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Startup School 2018 – Curriculum (ycombinator.com)
339 points by katm 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments



Really great news that this program is getting more effort poured into it. Startup School could be orders of magnitude bigger and more important than YC itself. It could be the first meritocratic platform for startup opportunity.

Instead of trying to predict success based on the seeds of an idea and a brief interview, any startup could enter the program and those that prove themselves could move up a ladder that provides more and more opportunity.

The application still asks about educational background, which effectively just a way of asking about familial wealth, but it still seems like a major improvement over existing avenues.

I predict that in the future YC will be viewed as the "do things that don't scale" early effort and Startup School will become the massively world-changing product that results.


For those that took part in previous years, would this be suitable for those of us running (or thinking of starting..) bootstrapped startups, as solo-entrepreneurs?

I ask because the curriculum looks great, but wondered if the mentoring might be a little more focused towards the more traditional startups looking to progress to VC funding, rather than those of us that are taking things a little slower on our own.


We're bootstrapped, and we did it last year. I wrote about our experience: https://canny.io/blog/what-youll-get-out-of-y-combinators-st...

I would guess that this is YC's version of freemium. They're giving away a slimmed down version of their product for free, to drive brand awareness / resonance, and attract more qualified leads to their paid (7%) program.

You might not be interested in YC proper, but there's still plenty of great advice, that will probably translate into you having a more successful startup.


It is amazing how successful YC has been. Is there another well known accelerator that has close to YC’s total valuation of startups?

Also it baffles me that YC has close to 1000 startups that have gone through them but only one “Dropbox” has IPO’d.

I get the feeling that YC’s best days are ahead when things they invested in a decade ago will pay off huge returns.


> I get the feeling that YC’s best days are ahead when things they invested in a decade ago will pay off huge returns.

Yes. It takes a good 10 years to build / IPO a company. Also they've funded a bunch of companies outside the US / Europe region where IPO markets are not as friendly.


Are there any benchmarks to how successful a yc company is over another company?

Extremely hard to say when most information is non public. Past performance does not guarantee future results, especially in high interest rate environment.( Low interest environment, everything changes)


(1) Yes (2) Tight feedback loops are key in keeping momentum, so even if you're bootstrapping you don't want to go too slow


When you're in YC they tell you that a huge part of being a successful founder is "managing your psychology." I wish they would elevate that to a first-class concept in their startup education.


Hi Guys,

Im a psychologist with a specialty in entrepreneurship mental health and co-founder conflict. I help people (sometimes individually sometimes as a co-founder pair) address difficulties such as impostor syndrome, communication skills, burnout, making decisions under stress, and effective leadership.

The co-founder relationship is extremely intimate and specific, and it is near impossible for two people to work so hard on a rigorous and trying endeavor and not run into issues. Part of what makes it hard is also the fact that outwardly, everything always has to look awesome. So there aren't any realistic comparison points.

A co-founder relationship is not unlike dating in that you have to figure out where your deal breakers are, what issues you can work through, and what issues you can let go. You also have to be open to accepting your own role in problems that arise, and commit to trying to work on those too. All of which is hard to do while also managing the stress of starting and running a company.

If anyone has questions I'm happy to answer them. You can look me up at azimuthpsych.com.

Also, if you're looking for a therapist for either yourself or you and your co-founder, heres an outline to help you out.

https://azimuthpsych.com/articles-and-ebooks/how-to-find-a-t...

Janna Koretz, Psy.D


We did! The session taught by Daniel Gross: "Life as a Founder" will largely be focused on this.


Do cofounders often have a chaotic relationship secretly, or is it mostly positive?

It’s always positive outwardly, of course, but I’m asking about the side that people rarely see. It’s hard to know what’s normal and what’s not. And that’s a problem when you’re trying to evaluate whether someone is a good fit as a cofounder.

Consider Jamie and Adam from mythbusters. They can’t stand each other. But when they work together, things get done. Are most cofounders like that, or is that the exception rather than the rule?


There's no clean cut answer here. It's all over the spectrum. Some founders get along great and some don't get along well. Obviously the better you and your cofounders get along, the higher your probability of success. I've seen plenty of bad cofounder dynamics kill companies, irrespective of the business fundamentals.


