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Tell HN: YC W16 rejection emails are out
33 points by AaronO on Oct 28, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 82 comments



I've applied 20 minutes before deadline, if I remember correctly. I guess the quality of the application reflects this fact :-) I'm 46, single founder, scratching my own itch, so the expectations were low, in fact I even forgot about 28th until the day before yesterday. More importantly, this rejection is a dead end. You've got rejected now what? What rational outcome you can extract from this simple fact? I think none, there's no feedback. It just says that somehow you do not fit YC profile.

Rejection from the potential customer is infinitely more valuable, because even if they don't give you any feedback (though they usually do) it means that your mental picture of your market is slightly wrong. Every piece of feedback moves the needle. Rejection from YC doesn't move anything anywhere. Or does it? (may be I'm just over rationalizing, I have such bad habit).

For example a strangely large portion of my early kicking-tires-users are either from government or some security/military/intelligence related fields. Like some company that says "if you're not from the law enforcement - move on, nothing for you here" on the front page of their website (they're doing some telecom stuff). Why? I'm doing some stupid boring datacenter inventory management! No idea whatsoever. But for me it's a question of the universe and everything.

So, folks, move on and get some customers. (yeah, go ahead, I'm just finishing one more feature, will follow shortly.... :-) https://www.rackmaze.com


I think it's a pretty interesting product, it also looks pretty polished, and I guess it could find some traction among large companies, government, etc. :) , I guess they're looking at it because they're the ones that need inventory and documentation the most - I work for an insurance company, and I'm going to send the link to the people that manage the datacenter - they strongly dislike anything SaaS through, they might eventually consider it as a standalone or self-hosted product, but forget about it, SaaS is a much better business model :) .

But I don't think it's what Y Combinator looks for - it's not something that will scale to Unicorn-size, it looks more like a good candidate for a bootstrapped startup.

Edit: some nitpicks, "There is no obligations!" on the pricing page doesn't sound right. I do like the "Take no hostages" pledge :) but if it looks like customers might be bigger businesses, you could re-write it to be more serious-sounding.

Edit2: from the guy that manages our datacenter: "It looks nice, we'll take a look".


Thanks! Actually we have "Takeaway" app, which is actually "SaaS in a box". We just don't want to distribute it yet, because it is much more difficult task to support shrinkwrapped software.


Rejected again. Not much of a surprise since I'm not a good fit- I don't even really consider myself a startup but it never hurts to try...

Speaking of which, anyone want to throw some cash at a 10 year game development project by one obsessed starving artist?


Whoa, I had no idea Bobs game was still around. I figured you had shipped it or abandoned it a long time ago. Y-Combinator is a bad fit for most indie games with a few exceptions, simply because unless you're Minecraft, even if you are very successful you won't have a billion+ dollar exit. Because there are tens or hundreds of thousands of indie games and only one Minecraft the odds aren't very good for investors.

If you're looking for investors Indie Fund (indie-fund.com) is a good option. They'll invest small amounts of money in projects they find interesting for a ~2x return on investment (no equity, etc.) Your game has been in development for a really long time, so you might also want to look into releasing it as an early access game. That might bring in enough money to finish it.


Yeah, I was applying for a separate but closely related idea, trying to do a unique dedicated Android handheld.


If my experience has taught me anything (including this go around), rejections and invitations will all go out by midnight PST tonight though the vast majority will probably be out the door by 6pm PST.

I was rejected but I wasn't entirely expecting to get in. I don't have a co-founder, my prototype isn't finished yet and I am working on my project on the side since I would like to keep paying the bills. Oh well I'll keep working on it, if it can turn into a business when I get some people to actually play with it then that would be awesome otherwise I can pivot easily enough with doing it part time (www.simulated.io if anyone is interested in looking at it).


Got rejected. Very much hope to find out why as we have got seed round, two co-founders from top tier tech/startup companies, an efficient and well-collaborate team, and have a Beta product running. So, I guess it's the business idea issue? It's probably a competitive market but we are confident to make difference and our initial campaign showed encouraging result. With all above, we still didn't get a chance for interview. I don't want to be overoptimistic. We will continue working toward our roadmap but meanwhile I sincerely hope to hear from YC about why, as that will be really helpful to us. Please.


Can you share a link? Is it http://www.visbit.co/ ? If it is, it looks very nice.

