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YC Startup School 2018: a free, 10-week, online course (ycombinator.com)
850 points by adora 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 180 comments

My cofounder and I took this course last year. About the format of the course and efficacy:

- assigned mentor: we were assigned a former yc startup founder as mentor. the mentor had 30 minute 1-1s with us once a month and gave us useful advice on a wide range of matters.

- weekly homework: choose a single metric you'll measure through the duration of the course and report the metric and growth weekly. The metric could be DAUs, number of customers you've talked to, whatever. It's for you to figure the most important thing to focus on. We were running the startup in a bit of an ad hoc manner until startup school; weekly metric reporting helped focus our efforts in service of a single meaningful metric.

- group calls: we were lucky to be in a good peer group comprising about 30 startups of all kinds -- medical device to SaaS to consumer apps. There were weekly 1-2 hr calls chaired by the mentor. Before the meeting, the mentor sent out a questionnaire to fill out -- what's your product's value prop, what setbacks have you faced, etc. -- and startups would be randomly chosen to talk about their response to the questionnaire. Lot of time for Q&A. Our peer group is still in touch through a facebook group, where we occasionally share progress.

- Demo day: record a 2 minute video talking about our startup. This forced us come up with a concise statement to describe our startup and gave us a platform to showcase it.

If I had to summarize the benefit of startup school, it would be three things:

- quality mentorship

- diverse peer group

- forcing function for startup to hit goals

I'll venture to say it's probably one of the most valuable things an early stage startup could invest time on.

>30 minute 1-1s with us once a month

Was that actually useful? I can't imagine them understanding (or remembering) anything about your company in that little time.

We did the first batch of Startup School.

We had mandatory N to 1 meetings. Those weren't that useful for us (it felt like we were a bit further ahead than other companies) but a few companies got a lot of value out of it.

Our optional 1-1 were insanely useful. Our mentor was a yc alum saas cofounder. He was took notes and saw our homework every week. His perspective was priceless and there weren't many problems we were facing that he hadn't already seen. Like other people mentioned, you come with a problem and they help you understand how to tackle it.

In addition to N-1, 1-1, was there (will there be) an online forum (google group, slack, etc) to ask questions and cloud source answers?

Yes, for this round of Startup School we'll be adding an all-new forum that founders can use to communicate and share learnings!

Yes, there was a slack like chat. There was a lot of channels based on mentor group, category (AI, saas, etc), and many more.

You had to essentially come to the meeting with a specific problem to focus on.

For us it went like:

* A quick status update on what we've accomplished since the last meeting, some back and forth.

* Discuss the main problem we're working on. (For example: "We're stuck on how to improve our inbound traffic")

* Talk about next steps or deliverables for the next meeting. (For example: Try to acquire 10% more users)

It was a great program and I'm excited to try again with my new project.

> with a specific problem to focus on

That's unfortunate... I think that most often picking the right problem is the most important problem itself, but that requires a lot of context.

I'm glad you enjoyed it though!

I don't think you can know what the right problem is to work on, except in hindsight.

Hence why you need an advisor, right? To help with that?

How does one improve inbound traffic? I'm dying for it

Create systems by which people come to know about your site and want to visit it to solve a problem they have.

For example, SEO content marketing targets problems people search Google for and create content that helps solve that problem while advertising the product/service in some way. A good example of this is Digital Ocean's "how to set up software X on operating system Y" articles - good SEO, solves people's problems, and advertises directly to their customers/users.

There are other implementations, like more traditional display advertising and product reviews, but they all follow the same formula: create awareness and gives people solid reasons to come to your product/site/app.

It was useful for us. What we got out of the 1-1s depended on our effort preparing for it -- how we communicated our value prop, how succinctly we described the problems we're having, etc.

