— Read this next: Why You Should Apply to Y Combinator. That being said, Y Combinator is a very cool and valuable experience that benefits just about every startup. They also want access to YC’s alumni network for hiring and introductions. We use software to help prioritize applications and route them to the right readers, but all the decisions are made by people. When investors look at a company, they look at the founder dynamic, and they decide whether they think this team is right for each other. If you are the founder of a startup—a startup that you believe will be venture-backed one day — I strongly recommend applying to Y Combinator. They have a system that allows past Y Combinator founders to recommend startups applying to the current batch. Y Combinator Application #1 (Failure) It took me about 12 hours to complete the YC Application and after reading multiple stories of successful applications here , … Winter 2021. How do you know people need what you’re making? Choose ones in a similar industry or solving a similar problem because they’ll be more likely to be interested in you, your product, and helping you out. Yes. Please don't feel that you need to work on one of these ideas in order to apply to Y Combinator 1. Do you have what it takes to not burn out? You have a early-stage startup, or at least an idea … Questions on Location Y Combinator is now bringing this type of free-form entrepreneurialism to its seed-stage fund. In order to convince investors that it’s a problem worth tackling, you have to be able to clearly articulate who exactly has the problem, how many people that is, and how big the problem is for those people. It’s still only a step on the way to success or failure for your company. If you’re starting a company, you’ll face a lot of different problems and you’ll need to creatively solve them or you’ll need to change the direction of your company, etc. I don’t know much about that. Will YC hold that against me? “That’s interesting, thanks for your input” or “Hadn’t thought about that, I’ll consider it”). Even if you get accepted, but then you decide for whatever reason you don’t want to do it, there’s not really a huge downside to just applying and seeing if you can get in. Let’s say you’ve managed to convince investors that the market of people with the problem you’re tackling exists and it’s large enough. No. We began offering the option to apply to Y Combinator Early Decision last September. Go talk to folks who have gone through Y Combinator, start with those in your network, but if you don’t have anyone in your network, you can reach out on LinkedIn or just email them. Ideas are over-rated. The best way to convince investors that your startup has low product risk is: You should know that because investors get a large number of pitches all the time, your product idea probably isn’t as novel to them as you think it is. The program culminates in Demo Day, where startups pitch to a carefully selected audience of investors. So the rapid-fire approach tends to eliminate the faker or non-believers. If you don’t know any past Y Combinator founders, your job will be to identify past companies that are similar to what you’re working on. If you’ve convinced investors that there’s low enough risk in all of the above, the biggest major question left is: Will you actually be able to execute your plan? Your product should solve a problem. If you’d like to learn more about what Y Combinator actually consists of, check out my post on The Value of Y Combinator & Accelerators. Just do it. Check out yclist.com for a list of past Y Combinator companies. Getting into Y Combinator was a dream come true for me. The best way to convince investors that your team is right for each other is: You want to have a team (solo founders are significantly less likely to succeed), because having more people helps eliminate some of the execution risk I’ll talk about below. If the feedback is positive, then you’ve also addressed some of your product risk. Investors think about four different risks of a startup: 1) Market Risk2) Product Risk3) Team Risk4) Execution Risk. I planned on taking out the stack and putting it down on the table to demonstrate the need for my product. If you don’t, then you’re kind of out of luck, but that’s how things go. Yes. With a twist. In order to convince investors that it’s a problem worth tackling, you have to be able to clearly articulate who exactly has the problem, how many people that is, and how big the problem is for those people. Y Combinator announced today that you don’t even need an idea to apply for its upcoming program.What gives? If you apply to the Y Combinator with the hope that you will kickstart your business on your own, then that’s the completely wrong approach. But, on the other hand, if you apply to the Y Combinator with intent to listen to … If that’s what you wanted to do before reading this post, keep doing it. As we’ve talked about before, Cofactor is now backed by Y Combinator and was accepted into their Summer 2015 class. For One Month, the way I did this was by asking other past YC founders I knew to review my application and give me feedback several weeks before the