Even if you have a good product, maybe it's not outstanding - I'm not sure how many people applied, but it's probably even more than the 10.000 they received last year, so you have to REALLY stand out.

Who knows, maybe you were in 200th place out of 10.000 and you barely missed the cut.

The good thing is, the market doesn't care :) it doesn't have a 100 startup limit :)

If you want some unsolicited feedback from a fellow YC-reject: IMO, Visbit is not a novel idea, and you're competing with Google and Facebook and Microsoft and Apple, so yes, maybe the business idea is not what they're looking for.

Your page doesn't immediately tell me what your product is about (the value proposition) or why I should use it. The only meaningful copy I found is "urgent need of a mobile app for easy and powerful photo management", so is it a photo management software app? (that might be useful :) , but I don't think it's "urgent")

I also spotted a few errors in your copy, and also in your post (I don't think "well-collaborate team" is good English, and in the web page, "Creation from Today" is also not idiomatic English), that might have subtly hindered you.


Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedbacks and encouragement! Yes, I am definitely not discouraged. I just feel I was warned about the issues we have and mistakes we probably are making. We know our competition landscape and know the overall idea might not be fancy and fresh to people. But we still believe people need it and will need it more along the time. That's why we work on this now.

Yes, it is about photo management, photo content discovery, and instant sharing. Kind of all-in-one solution (not sure if that's bad?). I personally have 5000+ photos in my phone and completely lose track. I might have shared 5%-10% of them, but I can't delete the rest as I don't have time to select, and also don't use them anymore. We want to make these buried treasures useful to people.

Sorry, I am international. Will be more careful on the copy.


YC is just one of many ways to possibly succeed. Not a big deal. Rejected and motivated :)


Great attitude! I was rejected as well and plan to learn from the experience and move on. Ironically I think a company that focuses too much on getting into YC would probably not be viewed as a good candidate by the partners.


I commend the spirit and attitude of your post as well, especially having also gotten a rejection. I am curious though, what exactly did you learn from this experience? I'd love to be able to claim the same, but given absolutely zero feedback from the process, I'm at a loss to do so.

I do commend yours and the above's attitude!


Specifically I felt that going through the YC application forced me to think through questions that any other investor/incubator/accelerator (and even some customers) would also have.

Additionally, since the answers I had to those questions didn't pass muster with the partners I can either shrug it off (YC is extremely competitive and even they admit they make mistakes all the time) and take the rejection as additional motivation or I can take their decision as truth and take a closer look at my current business model to see what can/should be tweaked. Either way it can be helpful :)

Of course it would be nice if the rejection emails were more personalized, but I just don't think that's possible with the number of applications they receive.


Well, companies should focus in create a business first. I think we got rejected because we don't have enough traction, and that is a fair point. We are about to go live in a couple of days, check us out: http://jobnow.me


When I see some people getting rejected I wonder if YC is still worth it. Giving away %7 of your stake to YC when you already have a solid team, a usable product (already live), some active users and money invested in your business ($1 million seed??). I think it's almost odd now...

Here's %7 of our company. Take it. Networking? Anyone can send an email to VC's with a link to a product and some stats highlighting its potential.


YC is arguably the best accelerator in the world. Maybe you don't need an accelerator at all, for those who are interested, applying to YC is definitively worth it.


Do you need to be "accelerated" when you already have all of the above? It could be a lazy way to move forward. Which costs you %7 of the company. I believe you can do it yourself if you made it that far already.


Yes. "Some active users" needs to be millions (unless you are b2b) We have access to 400k candidates, a real product, and real clients (Pizza Hut, 7-Eleven, just to name some) and we got rejected.

Edit: and I'm OK with it, we just need to work harder. We do not depend of YC to be successful, but I see all the advantages of being part of the YC club.


There were reasons Quora did it very late in their life. So, probably, at least for some companies, yes.


It's not about the money. It's the access to some of the smartest people on the planet. I think (from what I can tell) that YC is invaluable to any stage startup.


Rejected and dejected. Our first application. The process was helpful though, so no regrets. Will apply for the next batch, of-course.

But back to work now. Focus is getting the goddamn MVP done and get some real users.

Does this mean, people who haven't received rejection letters, they in all likelihood get invited for the interview? Anyone invited yet?


Got my 8th rejection after 4 years of constantly applying. I'll admit, for this application I got tired of remaking a video with my cofounder so I used the same as the last application.

