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So, what's the next step? Let's network.
56 points by wheels on April 10, 2008 | hide | past | favorite | 38 comments
Some people reading this are kicking themselves for not having applied to for YC. Some people reading this got rejected yesterday. Some people reading will be rejected in a couple weeks. And all of us have a lot of rejection on the horizon or under our belts.

Get used to it. Let's hack the system.

Two of the main things that YC provides are connections and other smart people to bounce your ideas off of. Let's build that.

I've set up a few things to further that today:

- A Hacker News LinkedIn group. You can connect by going to my profile and connecting from there. I've not found a reliable way to send a link other than that. Add a line to your "Groups and Associations" with your news.YC nick. I'll add everyone in with over 20 karma -- just enough to establish active community members. (If you get rejected, it's because either because the info isn't there, or your profile isn't public. Just add it and re-request.)


- A mailing list for entrepreneurs. The contents will remain private (though I'd still use some caution when posting your secret sauce). This isn't for general news. You can bounce business ideas off of others, ask for help in establishing connections and look for partners, co-founders, etc. there. If you can, subscribe with an address from your startup. If not, I'll send you a follow-up mail to figure out what you're hacking on. This one is for people that are already working on a startup, not just passively interested. We'll be incorporating soon, and we'll consider swapping minor stakes (1% or so) with another startup or three where we see there could be a mutually reinforcing relationship and where we value your input. If others consider the same that might be a cool way to pull the community together a bit.


- I'm in the process of setting up a small web-app where we can store extended Hacker-News profile information with stuff we know about (i.e. "connections to angel funding", "friends that are driver developers", "ajax") and stuff we're looking for other people that know about, and an index of those. This should allow for some info swapping and ideally will suck less than LinkedIn for such things. Paul, if you're reading and would consider that as a patch to the news.YC source, I'd be fine dusting off my lisp chops and doing it that way, otherwise it can live on our servers. Once it's up I'll post source code for anyone that wants to extend it and work with us. I'll mail the list and possibly repost here when it's ready.

Now, let's get back to kicking ass.

One of the most useful aspects of YC are the weekly dinners. You know, face to face interaction with other entreprenuers. It's very valuable. It might be worth while to organize a weekly gathering for entreprenurs working on similar projects.

I've thought about the same. One of the things in the extended profile thing that I'm building is location. In some of the hotspots a monthly dinner would definitely be cool.

Hmm, ok, what the hell, there is no try, only do. If you're in Berlin, dinner at my place Saturday the 19th. We'll do it at least monthly. Contact me. Just between our apartment and my next door neighbor we've got three startup junkies, and that's already enough for a good conversation and to put the hurt on a case of beer.

This sounds like a great idea. Anyone in Chihuahua Mexico interested? :-D

I'll set up a calendar for startup-related events (that need not be related to news.YC). I think it'd be good to have a place where people can post in their blogs and try to get groups together. I think as soon as you've got three people together you can already have a meaningful meetup.

Don't forget the Hacker News group on Chatterous: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=134464

Or the #startups channel on Freenode IRC

I think this is really great. I'm relatively new to the Hacker News and YC, but love the threads. I guess I'm gonna have to get my Karma up to pass muster though :)

Any early risers are welcome to join us at the Bootstrapper Tue April 15 in Sunnyvale or Fri May 2 in Palo Alto. 7:30-9am everyone buys their own breakfast and we meet in a back room. We've been meeting for a year and half; details at http://www.bootstrapperbreakfast.com

7:30am ?! Why so anti-programmerish? Is it for "business-types" only? :-)

We get a lot of serious folks at that time of day. It's for bootstrappers, who are founders who are trying to sell what they have instead of seek investment. We've had many attendees who have raised investment or been acquired, but the focus of the conversation is on practical issues related to bootstrapping a software startup. The age range is 20's through 50's with a mix of men and women. And since it's in Silicon Valley there are folks from many lands. It looks like you are in Austin: check out http://www.bootstrapaustin.org/wiki/index.php/Monthly_Get-to... they seem to meet later in the day.

