Simon Willison’s Weblog


Sunday, 21st July 2013

Should you apply to Y Combinator if your initial users are not in the US?

Yes, for a few of reasons:

  1. Getting traction anywhere is a great sign that you can Build Something People Want, which is YC’s slogan. Having users who don’t fit in to the tech-heavy early adopter niche is an even more positive sign.
  2. YC are always experimenting with different combinations of startup concepts, markets and founders. If you are significantly different from other groups they have funded before that might actually help you in the application process.
  3. EVERY startup should fill out the YC application form, even if they have no intention if applying (you don’t have to submit it, you could even just print it out and answer the questions privately). It’s a very well designed application form, and answering the questions on it will teach you a lot of useful things about your startup and your team.
One more point: YC doesn’t require you to move to Silicon Valley permanently, aside from the 3 months of core YC activity. There are plenty of YC companies that end up outside of the Bay Area—our company is based in London (with several other YC companies), there are plenty in New York and I believe there are quite a few in other countries as well.

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What technologies were used in developing web applications in the ’90s?

Perl. Lots of Perl. There was a site called Matt’s Script Archive which was full of terribly written Perl scripts for things like hit counters and form emailers and guest books. It was very popular.

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How do you impress a venture capitalist so much that he invites you from another country for a meetup?

Don’t make a big deal about the fact that you are travelling from another country. Try to get a few of them interested enough to want a meeting, then make a bigger trip out of it.

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Events (leisure): What platforms based on sharing/creating users’ future plans with friends have been successful?

The founder of Plancast wrote an extensive post mortem discussing the challenges involved here:

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What is the best web app for organize/group yours others web apps?

Have you tried using your browser’s bookmarks?

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Is there software that can help me keep track of contacts and referrals while I am building my seed round?

We used Highrise from 37signals for this when we raised our seed round and it worked perfectly. You can forward or BCC it emails, use it for tasks and reminders, tag contacts in it and use the mobile app for when you are at fundraising networking events (we used that to great effect at Y Combinator demo day).

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2013 » July