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Applications open for summer 2013 YC funding (ycombinator.com)
220 points by pg on Feb 8, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 113 comments

For those undecided, apply! If you already have a great technology business, YC can teach you how to take it to the world-class level. If you don't yet have a great business, YC can be a perfect place to start.

Remember, the worst that can happen is a polite rejection e-mail. You can always reapply next time. Spending time time to fill out the application is alone an incredibly valuable experience.

I would like to offer up some advice. Do not apply if you're simply applying because it's good practice, or you're gambling against the odds. You won't get selected. If you've applied 4 times before and did not even get an email response or invitation to interview, then you should probably evaluate why it is that you apply each go-around. The folks at YC have obviously tuned their process finely enough so that it avoids candidates like this. I have a good friend who made it into YC years ago, and for several years after I tried getting into it myself. I found friends to apply with so I'd have a group, and we came up with company ideas that we could apply with. I tried this probably 3 or 4 times. All times, I coded my ass off in hopes that it'd end up with a trip to YC for an interview - so, it wasn't all just empty applications. But, was I really applying because I had a startup in need of that extra push? Was I in a position to make use of YC's advice, had I even gotten in? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that I felt like I was applying just for the sake of it. Sort of like it was some free contest that I could enter, and if I won it meant instant fame and fortune. Well, let me break it to you softly ... do not do this because it only ends in the same place that it begins.

If there is one single factor that distinguishes successful from unsuccessful entrepreneurs then it is not luck, charm, tech chops, timing or a host of other factors. It's persistence.

You're definitely showing persistence, the fact that it hasn't paid off yet is not a reason to give up now or to tell others to give up. What you probably could do is to evaluate your own application against the companies that got picked in previous cycles and ask yourself what if any differences there are, if you are maybe lacking some other crucial ingredient.

But kudos on the persistence, if you just start to execute on one of your ideas and you maintain that level of persistence there is a good chance that at some point you will see some return for your work.

Successful entrepreneurs are persistent in pursuing something they a) believe in and b) have reason to believe is real-- even if this reason is some tiny kind of insight.

I believe the point he is making is not to start startups with pseudo-random ideas generated largely for the purpose of getting into YC.

As a YC alum, I strongly recommend YC to anyone considering it -- even if you don't get in, it's a great way to think about your startup.

(Wow, it doesn't even seem like the Winter 2013 were 6 months ago yet. I wonder how much the reduction in class size (previously discussed on HN) will affect YC S13.)

Winter 2013 applications weren't 6 months ago. One of the things we realized after starting YC is that January and June are 5 months apart, not 6. So we have 2 more months between batches in the fall. That's why Startup School is in the fall.

Random question:

Demo day for summer YC is towards the end of August.

I've heard anecdotally that many investors travel during August, and that it is a poor time to fundraise.

But I've also heard that many investors come to Demo Day.

Is the anecdotal information that I heard incorrect?

Both are true. A lot of investors travel in August, but I've heard a significant number now arrange their trips so as to be in town for Demo Day.

Whatever the cause, there's no observable difference between the amount that gets raised by summer and winter batches.

> One of the things we realized after starting YC is that January and June are 5 months apart, not 6.

Yay! I am just 27, non-achiever and already knew that! :) </joke>

Thanks for the advice. As an n-time YC reject where n currently equals 1, I totally agree it's a great way to think about your startup and an excellent exercise in communication.

I'd imagine n is going to get larger over time for us before we can prove ourselves worthy, but we'll keep applying. In retrospect, I think it'll be fun to look back at all our applications and see what progress we've made and how our idea changes over time. If anything, we'll have a clear message by then. ;-)

Would you even recommend it for someone not interested in making it through? I'm just curious as to the overall process.

I'll risk some karma for this, as it's not the most appropriate place, nor is it the best way to introduce my idea.

