How to Apply And Succeed at Y Combinator | Startup School

How to Apply And Succeed at Y Combinator | Startup School

Intro (00:00:00)

  • Dalton expresses excitement about the topic.

Why It's Worth Applying to YC (00:00:17)

  • Reflecting on YC's application helps clarify startup thinking.
  • Applying is a low-risk, high-reward situation.
  • YC may be a good fit for watching the presentation.

Creating Luck (00:01:11)

  • Luck can be created by taking risks and increasing opportunities for success.
  • Applying to YC is a form of creating luck.

I Am Too Early & I Am Too Far Along [136.0 & 147.0]

  • Startups often pivot after joining YC, so being early isn't a limitation.
  • Even well-established or funded startups can benefit from YC, as there's no standard "too far along."

Being a YC founder is different than watching YC YouTube videos (00:03:36)

  • Direct access to YC personal and internal tools isn't comparable to viewing online content.
  • YC offers direct, real-time assistance and unshared secrets offline.

How to Stop Being Discouraged From Applying to YC (00:04:42)

  • Question the motivations of those discouraging you from applying.
  • Often, gatekeepers may not have your best interests at heart or won't invest themselves.

Other Reasons Why People Don't Apply to YC (00:06:21)

  • YC understands diverse startups and accepts international applications.
  • Even if YC has funded a similar company, it's not a reason to refrain from applying.
  • Past rejections should not deter reapplication; persistence is encouraged.

Don't Overthink (00:07:16)

  • Keep decisions simple and take chances, even with long odds.
  • Repeated applications to YC demonstrate persistence and are common among successful cohorts.

YC's Application Tips (00:09:05)

  • Be thorough and attentive to detail when completing the application and following instructions.
  • Clear and concise answers are more effective than lengthy ones.
  • Comply with the application directions carefully as adherence is part of the assessment.

YC Application Reviewing: The Basics (00:10:37)

  • Reviewers assess the founder's background and their connection.
  • They evaluate the clarity of the startup idea and its current development stage.
  • Significance is given to evidence that the product is wanted, based on users or customers.
  • Assessment of the founder's commitment to the startup is critical.
  • Applications should tell a compelling story that encapsulates the founders, the product, and the mission.
  • Transparency and impressiveness in the application are vital; applications with obfuscation or non-concrete information are weak.
  • Any form of misrepresentation in the application, intentional or not, leads to rejection.
  • Claims made in applications should be supported with appropriate evidence.

What Are Your Odds of Getting an Interview at YC? (00:15:59)

  • Odds for an interview increase with the amount of technical talent on the founding team.
  • Having technical experience from reputable tech companies significantly improves chances.
  • Lower odds for teams without technical founders or with unlaunched "tar pit" ideas.
  • Improving odds may involve adding technical talent, possibly through co-founder matching.
  • YC's selection process does not require networking or pitch decks; it's based on the application form.
  • Be cautious of external parties that claim they can influence YC admissions.

How to Prepare for Your YC Interview (00:18:12)

  • YC interviews are 10-minute Zoom calls with the expectation that interviewees are familiar with their application details.
  • Interviewers ask basic context-dependent questions to understand the business.
  • Candidates should not treat the interview as adversarial but as an opportunity to establish a working relationship.
  • Recited responses, not listening to questions, or seeming untrustworthy can negatively impact interview results.
  • Authenticity and mastery of business understanding are important; excessive or misleading preparation can backfire.

What Makes a Successful Interview at YC? (00:22:22)

  • Successful interviews answer all basic questions comprehensively.
  • Founders should demonstrate thorough knowledge of their business, including challenges and future plans.
  • Interviewees need to appear credible, honest, self-aware, and confident.
  • Authenticity is encouraged, avoiding overly staged or unnatural presentations.
  • The interview should feel like a natural conversation where the founder's true character is clear.

Post Interview Feedback (00:23:38)

  • YC sends an email with feedback if a startup is not selected, focusing on the key decision factors.
  • Addressing the feedback in a future application improves the chances of acceptance significantly.
  • The YC team keeps track of startups that reapply with improvements based on the feedback.
  • Applying to Y Combinator is straightforward and offers considerable potential benefits for a small time investment.
  • Encouragement for startups to persist and continually seek opportunities, aka "creating luck," in their entrepreneurial journey.

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