YC Updates and Additions

Y Combinator now has 5 major groups—YC Fellowship, YC Core, YC Continuity, YC Research, and Hacker News—and we’re putting one person in charge of each group.

Paul Buchheit is taking over for me as managing partner of the core YC program.

We’re going to continue doing YC Fellowship (!), and Kevin Hale is going to be the managing partner of that.

As we’ve already announced, Ali Rowghani is the managing partner of YC Continuity, and Dan Gackle runs Hacker News.

As YC's President I will spend my time across the three investment programs (YC Fellowship, YC Core, and YC Continuity), and will also run YC Research until we find someone to run it full-time.

Additionally, Kirsty Nathoo is going to be the CFO across the entire YC group, and Carolynn and Jon Levy are going to be the General Counsels across the YC group too.

While we’re on the topic of who does what, I wanted to share two other roles that people outside of YC ask about a lot.  Each partner at YC is responsible for specific areas, but these are the ones that interface with external people most often.

Dalton Caldwell is going to be responsible for admissions to the core program and also for our efforts to stay engaged with alumni companies.

Kat Mañalac is responsible for the outreach efforts we do to meet potential new founders, and she'll also be working closely with Kevin on the Fellowship. 

Finally, we have a few new additions to the team to announce.

Matt Krisiloff is working with Kevin on YC Fellowship (he’ll also be doing some work on YC Research).  Matt previously co-founded a mental health directory that helped people find good therapists, and before that he studied at University of Chicago.

Denis Mars is working with Dalton on admissions for YC Core. Denis is a YC alumni (he was the founder of Meetings.io) and the founder of several other successful companies.  He was also the Chief Engineer of a Formula 3 championship-winning team.

Verena Prescher is working with Kirsty as the Controller of YC Continuity. Prior to joining Y Combinator, Verena was the Controller at Felicis Ventures.  Previously, Verena was a tax manager in PwC’s Asset Management practice, providing tax compliance and consulting services to investment partnerships with a primary focus on the venture capital and real estate industries.

Holiday Gift Ideas from Y Combinator

We've just launched YCGiftIdeas.com-- a collection of clever and unique gift ideas from 60 Y Combinator startups.

Yesterday I was doing some last-minute online Christmas shopping for my dad (I got him an Airbnb gift card), and it occurred to me how many of the YC startups were making things that would make really neat gifts. But they needed to be centralized, so I began pinning them to a Pinterest board. It was so cool how varied and "one-of-a-kind" these products were. Smart watches and jewelry, DIY iPhone repair kits, handcrafted shoes, beauty products and fragrances, Watsi donations-- there was something for most everyone there.

I wanted to share this collection with everyone, so I put together a web site. It's a real v1-- not perfect or complete by any means. But there are only 8 more days until Christmas, so I've scrambled to launch it and will continue to make updates/changes!

To YC alumni: if I've overlooked your product or you'd like a change, email me.

Thanks to Colleen Taylor for her wonderful writing and Strikingly for the quick and easy site building.

Happy holidays!

YC Digest: December 5-11

Top Stories from the YC World -- December 5th to 11th, 2015


YC News


Announcing new Open Office Hours

Introducing Open AI, the first initiative from YC Research

YC partners Qasar Younis and Kevin Hale's AMA on Tech in Asia


Launches

Function of Beauty (W16) Creates Personalized and Precise Haircare Formulas


Alumni news

Gigster (S15) raises $10 million for its software development platform

Paribus (S15) featured on Good Morning America for its online shopping savings app

Greentoe (S14) brings its "name your own price" shopping app to Android

Panorama Education (S13) featured in NPR

How Lugg (S15) got its on-demand moving app off the ground

Noora Health (W14) helps ease strain on doctors in developing countries

Level (W15) launches Level Vinyl for finding and custom framing records

Function of Beauty (W16) Creates Personalized and Precise Haircare Formulas

If you walk into any drugstore, you'll find an aisle full of shampoos and conditioners. But ultimately, these are all still one-size-fits all solutions. The actual amount of variation among each product and brand is quite small, and many consumers shop around for years trying out different haircare products without finding one that really works for them.