I want to produce something similar to Google Fiber. I cannot give up my life and source of income to fly out to San Francisco and pursue the "cultural" side of incubation and all things startup related. I need a non-technical guy who understands the business side. I work at a community college as a NOC. If we landed a spot in YC, while you are in San Francisco doing that, I will be taking courses which specialize in this field.

My contact info is in my profile.

There are ~no college courses I've seen anywhere which are critical to starting a network carrier (assuming you have a high school+ level of understanding of basic math, English, etc.). I've done datacenter stuff and ISP (satellite, not fiber, except as a customer), and international. Everything else is either something you can learn yourself (Cisco certification is moderately helpful, but the rest is all either craft skills or dealmaking), or stuff you have to learn yourself (local politics).

If you really want to start a network like Google Fiber, JFDI. Neither college nor YC should delay you.

There is ~no chance you'll be building a national or global network out of the gate, though -- unless you have a lot of experience or some exogenous source of capital, you'd be doing a local network in some city or region, and then expanding from there.

It's worth noting that YC requires you to come out to San Francisco for the three-month duration and to work on your startup full-time. It's non-optional (and well worth it), as far as I know.

I'd be keen to participate in the "Cultural" side of Y Combinator if you would be keen to participate in the "Work" side of it :D

I'd like to point out that as of this writing, you have no contact info.

Just pointing this out.

Do you really believe some college courses and YC contacts are what's standing between someone and making a Google Fiber ISP?

There's a reason there's only one, and it's Google Fiber, and not Bob's Fiber of Main Street.

I think I'm at 2 interview rejections and 1 app rejection.

The masochism will stop when the motivation subsides!

May you provide more insight into why the persistence in doing so?

I'm curious as to why you would put so much value in joining an incubator when you could spend the same amount of time in growing your business. Funding is not the goal, but gasoline for the vehicle that will take you to your goal. Seems like a waste of time for such little money. I know the "status" from joining the YC program is quite high there, but it does not guarantee success.

Just based on probabilities, getting two interviews is pretty good on its own -- that's passing a ~low thousands to ~150 filter. He didn't pass a ~150 to ~50 filter.

Thank you for that data point. Though it raises some points. What failed in such instances? Was the business or the founder? Is this data ever published, or are you just given an empty notice of decline? (Excuse my ignorance in that part, because I have not gone through the process).


Thank you for the thorough explanation rdl.

There's a lot of information on the web about this; you could try the search box at the bottom of this site as well. It has evolved over the years, but is still fairly similar. (I have slightly privileged information about YC, and I don't want to go through the effort of figuring out what is public by quoting these sources).

It's also the wrong way to look at it. A better way is "what does it cost to apply" -- it's maybe 30 minutes to 10 hours of your time to fill in the application (it's more if you needed to do more thought about the business anyway). There is zero downside if you don't get in -- it doesn't prejudice YC against you at all in the future, and is confidential within YC -- and potentially high upside.

The ultimate test of "is it worth it" is to ask how many YC alums would recommend YC to someone else. As far as I can tell, that number is >80% (I can't think of anyone who wouldn't). I would recommend YC with only two reservations:

1) If you're doing a non-US startup (say, something local in China), and have exploding growth, no plans to expand to the world market, and unlimited capital, YC might be a distraction (although I doubt any company like that reads HN)

2) I think the biggest benefit to YC is to be able to launch during YC, or to have already launched. If you can't launch during YC, it might be worth doing YC later (when you're about to launch), or more likely, change your launch to something smaller that you can do sooner. There is probably 10x more value in YC if you launch before or during YC than after demo day. We made that particular mistake ourselves. OTOH, spending an extra year or two pre-YC building something no one wants is ALSO bad.

There is probably 10x more value in YC if you launch before or during YC than after demo day.


I would imagine because if you don't have a product completed before Demo Day (even a completed prototype that works, of sorts) there is no value to show potential investors.

It's not about the money, but the people you meet. Quite frankly, I often feel lost navigating the territory of starting my own business even with the support of cofounders I trust and respect.