application was due. This is actually a fairly large issue that a lot of startup founders don’t think about. There’s a lot in that question that needs to be unpacked. The idea was that any symbolic structure could be generated from some combination of s’s and k’s.As an example, consider a[b[a][c]].We’re not saying what a, b and c are; they’re just symbolic objects. We started interviewing 1000+ people to … How far will you be by the end of Y Combinator. Each batch has at least a dozen companies that have already raised over $1M. Consider the (admittedly obscure) object We launched Startup School as an online program in 2017 to support founders actively working on building their companies. No. Having an in with one or two partners can help in the application process. They won’t give you much time to answer each one before cutting you off and asking another question. If not getting into Y Combinator means your startup is going to give up, or won’t succeed, that’s already a very bad sign. Yes. The thing that … Applications for the Winter class are open now (go apply! Q: Can you use the YC investment to pay your student loans? You know you want to. Log in or sign up But the process of landing a spot at this prestigious Bay Area seed accelerator is no cakewalk. Founders that have done YC after a successful first company include Michael Seibel, YC CEO, participated in the W07 and W12 batches, Kyle Vogt (founder of Twitch), Steve Huffman (founder of Reddit), and Parker Conrad (founder of Zenefits). MessageBird (YC S16) was making $20M a year and profitable prior to YC. Q: Can you apply if you haven’t launched? Not an inconvenience. If you have any other thoughts about getting in to Y Combinator, please post them in the comments. By the way, applications close March 20, in 2 days, so get your app in if you want or forgot the deadline! If you decide to email me, please read this first. Yes, people read every application and most are read multiple times. If you need a visa to come to YC for the 3 month program, we can introduce you to lawyers who can help with this. This includes legal risk like Airbnb had. Q: How much money do YC companies raise at demo day? The interview process itself is inherently destabilizing, so it’s unlikely that you’re going to feel great coming out of it. Do you have domain expertise in this area? Click here if you have no idea what you want to build and want to apply anyway. Each week they’d fly out to California for office hours and our weekly dinner. Ideas that are generated this way often take a form like "Uber for X," or "Airbnb for Y." Startups that only have ideas still have a significant amount of all the risks I mentioned above. We accept companies twice a year in two batches. We fund companies focused on markets all around the world. If you can’t submit an application, figure out another way to get in front of them. If you’ve got a startup or you’re inside of a startup and you’ve got some idea, go through the application because it ... Part of that is because we had great metrics and great vision. Cruise, for example, had been working on their idea for just two weeks when they applied to YC. Many companies raise several million, and some have raised more than $40M. Is there any other major factor that could prevent you from doing what you need to? A lot of big investors missed Airbnb because they thought it wouldn’t be able to overcome the legal and liability issues involved in having people rent out rooms to strangers at scale. You may hear a partner recommend that you do something different or explicitly question one of your assumptions. Fewer than half of the companies we fund have launched before they apply. For example, you can apply for the summer batch alongside those applying for the winter batch. The point of the idea’s just to prove you as founders can come up with good ideas. Not an inconvenience. To apply for the Y Combinator program, submit an application form. Africa: Flutterwave, Paystack, Tizeti, and WaystoCap Now you need to convince them that your product actually addresses that market in a way that provides significant enough value that your company can grow big, quickly. IDEA Why did you pick this idea to work on? There will be several partners in the room with you for the interview. For those of you who don’t know, if you’re a student, applying Early Decision to YC allows you to apply for one batch ahead of the current one. Airbnb spent much of the batch in NYC, where their business was taking off. More: Startups Technology Y Combinator I’m pretty sure positive recommendations have the biggest effect only in getting you to the interview stage of the application process. If you’d like to dig deeper, you can check out the expanded FAQ. ... “Anytime you apply to a program you want to look at the ... Gore came into the program with just an idea. Once you’re there, it’s all about the partners. But given a, b and c how do we construct a[b[a][c]]?Well, we can do it with the s, k combinators.. The best way to mitigate investor concerns about execution risk is: Now Y Combinator is in some sense is like any other investor. The questions in our application are all things you should be thinking