Cool. This is timely for me. I launched https://nanagram.co about 8 months ago. We help people send printed photos in the mail to their grandparents with a text message. I've been bootstrapping it with contract work in parallel but I'd like to focus on it full-time. Customers seem to truly love it and it's the happiest thing I've ever created. I'm thinking about putting together a family and friends round to focus full-time through the fall. Funding aside, I know I need some mentorship.

Is the $10k funding awarded at the end of the cycle?

For the record, I'm one of your users, and I absolutely love nanagram.

Heck yes! This makes my day. I am printing this comment out and putting it on my fridge for my wife to see when she gets home. :)

Cool service! I could see myself using this to have hard-copy pictures conveniently mailed to myself. There's nothing like having physical copies you can touch.

Thank you. That's been one of the surprising moments of the project. While debugging the captions feature I started sending a set of the photos to myself every month. Now my fridge is covered with fresh photos of people I love, like it's 1995. Way better than pixels.

This looks really cool btw, my gf and I will very likely become users!

I think it says that the $10k will be awarded to 100 companies that complete the course so I assume at the end

Thanks so much. I'm having a blast. Feel free to email (alex@nanagram.co) or text/call with any questions (617-356-7849).

Correct, will be awarded after course is completed.

Cool service I don't understand why you need a funding round though! It's already well made and importantly well presented and apparently well marketed. It may be a good income generator while you work in parallel.

Clever, sending a link to my GF right now. I wish you shipped to more countries.

Awesome, glad to hear it. We've had lots of interest internationally and released in Canada most recently. Australia, the UK, and Germany are likely next. Where are you hoping to ship to? You can subscribe to be notified when we release in your country at: https://nanagram.co/international

In our case, our "start-up" is a desktop product sold as a subscription that is developed and marketed within an existing professional services company we operate, which is serving a niche domain that the desktop product targets.

Developing the product was always a bit of a hobby but patiently over 5 years since it transitioned from freeware to commercial, annual subscription billings have grown to over $500K. We estimate that our current customer base is a 3-5% of the TAM. The product business itself is already profitable because it requires barely one FT equivalent person for development and support (i.e. 2-3 people part-time working on it, mostly dev, a bit of support).

Since it has a hobby, we fully relied on a low touch sales model so we never have done ads, conferences or engaged in sales efforts. Instead we grew via network effects among our customers.

What I'm trying to say is that in all these years we've figured out some things along the way (most notably product-market fit and business model) and clearly left other things on the table (sales, marketing, recruiting) to fully develop the opportunity further.

Back in 2014 I found immensely useful the "How to start an start up?" video lectures hosted by Sam Altman.

Given our slow motion, age (I'm over 50) and probably the fact that our company would be an outlier in the group calls, what would make most sense for me to apply for, Startup School or Audit Startup School? Of my team most likely only I will have enough time/motivation to take the online course.

I'm in a similar position. For whatever it's worth I applied for Startup School. My partners are in their 60's and have grown the business purely analog. 3-5% of TAM is about where we are as well. Cash flow positive for 9 years. Time to step on the gas.

Hi, I'm Adora, a YC partner, and will be helping out with the course. Very excited to meet and work with everyone. Happy to answer any questions.

Hi Adora, I am quitting my fulltime job to found my own startup in the fall, and I am working almost a fulltime per week on my own time to prepare the product for the future startup.

1. Can I still apply if I have a fulltime job in addition to working on my startup?

2. Must the company be established before the program starts, or can it be established a few weeks later?

3. Do you expect the product to be launched during the program, or can it be launched later this year?


That's exciting to hear!

1. Yes, definitely.

2. No, it doesn't have to be established yet. In fact, we're working with Stripe Atlas, who will help you incorporate and set up your company bank account.

3. Depending on your idea, we'd likely encourage you to launch _something_ during the program. But if you're auditing, you're on your own timeline.

If I can give you one hot tip it is not to quit your fulltime job until you have something in terms of traction to ensure you're not killing your runway waiting through the 'valley of despair'.

Some employment contracts have IP clauses that make the claim that anything you create before, during or after hours while employed is theirs, so maybe it makes sense in that regards.

