We interviewed in-person for W17 in October and got rejected because we didn't articulate a good plan for growth.
- we grew 4,000% since October
- launched huge features for both sides of our marketplace
- received acquisition interest in < 3 months of being live
- most importantly, made something that people are loving and using on a daily basis.
It's a bummer for sure but not the end of the world.
To anyone who got an interview,
Figure out your biggest weakness and a plan for how you overcome it. Your interviewers will exploit it.
Here's some notes on our experience going through the interview
Good luck all
To those who got an interview: congratulations! Keep trying to prove yourself wrong and you'll expose any of the weaknesses that they will try to find in the interview.
To those who didn't: Congratulations anyways! The YC application process itself makes you think deeply about your business and you should keep that with you and take it as a learning experience.
Best of luck to everybody!
Also, are you allowed to share any of the questions you had that you found surprising?
The questions are no secret. It's really only 3 questions: 1. what are you working on. 2. How do you grow. 3. How does this become a billion dollar company.
Articulating the problem, how it scales and is defensible is key.
Here are a few links we used
We're now sending the rest of the response emails. You should get yours by 7PM.
could you please check for me? :(
Please check your post rejection applications - do you see these questions? Did you answer these questions, or does it look like they were added after submission? If I am wrong or misunderstand, I apologize. I submitted my application on 3/22.
I answered 0.
Same for incorporation . New questions prop up now.
Would have our own presentation day, pitch feedback, try out each other's products, etc. I think it would be great! :)
I totally get rejection, I've been rejected for all sorts of things, but normally for rejection I can understand on some level why.
This I don't get. Not only are we applying with a company that fits with an RFS, not only is our team really solid, not only is concept proven, but we have a possibility to do real social good that both makes money and helps people.
Even in talking to other people, the reaction was either "why are you even doing YC" or "Sheesh I'm embarassed to by applying next to you". I know that sounds really arrogant, and Im sorry for sounding like that. I'm just...confused, I guess? I really wish that the applications came with a reason why they were rejected, even if it was one sentence.
I can't honestly believe that typing a one sentence "rejection for reason" would take that much extra time. Even a drop down of "we rejected you for this one of the following 5 canned reasons" (your team was bad, your idea was bad, you have no revenue, etc.) would be helpful.
Is it because my cofounder is from another country? Or because we don't live in the bay area?
I seriously do not understand this. I know that sounds a little bit whiney, but it's just frustrating to have put this much emotional investment into something and to get rejected for it without even a brief explanation of why.
: For people that don't live in the bay, applying to this program is a big deal. I skipped out on events next week because we might have to block out time for an interview, I moved things around this week specifically so that I could schedule an interview if possible, I moved things around this summer so that if I needed to be in SF I could etc.
I get not counting your chickens and all of that, I don't think we did. Nothing is lost for us here, and moving events and things around isn't a big deal, obviously that is just part of doing business. It is just frustrating to get a rejection email that doesn't even include a few seconds explaining why.
Forever onward, obviously. It just really sucks not having feedback on why you were rejected.
You need to re-ground yourself and come to terms that if you're running a company you're going to punched in the face, a lot. You're going to get rejected, a lot. This will happen again and again and again and then once you think it won't happen anymore, bam - it'll happen again.
The fact of the matter is this - the only thing, and I mean the only thing that matters in terms of acceptance is what the market thinks of your product. Who cares if an accelerator said you weren't good enough? Who cares what your friends say (good or bad) or other founders say (good or bad) about your startup - it doesn't matter. My last company, my mom loved it, raved about it! But it failed because the market thought it was crap.
The only thing that matters is if the market wants your product. Startups have become obsessed with acceptance into an accelerator or raising money as an indication of success. It is not an indication of success and if you mistake it for this, you're not thinking straight. Build a business.
To me it sounds like you're looking for validation that you're good enough and you were hoping to get that from YC and they told you that you aren't. You applied to Harvard and they said no and now you're sitting there wondering if you're smart enough.
Look at it the other way. Per what you said you have an amazing startup and now you won't need to give away 7.5% of your company. Don't get me wrong, YC from what I have heard is amazing but if you think YC is what is going to make or break your company - boy, I'd be worried.
YC definitely was not the make-or-break for us, it just sounded like a really good program, and my cofounder and I were, imho justifiably, disappointed at not getting accepted.
We've had other offers, and we turned them down because we wanted to wait to see if we got into YC or not. So I at least hope we weren't looking for validation. We've (at least in my eyes) already gotten that from other investors.