about at the earliest stages of launching a startup. These ideas are very often solutions in search of problems, so if you come up with an idea this way, you should be default skeptical, and you should think really hard about whether it is actually solving a problem. We’re sure you learned a lot from the experience. A lot of Y Combinator startup founders were rejected the first time around (including me). It’s very hard for just one person to do anything, and being unable to convince other people to work on your startup with you is a big red flag (a major part of successfully building a startup is convincing people — including investors, journalists, customers, and potential employees). And plenty of successful startups were never accepted by Y Combinator. There are 6 days left to apply. The ones that choose to do YC often want to be in the company of other founders where they feel a real pressure to ship their product and talk with customers. Mostly it’s because they’re trying to get a lot of information in a very short amount of time. No. The program culminates in Demo Day, where startups pitch to a carefully selected audience of investors. Whereas if we can see obstacles to your idea that you don't seem to have considered, that's a bad sign. If you ask for a recommendation, they’ll know what you mean and exactly what to do. Almost every smart person has a good idea in them." What’s the chance that your team is going to blow up because of some co-founders strife? Q: Do you have to be focused on the US market? As PG wrote in Organic Startup Ideas, “the worst ideas we see at Y Combinator are from young founders making things they think other people will want.” For instance, if you want to build a WhatsApp clone simply because it’s the most popular messenger app in the world, you… If you think you’re too early, you probably aren’t. There are two stages in the Y Combinator application process: Once you’ve submitted your online application, if they like it or you then your team will get selected to visit for a short in-person interview (just 10 minutes in my case). Pete had his own fashion stores, found out that number 1 reason why people don’t buy is they can’t decide. It can probably at least guarantee you an interview, and is likely to be helpful if you happen to have the partner in the room with you for in-person interviews. You can use the money to pay for any business-related expense, and founder salaries are a business expense. Especially if you’re in a fairly crowded space, it’s likely that they’ve already heard some variation of what you’re pitching. How to Successfully Apply to Y Combinator Read content published by Y Combinator : YC has publicly published everything you need to write a successful application . Y Combinator — the aspiration of many fledgling startups. The best way to do that is simply to be concise. The program includes dinners every Tuesday, office hours with YC partners and access to the network of other YC founders. While the experience is still fresh, I want to encourage you to apply for the next cycle and give some advice for getting in. It helps to really be passionate and know a lot about what you’re talking about. But then I totally forgot about it during the interview and didn’t remember until I was walking out of there. In terms of demeanor during the interview, I’ve heard a lot of different things. Also, they feel like they can get enough information very quickly. Now some specific points about Y Combinator. Whether you really believe it. We think we can be helpful for any company that hasn’t yet raised a Series B. Q: Do all the founders have to attend the entire batch? A Big Idea: Y Combinator Now Lets Founders Apply Without… An Idea. There’s a lot in that question that needs to be unpacked. Plus, Y Combinator shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all. The questions I remember them asking me (and it’s been two years so I don’t remember it all as vividly as I once did) were: I prepared for the interviews by printing a big stack of customer testimonials from existing customers and putting them in my backpack. These are questions you should have answers to regardless of whether you plan to apply … Most founders I talked to who were accepted felt as if they had fucked up during the interview and wouldn’t get the call (if you get accepted, you’ll get a call from one of the partners that very same day, otherwise you’ll get an email later that day that you weren’t selected). And it’s fairly random which partners you get in your room. YC has a formal process that allows alumni to recommend applicants applying for the current batch. You’re very unlikely to get accepted into Y Combinator with just an idea. The program includes dinners every Tuesday, office hours with YC partners and access to the network of other YC founders. Edit: A lot of people have been reaching out asking me for advice with the Y Combinator application process. In my case it was 5 partners. Having just come through Y Combinator, we frequently get asked whether it was worth it. (Rather than 10 years ago or 10 years from now). Q: Does a real person actually read my application? The best way to connect with partners