To be able to get advice from the caliber of YC's network as well as be around teams that are trying to do things that others deem "crazy" or "destined to fail" is an enlightening experience you can't just get anywhere. There's so much I don't know. YC is a great way to bridge some of my many ignorances. Certainly not the only way, though.

I'm not suggesting that wannapreneurs should just blindly shoot off a half-baked idea to every incubator and just sit on their asses waiting for someone to dump money in their laps. Are there people like that? Sure. But setting a little time aside from working on your startup to apply to a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can only help your chances of success is, I think, a justifiable use of time.

Thank you.

$92k is enough for 1-4 people to survive working out of their living room for quite a while. That said, the real value of YC is feedback from the partners and your batch mates, followed by the captive audience of investors on demo day.

So its more of the broke-ass-young-hacker-with-a-dream-culture than anything else?


From the replies of other members it is obvious that my comment here is not correct.

It costs me nothing but a combined few hours to apply and interview. Given how many YC companies fail it's clear that YC is no silver bullet, but I do think I could get a lot out of it so it's worth the effort and rejection.

Not getting into YC hasn't slowed me down one bit. I'm on my second attempt at growing a business and I'm far smarter and self-aware than when I started. I'm doing quite well on my own now. I'd still probably benefit from YC a lot, but if I never get in then so be it.

So its more of a value-added activity than anything? Seems expensive to trade 7-10% of your business in exchange of network contacts. Have you ever explored the option of making those network contacts yourself?

Edit to the reply below

I'm just curious as to what benefits you get. I know of the program. Though I'm not their target market.

Im not being pedantic, just genuinely interested in your POV.

If you think YC is just network contacts you don't know much about it. And yes, I think YC can easily add that much value back to just about any startup.

I've never applied to YCombinator, but I've been through interviews for other top 10 accelerators, and the insight gained from the interview was invaluable. I would guess (hope) that you get a lot more insight when participating in these programs, among other benefits.

I'd like to add as a general side to this that it's very cathartic to go through the motions of this application.

For those who are like me, and have only just begun building their startup, if's enormously useful to sit down and do a few takes of an impromptu video, and answer each question on the application.

It is almost like an outside opinion asking the right questions to critique your idea and your determination. It allows you to think about your ideas and the challenges you'll face in ways you may not have before. Basically, it forces you to bring your idea down to earth from the clouds and think critically - and realistically - about it.

I second any opinion claiming it's worthwhile to fill it out even if you're not funded for this exact reason.

PG, would it be possible to see a screenshot or a basic tour of what the application reviewers see? I'm curious to see the logistics on that side of the equation.

We see almost exactly the same thing people filling out the form see, except with a comment box at the top and a bunch of submit buttons representing different grades.

So -1 -- 5 with the comment box right? how do you account for nicer/meaner do you smooth based on average review for that person's reviews?

After doing this 16 times we have similar standards, so in practice we don't have to account for easy vs tough graders statistically. We do try to convince other partners to change their votes in borderline cases though. In the last phase we look at all the applications straddling the cutoff for the number of groups we can invite, and try to come closer to a consensus about what side of the cutoff each group should end up on.

One of your founders relayed to me that they were doing some of the application reading/judging, my concern was there. guess he was pulling my leg.

No, he was probably telling the truth. The alumni do the first pass. But (a) they just vote no or maybe, (b) each application is seen by at least 3 alumni, and isn't filtered out till it has at least 2 more nos than maybes, and (c) we look at their overall stats to make sure no one is giving all nos.

Sounds sensible. We do the same with resumes and it works well to filter the noise.

pg don't you think the alumni would be biased towards startups/people they know. Or say no to those that could potentially become their competitors in the future.

There's a recuse button if you're conflicted.

Also, something that I've found really helpful to remember in talking to VCs and angels (and for something like the YC application, presumably) is that for a "demo"/elevator pitch, you can't presume much work on the part of the reader.

