Apple had Mike Markkula, Facebook had Sean Parker, Airbnb had Michael Siebel, and Viaweb had Julian Weber. The list endless.
The ingredients are: great founders + great products + great helpers.
It's easy to say that great founders with great products will attract great helpers, but that ignores how few great helpers there are and how inefficient the "market" is.
YC is the greatest helper of startups in the history of startups, and expanding that help to a wider group is a great thing for the world.
What determines which founders you meet with? Since you had 650 founders apply the first time around and met with 50 teams there must be some filter and I assume its not random.
Any other demographic categories you think are important to especially reach out to?
As someone who grew up in the rural South I'm saddened by how overlooked it's communities are. Poverty is wide spread but services and activist groups are lacking. No one cares about rednecks.
... 'cause I'm pretty sure I'd make that drive for the chance to meet with the YC partners if it made any difference :)
TechStars has been running a sort of primer on entrepreneurship for veterans (http://patriotbootcamp.org/) for a few years now, but that's aimed at people just trying to figure out what's going on.
The YC opportunity seems more appropriate for those of us who are all-in and already building great companies. A nice evolution, and an important gap filled- thanks YC!
This seems really dangerous -- it creates a huge incentive for companies to waste YC's time. There aren't many things early startup founders can do which are worth more than $15000/hour. Sure, you can probably filter out many AWS-credit-seekers via the application process, but that adds more work for the people who read through all the applications.
Have you considered either (a) refusing the credits, or (b) taking a small number and handing them out to the most "deserving" startups at the end of the day?
Developers who think in terms of over-optimizing costs probably wouldn't even be picked anyway.
Really? Are you able to produce more than $5000 of value for your startup in 20 minutes?
Office hours provides way more insightful and long term value than some free server hours.
For the people YC wants to talk to, sure. But dangling $5000 of AWS credits in front of people may attract people they don't want to talk to.
Hosting credits are not currency. Most startups will never need anything close to $5000 in AWS credits.
Not to mention that AWS basically gives them out like candy. I have several grand in AWS credit just from attending hackathons and conferences.
This statement is not true. It is quite easy to have a $5,000 a month bill on Amazon.
The majority of startups never get any real traction and see only a small trickle of traffic every day.
Unfortunately I cannot disclose the numbers and the companies, but they are way larger than $5k
$5k in credit for hosting probably has a marginal cost of $0.
On the other end, if you take AWS offer and start using their services, you'll probably won't leave them anytime soon, particularly if you rely on provider-specific systems (SNS for instance).
Startups get a nice discount, hosting providers get an opportunity to supply a future successful startup and very quickly win back the $5k...
(BTW, Tarsnap isn't in any incubators/accelerators, but if someone wants to throw a bunch of AWS credits at me I'd be happy to have them!)
The relative value of 20 minutes with YC partners is significantly higher, so as to make the incentive of the $5000 irrelevant. Anyone who thinks otherwise is missing the real value proposition of the office hours program.
As to OP's concern that it could create incentive for someone to waste the YC partner's time in the sole interest of gaining the $5000 of credits, I think that is not giving enough credit to the YC folks. I'm sure they'll be able to weed them out.
I'm much more focused on getting and having enough users that I get to worry about spending 5k on hosting.
But at the same time I can't think of anything I could spend 20 minutes on which would create more than $5k of value. $1 of AWS credits = $1 less expenses = $1 more profits = $1 more revenue.
If I'm a very early stage startup, I'm worried about being alive next year. Yes, 5K may help, but that 5K will likely not make a significant difference in my company's prospects. 20 minutes with an advisor at YC could completely change my company's trajectory.
I'd imagine there are very few companies that apply, and then get selected for office hours, that will walk away from the meeting saying "I'm so glad I did that because I got 5K in Amazon credits." That said, it is still a great perk.
Bonus: For some reason Twitter now sends me a notification every time she tweets about Rick and Morty.. I'm mostly ok with it!
