Y Combinator is a kind of startup accelerator that aims to invest in startups twice a year. It spends a small amount of money on large startups and works intensively with them for three months. The company has a model of funding early-stage startups so they can become successful.
It tries to get the startups in the best possible shape. The company organizes a demo day for every cycle so startups can present themselves carefully and be selected.
Each year, the company is determined to interview and select two or more batches. The selected companies receive a total of $500,000 seed money, advice from experts, and connections. In addition, the companies get $125,000 on a post-money safe in return for 7% equity, along with $375,000 on an uncapped safe with Most Favored Nation.
The basic goal of Y Combinator is to help the best startups in their early stage so they can take off really well. The companies at all the different stages are accepted, whether it has been launched for a year or more or if it even hasn’t started working.
It tries to help every company to get into a dramatically better shape three months later. For a majority of startups, better shape refers to either having more options for raising money or better products with more users. Each startup greatly benefits from Y Combinator. The selected startups are groomed in three months so they can become successful.
As you have understood what is Y Combinator, keep reading to learn more. Amit Chauhan
History and Origins of Y Combinator
It was founded in 2005 by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Tappan Morris, and Trevor Blackwell. For three years, the company ran programs at two locations, including Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mountain View, California.
But later in 2009, the company decided to conduct all the future programs in Silicon Valley. The size of each batch is different, but Y Combinator initially started with a batch of eight companies.
Many companies consider it prestigious to carry the name Y Combinator because this company only accepts 2% of the total applicants.
Like the other company accelerators, this one also focuses on offering three main things: connection, money, and advice. Since 2005, the accelerator has been known to back more than 630 companies, including Dropbox, Airbnb, Heroku, Reddit, Stripe, Optimizely, and more.
This company’s founders say they are targeting early-stage companies, which is why they are still having fun. It is dedicated to working so startups can easily launch. The company also wants more people to follow entrepreneurship.
Program Model of Y Combinator
Y Combinator follows a program model where it organizes programs twice a year with around $100,000 to invest in a large number of companies. The selected companies are made to move to Silicon Valley for three months so they can easily participate in the program. The startups also receive advice and mentoring from partners.
One unique thing about this firm is that it advises partners who do not have any other jobs. It’s their full-time role to help startup founders so they can take their businesses to new heights of success.
Furthermore, it does not believe in indulging the startups only in motivational talks. Instead, it is far more focused on mirroring some of the utilitarianism and building businesses.
Participating and Pitching
While Y Combinator does not emphasize the power of startup founders, it surely values the power of connections. After all, connections play a major role in making the programs so successful.
When you realize that you are going through the same process as someone who has become successful, it helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
With the right pitch presentation, called Demo Day, the participants are given an opportunity to make their dream a reality. For the Demo Day, the founders must present a short pitch to curate angel investors and a group of VCs.
The investment process is quite smooth as this company has a good connection with the investment community. As a participant of Y Combinator, you can draw some value by getting connected with the right people or getting inspired by the founders. You might not only think about what the connections can do for you but also how they can shape you as an entrepreneur.
Annual Activities Organized by Y Combinator
This startup accelerator program is known to conduct two cohorts every year. So many companies participate, but only a few get selected to attend the 3-months long program.
The program is held globally twice a year. It includes a demo day, where investors come to invest in their interesting venture. The program participants also receive support and mentors from the investors so they can move in the right direction.
Talking about Indian startups, Y Combinator has invested in more than 150+ companies. Some of the recent startups include a new-age digital bank- Walrus, a payroll app for small businesses- SalaryBox, a real estate marketplace- PropReturns, and more.
The institute-cum-enterprise works on the motto, “Make Something People Want.” Through its programs, this accelerator wants to teach the founders of startups so they can market their products in a better way.
In addition, Y Combinator runs an extra program and a fund designed to invest in and support startups. The same team operates the YC Continuity fund and YC Growth Program. The teams are focused on helping fast-growing startups so they can become successful.
Popular Startups Under Y Combinator
Airbnb is an apartment rental company dedicated to helping travelers find short-term stays in the residential area. This peer-to-peer marketplace provides a directory of listings from which a person can choose any option.
This company was founded by Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia, and Brian Chesky in 2008. The services of AirBnB are available in 191 countries. It has around 2 million homes on its website, with about 80 million people staying in the houses listed on Airbnb.
The sharing business model of Airbnb helps travelers and property owners to get connected with each other. In the year 2009, this company received $20,000 as seed. The current valuation of this company is $18 billion.
The unique mobile app of AirBnB rightly understands the traveler’s preferences and provides them with local insights.
DropBox offers file sharing and storage services. The company was launched by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi in the USA. People can easily store and share high-volume pictures without any difficulty.
What’s interesting? Files shared through DropBox automatically sync with the user’s device. It follows the freemium business model where it offers free services. One can also avail of premium services by paying for the available plans.
