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NCombinator (ncombinator.com)
271 points by railsjedi on May 10, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 91 comments

I love the website, and specifically the changing backgrounds. Felt like a one-on-one presentation more than a website.

I agree, it's cool. The only drawback I noticed is that my browser seemed labored in scrolling. Anybody know why?

Probably because the javascript require to change the background would pause the scrolling or slow down the browser.

One way to fix it (at least a little) is to do the background change asynchronously (setTimeOut)

I totally agree. Big props with making it work nicely on mobile Safari too.

Sometimes I think I am too cynical. My first reaction is that it's an overly clever and self-consciously hip site, with a blatant rip-off name...just a few more people trying to ride a bubble before it pops.

But I am probably just too cynical. Why step on positive energy? Go get 'em.

Agreed on the name. What bubble are we riding? We're trying to bring something that works (a small but passionate community of startups) to a larger audience.

It also takes no equity and benefits no one except the participants.

Cheer up man! Enjoy the good times while they last :)

Benefits no one except the participants?

Also their customers, future business partners, spouses, etc... Don't sell yourself short.

oops, sorry. my comment was poorly worded. I just meant that our goal is to benefit the community and not just a few particular individuals. In other words Ncombinator is nonprofit.

I run similar program in Russia for the last 6 months, called "The Accelerator" http://zonaspace.ru/accelerator/

Yes, it definitely works for our members. Membership is public though. The most useful part is solving startup problems case by case. Also, the whole thing is built around a few key coordinators and their "office hours".

We have 30+ projects. Some are Russia-focused, others are international. Two most interesting ones are http://UploadCare.com (launched few months before YC's Chute) and Android app Drawing Cartoons https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ru.jecklandin....

I do like how this post is bringing out some me toos. There are a lot of great ideas that are not coming out of the valley.

Excellently articulated! I ran something like this in Brighton, UK in 2009: http://www.bootcycle.com

I'm thinking of running it again this summer.

Also related: http://thinkstrapped.com/

How did it go?

We learned loads and formed some great relationships that lead to good things.

IIRC 7 out of the 8 teams made it to a Demo Day that was loads of fun but didn't result in anything tangible.

Ultimately we failed to ship regularly and we let the work we were doing to bootstrap the projects get in the way of continuing them. None of the projects are still active.

I like the design.

I really like the idea, questions I'm walking away with:

Who is behind this?

Are they experienced in giving the advice from first hand success or talking the talk?

How can I get advice from someone who's already done this?

Is this trying to start a marketplace of sorts connecting people with no real bar of quality?

I signed up to find out more..

at times i wonder if people forget that "Y-Combinator" has a real meaning ...

Maybe I'm getting old, but I definitely don't remember an N-combinator.

There have been several N combinators, but none of them was quite as nifty as the more famous combinators (Y, U, S, K, and I are the ones that immediately come to my mind).

Yep, we know :). It's a "working title" (tongue in cheek)

Did you forget about the ninja combinator?!

I liked the bird hierarchy of combinators, myself.

In case you're wondering, I believe the reference is to this page:


A bit dissapointed that all the live events and checkins are scheduled for San Francisco. (I read about the online thing, but that's not the same) Would be nice if we could alternate between San Jose and San Francisco, or at least meet somewhere on the Peninsula.

As others have mentioned: very cool and slick site pitch. That earned my signup alone.

I understand that to start something new you need to focus -- but, I'd also love to see Peninsula meetings. Maybe if there's enough interest it can happen.

I'm involved in something similar, but slightly less formal here in New Zealand called The Distiller: http://thedistiller.org. We provide an office space and power/internet and run a fortnightly sprint program, but that's it. NZ's an interesting place to start a startup, it's hard to get good funding so you have to bootstrap. It makes things go slower (mostly because to eat one has to contract), which can be intensely frustrating, but it's just a reality here so we have to deal with it. We're really focused on creating a good community of startups, keeping people accountable for their progress to the group, but without any hierarchy etc etc.

It's working out pretty well thus far, and we've been learning a lot within the group about how to run something like this since it was founded (not by me, but I've been involved for a little while now).