This is what I'm currently working on: https://www.stay22.com/


This is pretty cool! It would be much easier to use if you color coded the "pins" between AirBnB's and hotels.


We were rejected, despite being in the YC RFS' category (A.I.)

Kip is a deep learning search for fashion in IRL stores around you: https://kipsearch.com

I don't think there was a particular reason why they rejected us, most likely that in a bell curve we just weren't as good compared to other applicants.

It was great fun doing the application, and we learned a lot! More importantly, we closed a lead investor/partnership the day before, so even though we were rejected it wasn't a big disappointment.


Would love to see some links to the projects you guys are working on right now.


Applied for the first time and we were a no-go. Great to have found this thread, lot's of positive feedback and agree on lot of inputs on paving forward! We'll be continuing on our path forward as well to make a dent in how professionals network with elloBEE (http://elloBEE.com).


Comrades: Don't let rejection discourage you, as there are a million fish in the sea. Just remember: AirBnB didn't have the greatest feedback in the world, and they're doing all right.

Execute your idea like you did your application, and I'm sure you'll do just fine, because an idea is only 10% of the battle; the rest is execution.


Got rejected too, but it was expected as a solo founder, with a prototype only on Brazil when I applied. What I'm working on http://www.octorb.com/ Well I'm done with VCs and all that stuff for now... Time to focus 100% on the users.


It's the 29th and we haven't received an email back yet. How many others have not received a response yet?


I was rejected after getting and responding to a follow up question during the application review period. I did some research and discovered that such follow up questions demonstrate that YC is strongly considering your application. That's as good as an in for me! :).

I honestly didn't think I was ready for YC cause I'm a solo founder and unnaturally focused on upcoming pilot deployments to the detriment of almost everything else. If curious, we're building http://www.smartersocket.com (rebranding as https://www.BeaconGrid.com in like 2 days.)


If you happen to be one of those who received an interview invitation, you could actually practice for your upcoming YC interview here: Pramp.com/YC/faq


Haven't received anything yet. Does this mean anything?


We haven't received an email yet either.... And it's the 29th...


Yeah me either. I have no idea, I thought we would get something.


I've applied twice before (once to YC Fellowship this summer). Made it to the top 300 most recently. Always received an email either way.


Do they tell you the position you were ranked?


Only if you are near the top, I think. First time I got no indication of where my application was ranked.

Still no response.


Got it. I also have not received any response yet. Do they send either a rejection or approval letter to everybody ?


Yes, but late applications are still being reviewed.


Thanks, we are a late application ;)


thanks for that info


We were also rejected (www.medirevu.com) but our chat with Paul Buchheit during YC Open OfficeHours has already set us on a much better path.

Rejected and motivated


Where to find the complete list of YC W16 rejected companies ? I am excited to see what problem each of them solve.


There are probably close to ten thousand companies / projects !!!

A very few posted here. Mine is not even ready for sharing to HN (for one thing, it's not in English, the app is not published, etc.), but it's a "Telepresence" app (basically videostreaming + interaction, like Periscope only better :) ), which I hope to market to businesses - I think e-commerce is stuck on the "images" phase, why not realtime video?.


I didn't get a message at all. Should I be worried or happy? Who should I contact about this?


I didn't either but I did send in my application two days late, which might have something to do with it.


Still nothing here either. I'm putting out the "Call me" energy right now.


I didn't either. I thought we got something at least? Yeah who do we contact?


Same here :(


I filled out the contact form and wait for a reply. http://www.ycombinator.com/contact/


I got a reply back. They said for some reason the email bounced. Here is the response:

Hi JJ,

Sorry for the trouble! Looks like we were bounced by your mail server:

    550 5.5.0 Mail Denied, contact your postmaster
Do you have an alternate address we can use?

I supplied another one so we will see if I get something on that one now.


Has the contact form produced any results? I did the same.


Not yet :/


I submitted that form as well. We shall see.


Will everybody get a rejection letter? We have not received our rejection letter yet.


We haven't received any email letter yet either.


If you haven't gotten an email, please contact apps@ycombinator.com.


Thanks, I have just sent an email. Let's see what happens


Rejected and quitting here, will carry on as I can but life is too short to daydream. Thanks YC & community for the five-months excitement here. Good luck.


>Rejected and quitting here, will carry on as I can but life is too short to daydream.