Specifically, if you're demoing an iPhone/Android app, you should probably have a textual description, which then links to screenshots, which might also include some video/screen capture. Then, link to an install URL. Essentially no one is going to casually install a random iPhone, Android, FB-login, account-creation website, Facebook, etc. app just to try it out, especially in the earlier screening stages. But at the same time, having a "live" demo people can use as soon as they're interested is ALSO great. So, the best way is probably something which allows progressive engagement.

(the YC application says to not require a login, just to provide a special URL, but for something like a mobile app, that advice is a little outdated and non-specific.)

I have a couple of questions:

- How open is Ycom to applications if all you're coming with is an idea, and no proof of concept?

- Is it true that there's an age bias?

We're fine with just an idea.

There's an age bias in that our standards get higher as the founders get older. You can't reasonably expect a 19 year old to have achieved as much as a 35 year old. But there's no sudden cutoff.

> There's an age bias in that our standards get higher as the founders get older.

Since Bill Gates is unlikely to apply to YC, what are YC's expectations regarding older founders?

I have an odd question that has stopped me from applying from most incubators to date (although it may also be too early as well)...

If my idea is very specific to an industry because that's what I'm interested in pursuing but would require developing applications that would benefit almost all general industries conceivably, is that considered good or bad?

For example, my company is only looking to be a player in the legal information industry but the base application I've designed would work just as well for any industry where text analysis is useful.

That's actually a good sign in a startup. Ideally you want to start by solving a small number of people's problems very thoroughly, and then expand the number of people whose problems you solve.

That's a piece of advice I keep hearing all the time, but I think it can be dangerous.

Of course, you have to start small - there usually isn't a choice not to. But, I think it's best to have a product which can serve a huge market in its most basic form without adding more features.

There are very few examples of startups which start with a product with features highly specific to one group of users and then expand out successfully to a huge market. Most startups die or get stuck in a vertical.

  >> There are very few examples of startups which start 
     with a product with features highly specific to one 
     group of users and then expand out successfully to 
     a huge market. 
There are very few examples of startups when successfully address a huge market with any strategy.

Succeeding in a vertical is a positive step, which most startups fail at. For one thing, it give you enough money to keep trying for a larger success.

This shouldn't be a deterrent for any incubator per se. The value of your idea will purely depend on the size of the market in dollars that you're planning to attack. YC is an investment business where they make bets for the maximum return, so if the outcome of your focus realistically means your business would top out at a million dollars a year in revenue, then no, they won't be interested. You'll need to compete on estimated ROI with all the other applicants which basically boils down to projected return and percent chance of success. If you're attacking a somewhat smaller market, but your chance of success seems very high, then they will be just as interested.

If you haven't already, get a book that talks about estimating startup value, and then create some rough numbers.

Out of curiosity, why only the legal industry? I understand a narrow focus might make sense starting out from a marketing point of view, but if you have some new technology that could benefit multiple industries, why not pitch it more broadly. Something like: 'We plan on selling to the legal market first which is worth X billion dollars, after finding success there this technology can be applied to markets Y and Z - together they spend Q billion dollars on software annually?'

Well like I said that's all I am interested in personally. If my cofounders or funders wants to take it in other directions after it's developed that's fine and I wouldn't stop them but I know what I want to do and I think it's sustainable an idea in the legal information area alone (just look at westlaw/lexis/bloomberg).

PG, is there any chance you can clarify something for me?

All I have left to do is make a video demo. I don't know if this question is "cheating":

What would you rather hear about in a demo, the founders and their past ability to succeed, or the idea, and why it is original and viable? Or both? Or neither?

Talk about why you picked this specific idea. And don't read from a script. It's weird how many people ignore us when we tell them not to read from a script. It's like they think we can't tell.

Thanks, that's all I needed :)

In the past I've been told by various people that YC explicitly avoids applications that have anything to do with games, regardless of the other aspects of the app, just because the games industry tends to be a money pit. Is this true (or still true, if it once was)?

They funded OMGPOP. Not sure if they applied to YC with though.


