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Why I'm not applying to Y Combinator
28 points by opaas 1444 days ago | comments
Let me get one thing clear. I applied to Y Combinator last year and got rejected - openplatformasaservice.com. I'm ok with that. In fact most of the creators in life I admire were rejected or not understood even their 3rd time out. In fact, most people who make it big, have 6 failures first. I was actually just filling out the 2011 Y Combinator application when I just stopped and said, this is not the right way for me - hence leading to this post. So really, its not sour grapes. When I first found Y Combinator in my angel research, I thought wow, these guys look great! But after applying last year and being rejected and seeing they provide zero feedback after you take a lot of time to present your company, product and vision just the way they want it and rereading their application this year, it dawned on me. This is the same thing as old line VC's but possibly even worse. At least on Sand Hill Road, you would get serious cash and they would have a lot of sweat in the game. Today, we create a prototype or even working model and even have some traction and take less than $20,000 and give up a big piece of our company. Yes the intros are a good perk, but if you truly have something, you will get there regardless. But it is not about the money or percentages. It is the about the entrepreneurial spirit. I wasted precious time trying to make shotgun approach micro-funders who don't believe in any company enough to put real money into it understand something big that would require imagination and balls. Make a video intro, explain yourself, tell us why we should talk to you, bark like a dog. Fuck that. Not anymore. Power to the programmers - right on.



You say....

> So really, its not sour grapes.

Then end with ....

>bark like a dog. Fuck that. Not anymore. Power to the programmers - right on.

You may or may not be rightfully disillusioned, but regardless your attitude is in the gutter.

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I respect your opinion. However, I would say I WAS disillusioned - but no longer.

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YC has repeatedly said they care much more about the founding team than the idea. It's a sound principle. A strong team is probably the minimum you need.

Just apply. Don't disqualify yourself. It doesn't take long and you have nothing to lose. But your expectations shouldn't be too high, especially after posting something like this.

BTW, I have no idea what OPAAS does. Maybe that's the problem.

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OPaaS is "Open Platform as a Service." Just think "Platform as a Service" but open.

Yes, there are some good solid principles at Y Combinator. I agree. To apply in a way I think is thorough, takes at least 8 hours of work - a day's work. That's doing the videos and providing cogent responses to all the questions. Sure you can do it in 20 minutes if you want to rush through, but I don't do that.

Now a day's work is not a great amount. However, the problem is that it is a "special case" application that really can't be reused. Y Combinator wants you to tailor an in-depth presentation for them. That's fine. More power to them. However, it says something to me that in return they offer zero feedback. Zero.

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Just think "Platform as a Service" but open.

I don't know what "platform as a service" means. I watched the video on the right side of the page, and I still don't understand.

Edit: I looked it up on Wikipedia. I still don't really get what this is about.

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8 hours of work for a program like Ycomb is not a lot of work. You can find the time to do it. Plus, you could have shot the video with your camera phone and they would have been fine with it - as long as you were witty and accomplished the goal of the video.

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Does anyone know: did or would YC release a list of the universities accepted team members graduated from, or went to at time of acceptance?

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wtf does this matter?

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Just an inquiry...

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Just some feedback on your website: I went to it, and on the home page, I have basically no idea what it is or does, and there's really nothing that hooks me into looking into it more. And actually, now that I look at it, there aren't even links to click on that would answer these questions.

I'm guessing you guys are competing with something like EC2 or heroku. Compare your site to heroku.com. The first thing I see is "Rock-solid ruby platform", underneath which it says "Deploy and scale powerful apps." There is a "how it works" link at the top that tells me more.

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Thank you for the feedback. As a developer, I usually look for a link that says something like "developer" "sdk" "api" or what not. We have a "developer" link on their, albeit small as the main purpose of the site is for consumer to discover and buy Open Apps. They thinking is that if there is a bunch of developer call outs on the home page, it might confuse consumers.

There is also an "About" link. Do you think the "developer"and "About" links should be more prominent?

I'm curious are you familiar with Platform as a Service (PaaS?)

Thanks again for your feedback.

