Simon Willison’s Weblog


52 items tagged “ycombinator”


Y Combinator: I’m interested in how what the YC$ were spent on was impacted by whether you were from outside the Valley when you went thro the program or were local?

If you’re from outside the area you’ll spend a chunk of the money on rent (and maybe car rental). If you already live in or near Mountain View you won’t need to do that.

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Does Paul Graham steal business models from teams not accepted into Y Combinator and feed them to accepted teams as pivot ideas?

No. If he did, word would quickly get around and strong teams would stop applying to YC.

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Benefits and disadvantages of cashflow positive startups joining an accelerator program?

YC has a very low time commitment. There is a dinner once a week (which takes up the evening from 6pm onwards), and any other sessions are 20-30 minute slots you book yourself with the YC partners and advisors. My experience was that most teams have 2-3 of these a week.

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What is the biggest team to join Y Combinator?

Larger teams that apply for YC generally have to nominate 2-3 “founders”, mainly for logistical reasons: there simply isn’t enough room at the dinners for larger groups. The non-founders don’t get to go to all of the dinners, though they can come along to a few of them as guests of the founders.

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Are there any Twitter apps funded by Y Combinator? was originally a Twitter app (required Twitter for signin and social graph) back when we were funded by YC. We didn’t really think of ourselves as a “Twitter app” though, and I don’t think that aspect if the service was influential in getting accepted in to YC.

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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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Y Combinator Demo Day and Class of Summer 2013: Is it true that YC alumni are participating in the primary selection process during S13?

Yes—this has been happening for a few years now. Here’s Paul Graham’s announcement about it back in October 2009: Announcement: YC alumni will help us read applications

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Who was accepted into Y Combinator’s Summer 2013 batch?

You are unlikely to get any good answers to this question for a while, because YC startups are advised not to announce their participation straight away. Instead, they usually hold the announcement until they are ready to launch something—it’s a useful hook for getting extra coverage for the story.

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What advice does Paul Graham commonly give Y Combinator startups?

Read the essays on—many of them are derived from advice he has already been giving YC startups.

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What’s the real reason for the drop in cash that Y Combinator now gives companies? What really precipitated this change? Were they not seeing the value for their money and wanted out?

I was in the first batch that got the 150k. I believe Paul Graham when he says that the amount was high enough that companies stuck around for longer than they would have otherwise (and founders were more likely to “fight over the corpse”) and that 80k would have been enough to get companies through to the point where they either raise more money or decide not to continue.

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Is it worth accepting an investment from YCombinator if you have an established network in the valley?

Yes. Plenty of the companies in our batch at YC already had well established networks, and they still benefited enormously from the advice and introductions YC could offer.

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Are there any startups outside US which are/were part of incubators & seed programs like 500 Startups, Techstars, Y Combinator, AngelPad or similar?

Our startup was part of YC Winter 2011 and is now based in London.

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Y Combinator: Does YC accept applications from founders outside of states? How does it work?

Yes they do. I’m a YC founder from the UK, and there were a number of other international founders in my batch (including from Spain, Switzerland and Norway, off the top of my head).

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Does YCombinator fund Start-ups interested in building electronic gadgets?

YC funded InPulse, who make a watch which talks to your smartphone via bluetooth:

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How important is my alma mater to Ycombinator?

It’s really not that important—it might help a tiny bit to get to the interview, but if you look at the questions on the application form they are much more heavily skewed towards stuff that you have achieved and problems you have solved. The interview itself is almost all about your idea and your team.

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Does Y Combinator ever fund British startups?

Yes. Our startup went through Y Combinator Winter 2011 (Jan to March this year) and we’re a pair of UK co-founders. We’re back in London now.

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YC Is Not a School for Startups—It Is Marine Corp Boot Camp for Startup Founders. This is a great description of what it’s actually like to do YC. If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t blogged much over the past three months, this is why. # 20th March 2011, 5:27 pm

What Y Combinator companies are going to SXSW this year?

Lanyrd (W11) will be there, we’re promoting our SXSW schedule planner / coverage tracker tool:

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What is it like going through the Y Combinator program?

This essay is pretty comprehensive—it’s what convinced us to apply to YC, and our experience so far has been true to what it describes:

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What are the most recent Y Combinator startup companies as of 2011?

We (Lanyrd) are a YC startup! We’ve just announced our participation:

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Can we apply to Y Combinator on a visitors visa? Or is a work visa an absolute must?

I understand it is quite common for out-of-country YC founders to do the initial three month period under a visitors visa, which is OK provided they do not pay themselves a salary while in the USA. You can get a long way on expenses though.

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AppJet: Instant Web Programming. Another attempt at simple server-side JavaScript application hosting. Worth checking out for the impressive syntax highlighting code editor, which even matches braces. # 15th December 2007, 3:37 pm