"It's like marriage, but without the sex" - I don't recall who said it. It's true - you get a lot of the stresses similar to a marriage, but there isn't too much fun unless things are going great.


Absolutely right that this is important. Working at a small AI-blockchain incubator over the winter, a large part of my initial brief was to encourage and help the participants learn to be their better selves and identify problematic behaviours, attitudes and assumptions in themselves, and identify and fix the resulting dynamics in their teams. Learning the soft skills necessary was meant to help them not have to deal with this further down the line, and obviate the problem of the asshole founder. That strategy didn't work out due to founder interference, which made me realise now much resistance there still is in some kinds of moneymen and engineers to acknowledging the important psychological and social factors in team success. I'm glad this is acknowledged to be needed in some of the existing better incubators!


One could argue that this is a huge part of any serious undertaking which requires intense focus.


Interesting.

I tell people believing in their abilities made the difference.

Having money helps(well paid 9-5), but knowing that with enough googling and never giving up mentality, you can solve real problems. Sometimes I am shocked at how little is needed to solve problems that the entire world is currently dealing with, but my fully capable friends dont even try.


Can you give examples? Would love to tackle some big problems with small resources with my team in the long term.


Pretty much any home automation.

Moving stuff from downstairs to upstairs, laundry, hair stuff.

You might not be able to custom for every home, but you can make modular components.

EDIT: Motors and pullys are cheap, but you need to understand that + embedded systems. All an engineer+programmer is capable of.


Startup School Help! I submitted the application with no content by mistake a few weeks ago. I sent an e-mail to startupschool@ycombinator.com requesting that it be reset but have not received any reply. When I try to apply again I receive the following message: "Thank you for applying to Startup School! We will let you know whether you’re accepted by August 20th, 2018." with no chance to edit the application form.


Hey, check the settings link in the menu. The application is still editable. In addition, the entry fields seem to have increased in length recently, so perhaps a good idea to review your submission even if it was submitted properly last time.


> In addition, the entry fields seem to have increased in length recently,

What are the new limits? I still seem to be limited to the length when I signed up on the first day.

201 characters for "What is your company going to make?" and 252 characters for "Why did you pick this to work on?"


On the podcast they encouraged people to take the classes remotely and not go out of their way to attend in person. More YC companies are increasingly remote and so is YC itself.


It's awesome that the curriculum is newly created for this term AND that the old curriculum is logged in the library page.


I'm pretty excited, I hope there is a way to 'meet people'. I hate to say, but random people from reddit I added on instagram/facebook are some of my most interesting and beneficial social connections.


Notably, Paul Graham is listed on the curriculum! Is this going to be pg's first appearance in years?


What has @pg been up to recently? I remember the good old days when he was semi-invisible moding on hn. My participation has gone down due to other priorities but it seems that his spirit is well continued here and the new mods are excellent at keeping drama out and making hn stay true to its core.


My impression was that he had semi-retired to spend time with his family (and good for him! he certainly deserves it after founding YC)

That being said, I've certainly missed pg essays as of late...


Though I can't be sure, I think a big reason for his retirement had to do with the Two Minutes Hate he was subjected to at the hands of the Internet Outrage Machine. PG has always had a knack for being misunderstood, and I think disappearing from the spotlight was his way of making sure that problem didn't hurt YC.

Unfortunately for you and me, that means no more great essays. It's kind of funny because, in retrospect, "What You Can't Say" almost prophesied how this all went down; his only mistake was not seeing the storm coming.


I remain hopeful that the outrage machine will fizzle itself out. The key is to make sure resources are distributed as widely as possible, but without eliminating the concept of private ownership. When people want for nothing, there's not much to be mad about.

... If only. Even as I write the words, they ring hollow. Hate may be with us forever. But one cure is time: it's easier to look back and see how ridiculous it was in the moment. It always is.


It's a good story, but realistically PG wouldn't let some internet "outrage" determine whether or not something is currently his life's focus.


> It's kind of funny because, in retrospect, "What You Can't Say" almost prophesied how this all went down; his only mistake was not seeing the storm coming.

Thanks for mentioning. I hadn't come across that essay. A great read.


I'm really curious how YC will choose which companies get $10k. They don't mention this anywhere.

I'd guess it's probably a combination of which teams are most promising and need the money the most.