Function of Beauty is a startup launching out of our Winter 2016 class that creates truly customized haircare products. Founded by two MIT grads, computer scientist Zahir Dossa and engineer Joshua Maciejewski, along with cosmetic chemist Hien Nguyen, Function of Beauty has built a software platform that allows customers to create a personalized profile from 36 different features, encompassing options regarding hair type, style goals, fragrance preferences, and more. Ultimately, the company says that its platform can be used to create more than 450 million unique end products.

TechCrunch's Jordan Crook wrote about Function of Beauty in a story published this week:

"For now, the team is hand-filling each bottle and using a software algorithm to determine ultra-precise formulas for both the shampoo and conditioner. Eventually, however, Function of Beauty will use an advanced robotics machine to automate the creation of each formula and fill the bottles.

'Once we build the machine, we’ll be able to handle 100 different ingredient blends, leading to 900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 combinations,' said Dossa. 'That number dwarfs the number of people on the planet, much less the relatively small number of shampoo and conditioner options on the market.'

Beyond formula customization, the company also offers the ability to name your specific formula, with that custom name printed right on the bottle.

...Function of Beauty keeps prices relatively low by selling directly to consumers online. An 8oz set will go for $26 and a 16oz set goes for $38. Comparatively, low-end products like Suave will cost you around $10 to $15, whereas high-end products like Fekkai shampoo and conditioner can cost up to $50/set."
Read the full story here.

YC Open Office Hours

Earlier this fall, we announced our first Open Office Hours where founders got to meet one-on-one with YC partners. We piloted the program with Black and Latino founders, over 650 founders applied in under a week, and we were able to meet over 50 teams in just 2 days. 

We learned three things:

  1. There are a large number of talented Black and Latino founders eager to make their startups a success (we didn’t see a pipeline problem).

  2. There is an incredible appetite for open office hours throughout the startup community. Founders from a wide range of backgrounds and countries reached out and asked to participate.

  3. Open office hours are an incredibly efficient way for us to get to know and help founders who don’t have access to great startup advice and mentors.

We believe that startups are often best at solving the personal problems of their founders. The more diverse the background of the founders we help, the more problems can be solved, and the more people who can be positively impacted by technology.

So, starting in January, we’ll be hosting Open Office Hours every month and each month, we’ll focus our outreach on a different community (under-represented minorities, vets, women, international founders, etc.). We'll also open some months to anyone in the startup community.

Each company who participates will get a 20-minute office hours appointment with a YC partner. They can do them in person at our office in Mountain View, CA or remotely on Skype. Founders can ask questions, get advice, and grow their network. Additionally, Amazon is generously offering $5,000 in AWS credit for all participating teams.

We’re taking signups for Q1 starting today.

Check out the Q1 2016 schedule below.  

Learn more and apply here: http://www.ycopenofficehours.com/

- Kat Manalac and Michael Seibel

PS: If you would like to help us spread the word please email: Kat@ycombinator.com or Michael@ycombinator.com

Q1 Open Office Hours Schedule

January 28: General Open Office Hours
All founders are welcome to apply.
Apply here
Deadline to apply: Jan 7

February 11: Veterans (VetTechTrek + YC)
VetTechTrek, an organization that helps military veterans connect to the tech community, will be leading a trip that includes stops at YC and some of our portfolio companies. The trek takes place in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley on Feb 10-11. YC partners will do office hours with Vets on Feb 11.  

Apply to join VetTechTrek
Deadline to apply: Jan 21 - Applicants are selected on a rolling basis so there is a strong preference to apply early.

If you can’t make it to the trek in person, you can still apply for Vet Open Office Hours here.
Deadline to apply for office hours only: Jan 21

March 10 - International Founders
All founders from outside of the US, whether you are looking to sell in America or in your local market, are encouraged to apply.
Apply here
Deadline to apply: Feb 18

Coming:
April - Female Founders
May - Break
June - General
July - Black and Latino Founders

Late Applications

Not many people know this, but Y Combinator accepts late applications.

Typically startups are busy executing at their own pace, often moving very quickly. As such, it makes sense for us to allow teams to apply to YC whenever they believe we can add the most value. 

