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YC emails are sent
61 points by zekenie on Apr 16, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 80 comments

For me it's obvious that rejections are often born out of a very high bar, limited capacity to take on startups and the limitations of human foresight.

It would be one of the more difficult tasks for me to imagine ever being upset at YC for a rejection (Got my 4th tonight, no stranger to it). If this was your first or second, don't worry , it gets better.

I can honestly say I've never felt closer to success and making progress than I do as I, every six months, write up a summary of where I'm at, where I'm going and then compare it with the previous series of rejected applications. Heck next time I could see myself easily with an actual website and customer base, or, if I get lucky, with a co-founder - how novel would that be?

So grow, YC, do it in a way where you don't loose your soul. And hey, if I never get in...well I'm in enough...

I'll make it. That's one of the best feelings. I know that it may look nothing like I presently imagine, but I'll make it. That's the beauty of malleable but relentless dreaming.

Now someone call Hollywood, er Kickstarter, I've got a killer idea for a film about two co-founders in the valley, 'Dotcom Quixote de la Big Chanca' and 'Sancho "the Ramen" Panza' as they go tilting at Heroku Dynos and courting Aldonza Horowitz aka "Andreesenea".


Would love to read your summaries if you have them posted somewhere. Would be a great learning curve for me as this was my first rejection (planning for more ;P)

I've found the best single thing that's helped me, both in terms of conciseness, product and effort focus, and gaining empathy for my target audience, is to see what I can cut out and what I can simplify. Focusing is seemingly among the most important, and often most difficult, tasks.

But I'm just some repeat offender/y-comb reject.

Focus is always the key. Without it you cannot achieve what you want without getting distracted.

Another hint which I often receive is to always narrow your market as much as possible. You can always expand later.

I wonder how many visitors of HN, like myself, sometimes forget that there's all of the Y Combinator stuff going on behind it...

That makes me wonder, are there any other examples of a regular business' forum spinning off like this? And to dive into it a little further, in hindsight this can be seen as a brilliant marketing move by pg, but was this intentional?

Devshed. But as soon as the owners realized that was happening they decided to kill off the community with in forum blackberry ads. Every one dispersed within a year including me.

Over all I think Its bad. Eventually the fact that the goals of yc aren't aligned with hn will be revealed. Then every one will disperse.

HN is aligned with the goals of YC because it provides a useful source of information about [some] applicants. From what I read, the success of a startup is in part dependent upon the communication and technical and social skills of its founders, and HN is a forum where all of those are often on display. A YC application plus an HN profile is going to lead to better filtering than just a YC application.

More than that, in YC's business model the cost of running HN probably doesn't even amount to rounding error. Until recently the website was running on a single server [it may still be, since I haven't heard otherwise since the infrastructure change to Cloudflare] and with PG himself handling a significant portion of the maintenance and coding. In other words, the financial side of a business like YC is incompatible with most people's experience in offices - it's not about profits from sales. It's about internal rates of return on working capital.

Couldn't you say that about any for-profit community? In the end it's their goal to make money off the people in the community. With HN at least it's pretty transparent (with submissions like these).

The goals are aligned well enough for this to work for a very long time, the fact that HN is now moderated by someone not directly affiliated with YC should help as well.

Let's not give up before the match is lost.

Rejection notice here. The application process did help us learn a lot and improve our plan quite a bit though so it definitely was worth the time and effort put into it.

Congrats to everyone receiving interview invites.

What is your startup? I've started a thread for people to post their rejected ideas: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7596563

Why would you post your rejection publicly? You can bet that this can be used against you in several ways. (copycats, sharks, people seeing 'rejected by 'x' as a negative'.

Better to learn as much from your rejection as you can, swallow and prove them wrong.

There are lots of times when openness is a good thing, being rejected by YC may or may not be such a time, it depends on a lot of factors and if you open up make sure you've thought through the consequences of doing so.

Typically in the VC world, when a VC passes on an investment they keep very quiet about it to avoid tainting the seeker of funding.