Read the parent comment again, GP is long past that stage. If it worked so far it will work a little bit longer.

Hi Adora, congrats and thank you (and YC) for putting this in the world!

I have a doubt about the target audience for this initiative.

Is it the same target of YC, i.e., companies/teams with the potential to become a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars or more?

Or there is a chance for companies of more humble ambitions, a "indiehackers/bootstrapping/microconf style" company to be accepted?


Startup School is targeting a much wider audience. We really want to help every entrepreneur that wants help with this online course.

Great to know! Add another "thank you" on top of the last one for taking this approach! :)

What parts of this would you expect to be of interest for startups outside of digital, specifically biotech?

All the course material is relevant to any founder thinking about or currently working on any early-stage startup, including biotech. We'll also group similar startups together so that you can help each other out with industry-specifics as well.

Hi Adora,

Can you explain if every startup is accepted or not? In the link it states "Last year, over 13,000 companies applied to participate in Startup School, and 95 YC alumni volunteered their time to advise over 2,800 of those companies participating across 141 countries." How many companies will be accepted this year? Or do all applications get accepted?

Thank you!

Thanks Adora. Just a suggestion: I took the 2017 course and it was great, now I think an aditional growing startup course will be complementary for companies that need to solve growing challenges.

Depending on what stage of growth you’re at, your Startup School mentor should still be able to be helpful.

Most companies in the program are in the 0-1 phase, but there were a few in my group that were 1-N. The program format is flexible, so it’s fairly easy to tailor content to your audience.

YC core has a similar dynamic, and individual companies in a batch fall along a fairly wide range in terms of stage / progress. They only break out a formal growth track once companies have >50 employees.

YMMV depending on your mentor of course.

Hi Adora, thanks for your help.

Sorry to ask a rather trivial question but I can't seem to reset my password from last year's account; when I type a new password (on the form one gets to, from the reset email), the system says "Please review the problems below:" but the problems aren't shown...

Is it important to keep the same account as last year or should I create a new account?

Can you send us an email at software@yconbinator.com with the details? I can look up your old account.

You should create a new account.

Hi Adora, I have applied for my team. I noticed that there was a field for timezone. We are a highly distributed team (SE Asia & North Africa). I will also be changing timezones significantly during the course (SE Asia & Europe). What impact will this have on how we engage with the course, mentors and our peers?

You should choose the timezone you'll be in the majority of the time. If traveling way outside it, you may have group office hours sessions at a wacky time. It won't impact the lectures since you can just watch on your own schedule, or most engagement with peers since it'll be a forum-like experience.

Thanks. Have updated our application accordingly.

Hi Adora, the program looks great.

A question — how does setting up the group office hours timeslot work? Is there a selection or a way to mark preferred times? If it's standardized, roughly what time ranges are the hours held? (My cofounder and I will be in Asia during the program.)

Thank you!

Your advisor will set the times. We'll try to match you with someone who can work with your timezone. (We had people from over 140 countries last time participate.)

I see that the course begins on August 27th. What is the deadline for applying to Startup School?

August 13.

This looks really great!

We're really eager to apply, but we're just curious what it means to "complete" the course - would we need to be in Mountain View during those 10 weeks to attend the lectures in-person?

Nope, you can do it all on-line. Completing = watching all the lectures, participating in group office hours and submitting minimal updates on your company.

Hi Adora,

Do you need to already have a cofounder to be accepted into the online startup school?


Nope, we will accept solo founders.

Hi Adora. I signed up and got a 500 Internal Server Error after registering. I didn't get a confirmation email, and when I requested a resend, I receive the same error.

Sorry about this. Can you send us an email to software@ycombinator.com with the details?

The email confirmation resending seems to be working now. Thanks!


I’m extremely interested in founding and launching a startup, but don’t necessarily have one established yet. Is there any way to audit the online course’s content?

