherwise, it’s just a job, and life is too short for that.” – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
  111. “It’s not about working harder; it’s about working the system.” – Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat
  112. “Growth and comfort do not coexist.” – Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM
  113. “Do you feel good in your role? If yes, that’s the perfect time for you to experiment with something new, to get out of your comfort zone.” – Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture
  114. “It’s very difficult to design something for someone if you have no empathy.” – Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack
  115. “Coding is like writing, and we live in a time of the new industrial revolution. What’s happened is that maybe everybody knows how to use computers, like they know how to read, but they don’t know how to write.” – Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube


If you made it this far and didn’t skip reading these startup quotes, then congratulations!  You are one of the select few who care enough to spend a few extra minutes to learn from these founders and CEOs.

Keep on learning and growing!

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