See: http://www.bvp.com/portfolio/antiportfolio

It would be very interesting to see the YC equivalent of that!

You've got a point about VCs. (Hollywood works in the exact same way) Some industries act like a high school hive-mind popularity contest that runs on social proof over logic. Perhaps it works better for them to think emotionally like customers and users do. However, I've gotten 3 job offers when I posted my failures on HN. I've gotten no job offers when I posted my successes. Overall as hackers/entreps we understand that "failure = successful trying" so sharing failures on HN has it benefit.

> However, I've gotten 3 job offers when I posted my failures on HN. I've gotten no job offers when I posted my successes.

That makes good sense, failure indicates 'availability' whereas success indicates the opposite!

The same thread from 6 months ago had many postings and comments:


If you're feeling really dejected, just one positive comment can make you feel a lot better. But it's certainly at your discretion; don't post if you feel it would be harmful.

To those of you who got rejected: you're still fine. It's just one of many ways to possibly succeed. Not a big deal.

I got rejected last year for the first time, decided to apply again on the next batch: got refused again. After that we decided not to apply to this batch, and here we are about to close our A round at an above average YC valuation gets at their A round after just 1 year since being founded..

We just followed what PG writes in his essays when in doubt.

I submitted (non-profit track) kind of on a lark. Shrug.

same here

Rejection here. Was prepared for this, but still, it stings.

> We're trying to get better at this, but the hard limit on the number of interviews means it's practically certain that groups we rejected will go on to create successful startups. If you do, we'd appreciate it if you'd send us an email telling us about it; we want to learn from our mistakes.

Next goal: To reach the point where we can send that email!

Edit: Congratulations to everyone who got the invites to the interview. Good luck!

If you get rejected, make sure you don't take it personal and ask yourself: If we needed YC to accept us to succeed were we on the right track? And if the answer is no then make it work without them. After all, YC is a factor in the success of quite a large number of start-ups but there are many more start-ups succeeding without having gone through YC than that did.

If it were the only factor common to all successful start-ups rejection would be a bad thing.

So go prove them wrong.

I submitted my non-profit, CharityCoin.org and unfortunately was not accepted. However, I firmly believe in our mission to create a sustainable charity so I am still working on it. We do not need the capital, but It would have loved to get some advice from YC.

To anyone else that has not been accepted - please consider CharityCoin- we are the kickstarter for charities that helps startups raise money for Free.

Here is how it works: We ask celebrities for their permission to mint gold and silver coins with their image. We then give those coins to donors that promise money to their favorites charities. But the money raised goes to startups who promise to pay back and support the charities. This effectively is a loan and the interest is just a commitment of volunteer time to promote the charity.

Please go to http://CharityCoin.Org to check it out and contact me Ric AT CharityCoin.Org

Based on http://ycombinator.com/howtoapply.html, it seems that there's a point in the application where if you're impressive enough, they'll spend more time on it and if not, they'll disregard it.

> If the founders seem promising, I'll now spend more time trying to understand the idea.

It might be a good idea to put the applications that don't get past that point in one pile, and send them a different and more specific rejection letter. (I was just rejected and am naturally wondering how close I was, and this idea came to mind.)

Imagine sending 3,000 tailored responses that spawn discussion threads. Not feasible. Believe in yourself kid!

I'm not saying to give "tailored responses". Just maybe put them in a different pile and send out a first rejection letter saying that you didn't make it past the "first cuts".

Ah. I'm sure they've considered something like that. Smart suggestion. But at the end of the day does it really matter?

There once was a lonely developer. Who got rejected by Y-Combinator. Paul Graham said "No!" But it don't make him feel low. He'll make next year's attempt so much better...

In an earlier startup I went to 88 meetings over 8 months before getting to a VC term sheet. That is a lot of 'no'. If you are going to be an entrepreneur you need to learn to live with rejection and keep moving forward. I got my "sorry" email from YC tonight, but that's fine. I knew the odds were very long. I'm getting up early tomorrow to continue working on my idea. I may apply again in the future with this (or another) concept, but for now I'm just going to keep on hacking!

