Remember when applying to YC and other batch based accelerators: you might not get in but in some cases that says more about the accelerator than it does about you and there are plenty of other roads to success.
Bingo!! this is the ACID test for an entrepreneur/founding team .
It doesn't have to be a fault of the idea itself or the accelerator.
(Comment made with no experience with accelerators, but with experience asking for research grants, which I assume is not so different).
The parent comment very specifically covered that appropriately with this:
"but in some cases"
1. Whether you're an incubator or a VC, batting average doesn't really matter. All that really matters (from a financial perspective anyway) is that you don't miss out on the super successful hits. I think it was one or two years back that pg said that something like 70% of YC's total return, since founding, was Dropbox and AirBnB. Thus, while Overleaf has become successful, at the end of the day it's not something that would really move the needle much for YC.
2. It's all about percentages, so of course you're bound to miss some winners. It's also possible that since Overleaf's addressable market (scientific paper writing) is not gigantic, YC might be less rigorous in finding "diamonds in the rough" if a startup's addressable market is not that big (pure speculation on my part).
3. Numbers 1 and 2 should highlight that the needs and goals of investors and founders are not 100% aligned. Investors want to find the few mega home runs, while I think most founders would be happy with a double or a triple. Kudos to Overleaf for their perseverance and success!
So I would guess their strategy is more like 'try to fund all potential future unicorns, and fund a bunch of others that seem cool and in a way so that those don't lose money on average'. That's certainly the strategy I would have chosen!
The thing is, it's hard to to tell, especially from the outside, whether a company can viably become a billion dollar company. Sure, you've seen plenty of YC companies that ended up either not going for it, or not looking like it's possible for them to end up as unicorns, but this is in some cases too late - you aren't hearing their pitch, in which they explain why they could be the next billion dollar startup.
Investors who want to make money take seriously the idea that one real success is the only thing that matters.
It follows UX designer, Bret Victor's suggestion that creators need to be able to see what they're creating. It also has a ton of convenient features like forking, auto-saves, and inviting people to edit through private links without requiring that your collaborators sign up for an account on Overleaf.
LaTex creates beautiful documents, but it was too difficult for me to use before Overleaf. Also, I only use the free version of Overleaf.
Thank you for creating Overleaf!
We've also hired a great team who have expanded on using Overleaf with clients -- for example, we use Overleaf for documentation when onboarding a new institution or publisher. It's really helped, and it's broadened out the type of feedback we receive too.
Thanks for using Overleaf! :)
We've just announced some exciting news too -- the ShareLaTeX team has recently joined Overleaf! More details on that here if you're interested: https://www.overleaf.com/blog/518-exciting-news-sharelatex-i...
Edit: just a note to say that I added this update to http://johnhammersley.com/?p=428 as that's where this HN story originally pointed to.
I've been using Overleaf almost every day for about a year (and absoultely love it!) and I am still not sure how it can be profitable :D
Re the business model: we don't rely on the user subscriptions for revenue -- we provide services for institutions (e.g. Overleaf Commons: https://www.overleaf.com/universities) and publishers (e.g. templates and direct submission links: https://www.overleaf.com/publishers#!publisherslist), as well as private cloud / local installs for companies: https://www.overleaf.com/enterprises
(and that allows us to provide a solid free plan that works well for most users, especially those just starting out with LaTeX)
But yes, the "how does it make money?" question was always one we found difficult to articulate well -- we certainly didn't do it in the YC interview! :)
The fact that you offer a real (i.e. full-featured) free plan is really nice. Congrats on your success and finding a business model that works. :)
Does it look very unprofessional or just slightly? I'm not actively looking but I like to have something up-to-date to send when people ask and this is tempting.
It turned out it was just using the MSPaint filled rectangle tool with bright colours. And then spacing everything so far apart that your 6.5" phone screen is pointless.
I think the major function of a resume is to get you to the next stage. If this is for people who are asking you for something, then you already have their interest; getting to the next stage is about maintaining that interest. In that context, having something eye-catching and polarizing has little positive value and substantial risk. (If you were submitting paper resumes into a slush pile, getting attention can be more worth the risk, though.) So in your shoes I wouldn't do it.
One of the things I wish existed earlier. The new default for collaborative research paper writing.
Also, they are always clear that not being accepted into YC should not be the end of the company and you can try later even with the same idea.
However ... god I hate working with them if you have a lot of images that need to be compiled each time. It gets really really slow. That's my only gripe with Overleaf/ShareLaTex: the slow compiling.