DropBox is a reputed participant of Y Combinator of the summer 2007 batch. By late 2018, this company was valued at more than $12 billion.
Heroku was developed as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) by James Lindenbaum, Adam Wiggins, and Byron Sebastian in 2007. For $212 mn, the company was taken over by salesforce.com, a managed container system integrating data service.
Zenter is an online facility that offers services for preparing PowerPoint presentations. It gives the user freedom to add new content from the web. Founded by Wayne Crosby and Robby Walker, this company was acquired by Google in 2007 with $15k funding.
Reddit is a well-known social media and social news aggregation site. Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman found it. Condenast acquired it for an undisclosed sum.
It’s a game studio company started in 2006 by Charles Forman and Dan Albritton. Zynga Inc. purchased this company for $210 mn. It also features a gaming website for numerous players created using Adobe Flash.
Wufoo is an excellent platform that offers the service of building online forms. This company was founded by Chris Campbell, Kevin Hale, and Ryan Campbell. It collects user data and enables registrations. It gets payment by creating contract forms.
It was acquired for $35 mn in 2011 by SurveyMonkey. This company is known to provide a variety of templates so users can easily customize their forms. One can create dynamic charts and follow the logic.
It’s a company known to offer analytical tools that can be used to track a page’s engagement. The company claims to be actively analyzing 67 billion actions monthly. It works on a SaaS platform.
Mixpanel sends email, webbook notifications, pushes, and emails. Suhail Doshi and Tim Trefren founded it.
How to Apply for Y Combinator
If you are interested in becoming one of the participants of Y Combinator, you must apply correctly for the program. But many participants do not understand that it is extremely important to express yourself clearly.
Matter of Fact
Avoid mentioning something that does not convey the message when answering the questions. That’s because the last thing you might want to do is scare away the judges with big blocks of words.
Try to answer the question in a way so it can sound impressive and also properly explain your idea. Make sure that after reading your answer, the judges come closer to your idea.
Make sure you mention a line or two about the company’s founders. The goal is to explain something impressive that each founder has built or achieved. It’s an important section because it helps the judges know what kind of group they are dealing with.
After the founders, you should focus on giving insights so judges can better understand the company. The deeper the insight you offer, the more are your chances of getting selected.
Who is Eligible to Apply for the Y Combinator Program?
Candidates applying for the Y Combinator program must have at least 10% equity in the startup they want to be funded. After receiving invitations, only founders can come for the interview or attend batch events.
Tips to Enhance Your Application Form
Do you want to increase your chances of getting selected for the Y Combinator program? In that case, you must follow the tips mentioned below.
Anyone Can Apply
You should apply for the program even if your business is not ready. You will be glad to know that Y Combinator accepts all kinds of startups at all stages of progress. You just have to ensure that your company or the idea exists in the technology space.
Also, you need to be the company’s founder and co-founder with at least 10% equity.
Traction is not Necessary
There is a myth that companies need traction to be accepted by Y Combinator, but that’s not true. Even if your business does not have traction, you can easily apply and submit your form without any worry.
Many companies have applied and have got selected early in their development. At the same time, other companies that applied were already profitable. So, the stage of your company doesn’t matter, only the idea does.
Keep it Brief
If you want your application to stand out, you must try to keep it brief. Making your answers shorter and information provides the quality and clarity of the form. Keeping it brief helps you get straight to the point and helps you express yourself correctly.
Talk About your Weakness
Many founders avoid talking about their weaknesses, but you must do it. Try explaining your weakness so that reviewers understand it is not something to worry about.
When you talk about the weakness, the Y Combinator reviewer gets the impression that you are aware of your startup’s flaws and have not failed to notice them.
Answers are More Important
If you get invited for the interview, try to focus more on your answers and less on the presentation. Try to have a meaningful conversation so they can have a clear picture of what your idea is and how it works.
What is the Acceptance Rate of Y Combinator?
After getting started in 2005, this company has funded around 3,000 startups and is known to work with 6,000 founders. Around 10,000 companies apply to participate in the program twice a year, but only a few of them get selected. It happens because the Y Combinator acceptance rate is 1.5% to 2%.
Y Combinator has emerged as one of the sought-after Silicon Valley startup accelerators. It’s a complete game-changer in the startup world with no shortcuts to getting into it.
Y Combinator is a prestigious accelerator program that helps startups to get successful. It offers money, advice, and connections to the selected startups. Also, the companies get $125,000 on a post-money safe in return for 7% equity, along with $375,000 on an uncapped safe with Most Favored Nation.
It organizes the startup program twice each year, where several companies apply to get selected. But only 1.5% to 2% of the company gets to attend the program.
Startup founders must carefully fill out the form so reviewers can find it interesting. This way, startups can increase their chance of getting selected. It is definitely a reputed accelerator widely known and accepted in the startup world.