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Can't help but feel that with that attitude YC were right not to accept you - sorry.

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I had a great "attitude" when I applied and jumped through all the hoops last year so I fail to see your point. Unless you are saying the Y Combinator folks are psychic? If that were the case, they would pick winners every time, yes? But seriously, I wouldn't call it an "attitude." I would call it an informed opinion - your opinion may differ.

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What's the difference between now and then?

As an entrepreneur, you're going to get rejected over and over again. Why should that change how you approach potential future rejections? As investors, YCombinator wants to see that you won't give up in the face of setbacks...you are now giving up in the face of setbacks. The value of a YCombinator investment does not change depending on whether they have chosen you or not. Why has your decision whether to pursue it changed?

(Full disclosure: I've been rejected 4 times from YCombinator. Also rejected from FriendFeed, LikeALittle, Twitter, and Harvard. Stupidly passed up DropBox. Accepted by Amherst and Google. My opinion of any of them has not changed based on whether or not they rejected me. I haven't applied to YC since SFP08, but that's because my interests at present lie more in technology than in startups, and other opportunities have been available to me in that area. That does not mean I would not apply to YC again should I have a burning desire to start a company.)

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Please reread my post in context to the post I was replying to. That should help you understand. Also, it is not about rejection. As I mentioned, in my original post, most successful people fail, on average 6 times first, let alone simply get rejected by a potential investor before they have their big success. Rejection is part of the road the road to success. Also, if you took away from my post that I am giving up, I probably could have been clearer. I am not giving up. I am not even giving up on investors. I am just staying clear of "micro-investors." Simply put, the time spent to present yourself the way micro investors want you to is simply not worth it in my opinion. If you are a programmer, the "special case" is not worth it :) The time is better spent working on the product/service/company. It is just a business decision.

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I've reread it a few times, plus your original post, and I still don't get it.

YCombinator's application is not hoop-jumping. It's training. These are questions that you should be asking yourself about your idea anyway, regardless of whether you seek YC funding. Big-time VC funds will ask you the same questions, except that they require a personal introduction to even get to that point. Heck, customers will ask you the same thing, except that they want you to show them the answers through your product instead of tell them through an application form.

Also, the value of YCombinator is not in the $20K. It's in the introductions they give you, and how hard they work to put you in front of big-money investors. We saw that a couple days ago with the e-mail exchange where PG tried to get Union Square Ventures to invest in AirBnB. Most investors won't even look at you without a personal introduction from someone they trust.

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When you do something which takes time for a given audience, that is called "jumping through hoops." It is a figure of speech.

Yes, VC's ask a lot of questions. Even harder ones. They even want very long business plans. And more. The difference is VC's are going to give you MILLIONS of dollars if you jump through all their hoops. Not just a little more than what would pay your relocation and rent while you move to California. I trust you can see the difference.

Also, are you sure you read/reread my post? I clearly said in there "Yes the intros are a good perk, but if you truly have something, you will get there regardless." So I'm wondering why you bring up the intros as a perk beyond the money as I already pointed that out in my post.

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There seems to be a certain air of pride and vengeance spilling through here. Which is fine, and can certainly be a motivating force, but it's an "attitude" if I ever saw one. I'd know, I was once like this, too.

But as has been mentioned countless times, YC cares about founders, not ideas. And if you come across as someone that will be difficult to work with, it will make any business transaction (funding not excepted) that much less pleasant and that much less likely to happen.

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I had a great "attitude" when I applied and jumped through all the hoops last year so I fail to see your point. Unless you are saying the Y Combinator folks are psychic? If that were the case, they would pick winners every time, yes? But seriously, I wouldn't call it an "attitude." I would call it an informed opinion - your opinion may differ.

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One of the nice things about YC is that they're willing to have an open, public application process. I'm sure you can imagine that supporting that means they personally waste tons of their own time reading applications that don't come close to cutting it. For new entrepreneurs that don't have great connections to investor communities, this is one of the few avenues for getting their ideas vetted by an experienced group of people.

