tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:/posts Y Combinator Posthaven 2014-07-29T00:18:54Z Y Combinator tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/719800 2014-07-28T17:40:58Z 2014-07-28T17:40:59Z Tiempo (YC S14) Wants To Simplify Time Tracking So You Can Focus On Work

Y Combinator-backed Tiempo is a free time-tracking app for iOSAndroid and the web that can be used by individuals or companies to track employee hours to pay them faster.

Employees can log in hours and send it to their manager for approval. An approved invoice can be paid in moments, and the payment arrives in the employee’s bank account in less than 3 days.

Tad Milbourn, CEO and co-founder of Tiempo, said he, Peter Terrill and Kyle Kilat, who all met at Intuit, wanted to help people focus on work, rather than worrying about getting paid.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/718692 2014-07-25T18:01:07Z 2014-07-29T00:18:54Z Diversity and Startups Sexism in tech is real.  One of the most insidious things happening in the debate is people claiming versions of “other industries may have problems with sexism, but our industry doesn’t.”  Both men and women claim this, even though it keeps getting harder to do in the face of shocks like the Tinder texts.  We know there is a problem, especially when it comes to starting companies, and we think YC can do something about it.

I’m willing to believe it’s worse in other industries [1], but it’s still very bad in our own industry.  Debating how to fix it is important, but debating whether or not sexism actually exists trivializes the problem in a toxic way.  A lot of women may not experience sexism, a lot of women may experience it but not talk about it, and a lot of men aren’t sexist.  Saying “There isn’t any sexism in tech” in the face of a mountain of data hurts things in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Although the current debate is mostly focused on gender, and I think women face some of the worst discrimination in tech, they are certainly not the only group that faces discrimination.

We—the tech industry as a whole—need to fix this.  Most importantly, it’s an ethical issue.  And speaking for YC, it’s also in our best interest.  People who are not white males will start many of the best companies of the future, and we’d like to fund them.  (White men will start many of the best companies, and we’d like to fund those too.) 

We have continued to listen to the community and are trying to understand what we can do to help.  Realizing that it’s hard to speak with much authority here as a white guy, I’d still like to share some current data about YC and also talk about what we’ve been doing and will do to improve the situation.

We think YC can help drive real change, and we hope lots of other organizations will join.

Some YC diversity data

It’s hard to put exact numbers on this because we don’t have a precise definition for “technical” and we don’t ask for gender on the application form, but it appears we fund technical women that apply to YC at a slightly higher rate than technical men that apply to YC for at least the last few years. [2] However, a lower percentage of women than men that apply are technical.

We can get more precise number when we disregard background and just look at the gender of applicants (based on looking at the application videos)—19.5% of the startups we have funded this year have women on the founding team compared to approximately 24.3% of startups that applied, based on a random sample of a few hundred applications.

As a side note, even though it will break backwards compatibility, we are considering changing how we look at this to the percentage of all founders that are women instead of the percentage of companies with a female founder.  Encouragingly, the percentage of women applying continues to trend up year after year.

10% of our companies currently worth more than $100 million are now run by women.  These women aren’t just on the founding team—they’re the CEOs.  While this number is still much smaller than we’d like, and I believe we can do more to make it higher, it’s a big improvement from 0% a few years ago and well above the industry average.

39.6% of the founders in our current batch were not born in the US, representing  27 different countries.

We have four female full-time partners (and in addition to advising startups, to a large extent they run YC).

What we’re doing 

One of the most-repeated things we’ve heard from our founders and others is that in addition to holding focused events like the Female Founders Conference, it’s important to make sure we have women speaking at all of our conferences and during our batches, which we’ve been doing.  We’re also showcasing more women and people of different ages and races on our website.  Positive role models are wonderfully effective, and we have more and more successful women who can inspire the next generation of founders

We will continue to ask our successful female founders to spend some of their time telling their story and being role models.  They, and others, can also talk about the challenges women face running startups far more authoritatively than I ever can. 

One thing I’ve heard again and again is that the hardest challenges are not the obvious ones.  Yes, it’s awful to hear the horror stories of wildly inappropriate behavior from investors to the entrepreneurs pitching them. (Unfortunately, stories like these are not super rare, but because there’s a big cost to going public with them, most never get told.  My hope is that YC has enough leverage at this point to make it clear that this is unacceptable and we will not continue to work with investors who do it.)  The thing I didn’t appreciate until I spent a lot of time talking to female founders is that unlike the occasional terrible incidents, there are frequent minor incidents—to stick with the fundraising example, many women told stories of investors only talking to their male founders in the room.  And more generally, many just don’t feel like they belong in the startup culture.

