Case Study: Our Y-Combinator Experience

Y-Combinator is the crème de la crème of accelerators worldwide, with an acceptance rate of 1.5% for its winter and summer programs. They invest about USD125K in a large number of startups in exchange for % of the company. However, more than the financial aid, Y-Combinator has a network of alumni who provide guidance to anyone who comes to them. Among those that launched via YC include Stripe, Airbnb, Cruise Automation, PagerDuty, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Twitch, and Reddit. 

“The most important thing we do is work with startups on their ideas. We’re hackers ourselves, and we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to make things people want. So, we can usually see fairly quickly the direction in which a small idea should be expanded, or the point at which to begin attacking a large but vague one,” quote from Y-Combinator website.

As further described in their website, the YC program lasts for three months and there is one demo day in the tenth week. During those three months, founders participate in group office hours every two weeks and can meet with partners for office hours as often as needed. They also have alumni share their experiences at the weekly talks.

You don’t need to get into the program to get the YC experience.

Without applying for the seed funding of USD125,000, anyone can get the more valuable pieces of advice directly from Jared Friedman, Group Partner at Y-Combinator via the YC Build Sprint Program. The program has only four requirements to complete; a goal to be set at the beginning of the program, 4 weekly updates with micro goals each week, email of person or persons to follow your progress, and group sessions to attend with 2-3 other founders.

We joined the YC Build Sprint in August with the goal of launching www.startupinTaiwan.com, and we did it! Apart from the weekly calls with other founders, each week, startups presented their ideas via Zoom call with Jared and Joan DeGannaro, Startup School Community Manager and they both answered questions about our projects. We have realized that the problems and concerns of startups are almost the same at specific stages and the feedback of both Jared and Joan were very helpful for our own project.

The whole program culminated at an event called SUS Showcase where all the founders who completed their goals presented their projects. It was an online event that mimicked the regular physical event held at YC. Every startup presented just one poster that follows the Y Combinator template.

Aspiring Founders Program

While the Build Sprint was intensive, we have previously joined the Aspiring Founders program, an easier track to follow. While YC described it as “intended for potential founders who are interested in starting a company in the future, we still learned a lot of new concepts that are important foundations for building a startup in general.

The track consists of 17 videos and essays by YC group partners and 6 self-directed exercises. The program was initially called Future Founders, and participants needed to be on a waitlist to join. However, YC recently opened the track as a permanent part of Startup School.

All these led us to apply for the YC. While we’re not hopeful since the acceptance rate is very low, we got a lot just by being part of their programs. If you are interested in joining Y-Combinator SUS, it is free, click here.

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