Yep, there's an option for that on the registration flow: https://www.startupschool.org/register

Hi Adora, can two members of the same company each sign-up or should all members of the company go under one account? Thank you!

Only one member needs to sign up the company, and at the end of the sign up process, s/he is asked to provide their co-founders emails to invite.

Great, thank you for the help!

Hi Adora, we audited the course last year and thought it was great. How similar will the content itself be?

Jumping in for Adora :) --

The content will revolve around similar topics, but we'll do deep-dives into content that we did not get a chance to last year (sales for B2C and B2B, building and managing technical teams, and design principles for example). We're looking to build upon all of the past pieces as you can see with the new Startup Library.

We'll announce the final curriculum soon!

Awesome! Submitting our info.

When applying is the login the same as the regular YC login or do I need to create a new account?

Not tied to Hacker News id at the moment. Need to create a new account.

Thanks! Will do.

Can you make last year's lectures available for everyone?

What I wonder is if this would be very useful to someone trying to start a software business that they don't want to turn into a 'startup' in the sense it's generally used here (not trying to become a billion dollar company or even seeking investment at all).

It seems like best advice and strategies for those routes have some overlap, but also a lot of points where good advice for one is bad advice for the other.

Anyone who tried this course last year, can you please share your thoughts on this course and

* why should we take this course?

* what have you achieved after taking this course?

* did it help you build/finish your startup?

If you're starting there is a huge advantage to holding yourself and others accountable. It helped push me to launch my startup and provided insights.

Perhaps more importantly you make connections. Just yesterday I was speaking to someone from my startup school group, and I did startup school over a year ago. They provided feedback and I provide them feedback, we also found synergies and can introduce one another to other teams, sales, etc.

I'd argue startup school isn't going to help you "finish" your startup. Only you can do that... You're motivation is the real premise behind the whole thing. However, they can give you the tools and connections to make it easier. It's always a cost benefit analysis - "is this worth doing?" Is something startup school helps answer, and also tips the balance (slightly) towards being a bit easier.

For reference, I'm still working on my project a year out (with some revenue):


Startup school helped me get free AWS credits (which helped significantly), helped make connections, and perhaps more importantly - helped with introspection. I should note, I didn't even launch a prototype until the last few days of startup school... It would have been more helpful had I had something at least half way through.

This doesn't look good........

>Organize Your Companies Knowledge


Can I be your grammar Czar?

Thanks for the heads up, haven't really completed this website (you may see broken links too). Our prior site was https://projectpiglet.com - which was our POC. Related to introspection, we realized we had a better target market and are shifting.

Thanks for the input.

Also a search such as 'asdf' or '-50a' seems to crash it, e.g. https://hnprofile.com/author_profiles?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search=...

Thanks for taking the time to respond, that was my bad.

I wasn't ready for releasing it, and was breaking some stuff last night. Thanks for pointing it out :)

> why should we take this course?

1) Content - learn a lot from lectures

2) Accountability - office hours will hold you to your goals and keep you making progress

3) Mentorship - Experienced founders and office hours mates will help you make sure that you are working on the right problems in the most efficient way.

4) Community - it's inspiring and energizing to be around founders in a similar position as you. Plus, it can give you early users and customers. (Our first customers were through Startup School).

> what have you achieved after taking this course?

My co-founder and I make enough profit to live on our business while traveling full-time.

> did it help you build/finish your startup?

Yes. And, I want to participate again this year. Our 2017 problems were building the right product. Our 2018 problems are navigating product/market fit and growth.

I took this course last year. The lectures/coursework were very helpful (albeit freely available on youtube as well). But it was the mentorship that really makes it valuable.

You get placed in a cohort representing a wide range of business plans and industries. Some were moonshots requiring a lot of capital-raising and dealmaking, and others (including ours) were smaller SaaS products targeting particular business niches. There were participants at each stage of the startup pipeline, some without a product (or even a concrete idea), some just starting to sell to customers, and some mature companies with employees and interns and such.