This is an awesome thread -- thx for this info!

Makes me wish we could vote for threads to become sticky. I'd like to see this one hang out for a while, or otherwise have some sort of permanence.

See you at Bootstrapper!

Here's another piece of the puzzle. In the open source world, we use "planets" to aggregate blogs. Let's get that going for the news.YC crowd. If you're here, and you're running a startup, send me a link to your feed and I'll add it here.


I'll worry about making it pretty later. I just took the default template for now.

Groups on LinkedIn are unfortunately a very under-deveopled and over-utilized feature. LinkedIn, however, does provide a unique link for each group. You can access it from the following path: Groups -> My Groups -> Manage -> Invite Members

You will see something like this:


Invite Members

To invite new members, send out an email invitation with the link to join your group.

Important: You should pre-approve people to join your group before you send out the email invitation.


Just copy and paste the link above to this thread. You DO NOT have to pre-approve people. Anybody who clicks on the link puts in a request to join and sit in a queue waiting for your approval. You can access the list by clicking on "Requests to Join"

Hope this helps!

Another suggestion regarding the LinkedIn process: Since Groups and Associations can be publicly available, I would rather not post my YC-handle there. Rather, when a user makes a request to join, LinkedIn allows them to send a msg to the group manager. It would be better if we can use that to let you know of our YC-handle so you can figure out the real requests from the SPAM requests.

I didn't have that option when joining a group recently, feel free to send me a message as an alternative (or even email, if you feel so moved). I just want some means of filtering for folks that are actually participating in the news.YC community.

I think I would be more enthusiastic about these sorts of postings if they didn't invariably occur a few days after YC rejected a bunch of people. It's not like they're bad ideas (asterisk), but they'd be a little bit less tinged with the negative association if they were to pop up independently, and not seemingly as a reaction to a failed attempt at YC.

(asterisk) I am not in a position to try for YC myself, and live somewhere where I basically have zero contact with hackers/startup people, so I'm actually pretty enthusiastic about utilizing the internet in order to participate in that "scene".

Actually that was intentional. I'd been planning on setting up most of these things anyway, but I figured, "This is the time that people will be most open to try out new stuff."

I don't think there's anything wrong with translating some of the feelings that people have of rejection into momentum for something positive. Quite the contrary, this is exactly the time to bring up these ideas. They'd get nowhere near the participation were they brought up randomly and independently at other times of the year.

Edit: Oh, and for the record, you're like a one hour flight from us. :-)

The last thing entrepreneurs need is "more networking." We need more "doing," more education, and more understanding how to bootstrap our ideas rather than rely on things like YC (although YC does a great job, it should be "an option" instead of "the option.")

There are already more than enough places for entrepreneurs to network, both online and in the real world. There are not, however, enough people developing exciting new ideas and products.

So do it. I disagree, and apparently some others do too, but if it works for you, great.

There's a lot of stuff I don't understand. I know how to build cool stuff; I learned that in a community that was good at building stuff (the open source world).

I don't know very well how to pitch it, who to pitch it to, or when I've got it right. But I'm trying to figure that out, as are a lot of folks here. Pooling experience tends to pay off.

I've already done it. Started from nothing, built a business, then sold it (twice technically, but only "real" money once). I also didn't know much (not to say I'm particularly expert now!)

I am convinced, however, that if I listened to a large crowd of well meaning people, things might not have turned out as well as they did. Being a good entrepreneur IMHO rests a LOT on your ability to take risks, do things in a radically different way (often out of ignorance) and to just get stuff done without talking about it.

Networking and engaging with a community works well when you're trying to learn something initially (programming language, other technologies, and, yes, even entrepreneurial skills), but isn't much use when it comes to actually breaking through.. indeed, it can be a hinderance if you actually adjust your plans or thinking on what other people are saying, as that could limit your success.

Good luck if you are trying to boost morale or just provide a place for entrepreneurs to share stories.. but I'm not so confident that setting up networks for people to actually bounce ideas around is a good idea at all. So many risky / weird startups might not have made it if people paid attention to the "suggestions" other entrepreneurs would have made to their ideas.