is by talking getting intros from past Y Combinator founders. During the interview stage, partners are meeting with dozens of companies every day, so they don’t really have time for hour-long conversations. The time is so short and you’ll forget anything else, so take it easy and just focus on those things. Leading up to applications, partners get a ton of requests for meetings and advice, so it will be hard to stand out. During the in-person interview, you’re going to be bombarded with tons of questions coming at you from different partners very quickly. You don't have to sell us on you. Some notable examples: We offer early decision for both the winter and summer batches, and you just need to specify it somewhere on the application. South America: Rappi, Regalii, Hogaru, Tpaga, Beek, and Quero Education. Also, here’s a copy of One Month’s Y Combinator Application for those who have asked. I have a friend now applying for the June-August program with an interesting idea. Thanks to Daniel Gackle, Scott Bell, Dalton Caldwell, and Michael Seibel for reading drafts of this post. Pick a partner or partners that are interested in the market or industry that you’re going after (look at other companies they’ve invested in). Founders in this position are usually able to fundraise on their own. That may be a lot to ask from a startup, but you should know that it’s your ultimate goal anyway. Look to their blogs for advice. The great majority of startups we fund will continue to be the sort of Internet and mobile companies we’ve funded in the past. Your product should solve a problem. We accept companies twice a year in two batches. It has been used to launch over 2,000 companies, including Stripe, Airbnb, Cruise Automation, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Twitch, and Reddit. We felt we had a great initial idea, and after generating $38,000 of pre-sales for Proof, we applied to Y Combinator. They will help you structure ideas around your fledgling company. There are a few cases of startups getting a special meeting with partners before or after applications, but it’s very rare. We’re approaching the S18 application deadline so we thought it’d be helpful to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the YC application and program itself. We encourage founders to be wherever their business requires. Traction. This was designed for students who would like to apply but need to finish school before doing the program. Still on the fence about applying? Q: I’m a second time founder and already have an exit, why should I apply? The combined valuation of the top YC companies was over US$155 billion as of October 2019. Welcome to YC Apply! First, I’m going to put forward a model for how investors generally decide whether they should invest in a startup, which is all about de-risking. Then getting that prototype in front of users and getting early feedback will further address all four risks: market, team, and execution. Once they gave me feedback, I submitted the application, let them know, and then asked them for a recommendation. Fast Company. Q: Do you have to pay the money back if your company fails? Show them that you’ve talked to peopl… I think in those cases it’s best to thank them and tell them you’ll consider it rather than get defensive or tell them they’re wrong (eg. Ryan pitching UpKeep to investors on Demo Day. You’re applying to Y Combinator and you want my advice about how to get in. For example, if you’re working on a hardware startup, befriend several other past hardware startups that have gone through Y Combinator, and then ask them for introductions to partners that have been the most helpful for them. The ideal is that you have a product that is already out there and successful, meaning it has a large number of users, and/or is already producing revenue. There are a number of ways to convince investors that your startup has low market risk: On top of investors believing that the market you’re going after currently exists, you need to be able to convince them that you can identify a core set of innovators & early adopters (see the technology adoption lifecycle), and that you have a reasonable strategy for expanding from those early adopters to a larger majority of people. YC invests in your company, it’s not a loan. Because they’re very early-stage, they’re willing to accept a lot more risk than other investors are, but still not a huge amount. It turned out that they were wrong, but the risk was still significantly high. On November 9th, we’re also opening Startup School to potential founders who are interested in starting a company in the future. Follow. Because you’re paying yourself a salary, you can choose how to spend your salary including repaying your student loans. Q: I’m a second time founder and my first company didn’t work out. This is your idea. They want to know whether you really understand what you’re talking about. They want you to eliminate as much risk as possible while still being in the sweet-spot of the kind of startup that they invest in / accept. To be able to overcome all the ‘No’s? You have to have a solid idea, a scalable business plan, and the stamina to withstand