I do hope you will do so with subtlety and insight. Favoring the most easily recognized and most politically significant demographic groups is a reasonable first step, but if it's the only step you take it may simply increase the tension of identity politics.
We've already seen, elsewhere in these comments, people you've left out asking for you to include them as well. For every one who speaks I'm sure there are many more who remain silent.
I imagine these downvotes were because your comment gave what has become the #1 stock response to any such story without showing any awareness thereof or adding anything new; because the edge in it made it sound polemical rather than a sincere request for information; and because polemical stock responses turn into flamewars, which most of us aren't interested in and which break the HN guidelines. To downvote such comments is to be a good citizen, the way putting out small fires would be.
Note that one can make all of the above observations without disagreeing with the position you're implicitly advocating (that resources should target disadvantaged individuals rather than categories like race and gender). It's generally better to assume that downvotes are procedural rather than ideological. It yields better feedback about how your comments could be improved.
There may be very good reasons for the racial and gender bias in this program. Political, economic, marketing, correction for past bias by YC, or bias in other VCs, or who knows.
But asking for justification should be the stock response to such unabashed racism and sexism.
It's interesting how intolerant some people are about even the most reasonable criticisms of racial preference policies. Instead of offering a reasonable response to these criticisms, they often resort to attempts to silence critics.
It's not reasonable. It's the same tedious concern trolling that appears in every single similar thread.
This discussion has gone on for a while, and included dozens of downvotes and a few rational distractions, but not one response to the original questions.
"April - Female Founders, June - General, July - Black and Latino Founders"
I find it somewhat unusual that the open office hours are segregated. Why not just reach out to those groups but have general open office hours?
I'm guessing that this is a serious question, so I'm going to give it a serious answer. This is a classic economic signalling behaviour, akin to getting a college degree in order to signal your intelligence or giving gifts in order to signal your wealth.
Consider two possible YCs: YC(a) is serious about having female and minority founders at office hours, while YC(b) is just trying to be politically correct. Advertising "we encourage female and minority founders to apply" wouldn't cost anything. Advertising "we will only accept female / minority founders in these months" in contrast has a cost -- they lose the opportunity to meet truly awesome founders who do not belong to the appropriate group -- but for YC(a) that cost is partially balanced by the fact that they're spending time talking to members of groups which they would like to help out. Thus the net cost for YC(a) is lower than the net cost for YC(b) -- just like getting a college degree takes less effort for someone who is highly intelligent than it does for someone who is less intelligent -- and so YC communicates to founders that they are more likely to be YC(a) than YC(b).
(Whether anyone thought it through to this extent, I don't know. But people routinely engage in signalling behaviours without being aware that they are doing so.)
YC(a) is serious about being politically correct, while YC(b) merely cares about appearing to be politically correct.
Political correctness is common to the two cases for the simple reason that YC(a) would inevitably help wealthy, well-connected female and black/Latino founders to the exclusion of, say, poor, less-privileged Asian founders. It's hard to explain this behavior in humanitarian terms, but it's easy to explain in political terms. Nobody gets in trouble these days for expressing the sentiment that we need more women, blacks, and Latinos in tech, no matter how rich and well-connected they may be.
The only other possibility I can think of is that YC(a) genuinely wants to help especially deserving founders, and such founders are so overrepresented among women and blacks/Latinos that specifically targeting those groups achieves the goal well enough for YC's purposes. In other words, the cost of reaching such founders may be so much lower when targeting specific self-identified groups that it's worth the minor cost of helping the occasional privileged member of one of those groups. Still, it's hard to avoid the observation that this policy is generally aligned with political correctness, which would appear to justify some skepticism.
(My guess is that YC's policy isn't Machiavellian in the least, but it works adaptively because of a political environment in which explicitly helping women and blacks/Latinos is strongly favored both by custom and by law.)
I think that's true in California, but politically correct favoritism that ignores class helps fuel right-wing extremism.
Perhaps I see that more clearly because I don't live in the SV bubble.