Happy New Year from Y Combinator

We’ve collected advice from the founders of a few YC companies that can help you with some common New Year’s resolutions.

> Land a new job

HackerRank: A community of programmers who solve interesting problems for fun, prizes and jobs.

“Companies are beginning to place more importance on the stuff you have done rather than academic credentials (example: https://www.hackerrank.com/blog/jinfu). Here are some of the things you can/should do:

- Pick a project or app that you’d really like to build; build a prototype version of that and keep improving on the concept/idea.

- For programmers, knowing basic data structures and algorithms is essential for any job or interview. Read through Tim Robertson’s awesome comment on it. Some books that'll be of great help are Introduction to Algorithms and Cracking the Coding Interview.

- More and more companies are hosting programming challenges on their careers page (e.g., QuoraEvernoteFacebook). This is a great opportunity to get noticed by these companies.

- Practice, practice, practice. There are a number of high profile contests coming up. We have a running contest calendar which aggregates all contests happening across the world. Pick different kinds of challenges, try to solve them on your own and then look at the best solver's solution."

- Vivek Ravisankar, Cofounder, HackerRank

Other resources to help you get a new job:
Hire Art: Find startup jobs (marketing, sales, customer service & operations, biz dev) and learn more about the startups who are hiring.

The Muse: Learn about job opportunities and career paths, get career advice from experts and read profiles of the most interesting places to work.

> Learn to code

Codecademy: An easy, interactive way to learn to code.

“Learning to code is a lifelong journey—starting small and making it a habit early on is super important.  Pick a small and achievable goal, build a simple website or an easy game, and commit to it on a timeline. Focus on internalizing what you're learning and all your progress, and don't give up!”

- Zach Sims, Cofounder and CEO, Codecademy

CodeCombat: Learn to code by playing a game.

“Here are the things I wish someone had told me about learning to code back when I was first learning:

1) Don't worry about the language you learn, it doesn't matter. If you spend more than 10 minutes thinking about this, just learn JavaScript.

2) Stick with it.  Like a musical instrument or sport, programming isn't a skill you can acquire in an hour. Set a goal (perhaps to make a website) and move toward it regularly.

3) Programming can be hard and frustrating. No matter how easy it looks, every new programmer struggles, and every new programmer debugs. It's part of the process.”

- George Saines, Cofounder and CEO, CodeCombat

Hacker School: A free, 3-month school in New York for becoming a better programmer.

On learning to become a better programmer:

“Get your code reviewed regularly, ideally by someone who knows the language you're using better than you do. A good way to do this is to ask your reviewer to do a pull request and then discuss the changes in person or on Skype.

Refactor or rewrite code you wrote at least three months ago. It's a good sign if you think your old code is kind of gross, since that means you've improved since you wrote it. Ask yourself what you could have done differently to make your code easier for you to read and understand now and then do it. (Bonus: repeat this process in another three months.)

Most importantly: Write lots of code. Programming is a craft and the best way to get better at it is to actually do it.”

- Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock, Cofounder, Hacker School (you can find more advice in the Hacker School User's Manual)

One Month Rails: Build a live prototype of a web application in less than a month.
"Taking small steps to get involved in the tech community can help you tremendously if you run into problems while you're learning how to code. Sometimes you won't understand something, or run into an error that may be scary for a beginner but very easy for a more experienced coder to quickly help you out with. Find some meetups in your area on meetup.com, get comfortable posting questions on StackOverflow, and subscribe to coding subreddits like r/learnprogramming/ or r/learnruby. Having an active community for support makes a huge difference when you're learning any new skill."

- Mattan Griffel, Cofounder and CEO, One Month

> Take a trip

Vayable: A travel experience marketplace powered by locals.

“The opportunity to travel is rare for most of us, so making the most of the experience is important. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and off the beaten path—that's when the best memories are created and highest levels of sustained happiness are achieved. Talk to as many new people as you can and embrace the fact that public wifi is still scarce and roaming charges are so expensive as a gift that forces you to be present and soak in your surroundings.”

- Jamie Wong, Cofounder and CEO, Vayable

Other resources to help you plan your travels:

Airbnb: Vacation rentals, apartments and rooms for rent from people in over 34,000 cities and 192 countries.

Hipmunk: Online travel search designed to take the agony out of travel planning.

> Be smarter with money

ReadyforZero: Online tools that will help you manage and pay off credit cards, mortgages, student loans and other loans.

“Tackling debt (just like with entrepreneurship) requires focus and persistence. To pay off debt faster in 2014, the three most important actions to take are:

1) Figure out exactly where you stand i.e. how much you owe including the interest rates and to whom you owe it

2) Commit a total monthly debt repayment amount you can afford then automate your payments while watching your cash closely

3) Track progress on both your credit score and debt repayment often to stay motivated.

