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: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDIT - I may be slow on the reply until after demo day ;)
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.
EDIT: Awww! I just saw our old MVP screenshots on that blog post. Lollipuff has come a long way since then...
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.
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.
2 Backspac.es - mobile photo storytelling
1 Beacon - fund a writer, read everything on the platform
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.
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 @ email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
And now you're proving me right. Which rocks.
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.
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.
Try out 1000 of things, do a pivot, pitch investors here and there, apply YC every now and then. Nothing pathetic about that.