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How To Get Into Y Combinator (christophergolda.com)
17 points by konsl on Nov 12, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

How to get into YC:

* Be young, about to finish college, or just finished college and working on your startup

* Go to a name-brand school like MIT

* Done some open source project that may or may not be popular

* Done something a bit impressive

* Be able to write very good english

* Be U.S based

* Have a co-founder from a similar background as yours, and who you've known for a while

* Do something that sounds simple

* Build a personal brand here on this site

* In the video, be comfortable and project intelligence

That will get you to interview, assuming there are not more impressive people. When you interview:

* Don't give off a loser vibe

* Have a determined jaw and a friendly personality

* Communicate clearly what you want to build

* Make what you want to build something that in some way is in one of the major areas where there is potential (like money management or so)

* Be sure your idea is something the partners can relate to (i.e, not building huts in africa)

Yes, no need to point out the exceptions, I'm well aware.

Have a co-founder from a similar background as yours, and who you've known for a while

While your message is quite tongue-in-cheek, there is some truth to it and I wanted to follow-up on this comment.

From anecdotal experience, it seems that YC favors a team of technical founders. Whereas in a blog post today on VentureHacks, the authors recommend the tech/business pair.

So which is better? Two techies, or a slick biz plus a techie?

What you really need is two nerds. But one should be nerdish in a direction where he does not mind book-keeping, writing blogs, ad number tracking and so on. He should still be able to program.

The other should be nerdish in a very geeky manner. If you have two linux freaks there, you'll have a company without vision. If you have two doe-eyed powerpoint pushers, you'll lack a product.

There is no right answer. Startup advice seems to only make sense in aggregate: you collect all of the opinions and try to map those to your situation.

By the way, I've been wanting to make a prediction on your success, since I've been following your work with interest for a while: I think you will be successful, but not in the sense that YC or investors want from you. I just don't see you breaking out of the lifestyle-business loop. I believe that your technology will be your undoing - it will become so attractive to some outside entity that you will get swallowed up by them. I'm not sure if the technology - as-is - will be that valuable, but I'm assuming that you will iterate and adapt to the changing landscape. There is going to be demand for what you are creating - not for such trivial things as recommendations, but simply as data processing tools. There is going to be too much data, and the people who can structure it in whatever niche, will make good money.

The real question is this : will you guys be able to see the money when it comes? I, being an outsider, would not, but sometimes you can be so much of an insider that you don't see it either. You both seem pretty focused, and that's the big problem I see.

The final problem I see is this: you care about people liking you. I have the feeling pg likes you like he used to like sama. But the difference is that sama is ruthless and focused on making money - would you ever be able to? Can you bite the hand that fed you for the sake of the money?

Your recommendations system is small business and you will change it at some point. The new thing you build will be more interesting, I think.

That's my prediction! Let's see how many years I have to wait!

We weren't clear about the definition of a "seller" in the Venture Hacks post. I'll revise to say something like,

"The seller doesn't have to be a "salesman" or "business guy". He can be technical, but he must be able to wield the tools of influence. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs aren't salesmen, but they are sellers."

"charistmatic" or "leadership" may be the words you are looking for?

Honestly, this is sufficiently bad "advice" that the exceptions far outnumber the occurences.

I would not really describe this as advice.

The median age is something like 24 or 25, right? That's young, but not peach fuzzed.

In that case you don't need YC, YC needs you!

And just in case you don't get accepted to YC: http://blog.fairsoftware.net/2009/04/07/you-didnt-make-it-to...

I'm just saying, because it's interview season and we already had at least 4 posts on the topic of how to get accepted... If everyone who read these posts got accepted, the YC building would have to add quite a few floors.

Good entrepreneurs are resilient, even in the face of early rejection.

If you don't know what to do if you aren't accepted, you shouldn't be applying in the first place.

Is the link to your twitter purposefully crossed out to entice more clicks? Genius...

It's a (lame) joke, but who knows, maybe it will result in greater than 12.81% clickthrough :)


lol, thanks...I definetly needed this!

I will be back, STRONGER THAN EVER!!!

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