Rejection here too. Would've loved to get some feedback but I know how time consuming that would be.

Lots of founders were kind enough to give me feedback on Hall.com when I had $0 funding. Since then, we've raised $6m+ Feel free to send over your info and I'll give you feedback. (brett@hall-inc.com)

Thank you in advance Brett.

this seems to me an awesome opportunity brett. Will send you some info

I hope you do...

Dear Brett,

Thank you so much for your help. I will see you an email tonight.

thanks man , sent you email for our yc-reject startup "Helping Faceless" :)

Acceptance here. We're pretty stoked.

Congrats. Hope all goes well. Would be great if you could write up a blog post or something to share your experiences.

Congratulations! Good luck on the interview. Please share what you can when you can.

I didn't make this round but I am still excited because if one waits until you're 100% sure you will never accomplish anything. Go with 75% sure and you'll get there. I know I will. Thanks for the No Thanks. That's how one gets off their back and keeps going.

Acceptance here!

For those who didnt get in, chin up! It is not the end! Keep hustling and keep pushing forward!

We've also got rejected, and now I'm pretty sure that Ycombinator is just a great bottleneck itself. It can even be inferred from Kirsty's email or Sam's post: http://blog.samaltman.com/the-worst-part-of-yc.

Anyway, it's now like a challenge for all of the good/promising startups (including ours) to prove them their mistakes or missed opportunities resulting from undercapacity. On the other hand, I wish all the best to every accepted company! You're now on a better track to your success ;)

Good luck to everyone, Mark Bain

Rejected, but not dejected. The process was invaluable and I'm excited for the next opportunity, and congrats to those called in for the interview.

Mixpanel and others have offered special deals for rejects in the past. Silver lining!

Anyone NOT get a response yet?

If you did not get a response and you did not apply late, please be sure to check your spam folder.

When do late applicants find out?

I would like to know this as well.

It would probably make sense for YC to contact late applicants once they have done the interviews. They've mentioned before, they can only take on so many startups per batch and if there are enough after the interview, it really doesn't make much sense to bring on more. That is, unless they are so good, it would be foolish for them to let other incubators get to them first.

We haven't.

EDIT- Got it a few minutes after posting.

In my case I found it under the "Updates" tab in Gmail, only after I read this thread and went looking for it. It might be worth checking it out if you haven`t already.

whats the email id they are sending email with ? We can search with that. EDIT: Got the mail, Rejected.


I haven't either.

We haven't.

EDIT: We have.


neither did I, couldnt find it in spam too.


Rejection here too - honestly think we just weren't far along enough (0 users, 0 traction, barely working prototype) - will keep hustling and re-apply in 6 months.

In all honesty, I really can't blame YC because the only reason we didn't have users/traction is we only started working on our idea a couple weeks before application deadline but from the perspective of a YC partner, I can imagine their first thought is that a lack of users/traction communicates that you're not hustling hard enough.

Good luck to everyone who has an interview :)

I only just had the idea about a week before the deadline for the apps, so I knew the odds were stacked even higher against me. On top of that, I'm currently a single founder. However, the objective of my idea needs to be satisfied, so I am absolutely continuing to work on the idea with a bit more urgency now that I won't have YC guidance and connections.

My project is http://www.MyAdversity.com - A mock-up of how my profile would look is at http://www.MyAdversity.com/profile.htm

The idea is to have a central hub where employers with available positions and applicants looking for a job connect. Unlike current (and highly successful) services that attempt this while obeying the status quo of hiring, MyAdversity will provide two huge and beneficial differences:

(1) Employers will hire the best person for the job far more successfully. Applicant profiles will already be screened and sorted. So an employer simply has to search for qualities and skills they're looking for in an applicant, and a ranked list of applicants will appear with the best match first. An applicant's profile will provide the employer with most information that is sought by a conventional interview. Therefore, employers will be able to focus their time on conducting a better interview that likely includes a sample of real work the applicant would be assigned if hired.