That is nice advice for someone just building a traditional sold-product model game but that's not the sort of thing I'm referring to. I'm referring more to business models like the one Valve has adopted and the one used by Spry Fox and a pitch that has distinguishing characteristics other than 'we are making a cool game', where the tough part is proving out the business model etc.

EDIT: Aw, why'd you delete it? I think that was good advice to share for anyone else, even if it's not applicable to my question :(

The questions, for anyone too lazy to view the actual application (such as myself) or who doesn't have a HN account:


- What is your company going to make?

- If this application is a response to a YC RFS, which one?

- Please tell us in one or two sentences about the most impressive thing other than this startup that each founder has built or achieved.

- Please tell us about the time you, keiferski, most successfully hacked some (non-computer) system to your advantage.

- Please tell us about an interesting project, preferably outside of class or work, that two or more of you created together. Include urls if possible.

- How long have the founders known one another and how did you meet? Have any of the founders not met in person?

- Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you're making?

- What's new about what you're making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn't exist yet (or they don't know about it)?

- Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?

- What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don't get?

- How do or will you make money? How much could you make? (We realize you can't know precisely, but give your best estimate.)

- If you've already started working on it, how long have you been working and how many lines of code (if applicable) have you written?

- How far along are you? Do you have a beta yet? If not, when will you? Are you launched? If so, how many users do you have? Do you have revenue? If so, how much? If you're launched, what is your monthly growth rate (in users or revenue or both)?

- If you have an online demo, what's the url? (Please don't password protect it; just use an obscure url.)

- How will you get users? If your idea is the type that faces a chicken-and-egg problem in the sense that it won't be attractive to users till it has a lot of users (e.g. a marketplace, a dating site, an ad network), how will you overcome that?

- If you're already incorporated, when were you? Who are the shareholders and what percent does each own? If you've had funding, how much, at what valuation(s)?

- If you're not incorporated yet, please list the percent of the company you plan to give each founder, and anyone else you plan to give stock to. (This question is as much for you as us.)

- If we fund you, which of the founders will commit to working exclusively (no school, no other jobs) on this project for the next year?

- For founders who can't, why not? What level of commitment are they willing to make?

- Do any founders have other commitments between June and August 2013 inclusive?

- Do any founders have commitments in the future (e.g. finishing college, going to grad school), and if so what?

- Where do you live now, and where would the company be based after YC?

- Are any of the founders covered by noncompetes or intellectual property agreements that overlap with your project? Will any be working as employees or consultants for anyone else?

- Was any of your code written by someone who is not one of your founders? If so, how can you safely use it? (Open source is ok of course.)

- Are any of the following true? (a) You are the only founder. (b) You are a student who may return to school when the next term starts. (c) Half or more of your group can't move to the Bay Area. (d) One or more founders will keep their current jobs. (e) None of the founders are programmers. (Answering yes doesn't disqualify you. It's just to remind us to check.)

- If you had any other ideas you considered applying with, please list them. One may be something we've been waiting for. Often when we fund people it's to do something they list here and not in the main application.

- Please tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered. (The answer need not be related to your project.)

I feel like it's valuable just to read this document every once in a while, even if I'm not thinking about applying to YC.

Interesting that the questions haven't changed in quite awhile.

I think this also correlates with YC consistently having statistically significant high success rates. There doesn't seem to be much else to add to what is a fairly rigorous application.

To me that implies that it can be used as a baseline metric if all companies are coming into the process with the same (application) effort.

I am Canadian. Can I do this?

Yes. If you can relocate to the Bay area for 3 months, get a visa for the time you'll be there, and also move your startup.

It's easier if you 1. try to get your visa as soon as possible (now), 2. haven't incorporated yet, 3. can move most, if not all cofounders to California.

EDIT: I'd like to add I'm not formally associated with Y-Combinator. Just trying to help.

You don't need a visa as a Canadian to visit the US for 3 months for business purposes, such as meeting with "prominent investors and advisors" ;)

Thanks for that info, I didn't know :)

I'm a Canadian and in the current batch. There are lots of alum from Waterloo and some from Toronto.