They touch on this in the latest podcast. The $10k grants are an experiment to try and increase the completion rate of the program. They assign you with advisors who track your progress.

https://blog.ycombinator.com/geoff-ralston-and-adora-cheung-...


There is also podcast about discussion of startupschool at https://blog.ycombinator.com/geoff-ralston-and-adora-cheung-...


Hey. So I understand correctly that this isn't for someone like me, right? Someone who just wants some knowledge from the startup world, but doesn't want to create his/her own startup. Right? Or can I just come and listen?


You can audit the course.


Are graduates of Startup school 2017 encouraged to apply again?


Yep!


I signed up for startup school, but I can't seem to find any description of the commitment it is... What does it mean to "complete" it?


From the "About" page[1]:

> You must submit at least 9 out of your 10 weekly updates and attend 9 out of 10 group office hour sessions.

1: https://www.startupschool.org/about


Anyone have an opinion if this curriculum would be useful for people currently working at a startup or wanting to do intrapreneurship?


I'm of the opinion that all knowledge is helpful. If you work at a startup, understanding the bigger picture of how it operates, where it fits in the market, and what all the roles and responsibilities for success may be can only help you.


Just the expected value of getting the $10k grant probably justifies the time investment.


What is in it for YC to give away a million dollars for nothing in return?


Being the place for startups is potentially worth billions. This branding is important to get mindshare and to attract talented teams and startups. A million is nothing compared to this.


Thanks! This is amazing!


Thanks YC!


Thanks YC for doing this.

>100 companies who complete the course will also receive $10K.

Depending on your location and what position you are in your career , Funding can be a big issue.

This small grant can be a big help to start a business , but 100 companies is quiet limited to be honest.


They're giving a million dollars to companies and asking for no equity in return and you're giving them crap for it? Unbelievable.


> you're giving them crap for it

Wait , what ? My comment started by "Thanks" that's a weird interpretation really...

If you have 1000 companies following the course that's like 10% chance of getting funding, regardless of whether or not there is an equity that's the point.


they are giving away 1,000,000 dollars.. just giving it away. plus tons of content. did you read the article?


Doubtful that it is randomly given in a lottery sense - they likely are granting this to keep promising teams going...


In return for... 0% equity!


Yeah, which is why it is only 10K -- and not the 100K like was stated earlier by someone - if it were the 100K then it would be very similar to a typical YC round of funding.


pro tip: in the world of funding a 10% chance of success is a damn good one.


I think it's good feedback but perhaps not well stated, which is why you're getting grief for it. It is generous and a good thing to give away $1 million no matter how you do it.

Ideally though, they would give $100k to 100 (or 1000) companies and actually take equity. Most startups want to give up equity for good amounts of money, they call it "funding" ;-)


And nothing about discussing the mental, emotional and psychological pressures and stresses placed on entrepreneurs.. like that fact that the majority of entrepreneurs are likely going to lose their partners and possibly irreparably damage their friendships...

YCombinator isn't what it used to be. Shame


The best way to cope with the stress of running a company is by having peers to talk to, like other startup founders.

The same is true of other hard roles in life, but most roles have built-in peer groups. Like, being a parent is hard so you need other parents to talk to, but you naturally meet other parents in your neighborhood. Being a soldier is hard, but you're bunking with other soldiers. Being a startup founder is isolating by default, if you don't make some effort to build yourself a support group.

The regular YC program helps with this because founders meet frequently in person and get to know each other. I've seen many lasting friendships come out it. Also, the YC partners and staff psychologist help many founders cope with pressure.

It's a valid concern that online-only startup schools will encourage people to start companies in isolation, and they'll end up with unbearable levels of stress. Ways to cope with pressure will be discussed, and there'll be peer interaction that could lead to lasting supportive relationships, but it's an open question how well it'll work without in-person connections.

Whether or not you're in the class, if you're suffering founder stress please consider doing a workshop with https://www.helloinnerspace.org/ (YC S15).


As per other comment, this one seems to be about it: "Daniel Gross (YC) – Life as a Founder"


One "kind-of-on-subject" talk, tacked on right at the end of the whole curriculum, I can really feel the deep understanding and empathy. I feel so sorry for whoever believes this curriculum is about anything other than alumni YCombi-Fanbois...


I believe.




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