rapid-fire interview sessions where you’ll have just 10 minutes to answer nuanced questions about your company’s goals and strategy. Not if your business needs you to be elsewhere. The answer is absolutely yes, no hesitation. The median fundraise at demo day is about $1M. Yes. Finally, if you don’t get in the first time, don’t worry too much about it. https://paystack.com/blog/company-news/paystacks-y-combinator-application It helps to have recommendations from other Y Combinator founders. Certainly not. Q: Can you apply to YC with just an idea? One aspirant’s journey through the Y Combinator for Hollywood. That’s kind of the point. It’s hard to repeat memorized answers in a high-stress situation like that. No. Execution risk is kind of a catch-all for a large set of potential problems. India: Razorpay, DocTalk, Kisan Network, Supr Daily, and Innov8 Q: Do you need a visa to work in the US to apply? I probably got about 6 or 7 positive recommendations by the time they reviewed my application. It’s not enough for your product to be better than any current alternatives, it has to be significantly better (in order to overcome switching costs). https://blog.ycombinator.com/frequently-asked-questions-from-yc-applicants My experience interviewing for YCombinator W2019 and what I would have done differently, What 15 Years of Y Combinator Investments Can Teach Us About Startups, Go after a market / problem they already believe is big enough, Show them that you’ve talked to people with the problem / have done your research, Actually make money or get users by selling your product to people who have the problem, build a product they already think should exist, show them promising early results / tests / customer development of users in your target market using your product, actually have product usage, ideally where users are paying for your product, already have had a successful product or startup between your founding team, get along well enough to convince investors that it won’t be a problem, having successfully started and exited a startup in the past, to show them that you have what it takes to personally overcome the difficulties, demonstrating industry expertise, to show them that you’re able to anticipate potential problems in the industry, Why is now the right time for this product to exist? But it’s unfair to say that they do this just to test founders. I believe that it might help you to have talked to one or several Y Combinator partners in advance of the interview, but it’s also much easier said than done. You can … Q: Can you use the YC investment to pay your salary? Go after a market / problem they already believe is big enough 2. Apply Now. Yes. Q: Do you have to spend the full three months of YC in Mountain View? Getting in as a solo nontechnical founder with very little traction was also a very unique experience that I did not believe could happen.. YC’s program and being an alumni has definitely lived up to the hype; I feel like every month that passes I learn about new benefits I get from being part of such an amazing community. How to get a busy person to respond to your email, 9 Pieces of Tactical Advice from Women Founders of Y Combinator, Being a Founder in the First Ever YCombinator Remote Batch. In the past this was a hard requirement but we’ve since updated it. Does the product that you’re building actually solve a problem that is big enough to create a large viable business around it, quickly? There are a number of ways to convince investors that your startup has low market risk: 1. We accept companies at a wide range of stages into the batch. You want to be firm, but also not stubborn in the face of feedback. For example, you can apply to YC in September, get your acceptance in October, and start the program in June after you graduate. Q: Is YC just for early stage companies? This can be very frustrating, overwhelming, or anxiety-inducing. How to spin your scientific research out of a university and into a startup, Frequently Asked Questions From YC Applicants. Y Combinator Application Questions by Jason Lim Mar 18, 2011 Jun 7, 2020. Read this article on why we 100% recommend that you should. Y Combinator (YC) is an American seed money startup accelerator launched in March 2005. No. To apply for the Y Combinator program, submit an application form. Is going to a Y Combinator interview worth it? I get a lot of emails like this, so I’m compiling the insights and thoughts I’ve had in the last two years, since One Month went through YC (Summer 2013). Applying to Y Combinator is similar, except that YC’s acceptance rate is lower than Harvard’s! The following is an edited excerpt from The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator by Randall Stross. The excerpt is provided by Portfolio Publishing. Also, Y Combinator just makes it really easy to raise money. They’re always looking for formidable founders. Even building a working prototype at least demonstrates that you can build something, which eliminates some team and execution risk. Log in to get started. We'll sell ourselves, if we can just understand you. Q: Can you apply if you have raised money? 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