We were making a lot of mistakes common to first-time founders, building things without first asking our customers about them, not experimenting with our message, etc. Meeting with our mentor helped us combat those issues and probably was the difference between having a functional company and not.

We'll probably try to do it again this year. Our challenges are different; last year we were trying to get our product built and get acceptance for our first few customers, whereas now we're trying to figure out how to scale our sales pipeline. I'd recommend it to anyone working on a startup, regardless of where they are in the process.

* The content is just really good. Beyond that, I think the interactions with the other startups in our group were really valuable and some of them I still talk to today. The office hours were good, and hopefully some of the practical challenges around scheduling last year will be solved.

* We got accepted into YC after being in Startup School.

* Yes, I believe that the lessons in the course have been important for us.

I took the first iteration of Startup School, and while the lectures were outstanding, the weekly calls with the mentor and classmates didn't really help.

I guess it depends on what mentor you get. I've heard of people having excellent mentors, and others that didn't even show up half the time.

But it probably also depends on your experience level as an entrepreneur. If you are just starting out with your first venture, then it can definitely be helpful if your mentor doesn't suck. If you are experienced or your mentor sucks, it's a waste of time.

Take the course because the investment is minimal and it might work for you.

I ended up wrapping up the idea I was working on. I've gone back to consultancy, still toying with other ideas looking for something else to try.

Did it help? Not really. My sticking point seemed to be that I was selling (or not as was more the issue) b2b software mostly geared to massive companies. As my mentor succinctly pointed out it's a hard game to get into because other businesses start by looking for the cloud of logos of other companies who use your software. That was the start, middle and end of his advice for me - and a fair summary of the impass I'd reached.

I've been left thinking b2b procurement is probably an area that could do with shaking up but I don't have any answers there - not surprising given I couldn't crack it at all.

Much of the course advice felt irrelevant to the actual problem I had with getting things going. But if you're targeting consumers or smaller companies, have some traction, are generally spinning a lot more plates with your business, want to move to the US and get into YC proper, it's probably far more relevant.

This post, by Andrew Rasmussen, founder of Canny, is a nice overview of one company's experience last year: https://canny.io/blog/what-youll-get-out-of-y-combinators-st...

UI suggestion: Just Say No to multi-page forms that require you to submit the first page of (personal) information before being allowed to see questions on subsequent pages.

Alternatively, I hate filling out a whole form that requires for a bunch of info and then asks for way too much personal info at the end. I'd rather know what they need upfront so I can decide on whether to fill out the form at all.


because it's a dark pattern

I am developing a finance tech, full stack app, solo. This would probably be fantastic, but the time/money commitment is

>Not working my 9-5 job that pays 2k/week

>Not obsessively working on my app after work 4hr/night 5 + 12hr2= 44 hours/week of not programming

Im sure its a great opportunity, but I am unsure if its the better decision. I already have a community that visits Efficiency Is Everything, I already can program, and I have a significant savings.

Business skills may be a real thing to learn, but its a risky 10 week proposal.

Anyone care to share thoughts on this decision? I would rather find out I'm wrong, than be wrong and make a bad decision.

We totally understand that founders may have other commitments that are more important than their nascent company. That's one of the main reasons we started Startup School, and kept it completely remote.

The program itself only has two requirements: that you are working on a startup (PT or FT) and that you're able to commit ~3 hours a week of to watch the lectures and attend office hours.

That isnt bad at all. I will re-read the article and consider it. Thanks for taking the time to respond!

I didn't take it as a true 'course' last year but incidentally watched a lot of the lectures -- heard some really genuinely novel perspectives that aren't as self-evident as a lot of startup education ~seems~ nowadays, so i'm excited to see how the course has evolved!

This sounds like an asshole question, but it's one I have always had. If someone has a truly great idea, how do they know it won't be stolen by mentors with more resources and lawyers?

