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There's a longer blog post about this coming, but @zmitri and I applied to YC a total of six times before we got in.

Along the way we learned a lot about why YC is important, what it does for you (and what it doesn't) and why the application process is one of the best ways to think through creating your startup.

We've been really lucky to have great alumni help advise us and give us feedback on our applications (yes, all of six of them, thanks Jason Freedman!).

So hit me up if you want me to look over anything, it's the least I can do: hello@sandersak.com

EDIT - I may be slow on the reply until after demo day ;)




We (Lollipuff, W13) released our entire application along with the short video [1]. I personally think that looking at a few sample applications is/was super helpful.

I also share SandersAK's opinion: just writing a YC application will force you to think about the "right things" for your business. It's a worthy exercise in its own right.

[1] https://www.lollipuff.com/blog/102/lollipuffs-ycombinator-ex...

EDIT: Awww! I just saw our old MVP screenshots on that blog post. Lollipuff has come a long way since then...


Our 14% acceptance rate makes the most appropriate title "How not to get into Y Combinator."

But yeah, if you get an interview (you're already doing pretty well!), the 42Floors founders practice interview is the best training you can get for it.


Good! We'll be doing it again. To anyone that gets an interview invitation, contact me at @jasonfreedman and we'll be happy to do a mock-interview. Several alumni did mocks for us when we were applying and we found it massively helpful.


I can say without any doubt in my mind, without Jason's advice and the mock interview he took me through, I would not have been accepted into YC.

Nothing else will be as helpful as a mock interview. Jason's advice is on point, direct, and helpful. He's probably as close as you get to the real thing.


Sanders, that is quite an inspiring story. I wonder if all your six tries are for the same startup, or do you actually changed your ideas during these six times.


3 Good Karma - democratizing corporate philanthropy

2 Backspac.es - mobile photo storytelling

1 Beacon - fund a writer, read everything on the platform


when you reapplied with the same startup, how much did you tweak the idea or was it mostly just a change of interview strategy? In other words, why did you reapply thinking that you will have have a better chance to get in than last time?


Good Karma was evolving from idea to actual product with people involved. We still had full time jobs while working on this and never got an interview.

Backspaces went from 1,000 users (first application) to 60,000 users in the 6 months since we'd first applied. We worked on this full time and we got an interview the second time.

We re-applied along the way because we had progressed and gotten better at everything each time. We never even got an interview until 5th or 6th time.

Note: If you somehow get face time with one of the partners and you impress them, you will likely get an interview. We made that happen and then got an interview.


Great persistence.


I reached out to Adrian right after he posted and he's already helped me with CameraLends.com. I'd recommend the rest of you reach out to him!


Sometimes the best thing you can do is inspire people to do great things and with people like this in our community it's hard not to be inspired.

Although I haven't made it into YC yet I would definitely love to help anyone out even if it just means sharing my thoughts about your idea/startup :)

Shoot me an email @ tony@tonyrice.me or tony@automate.ly


So stoked for you guys. I watched you guys apply and get rejected each time. And then emerge more determined. It felt obvious to me not only that you would get in, but that you would be one of the startups most likely to succeed.

And now you're proving me right. Which rocks.


Thanks Jason, seriously we owe you so many beers. "when" not "if" is how we operate ;)


Nice! That reminds me of... "Tis a lesson you should heed, If at first you don't succeed, Try, try again;" - W. E. Hickson


Thanks man, that's generous of you!


Six times? Really? At some point it becomes pathetic, you know. Though portrayed as, yc isn't some sort of holy grail you have to touch before death. But six times, man, that must have been three years at least? Props for not giving up. Still pathetic though.


Pathetic is the perfect way to describe me.

Especially when you factor in that as an immigrant I had to leave America 3 times, once because I was diagnosed with cancer, and haven't legally been able to take salary from my own company in 2 years.


zmitri, i upvoted but sometimes words are needed - keep up the good work!


Hah, I guess it could be construed as pathetic. But we never looked at YC as the gatekeeper to whether we worked on our projects.

The best thing about startups is you don't need YC to make it happen. You need to work on something you and others find valuable that you're willing to work your ass off for.

Maybe others get in on their first try, and are clearly more able, capable, or validated than me, but that's not really how I gauge why I do things. Neither is getting rejected.

I'm the first to admit that I'm not nearly the smartest person to ever apply to YC. Hell I'm probably one of the dumbest. But there's no reason not to apply. The only downside is getting the rejection letter (and the free mixpanel credits). The upside, at least so far in my experience, has been well worth it.


You're getting downvoted for slagging someone, but the real reason your comment should be invisible grey is that very few people with your attitude succeed in business. Every company operator I know has a story to tell about handling months or even years of rejection.


Check their comment history. Haters gonna hate.


Wil Chung holds the record at 7 last I checked. I actually have a huge amount of respect for him for being so persistent. If I were an investor that'd be the thing I look for first.


You are making the assumption that simply because they applied 6 times means they must've been obsessed with getting into YC. That doesn't have to be the case - it's not hard to imagine someone trying various startups deciding that it's worth a shot each time.


Wtf is pathetic about that.

Try out 1000 of things, do a pivot, pitch investors here and there, apply YC every now and then. Nothing pathetic about that.


zmitri's reply is the only reason I'm not down-voting this.




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