My startup have been accepted by the most powerful accelerator in Silicon Valley – Y Combinator. YC is known for its midas touch in picking unicorns.
Y Combinator is an American startup accelerator and has been used to launch over 2,000 companies including Airbnb, Coinbase, Stripe, Dropbox, Twitch, Weebly, Cruise, Instacart, Rappi, Brex, Scribd, etc. The combined valuation of the top YC companies was over $155 Billion as of October, 2019. And more than 102 companies funded by YC worth valued at $150 million.
I have completed the Startup School by YC last year, and the connection with YC doesn’t end after 3 months. There is continuing alumni support with its YC Series A program and YC Growth program for helping us to scale our startup.
With an acceptance rate of about 1.5% (Harvard’s is 5.9%), competition is stiff for the coveted spots offered in YC’s batches. YC Demo Days consistently attracts investment from top VC firms and their alumni network includes some of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.
Here are some advices what you need to know when applying Y Combinator
Technical co-founder is key
“The most important thing is to have the technical talent on the team to build the thing you want to build. A high percentage of aspiring founders lack the technical talent on the team. They think they can outsource it or otherwise figure it out later, and they want to raise funding for it,” said Dalton Caldwell, Head of YC Admissions. “Many people think first you raise the money, then hire the team, then build the product. It’s actually the opposite. Bring the team together first, then come up with the idea, then raise the money.” Michael Seibel, the CEO of YC, explained that it’s 10 times harder without a technical co-founder and that even in remote regions there’s no excuse for not finding one.
In an interview with Y Combinator co-founder Jessica Livingston last summer, reflecting on the YC curation process, she told me, “So many things are broken, so many things need to be disrupted, many of the best ideas we’ve funded were ones that surprised us, not ones we were waiting for.”
That said founders looking for an in should check the YC Request for Startups (RFS) list which details special areas of investment like biohacking longevity, downloading memories, and merging humans and computers. Also high on the list are companies focused on jobs creation for AI displacement, the retailpocalypse, helping creators and the working poor earn sustainable livings, and platforms that have the potential to create a million jobs.
Talk to your customers
It is also very important of knowing your customers before applying. “Work hard and talk to your customers. You shouldn’t be trying to get thousands of customers. You should be trying to get 1–3 customers. If you’re starting a company in this space and you don’t know 3 potential customers, why the f*ck did you start the company? There shouldn’t be this massive divorce between your product and your first ten customers.”
Hack your product development
The core focus here is speed. Build things—and build them fast. Take a look at what the state of your product (mockup, landing page, prototype, etc) was when you applied for YC and ask yourself what the most impressive things are that you could build in the short time between now and your interview.
Hack your pitch
The interview is super short. This means that you won’t have time to talk about everything you have done and cover all areas you’d like to. Find out the top three things you want to communicate. Write them down in one sentence each. Practice communicating these things no matter what.
Hack your user growth
Growth is one of the best signals to communicate that you are on to something that people want. What should be your goal for growth? Well, at least 20% week over week user growth from application deadline to interview day.
Bonus = Hack your confidence + seriousness
How to apply
The application for YCW20 deadline is March 2020, take a look at the YC website now for founders preparing to apply. Accepted companies receive $150,000 in exchange for 7% equity, details about the terms of the deal can be found on their official website.