Your mentors (broadly defined) will happily tell you that your idea rounds to valueless and that all of the value created happens over years of patient execution, much like the years of execution that they spent working on their most recent adventure, and that entrepreneurs who are likely to be successful don’t sit around idle in a room lounging on stacks of money, chit chatting with lawyers, and waiting to stab a passing startup in the back.

Ideas are pretty worthless. Execution is everything. It takes years of follow through to realize the value of good ideas.

While it's certainly possible, most people have their own ideas and problems they are already working on. Relationships and execution end up counting way more than ideas.

On balance, if you have a great idea, you'll be better off growing it with good mentorship compared to the small risk that it gets stolen by a mentor.

I am a solo founder with kids and mortgage. Wifey helps out a bit. Have a rough proto ( and software) of a kids educational robotics product. I put the product on cold storage realizing I can't do this part time and I don't have enough money in the bank to take time off . I really want to share and get some feedback but I am afraid I won't be able to spend a lot of time in building right now. I can spend 3-4 hours a week but thats about it . Do you think this will be a good fit for me. I would certainly like to be able to qualify for cloud credits so I can keep building this when I have time.

A comment here mentions that over 2000 companies joined last year. How do mentors spread their time over this impressive amount of companies? Or does that number include the ones that are simply auditing? And if you're NOT auditing, does that mean that it's an application process where you must be accepted?

That figure does not include audit.

Advisors use most of their time on this doing group office hours sessions. Last year each advisor had around 25-30 companies each, so we only needed 100 or so. They're all YC alum who love to pay it forward.

Anyone can audit the course. If you'd like to participate fully, it is an application process.

I just subscribed, there are some bugs in the process though:

- The photo image uploader does not seem to work (FF61).

- The email validation link threw a 500 error on first try, second try succeeded.

- The company name field in the second form cannot be empty, even though the field description says 'if you have one'.

They should be fixed now. Email us at software@ycombinator.com if you run into any issues.

This is great. This empowering and in general knowledge sharing on building startups is why many companies are successful here in the US. Very cool

> 1,587 (56%) of the companies completed the course, and, since then, 38 of them have been accepted to the core Y Combinator program

In other words, your chance of getting into YC by these means, is about 2%. Still might be worth, just for the information alone though.

You’re mistakenly assuming everyone applies to join YC when calculating that percentage.

I took the course last year but did not apply to YC. I'm assuming there are others in this situation as well, so I'd conclude the acceptance rate for SS graduates is higher than the acceptance rate for the general candidate population.

For context, 2% is also the acceptance rate of all YC applications.

I'm guessing that people who apply to Startup School tend to be very early in the founding process, which gives them an a priori lower chance of getting accepted (even though YC is open to super early stage), and then SS raises it.

Also, the kind of people applying to Startup School are probably not the kind of experienced founders whose application looks more promising at the very early stage.

That feels right given the number of ideas that turn out to be side projects vs. Become real companies

I'd love to apply but I'm finishing an evening MBA and want to do it or just apply to YC after school. Got a year left, I'm going to just audit it. Can't believe how accessible YC is to the startup market, thanks YC :)

Is it just me or does the Add Picture button not work? I tried both Firefox and Chrome.

Not working for me too

Looking into it!

Great, thanks! Also, the word limit seems to be really small, especially for "How far along are you".

Reminder that you can also just audit the course, if you all you really want is the info.

Just signed up, and looking forward to seeing the content, even though I'm just auditing this year.

I have a question, though. In the "What industry do you plan to launch your product in?" question, one of the responses was "Diversity." What exactly do you mean by "Diversity Industry" and can you give some examples of companies in this space?

I wonder what the logic is behind this? Is it getting too costly to educate people in person? Is this as effective as in person?

>Those companies will also receive a video interview with a YC partner later in the year for advice or aid in applying to a future YC batch.

I laughed at that comment due to how it shows how competitive it is to get into YC.

We wanted to create a program with content that would be helpful for any new founder/startup, regardless of where they are. It's not meant to replace the in-person YC program (that's still our core offering).

