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34 questions to answer before you interview with YC (and/or found a company)
21 points by jungziege 1916 days ago | hide | past | web | 5 comments | favorite
We've been preparing for our YC interview pretty solidly for the past couple weeks now. And during our research (talking to alums, digging up old HN posts, reading PGs essays) we found about 34 different questions that you basically need to have the answer to. This list has been a great way for us to prepare, and organize our thoughts, so we figured we'd pass it along to the HN community. For those of you who are also interviewing this weekend, good luck!

There may be repeats in here. And maybe a few variations on the same thing.

(1) How do you know that people want what you’re building? (2) Are you sure people want this? (3) How do they solve the problem now? (4) What are all known existing solutions and what is wrong with them specifically? (5) Why isn’t someone doing this already? (6) What’s different about what you’re doing? (7) What is current IP in your field? (8) How to displace existing competitors? (9) What are some key things that your competitors don’t understand? (10) What resistance will you have? How will you overcome that? (11) Six months from now what is your biggest problem? (12) Is what you are doing viable? Why? (13) Is your market large enough? (14) Is your market capable of sustaining a new entrant? (15) Where can you expand into? (16) Why should people give a shit? (17) What are you going to build first? (18) What do you have? How does it work? (19) Have you engaged customers/users? How? (20) How will you get customers/users? (21) What do customers want? (22) Who is your first customer? (23) Why are you the right team? (24) Why do you need all of the people on your team? (25) Why are you doing this? (26) Why will you succeed? (27) How are you going to do this? (28) How will you approach trouble spots? (29) What are your known obstacles? (30) How will you find answers to questions you don’t know? (31) What do you not know yet? (32) What have you learned so far from working on your project? (33) How do you traverse in the idea space? (34) What are your other idea’s?




For my own edification though critique is certainly welcome:

1) Because my sites grew out of interest in what I had to say on certain topics or they wouldn't exist at all. And because every time I say I am shutting them down because I can't afford them, someone gives me money and/or offers me free hosting.

2) Yes, at least some people do.

3) They don't. The current world view is that people like me do not get well, symptom management is the name of the game. That is an exact quote from well-paid, really smart specialist. Current treatment is incredibly expensive and basically leaves people mutilated. There is a reason cystic fibrosis is called a "dread disease": What it does to our body and our life is horrifying.

4) Mostly drugs and surgeries. They are incredibly expensive and, as noted above, have gruesome side effecs. For example, cystic fibrosis accounts for roughly onr third of all adult and one half of all pediatric lung transplants in the U.S. today. You have to e pretty damn sick to make the transplant list. You can die while waiting for transplant. You can die while undergoing transplant. You can die due to "rejection" after getting your new lungs. If all goes well with tranpant, you remain on anti-rejection drugs the rest of your life. In contrast, I regrew my missing lung tissue. I used to have a small hole in my left lung. I do not anymore. Preventing deterioration so people can keep their own lungs is superior in every way to letting them get sick enough to qualify for transplant.

5) There is apparently no money in it. It involves significant lifestyle changes which people are resistant to. People simply do not know how to do it. And preventing a problem is much harder to take credit for or show the accomplishment than heroically saving someone who is sick enough to qualify for the transplant list.

6) It is a wellness model, not a disease model.

7)


re: "(31) What do you not know yet?"

That is one hell of a tough question. Anyone care to elaborate as to what the answer might be for selling widgets in a new way online?


In short: you should take all of your assumptions. Do you know why you've made this assumption? Otherwise, it's something you don't know.

There's more than that, but it at least gets you questions, which can spawn more questions. You don't always know what you don't know, so something could always blindside you, but thinking about this will help prepare you.


Technical difficulties. Please excuse the continuation:

7) I don't think there really is any intellectual property currently since the world says this cannot be done.

8) I haven't seriously thought too much about competition. If people get well and need less medical care, I am potentially displacing doctors, pharmaceutical compnies, etc. But I don't expect it to be a big enough impact for them to care about my activities. Most people are very unlikely to completely walk away from drugs like I have. I would be happy to just see people needing less medication even if they don't get off it completely.

9) We are human beings, not specimens in a petri dish. The cumulative impact of all our daily choices can outweigh the impact of a few bottles of pills. If the battlefield is the human body, nuking it into oblivion is not the way to win this war.

10) Current mental models claim this cannot be done and it flies in the face of everything everyone knows to be true. Finding a means to adequately explain and educate which does not offend is extremely hard. These people want their battles and their knowledge and intelligence respected. They feel I am calling them stupid when I try to suggest there might be a better answer. And they want to feel the torture they have endured or subjected a loved one to was justified. Validating them while simultaneously encouraging them to entertain a new idea is incredibly tough.

11) Heck if I know.

12) Yes. It is far cheaper than conventional treatments and gets people healthier. It is far more viable than current treatment modalities. The big challenge is that people are incredulous and that there is no financial support for eating better and living differently. Few people will willingly follow me into bankruptcy, never mind that the current treatment regimen leads to financial ruin as well plus worse things.