We wrote software that can help you do all this, but it's certainly possible to do it on your own as well!”

- Rod Ebrahimi, Cofounder and CEO, ReadyforZero

FutureAdvisor: An online investment advisor that automatically manages your investments to help you do better with your money.

“Investing in your financial future is a project with a very long lead time, so starting early will be more powerful than almost any measure of last-minute heroics. The best way to succeed in your "invest for my retirement" new year's resolution is simply to start early and continue to contribute regularly to your 401(k), IRA, and other accounts. Start early, rebalance regularly, and keep an eye on taxes - do this yourself or have a service like ours do it for you, but either way, your future self will thank you.”

- Bo Lu, Cofounder and CEO, FutureAdvisor

> Make a positive impact in the world

Watsi: Directly fund low-cost, high-impact medical care for people in need.  

"Studies show that generosity makes us happier, helps us live longer, and is an important part of the human condition. But it can be challenging to decide who to support and how to give. If one of your resolutions is to help others in 2014, my advice would be to listen to the people around you. Usually the best opportunities to give find you."

- Chase Adam, Cofounder, Watsi

Microryza: Discover, fund and experience new scientific discoveries.

“Do things that are initially uncomfortable. The world will be better for it. Our greatest source of inspiration comes from the researchers who leave their comfort zones to get their projects successfully funded. Most scientists would prefer to be left to their research, but the greatest value we've seen so far has come from creating communities that also believe in pushing the boundaries of human knowledge."

- Skander Mzali, Cofounder, Microryza

Clever (YC S12) featured in the NYTimes: A Start-Up Moves Teachers Past Data Entry

Using computers to improve education has been one of the great unmet hopes of the technology revolution. Billions have been spent and machines have deployed everywhere, but most fundamental measures of student achievement haven’t particularly improved.

Maybe we’ve been looking in the wrong places for improvement. In at least one success story, cloud-based computing systems appear to help free teachers focus on their core job of teaching students, instead of entering data about them.

Clever, a San Francisco company, recently put its online software into 15,000 schools. That is slightly more than one in nine American schools. Not bad for a product released less than two years ago.

Inside ZenPayroll’s (YC W12) Sprint To Reimagine The Way You Get Paid

There are few things in life that are more boring than payday. Every couple of weeks, working stiffs get an envelope with a jumble of numbers on a plain white background that is meant to show them how much they’ve made over the course of the last pay period.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Which is why a few months ago, payroll startup ZenPayroll spent a week redesigning the way it communicated with its users on payday.

ZenPayroll is a two-year-old company that wants to change the way that people get paid, simple as that. It does that on both sides of the equation, first by making it ultra-easy for employers to do payroll, and secondly by improving the actual experience of getting paid for employees.

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Watsi (YC W13) lands $1.5 million donation from Humble Bundle (YC W11)

Not-for-profit healthcare crowdsourcing platform Watsi has received a $1.5 million donation towards its business. The amount came from Y Combinator alumnus Humble Bundle, a video game startup that allows users to pay whatever they want for video games while also supporting charity online.

Watsi tells us that with today’s donation, a total of $2.2 million has been raised to help provide access to healthcare services for those that need it. In addition, founder Chase Adam says that Humble Bundle’s donation will help more than 2,000 patients.

Khosla Ventures is joining the YCVC Program

Today, we are excited to announce that Khosla Ventures is joining the YCVC Program starting with the upcoming winter 2014 batch. KV is exactly the kind of partner we want at YC—we admire their tenacity and willingness to making bold technology bets. As far back as 2006, KV has been a valuable investor in a number of YC companies including TightDB, Instacart and Quartzy just to name a few. We look forward to KV formally joining the YCVC program and helping more YC founders.

YCVC investments will remain at $80k per startup with KV taking the place of Yuri Milner, who has been spending less time focused on seed-stage investing. Yuri originally came up with the idea for investing in all YC companies, and we're grateful to him for that and for all the years he has participated.
“Y Combinator's track record of identifying and mentoring bold entrepreneurs is amazing and the Khosla team is excited to be a partner for the next generation of YC entrepreneurs,” said Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures.

Crowdtilt (YC W12) Raises Another $23 Million From Andreessen Horowitz & Others

Crowdfunding platform Crowdtilt wasn’t looking to raise another round, but when their Series A lead investor Andreessen Horowitz offered to lead their B round, the team decided it would make sense given their plans. Today, the company is announcing $23 million in new funding, which also includes participation from SV Angel, Sean Parker, Matt Mullenweg, Oliver Jung, DCM, Felicis Ventures, Naval Ravikant, Alexis Ohanian, Elad Gil, and others.