I am torn about submitting an application. I have a list of 20+ customers waiting for the first beta release and who are actively asking about progress (and willing to post payment!) The idea and particular niche market has been churning in my mind for several years, and over the past 18 months, the vision has materialized into a real product. Market trends are pointing upwards, it is ripe for disruption and could be a winner takes all game.
I am weeks away from private-beta depending on my productivity (this has been a side project). I have a wife, 7 month old daughter, and a cushy full-time salary with little work demands. I have been in two long-term employer relationships (4 and 5 years) and at each made huge impacts on molding the product, despite not being hired for that. But I am bored and want the freedom and flexibility to work on my own ideas. But one thing I have always lacked is a talent network. Is this something being accepted into HN would help with? I honestly get the feeling that most applicants are searching for direction and help with flushing things out, things that I am already confident in. What do you make of a solo guy like me, with a solid product that is almost ready for market? I'm a proud guy, and there is that part of me that wants to just continue being a Lone Wolf.
If this is really something you think could be big (a "winner takes all game" as you say), you're going to have to grow a company to address the opportunity -- which will mean giving up the lone wolf thing. That's a choice you have to make personally. I'm sure being the lone wolf is more comfortable, and it's entirely possible that you could build yourself a nice little business that way, but you won't be able to own the market.
Once you decide which way you want to go, applying to YC or not will be an easier decision. I do expect that YC could help you with your network.