Of course, the above all applies to you, your idea, and my comments now. So.. you just need to do what you feel from the gut! :)

Ok, in context you comment means a lot more.

I think there's a lot to be said for running from the gut. We're running in 18 directions right now from the gut and determined to get our startup off of the ground. But when we first presented our stuff a couple weeks back we realized that some stuff that seems clear to us, because we're so close to the problem, wasn't coming through in the presentation. If we'd had a group to pre-pitch that through, we might have gotten a "Huh?" at a more appropriate moment.

A lot of people also seem to be looking for co-founders (we're not, but this seems to be a common problem). In a community they might be able to find that.

Another bit is that it seems pretty much all VCs / Angels prefer personal introductions. Well, that assumes you've got them. We're starting to pull them out of the woodwork, with a few good leads, but we may have a couple dozen pitches before we get a bite, which means we're going to need a lot of introductions. I'm super-well connected to hacker culture in the OSS world, but that doesn't translate over to seed funding.

All of that is why I'd like to see a group come together. It's not a fear of bulldozing our way through the startup world, or a desire to hold hands and reaffirm each other, just an acknowledgement that some people will have smart stuff to say, and hopefully we'll notice. Some people will have dumb stuff to say, and hopefully we'll ignore it.

It's rather a shame that this very site isn't good enough for the task you're laying out long-term. Quite a few people have been asking the sorts of questions you've pointed out here lately with good results and good connections made. I sense, however, that Hacker News is going to veer away from that discussion / entrepreneur friendly vibe which may make the sort of community you're discussing a useful addition.

It would take a more active commitment to transform this site from a news site to a community platform. You can build a community on top of almost any technology up to a certain size. But once you outgrow the everybody-knows-everybody level I think you either have to react with technology or there's some inevitable splintering.

I'm just applying some of the same techniques that I've seen work in OSS; time will tell if they work out in this context too.

There was another LinkedIn group formed 11 months ago:



It's true that there is a linkedin group, and I'm part of it, but to my knowledge there is little activity. I think the point of making a new one is to get a fresh start and really put some effort behind it.

I'm in a web entrepreneur mailing list with a couple of other guys from this forum. We started on email, but quickly moved on to using the wordpress prologue theme on our own URL, http://EntreList.com. It's working out pretty well, it's more fun to share the discussion across the web, and it's given me a ton of ideas for my own app.

Prologue wouldn't scale for the level of discussion that YC news handles, but it's good for small groups (perspective co-founders, perhaps?).

Maybe you could set up a tried & tested discussion forum via http://www.lefora.com/

Would you like for that to be added to the Planet Site? (I've got a couple of pending requests that I'll be adding this afternoon.)


Please do if you think it's appropriate; I'm not sure how well the discussion style posting will work when aggregated amongst traditional blog posts, but let me know what you think (at the moment we're organising an entrelist session on ImInLikeWithYou's 'Blockles'). I have startup blog at http://webappropriate.com which may be more suitable.

I added both for now. We'll give it a try for a while. If it gets distracting later on we can make a call on that.

Also, Younoodle.com!

Pretty much the entrepreneur social network. It works pretty well, too.

Thx for that -- didn't know about younoodle. I'm on it now! :-D

Subscribed to the mailing list. Joined #startups channel on IRC. LinkedIn... Nah, I'll pass. Web-based communication tools suck compared to email+IRC.

Which irc net is #startups on?

Freenode. We're discussing Berlin as a place to live in right now :)

Per the LinkedIn group:

If you're currently waiting to be accepted that means your news.YC account name isn't visible anywhere. Please either add it to your profile, or mail me with it and I'll approve your request.

Are you thinking of adding an element of geo location of the hackers in?

I remember hackertrackr doing something similar.

I'd reckon your physical location is pretty important in making connections.

Hey man, I see you are a Calvin grad, That's my neck of the woods :-)

great idea...done.

Any other face-to-face meetups that happen on a regular basis? (For my purposes, anything in the Bay Area, especially the peninsula.)

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