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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.)

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