I signed up but ...

>> Totally agree. Thats why every week the teams that don't ship will get filtered out. At the end only the best will remain.

Ouch! That might take everyone out over 12 weeks. Some weeks, everything rolls over.

It's ok we won't be dicks about it :) it's just there to keep people motivated. Teams that are dysfunctional / aren't producing should know it and bow out voluntarily.

Fairy nuff.

See you online June 5.

This looks promising. There are two big questions I didn't see answered in the FAQ:

  (1) Who are you? 
  (2) What do you get out of the program?
P.S. The design of the site is awesome.

Needs a news.ncombinator.com :)

yews.ncombinator.com, of course.

with news from the local community, sounds good!

Yes, however would we hear about what goes on SF and the Valley otherwise?

i'm talking about communities of different cities ~~

Quick feedback on the website:

If your forms have placeholders, I can't see them.

When I type into the fields, I can't see my text.

I'm using the latest Firefox on a Macbook Pro.

Same. Firefox on Debian. Could only sign up (if it even worked) because I could access my browser's dropdown list of emails.

me too.

The timing of this is impeccable. I'm getting my PhD early this Summer and my plan for the following few months was to work on an array of small projects and deliver every week.

I'm at the perfect place in my life where I have both the time to work on whatever I want (for at least a few months) and the ability to.

Just some feedback on the schedule, a 4pm kick off isn't that great. I have a 9-5 paying for crazy self-funded startup adventures and I'm sure others do as well, can I suggest pushing it back a little for working types?

Great idea though and I'm definitely on board with this one. Beautiful site too btw! :)

Someone needs to write better copy...

"Aren't you just a bunch of YC rejects?

No, not really. Most of our companies haven't even applied to YC."

The ninja trope is a put off for me but it's common so I just ignored it, but then Japan's rising sun motif appears full-page, just to make clear we're talking about Asians... Can't we come up with some other cultural stereotype to exploit, like the American fat ass or something? :)

I would love to see a job post for a company looking for "American fat asses" instead of Ninjas. LOL

I like the idea somehow, especially when it channels those non-YC accepted groups and distracts them from writing "Why I will reapply", "YC here I come" or "YC application tips" article no. 1244

However, I think it would be better to choose a more unique name ;)

um, who are you? your site gives me no idea who you are and why you think you can pull this off. not trying to circle jerk for a summer. the selection criteria at YC is what makes it valuable.

edit: slightly less harsh tone

I really like these initiatives. It creates a support network to help early startups get to market.

However there seems to be lots of these popping up and you start to question the longevity of these groups. I am sure these are started with good intentions however what are the motivations of the organizers?

Is it simply the buzz of being involved and sharing ideas/stories/support?

I am not trying to criticize the groups, but interested in the risks of getting involved in these events/communities?

Do you need to be cautious of anything? How do you select the right group or groups to join?

There are lots of people who would like some of the benefit of the Ycombinator experience but aren't a good fit and don't even apply. For me, I have no interest in getting into the VC sharktank and the projects I work on are so far out there that a lot of people can't even comprehend their value. This might be a great alternative for those who are thinking way, way outside the box.

Great idea! People forget that even if there is no place like Silicon Valley, there are many other places... with no YC.

I love the presentation! Is that all custom or is there a JavaScript library out there that was used?

jquery waypoints!

(the more people who know, the faster it will become cliche then go away)

That's exactly what i want to build in my city(Frankfurt/Germany)!

Can I copy your idea or cooperate with you somehow?

Definitely. Let's talk/skype.

i just sent you a mail

Cool! A friend and I were working on something like this in nyc. Maybe we can join forces as a few of us have had some similar idea. I'd organize a NYC chapter if thats possible. Not sure who to contact but i'm frank @ startupthreads . com

Signed up. Very interested in sharing what we've been trying in our tiny (profitable) venture and hoping to learn a few things from others. Here's to hoping that a real community forms out of this.

I honestly couldn't tell if this was tongue-in-cheek or genuine.