Think of it as a crash course in starting a company. Just because you can't make it to the Bay Area doesn't mean you shouldn't have access to advice and community! We just want to help startups be better startups.

The course seems rather no-strings-attached. For example, it mentions that the most promising companies will get $10K of "equity-free funding" as well as other goodies.

Appeals to altruism aside, what's Y Combinator's incentive here? Is the hope that companies will feel loyalty to YC, and join the core program?

YC already invests $1M worth of human capital to put on Startup School. Whatever their original motivation is to do it, it's worth another $1M to do it better.

I think that going through this program and receiving $10K of equity free funding would substantially increase the chances of a company sticking with YC.

Google has also a startup launchpad with provides equity free funding. I am not sure why though, but its great for founders like me who are interested.

Very interested. How much about one's idea must be disclosed? Is there any protection for secret sauce?

Why do you care? ideas are worth little. Implementation matters most!

Last week I talked with a competitor. I detailed my plans for the next 6 months. It commits me to follow them, and may incite discussion.

There is almost 0 risk they can match the features or my timeline. I am quite productive, and there is no secret sauce. Just complexity, and interdependance. Can't have a baby in 1 month with 9 mothers. And should they do, I will be happy to copy the unique features they add.

The disclosure opened some talks however. I am ready to sell consulting or some specific parts they need to do their product, and that have not much of an impact in mine.

You make a fair point, but that advice is a very hard ask for some. Just looking for some reassurance.

lol, you are being way too friendly. Business is a game of war and you must play the game to win. If you give any details of your future plans then only do it as a means of deception ;)

I saved a very rough draft of my application but now, when I return to startupschool.org, it shows me the "Thank you for applying to Startup School!" message. Should I be worried? Or can I still edit my application via "Settings"?

You should be able to edit your profile and company details when you log in.

Application sent! Best of luck everyone!!

I submitted this anyhow I do not think business skills is something I really need, mentorship is nice but I have great mentors locally, but the issue I face right now is mostly lack of technical knowledge, so this startup school might be irrelevant to me in all honesty

I have an idea I wish to persue because it solves an actual problem I face everyday and by building it it would make a lot of other goals I have much easier to obtain.

I am mostly just interested in the case studies of how other startups do things. Mostly curiosity about how YC

Is this course suitable for hardware products? There's some ideas and prototypes I have done that I always wanted to bring to market but not sure how to go about it.

Yes, very much so.

> For the first time ever we are going to give $10,000 in equity-free funding to 100 of the most promising companies that join and complete the course.

What are the recommended background readings to best prepare founders for this program? IMO it helps a lot when participants already use the same framework and speak the same language, so that more time can be devoted to specific problems.

Obviously for people that hang out on HN, we already had some shared understanding. But a list of recommended readings to make sure all gaps are filled would be very useful as well.

I took part in the innaugural startup school and really loved it. I would like to join this one too. Can I still apply with the same idea?


Sounds sweet! I'm actually releasing a website/business September 1st. So, this is perfect timing. Might as well give it a go.

I'm working on building Early Warning Systems that use ML and space data for Public Health problems and can see a commercial application for governments and communities. But I just started work, and this is a longer problem than most SAAS offerings, do you think Startup School is worth it in this case?

Yep. We've tailored the content to fit all sorts of sales models. There'll also be plenty of other founders with similarly long sales cycles to chat to / learn from within the Startup School community.

Awesome thanks Adora! You probably don't remember but you interviewed me YC summer 2018 for a project called ModelDepot haha!

Really happy to see this running again. The design looks to have been hugely improved. Great job YC software team!

Thank you, Finbarr. It was really easy to take over. You did a great job

Thanks Ramon! It's in great hands :-)

Miss you Finbarr!

It looks like the "What is your most impressive accomplishment?" question on the application has a max length of 60 characters. I can understand it needing to be short, but that seems really short. I'm having a tough time trying to slice and dice a sentence to fit.