13) The CF community is tiny. But a wellness model can be applied to any person. It is hardly unique to people with CF. For example, my blood sugar is more stable than it has ever been. People with CF are at high risk of developing CF related diabetes. It is very likely that any form of diabetes would benefit from the rubrics which helped my blood sugar issues.

14) Yes.

15) As said above, I see no reason why humans generally cannot benefit. Preventing infection, eating better and so on can benefit anyone. There are as many potential customers as there are human beings, though granted that may be more realistically limited to humans with internet access who speak English.

16) There is a recession on. The 30,000 people with CF in the U.S. today receive roughly $3 billion dollars in medical care annually and are frquently unemployed, retired on disability at a young age, etc. Aside from the horrific suffering they endure, they are a net drain on the economy as their very expensive medical care mostly comes out of insurance, state aid, federal aid and so on -- I.e. other people pay for it. Getting them healthier is not only the right thing to do but the pragmatic thing to do.

Well, I think I am burned out on trying to answer these for now. Maybe later. Or maybe not.


this looks fun! Here's our answers for Dropdock ( http://getdropdock.com ). Critiques and feedbacks welcomed!

(1) How do you know that people want what you’re building?

We did some market research and saw a clear gap in the service for sending files.

Validate our idea by setting up a landing page with our clear Value proposition and capturing user intent

Talk about it to everyone that could be a potential user and get feedback.

2) Are you sure people want this?

Yes, most of people find sending a big file is still a pain in the ass today.

(3) How do they solve the problem now?

They use Website such as You-Send-Mega-Rapid-Crap and try to navigate between the ads and horrible UX or they both persons have to be online at the same time.

(4) What are all known existing solutions and what is wrong with them specifically?

IM: but both of them needs to be online You-send-mega-rapid-crap: Hard to navigate, lots of ads, file size limit. Dropbox & co: Not the most user friendly process to send files. KickSend / Forgetbox: Trying to do lots of different things at the same time. Horrible UI / UX.

(5) Why isn’t someone doing this already?

Some people are getting into the space ( Kicksend / Forgetbox ).

(6) What’s different about what you’re doing?

We offer a simple solution with a great and easy UX.

(7) What is current IP in your field?

??

(8) How to displace existing competitors?

We have strong referal program in place ( Think dropbox ) and we thing the program plus the ease of use will displace our competitors.

(9) What are some key things that your competitors don’t understand?

people want a service that just work out of the box and isn't complicated to use / understand.

(10) What resistance will you have? How will you overcome that?

The biggest resistance will be installing a software on your computer to do something that you can currently do online.We will overcame that by offering a Web and Mobile app and allow users at the beginning to share file with non dropdock users through private link ( email / fb msg )

(11) Six months from now what is your biggest problem?

Cost control so we need to focus on optimizing our bandwith usage to reduce cost and increase our Free to Paid conversion rate.

(12) Is what you are doing viable? Why?

We have low user cost ( +- 0.2$ / month ) and we just need to achieve a 3% F2P conv rate to achieve profitability.

(13) Is your market large enough?

Yes. All the internet user are sending files.

(14) Is your market capable of sustaining a new entrant?

Yes. There is a huge opportunity right now since theYou-send-mega-rapid-crap website are shutting down due to legal issues and email service providers are still not looking to raise the 10mo / 25mo file size limit / email.

(15) Where can you expand into?

Share more then files. URL, Texts, etc between devices / users. Files storage, but it's starting to be a crowded space with big players.

(16) Why should people give a shit?

Because its scratch one of their itch.

(17) What are you going to build first?

The x-Platform app.

(18) What do you have? How does it work?

The x-Platform app The Android app The Backend

(19) Have you engaged customers/users? How?

Yes,see question 1.

(20) How will you get customers/users?

Through Word of Mouth and our referral program.

(21) What do customers want?

A simple way to send files.

(22) Who is your first customer?

Freelancers and SME.

(23) Why are you the right team?

We are passionate, ambitious and aren't afraid of taking risks. We have 2 highly competent developers who aren't afraid of learning new stuff 1 marketing / bizguy who has already work in the startup industry and have a strong understanding of the tech stuff.

(24) Why do you need all of the people on your team?

Our product has a strong emphasis on the backend ( Optimization & co ) thus we required 2 strong developers. And you always need someone to do the Customer acquisition.

(25) Why are you doing this?

Because having our own companies is always something we wanted to do and Dropdock was the perfect service to start it.

(26) Why will you succeed?

There's is definitely a need of the market of a service such as dropdock and we thing that our approach of doing One Thing Well and focusing on the simplicity of the UX will make dropdock as success.

(27) How are you going to do this?

By listening to our users and creating a simple and bug free products.

(28) How will you approach trouble spots?

Talking to experienced people in this field and think about it. Not rushing our head down into it.

(29) What are your known obstacles?

Software Installation on Desktop

(30) How will you find answers to questions you don’t know?

Reach out to experienced / competent people in the field.

(31) What do you not know yet?

What are the big players ( Dropbox, Gdrive, etc ) on the market are going to do on "file sharing /sending" in 1 year

(32) What have you learned so far from working on your project?

Doing a startup is hard work but fun :)

(33) How do you traverse in the idea space?

??

(34) What are your other idea’s?

It will take too much time to enumerate them all ;)




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