(2) Applicants will have a level playing field when pursuing a position they really want. The screening process does not depend on the inaccurate filters employers use today to save time, nor does it weigh so heavily on pedigree. Applicants will be judged by who they are, what they're passionate about, and what they're capable of. Applicants should have hope that if they acquire the skills to competently perform the work at their dream job, that they have a reasonable chance to be hired.

Even though it's only an fleshed out idea with a first iteration mock-up while I code the actual MVP for beta, I'm not in stealth mode. If anyone steals the idea and executes it better than I will, then the objective will be satisfied, and I'll be grateful. That is my main goal. I greatly appreciate any feedback you may have. Congrats to all of the groups who were chosen for an interview, and best of luck!

I got rejected. Then rereading the email, i remembered Drew Houston didnt get in the first time. The best way to experience success is to overcome rejections and go on to succeed. I personally think between the YC partners blogs, we have enough advice to continue working with our product. In 5 years YC or not, the target is at least 20m users or whatever else is your targets. just target 5% growth.

Rejection here. Congrats to everyone who got an interview.

I feel okay with not receiving a reason for being rejected. We put in effort when filling out our application, and YC put in effort (at least according to our Youtube analytics) in reviewing our application. Sure, it would be nice to get some feedback, but all we asked for was a fair shake. And because they watched our video, I feel we got it.

How many views, if I may ask? For us, youtube analytics shows 2 views, both on April 9th (one from Australia).

Three views (one from London), all of which were for a substantial portion of the video.

Got rejected.

My startup is visual programming system ala Spreadsheets + Zapier, here is my YC application – http://spreadsheets-on-steroids.tumblr.com/post/82903500034/...

Would like to hear some feedback on my application.

"Y Combinator is wrapping up wading through 3000 applications for this summer’s intake" From this url: http://www.forbes.com/sites/hollieslade/2014/04/15/early-sta...

Another rejection here. It was our first time applying for YC (or any other incubator). The application process sure helped us view things in a perspective other than co-founders as coders. Even if we decide not to apply again it will be a great exercise to answer the application questions every 6 months.

If anyone wants feedback on their idea from a smaller accelerator, Chris Heivly, co-founder of MapQuest and later The Startup Factory would like to schedule a one-on-one video meeting to talk about your application. If that sounds interesting, send us an email at mark@thestartupfactory.co.

Rejection here as well. We had applied with a marketplace for used cars, and even engaged in an email conversation with Paul regarding the idea. He had suggested a couple of models & a way to bring supply onto the platform.

Little dejected & disappointed right now.

Ohh, and one more thing. Maybe I missed it, how many applications did you/YC receive for S14 batch? I've read on Sam's blog that it was around 20% more than in the previous edition, but would be great to know the exact number ...

They received more than 3000 applications for this batch. Going by past ratios, 9% are interviewed -- and in the end 3% are selected.

Without going into details it sounds, like 97% chances that you would be rejected ...

Still waiting. Our idea is 'Try before you buy for Github repos' - http://beta.howtox.com/

Sounds neat. How do you figure out the dependencies? I have to imagine this works for a limited set of languages. Was there any language that was preposterously hard to support?

Lisp... just kidding... you are right that that is one of the hardest problems in the project

Has anyone else STILL not received any email yet? I've checked all over my inbox and misc folders (junk, spam etc.) and couldn't find anything

Still waiting - gotta check the 4-5 gmail tabs now ! Kyle (at) reputer.co

Not an applicant, but would love to chat with somebody who got accepted.

Rejection here

Reminds me of my comment about an year ago:


(1) Quality of applications, as in number of people who can write and talk really well, have gone up and the (2) number of applications have gone up; means the gate is even more crowded than ever before. So the pressure to dole out a silkier YC application next time will go up.

Obviously the outcome of this cycle is that the focus of the entire selection ruckus will move towards "best of best applications written in English" and not really start-ups (which look/are bad) but have the potential to go on to become unicorns/home runs.

Meanwhile, this pressure will also give rise to energetic backbenchers. A psychology for those who feel cheated by fate to go after and kill it outside of the incubator loop. Good luck YC, no-YC both!

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