Sorry you got rejected. But why quit hacker news? The people here are very intelligent and have meaningful interactions when it comes topics. They can also help by answering critical questions about what you are doing. So don't quit..


I think the OP meant that he/she is here, was rejected, and is quitting.


>Thanks YC & community for the five-months excitement here.

You could be right.


Hey thanks, just closing windows (HN user + Fellowship & Batch applications): lots of useful lessons, broad excitement, now time to move on and refocus. :)


No word yet for us at this point, I thought the emails all got sent at the same time. Pragmatically hopeful that we're in the call queue. :)


fingers crossed for both of us... we haven't received word yet either, and it's the next day? (hoping for good karma!)


Heart skips a beat every time I see an email come in until I see it's not them ;)


lol. ;-D Yes... likewise. been checking email every few minutes since yesterday too....


Really? I thought those only get send out at 1 November usually

Haven't gotten a rejection email yet, so you making me needlessly excited here! :-)


Ok I just got my rejection letter.

We've got 150 users, some paying. And we claim to radically change how processes will be turned into running software, with working proof-of-concept running in browsers.

So don't feel bad if your startup didn't make it.

Our plan has anyways been to keep adding more customers, regardless if we get into Y-combinator or not.

If your business plan depends on Y-combinator acceptance or funding, then that probably is already a weakness.

Congrats to all those that got in.


Out of curiosity, if a startup is invited, are all of the founders required to attend the interview?


got rejected as well... not surprised though - the only founder. Well, I'll still keep working on my product no matter what.


Is there anyone else still without an answer?


We haven't heard an official response yet. We did receive a note that applications coming after the deadline (like ours) can take extra days or weeks to review. Nice to know they actually review everything! :-D


I'm still without an answer, put a request in via the contact form, and also sent to apps@ycombinator.com with an alternative contact email and still nothing at either :( Kind of a piss off at this point.


And..... denied. Doh. See you in the S16 applicant thread ;)


That is nice that you received your letter. I have not heard anything yet. Did they tell you your position?


The Feedback Offer

(I'm not affiliated with YC.)

I would like to try an experiment if I may.

For $40 I will give feedback to any startup that got a YC response email tonight. This applies for startups that got rejected and startups that got invited.

This could be feedback on the main idea, the YC application, beta testing your demo or website, help with writing, or anything else that would help. I expect to spend 30 minutes for every application received.

If at any time you feel my feedback isn't helping, I will refund the full amount. If I don't find time to review your startup, I will also refund the full amount.

I'm doing this partly as an experiment: this could be a startup idea. I want to see if it's possible to earn money giving feedback. I'm also doing it as personal training. I'm not an expert on startups. The more sites and ideas I'm exposed to, the better I can get at finding holes in my work. Charging will likely make you and me more committed to the review.

I want to stay anonymous. I want to see how feasible it is to interpret feedback without knowing who the person giving the feedback is. I believe the way to tell if the feedback you are getting is useful is to pay attention to the explanation you get with it.

Although I can't promise to respond to everyone I will do the best I can to respond to as many people as possible before the November 9th invitation day for YC.

I promise not to share information about your startup.

The email to reach me is in my profile. I'd welcome feedback too on improving the process of giving feedback. Thanks.


>If at any time you feel my feedback isn't helping, I will refund the full amount. If I don't find time to review your startup, I will also refund the full amount. I'm not an expert on startups. The more sites and ideas I'm exposed to, the better I can get at finding holes in my work. Charging will likely make you and me more committed to the review.

A bit self serving.. Isn't it? How about you do it for them for free in the beginning and if they think the advice is very good, then they pay you $40 instead of what you are proposing?

If you are looking to do an experiment, rejected people that are down and vulnerable are not the people for your little experiment.


agreed +1


I think you have to be a successful founder i.e. huge revenue or huge user growth or a VC in order to give expert advice and feedback.

For user testing, the most important metric is not how many people give us feedback but whether it's coming from a credible and relevant source.


As much as I don't think he's going about this the right way, I'd say there's actually value in getting insight from an outsider that hasn't done anything noteworthy. It gives you a new perspective.

It's easy to get trapped in simple assumptions, and often it takes someone completely removed from the startup world to shape those assumptions into something that has market fit.

You can get the same insight for much less than $40, but some of the best advice I've received has been from people completely disconnected from both my platform, and the startup scene in general.




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