- Here are the X Partners we have available as resources
- Who do these X Partners Like and who can they Work With
- How would this Team fit into our YC ecosystem, recognizing that a lot of the slots in some verticals are filled.
It's a multidimensional optimization, they're not just going for rawr, they're going for "fit", too, and perhaps all of the qualities you list as reasons for your surprise at the rejection, are only part of the equation.
It's the pragmatics of organizations. The system doesn't just choose the "best parts", it chooses the best of the parts that "fit the best". Paradoxically, as the system increases in size, the "open slots" become more constrained, the "fit" becomes more overdefined by the existing parts, and the likelihood of choosing based on "rawr bestness" is decreased.
Take heart, Fellow Rejectee!
I would even pay for it. I know that's absolutely not within YC's context and mindset, but I'd pay to just read one short line that helps us see what you saw (or hoped to see but didn't).
Till then have your lunch, breathe, work on your product and check your emails later this evening. :)
As I read through the comments, I believe many businesses forget the fact that business is ran by the numbers. Yes, can YC help you get attractive numbers for investors, but you can do the exact same thing on your own if you build something people need (love). I find it hard to believe that any investor that YC can introduce you to will turn down your meeting if you have built a business that has attractive numbers. That's what they look for anyway...YC funded or not.
For those that got an interview, congrats. For those that didn't, keep going and be great in what you are doing.
Today is Monday, April 24th. I'm super ancy. I applied with a late application 12 days ago and haven't heard anything. Did anyone else apply late recently? Have you heard anything? I keep checking my email and junk box obsessively, scared I might miss something from YC.
I've come a long way in my entrepreneurial journey, and one thing I've come to realize is that elements like YC are just factors for success. They are nice to have but ultimately won't determine the fate of my plan.
It was a milestone in my personal development to reach this insight and very liberating.
Anybody else in Phoenix? My cofounder and I are going to hang out and get some beers/lunch together while we try to wear out the refresh buttons on our laptops if anybody wants to join us.
Surely, they have made their decisions long ago. Why not just create a script to run at 00.00hrs and automatically send the results ?
Can't speak for anyone else, but the waiting is killing me :)
When will the invites/rejections be sent out anyway?
Seriously though, some of the founder videos I saw on YouTube were very very good.
Thank you for opportunity! You're darn right we're applying W18!
Problem and solution:
Most companies struggle with the high complexity and ever-increasing regulatory burdens associated with managing their FX, commodity price and interest rate risks. Not to mention that costs in financial risk management are rising fast (currently firms spend on average around 2.86% of their revenues on hedging these risk).
Hence, they usually would prefer to have a simple, straight-forward insurance covering these risks rather than having to deal with derivatives and the related administrative requirements.
That’s where we come in with our product called FinGuard, which is an ERP system plugin doing exactly this – measuring the exposure and automatically insuring it at a cost which is at least 40% cheaper compared to traditional hedging methods (as we can effectively match contrary risk positions of different customers).
Top three customer advantages:
1. Significant EBITDA boost
Savings coming from our cross-customer hedging approach can increase EBITDA by up to 11.5% p.a. which is equal to an increase of 16% in sales, while additionally saving any kind of fixed treasury expenses (e.g. treasury systems, staffing, research data, special admin processes and legal services,…). Hence customers’ EBITDA will go up sharply.
2. No compliance hassles anymore
It reduces compliance burdens , just think of KYC checks, MiFID II, EMIR and the likes, which for an insurance policy from a customer’s perspective are no longer applicable
3. Convenience and more time for your core business
Increased focus on your core business with automation taking all the financial risk management hassles (e.g. going global w/o worrying about FX rates) and potential human errors (e.g. no litigations with banks about the agreed on derivatives pricing) out while using big data to improve results further
Status Quo and Key metrics:
- A solid team is in place and shall be hired with the next funding round (or accelerator money), but until then it's just me working full-time on the project (by the way I don' understand the bias against solo founders anyway: https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/26/co-founders-optional/)
- Validated concept (based on historical data), business processes defined, thorough business plan written (100+ pages) and software design sketch ready; first prototype shall work by end of April
- Currently discussing cooperation with other financial services providers as they can help us to drive sales significantly (attracted leading players including bulge bracket banks and household names in the insurance industry among others)
- 300+ sales leads each with more than 100m in revenues (our own pricing is derived as a percentage of their revenues); currently reaching out to them to get signed LoIs
- 2.97tn USD total market size; expecting USD 546m in pre-payments in year 1
- positive VC feedback in general
for all those who click the button every single minute :D
Any chance this can be the last one?