I agree with almost all the points, but as someone looking from the outside in, I see YC as the most prestigious fraternity in the tech space. What do I mean by this? I go to the University of Michigan; coming in as an out of stater, I didn't know what to expect but I kept hearing this one piece of advice from current students, faculty, and friends that had also gone to big schools: "Find a way to make the school seem smaller to you." I never really understood it but when I arrived at campus for my freshman year, I quickly understood what everyone meant. There are SO many people and it's easy to get lost and have no sense of direction. So finding a community that aligns with your interests is ideal at a place like Michigan--I knew I wanted to get in with a group of bright, driven, and fun kids. One such place was described to be like this by almost everyone I spoke to in the beginning, it was a 'professional' fraternity where about 250 rushed and only 15 got in. I figured I'd give it a shot and went through the process and was selected. When asked why it's so great, I simply respond with, "The people in it make me a better person". It sounds vague, and it is to some extent, but it's true. Constantly surrounding myself with a small group of bright, driven, and fun individuals has truly made me smarter, more fun, and more open. It's been two years now (I'm a junior) and it is the single best decision I've made.
My long anecdote can be paralleled to YC. The tech space, especially in the bay area, is HUGE. Someone starting from scratch can be easily overwhelmed. YC seems to be the best place to get in a group with bright, driven, and fun individuals pursuing quite groundbreaking ideas, assuming you are one of them as well. That is why it is a desired place to someone like me.
All that being said, the aspect of mimicking a YC lifestyle is a great idea, I think all startups should do this and CAN do this given that it is not to expensive to get going.
I've found that type of community throughout the startup ecosystem. When I lived in Boston, before ever getting into YC, I found it at Betahouse in Central Square. While in NY, I found it at General Assembly. Now I see it at RocketSpace in SF.
I need to find a YC environment here in Los Angeles... If anyone has ideas, let me know. Or we'll just start our own!
Think about how many companies get to demo day at YC and would, without the YC prestige, raise a TON of money because they've already launched and gotten traction. It's a decent amount. Go through these steps and be THAT company, if you can.
This is what I learned from YC. It was from Paul Buchheit.
I have to second that Hacker News has been one of the most helpful communities for me. They (you) single-handedly are responsible for helping me seed communities for 5+ different applications, and most still exist today (graffitiGeo, OfficeHours.TV, Hacker News Directory, Bloc, CupidWithFriends) and pushing the sales of a book I wrote into bestselling categories on Amazon. I know friends who have similar experiences when they launched their own products. I hope to some day write a proper thank you letter to HN.
I see other products launch and I'm sometimes envious that the owners run another large community where they promote their other apps (e.g. Let's Date promoted by Suicide Girls), but realized that the same opportunity exists for anyone on HN. Makes me wonder how most people grow their products early on, because I'm probably taking HN for granted at this point.
Even though the promise of Silicon Valley is anyone can make it, a lot of people still need "permission" to go full time on a start up.
With many of customers who love your product,you should be able to attract investors or incubators more easily.
Your market would be terribly small though ;)
Clearly recruiting hosts in person, one by one, doesn't scale. But it's okay to do these kinds of things at first because they help you understand your users & help create super-users who will go out an evangelize your product.
If you are not accepted and/or are unable to relocate to SV, then a MOOC version of YC makes sense for the reasons that MOOCs make sense in higher ed: location & time independent, high quality learning, structured peer review, clear milestones and deadlines, tuition free, and most importantly ... it is far superior to the alternative, which is often doing nothing.
I tend to agree, but would love to hear any first-hand experiences from anyone who has participated. I'm sure there are a few, maybe I'll throw up a "Ask HN" sometime and solicit some input from some of them.
To my delight and surprise, they just presented at YC's demo day. :)
If you run the process on your own, at the end you'll have something built, but still have 1-3 months of work ahead of you securing another round of money.
The trick is, deadline only work if there are consequences. There can only be consequences if you feel accountable to someone or something. So, tell someone you're going to accomplish something by a certain date.
I'm going to contact 25 potential customers next week.
On review, the meetings and advisory help were effective, trying to track a peer group of startups was not. I would highly recommend it for any kind of serious project you're taking on.