Oops, good point. We'll change that soon. Will update here once done. Edit: good to go now.

Some fields on the "COMPANY DETAILS"-form are obviously too short. For example "How far along are you?" is 60 characters.

It is a bug

add a photo not working for me either

I applied with the low character requirements; I assumed you were encouraging brevity for the sake of the reviewers. Should I reapply or will it not have a large impact on admission decisions?

Apparently, you can update your application before the deadline, Aug 13th.

Yes, good catch. Thanks!

What does the information in the course have to offer that is different from all the other books, courses and content out there on building a startup? Seems like everything out there basically presents the same concepts just in different words.

If you just want the content, you can audit it.

The reason to do the course is that it's actually a program. You'll work directly with a mentor who is a current YC founder and get to know other companies in your group.

I just applied and I am working full time, I wonder if I’d still be able to join the course considering I only have after office hours on it. I’m glad the course is during my college breaks.

Just applied, I think as a part time husband and wife team with a child (and based in the UK) this is a more realistic opportunity than the physical YC (even though I think that would be an awesome adventure)

Is the 10k available for startups in the US only, or is it international?

You can be from anywhere.

Hi Adora, This is awesome. I just applied for it. How many hours of lectures will we have in a week? As it’s an online course - do you recommend being in one physical location/geography?

You should expect a minimum 3-hour commitment a week: roughly 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of group office hours. Lectures you can watch at your own leisure.

As for location/geography, as long as you have a device with internet access you can be wherever works best for you. We'll do our best to align timezones so scheduling is easier for you and your group during the course.

Thanks sandslash!

Heads-up: There is no overview/confirmation page at the end of the signup process, so no reviewing your answers before submitting. Just found this out the hard way!

Hello, I believe you can still go back and edit your answers under the "Setting" tab.

Good catch! Thanks!

I took this course last year and enjoyed it a lot. My company exists and is growing. Can I take it again? -- Is it possible, and does it make sense to take it twice?

You can definitely take it again. Content this year, for the most part, will be different than last year's.


I forgot my password, and have trouble setting a new password for the previous account via the reset link; the website says "Please review the problems below:" but doesn't show anything else...

Should I create a new account...?

Hi, can you email us at software@ycombinator.com and include your email address?


Thanks, done.

I've submitted an application but I do have a question:

If I were to change gears (Say, go from one business idea to another), should I re-apply with the different idea?

You can update your application up until Aug 13.

sorry if this a dumb question: my cofounder and I are working on a app that we plan to release in South East Asia (i.e. India) because of what we believe is a better market fit as well as product positioning - does applying to this program make sense if our goal isn't (in the near term) to release this app in the US? Would we still be eligible for the equity funding?

Still makes sense, and you'll be eligible as long as you complete the course. One of our goals for Startup School is to help founders beyond the Silicon Valley and US. Great entrepreneurs are everywhere.

Just submitted my application, regardless if I make it in or not I'm really excited to follow along with the videos

Hi Adora,

Can you please provide some idea of selection criteria and if possible, selection percentage?

this is awesome. lines up with our stage of development too. filled out the form, hoping to become part of YC community

It's nice that the offer the material to people who don't have an idea for a product in the near future.

I've been working on my own media platform with friends and think this will provide a lot of value. I've worked for various media companies in the past as both an employee and freelance journalist and want to really make an impact with our brand. Hoping we get in!

Hi Adora,

Do you need to have a co-founder to get into the online startup school?

Not Adora here, you don't need a co-founder to join startup school.

Would u accept a me-too company ?

This company just raised $10M A round. Fantastic backers, industry-experienced CEO. A very technical enterprise product. We saw their demo. The website is very detailed. Never signed any NDA.

We have managed to code a similar MVP product. We also have a different technical and feature road map. This is not a $1BN target - maybe eventual acquisition at low 9 figures.

Do u think this is a valid candidate for YC Online ?

Would u strongly steer us away from such an approach ?

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