Between the name and 'ninja coders' and the changing backgrounds, it was very hard to take seriously.

On the flip side, it's a solid idea.

Is it possible to join if you are not physically there ?

They encourage groups outside of the US to participate, so can't imagine they'd exclude a stateside group. I plan to participate remotely myself.

Does anyone think that CSS scrolling effects will be seen as good design in 5 years? I think it will be seen as a horrendous fashion.</blink>

A great idea - though this may be confusing, potentially vs. YCombinator?

Perhaps consider a different name - socialisingStartups.com ?

Yep, we'll change the name (our first batch of startups will get to pick the real one) . NCombinator is just a working title.

Seems interesting. Wish it were in the valley. City is so far!

I got the impression from the "check in online" option that you don't need to be a part of the physical community to be in the batch.

Where's the fun in that?

I'd love to have tuesday dinner meetups in several cities simultaneously. Would you be interested in organizing one in the valley as well?

I'm even further away in Santa Cruz, so I might not really be the best choice for a valley meetup organizer. The valley would just be less of a trek for me personally (and it's easier to find parking spots), and it's the right choice because the world obviously revolves around me.

Sign up is not working for me. I'm using Firefox on windows.

the biggest issue with something like this is quality control. I would quickly lose interest if theres a lot of low quality or junk coming through.

Totally agree. Thats why every week the teams that don't ship will get filtered out. At the end only the best will remain.

Low barrier to entry, but high barriers for completion is our theory. We'll see how it works in practice and adjust.

Hello, needed in NYC where there is NoCombinator.

Wouldn't that be NYCombinator?

what are the plans for demo day? how will it be marketed to investors?

any Melbourne/AU people applying?

i've applied, sounds good even it done remotely

Hmm. I guess the N stands for "ninja". Probably full of brogrammers. No thanks.

You're getting downvoted, but I couldn't take it seriously either with both Spartans and ninjas. Why not just go the distance and throw in rockstars, a big X in a word like eXtreme and the other stuff I see on the back of my Doritos?

Definitely pretty far from brogrammers :). Just want to build a support community to foster startups. Ideas, and startups are fragile. Might as well do anything that'll give us a fair shot. No reason to hate :)

No hate intended. I wanted to express the disconnect between the stated goal of the project and the unstated positioning that the design and terminology conveys.

The N stands for "Nice"

Heh, I thought it was a variable name, i.e. ncombinator let's you combine N people...

Web site is irritating. I can't tell you how sick I am of waypoints abuse.

Random: Why is HN so insanely, painfully slow to load lately?

Potentially because you got down-voted a tonne and are on the verge of being hell-banned.

Test this by logging out and see if it loads quickly again. If so, then yeah, you're being artificially slowed down.

Edit: I actually just noticed it was slow for me too, logged out and it was still slow. No idea then.

lol. Well good theory otherwise!

Edit: Actually I just realized your theory never really made any sense. What site throttles bandwidth just to you when you get downvoted? Nutty theory actually.

I have no idea if this is what is happening to you, but see SlowBan on this page:


It's not nutty, it's what hacker news does.

After getting down-voted a certain amount you get hell-banned. Your posts are still posted, except only people with "show dead" enabled see them.

Before that however you just get throttled and the site loads more slowly.


Stop moaning and taking yourself too seriously. You're like the guy who moaned at Zuckerberg for wearing a hoodie. Ninja or not, like the site says, ship or die.

Their tongues are firmly in cheek.


And the submitter's name is "railsjedi"....jedi...

Note to anyone considering using ninjas in their marketing:

It will make you seem out of touch and dated. It was clever for a brief moment a few years ago. But now it just smacks of laziness.

It's like hippies still thinking bellbottoms are hip. Yes, at one point that was true, but now bellbottoms just make you look like a hippie.

If you want to appear creative and edgy, please come up with a unique meme, not a dated played out one.

A great example is Hipmunk - a fresh meme that's actually hip.

Mostly good feedback except bellbottoms are bad ass.

We were going for the "so bad it's good" thing ;)

Better to be actually good.

But do ninjas really ever go out of style?

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