Of course, we've funded lots of Canadian startups. There are some in every batch.

What's the "latest stage" startup to go through YC. I've seen a few companies that have been around for quite a while like Vayable go through YC. What's the most money raised before going through YC?

Maybe 18 months in time and a million or two in money. I don't know for sure because we don't keep records of either.

In practice, people tend to feel they're too late before they are. E.g. while a post series A company would probably feel they were too late, the number of post series A cos that would be net ahead from doing YC is probably nonzero.

It never hurts to try to get an interview anyway. Was just wondering... I guess we'll for sure apply then.

I'm a Brazillian living in Dublin, Ireland. I will launch my startup in the end of February. Is it a good idea to apply? Any numbers about how many applicants is from abroad?

We fund a lot of startups from outside the US. In fact the Stripe founders are from Ireland.

I know YC doesn't like to accept applicants who are still in school (and who aren't dropping out). Makes enough sense, considering students at all levels can expect to spend ~40-60 hours/week on their studies. But what about part-time/evening students? The commitment for them might be much lower, say ~10-20 hours/week.

Should students in this latter category even consider applying if they have zero intention of dropping out of school?

Apply for practice and to think through the questions, but realize that you are up against thousands of smart people who can give every waking moment of their life to their company and you can't right now.

I'd rather not waste the YC partners' time :)

Maybe in my case, school is a bit less of a zero sum game. I'm working on a legal research tool (prototype: http://dokket.aws.af.cm/about) that serves an under-addressed market (communications law). Think MarketBrief (http://marketbrief.com/), but instead of the SEC, the focus is on the FCC.

Not-so-incidentally, I'm about half-way done with law school in a part-time/evening program in DC.

Interesting idea, I happen to have an interest in communications law, but I never would have thought to pay for a service similar to MarketBrief for that space in order to keep tabs on the industry when I was at Twilio. In fact, there are a lot of analysts in the space so I am a bit surprised you consider it underserved.

Would this be a content site, or would you have a paid subscription model or deeper analyst pieces, or something else? What is to stop the FCC-focus from just being a niche channel on marketbrief itself?

I emailed you a more complete answer, but while you're here:

I'm focusing on building the dataset and alerts system, so it's more of a subscription service--for now at least. Looking ahead, there's a wealth of information buried inside these documents that I'd like to leverage.

Yes. Here's why: if your startup succeeds, your views about staying in school may evolve.

PG, can Eastern Europe startups apply?And what are the chances?I know everyone is allowed to apply but I have the impression that E.Europe is a last resort for YC.Also, why is the video mandatory for the first step.Wouldn't be easier to go through ideas and ask for everything else afterwards?Maybe some people are just shy or not so good on camera.There are so many options.Thanks.

Of course. There's a startup from Hungary in the current batch.

If Eastern European founders have a weakness, it's that their English is sometimes bad. That's a real problem in a startup, because you often have to talk about subtle distinctions.

We like the video because it's a so much more efficient way of seeing what someone's like than just reading a written application. Not as efficient as meeting them in person; we'd meet everyone in person if we could; but there are just too many applications to do that.

I always thought the visa is the major weakness.Many US incubators encourage european startups to apply, yet they try to avoid the hassle.Hungarians don't need a visa to visit US.Big advantage.I had this problem 5 years ago and I had to move my company in UK to be successful and it worked.

Out of curiousity, when you or the others review applications, do you have a negative feeling when you see the location?The reason I am asking is because investors tend to favor some countries and no one wants to be the underdog right from the start just by having the "luck" of being born in a small country.Thanks.

When people are from another country we usually notice this first in the video, which is among the first things we look at. And yes, my heart sinks somewhat when the people in the video have such strong accents that I can't understand them. On the other hand, if they didn't, I would barely notice what country they were from.

