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. 


YC Digest: November 7-13

Top Stories from the YC World -- November 7 to November 13, 2015


YC News


Jessica Livingston featured on Product Hunt's AMA series

Sam Altman interviewed in Wired about investing in biotech startups


Essays

Things That Aren't Progress by Aaron Harris


Alumni news

Tesorio (S15) featured in Inc. Magazine

Bluesmart (W15) selected for MOMA design store collection

Cymmetria (S15) raises $9 million for cybersecurity platform

Docker (S10) adds $18 million in new funding

Machine Zone (W08) launches new game, Mobile Strike

DoorDash (S13) profiled by Steven Levy on Medium's Backchannel

Meadow (W15) noted in New York Times article on cannabis startups

YC Digest: October 31-November 6

Top Stories from the YC World -- October 31 to November 6, 2015


YC News

Y Combinator profiled in the Economist

Jessica Livingston interview with Aaron Harris on Startup School Radio

Luke Iseman quoted in the Korea Herald and China's TechNode

Sam Altman interview on the Jay and Farhad Show podcast


Writing

Startup Playbook by Sam Altman

A Way to Detect Bias by Paul Graham

Thank you, Y Combinator by Garry Tan


Alumni News

SunFarmer (S15) recognized by President Bill Clinton at 2015 Clinton Global Initiative

Watsi (W13) raises $3.5M in philanthropic growth round, co-founder Grace Carey featured in Self Magazine

Verge Genomics (S15) raises $4M for algorithm-enabled drug discovery

Gingko Bioworks (S14) purchases 100M base pairs of synthetic DNA from Twist Bioscience

Semantics3 (W13) raises $1.55M for e-commerce data platform

GitLab (W15), now with 1M downloads, featured in Business Insider

Pebble (W11) CEO Eric Migicovsky onstage at Dublin Web Summit

Dropbox (S07) talks enterprise growth at its first Dropbox Open conference

Genius (S11) announces partnership with Eminem

Weave (S14) raises $15.5M for small business communication platform

YC Digest - October 24-30

Top Stories from the YC World October 24 through October 30, 2015


Continuity's Ali Rowghani talks to CNBC about playing the long game in VC investing


YC Alum

Gobble (W14) raises $10.75 million Series A for its 10 minute dinner kits

SEED (W15) raises $5 million to scale its small business banking platform

Afrostream (S15) signs deals with Sony Pictures and Viacom

Blockspring (S14), the ‘do anything in a spreadsheet’ startup, partners with Tableau

Razorpay (W15) raises $9 million from Tiger Global and Matrix Partners

'Life With My Robot Secretary', Fast Co Design's review of Clara Labs (S14)

Verge Genomics (S15) raises $4 million in seed financing

Shoptiques' (S12) CEO Olga Vidisheva profiled in Forbes

Genius (S11) launches 'Genius Beta', a plug-in for annotating any page on the web

Y Combinator is hiring hackers

Y Combinator has a small team that makes the software that runs YC. Hardly any investors write software, but YC was started by hackers so it's natural for us to solve our problems that way.

The YC software is used by a relatively small number of people—mostly the YC partners and founders—but the users are sufficiently important that through them we are able to have huge leverage. YC has ambitious plans to create more innovation in the world, and the only way to reach that level of impact is to scale through software.

We're looking for a couple of great hackers to join us. It's not a job for everyone, but it could be a good fit for someone who likes startups.  If you're a hacker, have a look at the job description. If it feels like a good fit, we’d love to hear from you. If not, our startups are hiring people of all kinds, so have a look at them too.

More details: Be a Hacker at Y Combinator

Startup School Radio: 42Floors' Jason Freedman on How Startups Are Born Out of Problems

In Episode 19 of Startup School Radio, a podcast that features stories and practical advice about starting, funding, and scaling companies, our host Aaron Harris first sat down with Tyler Bosmeny, who talked about his experience going from the Harvard math department to co-founding education-oriented API platform Clever (YC S12). In the second half of the episode, Aaron interviewed Jason Freedman, who has co-founded two Y Combinator-backed companies: Flightcaster, which launched out of YC's Summer 2009 class, and 42Floors, which launched out of YC's Winter 2012 class.

You can listen to the episode on Soundcloud here, and iTunes here.

One interesting part of Jason Freedman's interview is where he talked about how all of his startups have been born out of a problem that he had personally encountered, rather than from a desire to "start a company":

Aaron: And the funny thing is, each of the ideas you've worked on, they weren't things that you'd written down in a notebook somewhere that you were going to do at some point in life. It's just 'Hey, I just realized that this problem exists. Let me go fix this.'

Jason: You know, when you think of a startup career, I don't have a startup career. What I've had is a succession of problems that have found their way into my life, and that I decided that I could figure out a way to solve.

Aaron: Yeah, it's interesting, because from what we've seen, that tends to be the places where the best startups get started. It's not the person going out and looking for a business to start or looking for a problem set that exists and to go create a startup against it. It's, 'Oh, wait, I've actually seen this. This doesn't make sense. It's in my life, let me fix it.' Because you have so much depth of understanding and so much experience.

Jason: With 42Floors, we're trying to make it easy for people to search for commercial real estate, and if I had started a startup to do that, I would've thought it would never work because it's going to be way too hard and I didn't really understand anything about commercial real estate. But solving a problem for myself, that I could figure out.

Aaron: It's interesting how sometimes ignorance is the thing that actually lets you drive and start something.