As with many things at YC, we started by thinking about late acceptances as an experiment and have collected data over the last few application cycles. We found that some of our most promising teams would have missed out on YC if we hadn’t accepted them late.

While we do accept late applications, we still strongly encourage founders to apply on-time. On-time applications get the most partner attention, the quickest response time, and the best shot of getting accepted into Y Combinator. We’ll consider late apps without any penalty, but there are three downsides for founders to keep in mind:

  • Responsiveness. We can’t say exactly when your late app will be reviewed or you’ll be interviewed, as that’s based purely on partner availability.
  • Coverage. Fewer partners will review late applications, which means there’s a greater chance we might miss exactly why your company has such great potential. 
  • Acceptance rate. We’ve already filled out most of the batch, so you’re competing for fewer slots. Because of this, late applications must be more compelling and reflect a higher quality than standard apps.

Partners review and vote on late applications just the same as they do for on-time applications. We’ll invite late applicants to interview with us if we think their application is compelling, either alongside the on-time interviews (if we have spots available) or later on a separate day dedicated to interviewing late applicants.

For more information about late applications, check out our Late Applications FAQs.

To submit a late application, visit: Apply to Y Combinator

YC Digest: November 21-27

Top Stories from the YC World -- November 21st to 27th, 2015


YC News

Jessica Livingston on the 'accidental' origin of YC


Alumni News

Prayas Analytics (S15) raises $1 million for its retail store A/B testing platform

Website building platform Weebly (W07) profiled in Forbes

Small business banking platform SEED (W15) profiled in American Banker

Zeplin (S15) raises $1.2m for its developer/designer collaboration tool

Plangrid raises $40m to expand its construction software product

The Macro

We're excited to announce the launch of The Macro, a new publication that will feature essays, interviews, research, and opinions from Y Combinator and the wider startup community.

Y Combinator’s mission is to enable more innovation in the world. Historically, that’s mainly meant funding and advising startups.

But from the beginning, storytelling has also been a core part of YC's DNA. From Paul Graham's essays, to Jessica Livingston's book Founders at Work, to the more recent Female Founder Stories series and Sam Altman’s How to Start a Startup class, a big part of what has made Y Combinator special has been the stories it has helped create and the way that it has shared those lessons with the world.

As YC has expanded, so has the amount of stories to share. The Macro is the latest part of that tradition.

The Macro is not focused on breaking news. There is already a robust network of publications that are covering the day-to-day changes in the technology industry. Our aim is take a wider-range view1, while sharing information that is useful, thoughtful, and interesting.

As with most everything YC does, The Macro is starting as an experiment, and we’re learning and iterating as we go. We welcome your submissions and feedback: email us at macro@ycombinator.com


1. [Hence the name, in part. It’s also a nod to the “macro” as a powerful operator in computer programming, particularly in the Lisp language. Paul Graham wrote in depth about how to use the macro in his 1993 book On Lisp, explaining: “Mastering macros is one of the most important steps in moving from writing correct Lisp programs to writing beautiful ones.”]

Tips for YC Interviews

We are in the midst of YC interviews right now and I had a few bits of advice for interviewees that I thought I'd publish while they are still top of mind (in no particular order):  

1. Don't use buzzwords. Speak in plain language.

2. Have a conversation with us. Don't deliver a prewritten "pitch."

3. Sometimes we'll want to see a demo, but most often we just want to talk about what you're doing. If you rely on a demonstration to explain what you're doing, that's a bad sign. Being able to explain something in words shows you really understand it.

4. Relax (I know this is easier said than done). We want you to do well! And we are very expert by now at overlooking the little things that go wrong in interviews.

5. We love learning new things. And a good startup idea usually teaches you something when you encounter it. Don't worry if the new things about your idea are things only someone in your field would care about. We like that. We'd rather have interesting details than boring generalizations.

6. We don't have lots of time for pleasantries, unfortunately. We have a fixed amount of time and we want to spend it learning about you and your idea. So please don't take it personally if we jump right into things.

7. There's no one specific set type of interview. They can go in many different directions. So don't worry if the interview doesn't take the form you expected.

And here are Michael Seibel's 10 pieces of advice for preparing for a YC interview.