IIRC the CEO of the startup from Hungary had lived in the US for a while and didn't have too much of an accent, so that application felt to me almost like one from the US.

No more no-idea applications?

I wouldn't recommend applying with no idea even if they allow it again. My group got to the interview round with no idea last year. Here's in practice what happened: The entire interview was spent by the interviewers trying to see if we had good ideas that we just weren't aware of. (No, pg wasn't one of them) I would say that, yes, we do have ideas, but we hadn't sat down and talked about them, so we were brainstorming under pressure without any preparation.

It was weird because we actually had intentionally not prepared any ideas because we were on the "no ideas" track. We spent our prep time practicing questions about ourselves, and our team.

What we learned after and what was said to us by YC staff was that the no ideas track ended up having a higher bar of entry. It makes sense because you're bringing less to the table, so the bar has to be higher.

My suggestion would be, sit down and make some ideas with your team, and build a small prototype. That's really your best bet if you want to get in, it will make your interview more predictable, etc.

We haven't decided yet. For now that's commented out.

Can you tell us how many "no idea" people/groups were accepted last round?

1, out of 68 that applied.

I haven't seen YC's success with no-idea applicants, but I feel that being able to generate an idea is an important attribute to look for in founders even if you don't care what the actual idea is. In PG's running back analogy, it's like testing to see if they can move laterally vs being a "downhill runner"

PG, our startup is in phase 1 but on my application I am going to be pitching phase 3. My question is when you see the demo site it will only have part of the functionality that I am pitching. Is that going to look bad? Should I just do a video or ppt about phase 3?

PG - what are the chances of a single founder but with technical background getting in YCombinator? I'm a good but not great/"rockstar" developer but I am good enough to create an MVP. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

P.S - I can have a demo ready by interview process.

Last time I calculated, the odds were about 1/5 what they'd be with 2 or more founders.

But talking about the odds is misleading, because this pool is a mix of a large number of people for whom the chance is zero and a small number for whom it's quite high. So if you're another Drew Houston (who was a single founder when he applied), the odds are very good.

YC passed up on Drew the first time but now Dropbox is a huge success story. What gave him a better chance the second time around?

The first time he applied, it was not for Dropbox but for an SAT prep service.

Was this at a time before YC began favoring founders over ideas? Serious morbid curiosity here and not a troll attempt and I thank you for indulging me.

Was there such a time? Reddit co-founders were accepted and told to come up with a new idea


The next morning, on the train back to Virginia, hung over, somewhere in the middle of Connecticut, I get a call from Paul. He says, "I'm sorry, we made a mistake. We don't like your idea, but we like you guys." We got off the train, and I was able to sweet-talk the Amtrak lady into not charging us to turn around. In our conversation, Paul said, "You guys need to build the front page of the Internet." That was all Paul, and that became Reddit.

I don't know :-)

No, YC has always favored founders over ideas. But one of the main way you judge someone is what ideas they have.

When drew was first applying to YC I didn't know him. But I'm going to presume that, like most young people, 6 months or a year is a lot of time for personal growth.

Not sure if really on topic, but here goes.

YC alumni, what stage was your startup in when you applied for YC (idea, sketches, working prototype, launched product(s), etc) and did you make any radical changes to your product(s)?

I see that the equity stake that YC gets is variable from 2-10%, presumably based on valuation. I had thought it was a fixed 7% stake; is this new or had I not noticed it before?

It's almost fixed. I think out of 46 startups in the current batch, we asked for less than 7% from maybe 2 of them.

It's been that way for a long time.

If we're applying with an app already in the App Store, should we include a link to iTunes or make a demo video?

Give us a demo video, but also include a link to iTunes because if the app looks promising some of us may want to try it.

So excited for this!

yes, very!

Question for non technical single founders.... is it possible to get matched up if you Apply?

It has happened a few times naturally, but we wouldn't try to push it to happen in the sense that "match up" implies.

makes sense, has there been non technical single founders in the alumni?

One, Olga Vidisheva.

cool thanks, look out for #2!

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