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We got rejected by Y Combinator (karenx.com)
37 points by karenxcheng on Nov 18, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 15 comments

Vinod khosla (Sun co-founder) says "Fail Fast", meaning that learn all the possibilities (specially the dead ends, how not to use) of the new technology/idea before competitors do. So when the competitors place their baby step on the idea you're more far from the starting line. Good luck.

Thanks for the support!

Karen, I don't have any special insight into pg's mind (having never met him), however when I watched you at Startup School, two things struck me about your session during Office Hours.

The first was pg seemed intrigued by the idea. He was even feeding you additional ideas about where you could take it. It felt a little like you hadn't fully thought through why what he was saying was good or bad. One thing you could have concentrated on would be whether your idea has any kind of network effect and if you really can keep getting people to come back to your site. The barrier to entry for starting something like this is pretty low, so focusing on the community is really important.

The second point was that Finbarr didn't do much of the talking. pg is a geek at heart, so I felt like if Finbarr could have talked more about the technology choices, things could have gone better. The choice not to use YouTube to me (despite YouTube being down as I write this) seemed really odd and I think that didn't sit particularly well.

Being rejected by YC certainly isn't the end of the world, so stay positive and keep plugging away at it.

Here's the cache in case my blog goes down:


Why is this news?

Well, it's not supposed to be. News is when so-and-so raised a $15 million round from Sequoia-this or Andreessen-that.

Yesterday, we had an interview with Y-Combinator for our video startup, http://giveit100.com. We just had a pretty good launch earlier in the week. My co-founder Finbarr is more reserved than I am - he doesn't like to count his chickens before they hatch. But me, I had practically made myself a chicken sandwich. We'd get in for sure!

A little embarrassing to admit, but I'd already started writing my self-congratulatory Facebook status in my head. "So excited to announce that 100 has been accepted into the next batch of Y-Combinator," I'd say.

Then at 8pm: we got our rejection email.


Here's the Facebook status that went out instead: -------

So excited to announce that we had our YC interview today and ...didn't get in.

You only hear about people when they succeed huh? I'm way guilty of this too. Only posting the good news on Facebook. Painting an artificially glossy version of my life.

But I better start practicing what I preach. Show my mistakes. Don't be ashamed of failure. Be proud I tried my hardest. Fall 7 times, get up 8.

YC gave us some good, actionable feedback in their rejection email. They even challenged us to prove them wrong. I appreciate that.

Challenge accepted.


Then a cool thing started happening. One by one, people left comments about how they'd failed before. Joel Gascoigne from Buffer wrote how they didn't get into YC - they didn't even get an interview. People told me about other YC founders who didn't get in on their first try. Drew Houston from Dropbox is one of them.

Overall, Silicon Valley is pretty good about embracing failure. Here, it's not taboo to say you started a business and it failed. I don't know anywhere else like that.

But that's easy to forget when we see shiny headlines on TechCrunch. We're only seeing a brief moment of glory. We don't see the self doubt, the lost sleep. The dozens - sometimes hundreds - of rejections from investors.

We're good at embracing failure - but we could be better. Do the scarier thing. When we stop hiding our failure, we stop fearing it.

"The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried."

- Stephen McCranie

Congrats on launching your app! The YC investors all have their specific interests of the moment and it could be for some totally random reason your site doesn't fit this particular round.

Building a business is a long journey. YC is only one of many roads to take, and acceptance in their program doesn't guarantee success anyway.

Good luck to you whether you decide to continue with giveit100 or move on to the next venture!

I think you have a great idea and 100 will be a great medium for expression. I was glad to see you at Startup School and bummed they didn't invite you then. Keep at it! I think that they had some good advice and questions, but I'm sure you are doing everything you can with such a small team.

Thank you. Yes we really appreciated how helpful and specific their rejection email was, it wasn't one of those generic forms. Learn from it, iterate, get better.

It would be really cool if people could self-organize, crowd source, support, motivate, etc. a virtual incubator based on the same ideas and techniques as Y Combinator. The barriers to entry for creating products and companies is so small, it's a shame not to keep trying. After all, software is still eating the world:


And all you really need is a lot of dedication:


Maybe I missed it, but where's the failure part? The author's startup didn't get into YCombinator. That's not failure. She and her co-founder did not make any mistakes.

Failure is what happens when your business doesn't go anywhere. The only possible mistake here would be for her and her co-founder to believe that they needed to get into YCombinator (or any other program) for their business to go somewhere.

In this context, I'm referring to failure in the "setback" definition. Not ultimate, unrecoverable business failure sense.

And now when you succeed in spite of this, it will be that much sweeter!

Never let the failure define you, only let it temper your proficiency so that you and your projects pass through each phase stronger than before.

Just because one does not perceive the value as highly as you do does not mean the world reflects that opinion. Keep taking the shot.

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”

There's no shame in being rejected from YC. Nice work to date - and fyi, I'm a fan of the hover play on the site. Looks slick. :)

I didn't get at interview either...

I ran into giveit100 and I'm planning to use it in the near future. So please keep up the good work!

It could mean ycombinator does not have the necessary expertise to help you like they would want.

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