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What do you mean by "open, public application process?" I don't see anything "open" about it. Last time I checked (last year) there was not even a list of applicants. I'm curious, how would an "open" process differ from a "closed, non-public process?"

Waste their time? They read applications so they can find the ones they think are going to make them a lot of money. It is a necessary step needed for them to make money. I'm not sure what your point is. You feel bad they have to read applications they themselves solicit in order for them to make money? Should someone else read them for them and they do nothing during the application process?

Getting their ideas vetted? Y Combinator gives zero feedback to applicants, leaving them in the dark as to why they were rejected. How does that help? Any vetting process I ever saw gave a "report" or at least some information as to why or why not a candidate was approved or not. Y Combinator does neither. As you said, they spend enormous amounts of time reading the applications (for their benefit) but zero time providing any feedback whatsoever for the applicants benefit. What does that tell you? Does that sound like an entity who is truly trying to help the developers? What do you take away or learn from that? What value does that have?

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What I meant by 'public, open application process' is that anyone can apply and get their ideas reviewed by very smart people whereas many VC's/Angels won't even glance at you until you're referred by someone they know.

PG has openly stated that the overwhelming majority of the time, it's not that you have a bad startup idea where he can just list of a bunch of reasons why you didn't make it, but rather that other people just simply had better startup ideas. I'm pretty sure the companies they invest in are made publicly available, so it would be easy to see what better ideas are out there.

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I appreciate your feedback and discussion.

I don't know of any VC's or Angels which won't except a business plan. I think they are more open than ever to finding new companies. I've never had a VC or Angel refuse to receive a business plan. I have contacted three on the phone and they all gave me their email addresses to send pitches/packages to. Have you actually sent VC's and Angels business plans and they've sent them back unopened or are you just assuming they would? Have you ever emailed VC or Angels and they replied to the email saying they will not read the email or are you just assuming that would be the case?

What you are calling an "public open application process" to me is simply freedom of speech. You can send a letter or email to anyone in this country, including VC's. By open, I would think the list of companies which apply to Y Combinator would be made public. As far as I know, and I may be wrong, that list is not made public. That signals something to me. It may not to you.

If you accept Y Combinator reason for providing absolutely not one single word of feedback as reasonable, that is fine. However, I think most people would agree that organizations which truly want to help, would provide some, even if minimal feedback pursuant to an application. Off the top of my head, Y Combinator is the only organization I can think of in my life which provided absolutely no feedback pursuant to an application. That also signals something to me.

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In an almost scripted turn of events. It appears Y Combinator doesn't even want to read the applications themselves anymore: http://apps.ycombinator.com/item?id=2346017

Does that indicate anything at all to you?

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It indicates that you did not read what you are linking.

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You are correct. The link was wrong. Here is the correct link to Y Combinator not even wanting to read their own applications and pawning it off to others: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=908513

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I find it sooooooo ironic that I'm stumbling upon this post now. I just published my last YC submission and then posted it here on HN. You might want to read it, opaas :)

(if you think it's spam, just don't click the link, okay? :))

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2361753

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Meta side note: Why is this not on the front page? It has more upvotes, more comments, and was posted more recently than several things that are, I don't see a [dead] next to it, and yet it's sitting at #67.

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Articles that don't include a link (like ask hn for example) require more velocity to hit the front page.

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I wonder if it's more than that, and the formula was changed lately. "U.S. Missiles Strike Libya", 9 points 33 minutes ago and a link to NYTimes.com, is now at #67, while this is at #46. It used to be that 3-4 points (albeit at non-primetime) was enough to get an article onto the front page.

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FWIW, this is the kind of thing I tried to pick out in my "Underrateds" HN feeds.

http://bconway.posterous.com/hacker-news-feeds-rolling-time-...

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>You may or may not be rightfully disillusioned, but > regardless your attitude is in the gutter. I respect your opinion. However, I would say I WAS disillusioned - but no longer.

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If you weren't passionate. You probably wouldn't be an entrepreneur.

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A better strategy would be to cap your time investment to something you are comfortable with.

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This is democracy, cool!

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You mean anti-establishment.

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