We won’t be able to stop all bad behavior, of course, but I do think we’ll be able to help reduce it.

Nearly all of the women I’ve spoken to feel that Hacker News has improved a great deal—and even when jerks write nasty comments, they usually get a lot of responses of the type we like to see.  But there is still more we can do, even though we’ll probably never be able to rid ourselves of Internet trolls completely.  Specifically, we’d like the community to help by downvoting comments that make HN an unwelcoming place to anyone.  We made a significant change to the downvoting algorithm a few months ago.  When we see comments that are threatening or worse, we ban the accounts and say on the thread that we don’t tolerate the behavior.  We are also working on new guidelines for HN comments.

We’re encouraging our startups to get HR infrastructure in place earlier.  Many startups wait until they have 50 or so employees before thinking about this; our sense is that many will benefit by doing it earlier.  Traditionally, startups have thought of HR as a drag on moving fast and openness, but a well-running team is one of the best assets a company can ever have.  We’re working on some projects here but aren’t ready to share details yet.

Another thing that we’ve heard is a belief that YC prefers companies with technical talent on the founding team.  This is true.  Based on all the data we’ve seen, it seems like a smart thing to prefer.  We’ll make exceptions—not every company needs complex technology to win, and not all leaders have to be expert coders.  But this is part of our DNA, and what makes us work—it’s a challenge to have a software company without at least one cofounder who can write software and evaluate and attract other coders.  This isn’t unique to tech; movie people should probably run movie companies.

Even if founders don’t code day-to-day—I didn’t after the first couple of years of my startup—a deep understanding of technology is still very valuable for leaders of technology companies.

So we’re especially excited by efforts to make learning to code more accessible.  Teaching people to code is not the only thing we need to do.  In addition to taking a long time to effect change, there are other problems in the industry like the attrition rate of women and minorities in tech that we need to fix.  But anyone who wants to learn to code should be able, with lots of encouragement along the way (this goes for any sort of engineering, of course.)  It’s an important long-term step to take.

Not everyone wants to learn to code—there are plenty of other interesting things to learn, and plenty of other ways to contribute value to a startup—but our sense is that a lot more people would be interested in it if they thought software development was a viable career path.

Google’s recent work here is great, as is the work of YC companies like Hacker School, Codecademy and MakeGamesWithUs.  YC also funds companies that help people learn to code, and we are especially interested in funding non-profits trying to help make STEM education more available and the tech world more inclusive.  We also try to host, judge, and help fundraise for hackathons and other tech events designed to broaden the community.

Teaching people who want to learn to code how to do so, ideally at a young age, is one of the most important things the world can do to increase the pool of potential startup founders, even though this will take a very long time to produce change.  Teaching people about startups is probably less important than teaching people how to code, but still a valuable thing to do.  We’re planning to put more resources online to help people learn how to start startups.  More good startups will be good for everyone. 

We—the industry as a whole—still have a huge amount of work to do, and we need a lot of organizations to be involved.  We hope what we’re doing will help.  This will be an ongoing process for YC, and as always please keep sharing your feedback.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 


[1] My mom is a doctor.  When I was maybe 12 years old, I went with her on a Saturday to the hospital and we went into the doctor’s lounge.  My mom pointed out to me there was a men’s bathroom but no women’s bathroom.  I thought (and still think) my mom was the best doctor ever.  I remember being incensed by this in the weeks after and the image is still very clear in my mind.

This was the late 1990s in Missouri, which is certainly different than the 2010s in California but not wildly so.    

[2] My guess for the explanation here is that it’s easier to start a startup as a man than a woman, and so the talent pool is more concentrated on the side of women who start startups.

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Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/718665 2014-07-25T17:02:25Z 2014-07-25T17:17:56Z How 7 Cups of Tea (YC S13) Accidentally Grew a Community of 17,000 Listeners

Most people would much rather donate money to help others than they would donate their time and energy. Getting people to volunteer can be one of the most difficult challenges a community builder can face. How about getting 17,000 people to volunteer? Think you can take that on?

That’s exactly what 7 Cups of Tea did. And as a community of “active listeners,” they did much more than get people to volunteer. Every volunteer listener completes a training program and then actually chat with and listen to other members of the community. And they did it all in one year.

“We call it the emotional support system for the Internet” explains CEO and clinical psychologist Glen Moriarty. “We just celebrated our one-year anniversary and are thrilled with the way the community is growing.The community gave back to 7 Cups of Tea on their birthday by making a thank you video to the entire team and joining them in an all-day chat party.

Read the full story on cmxhub.com

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Jessica Livingston
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/718321 2014-07-24T23:30:03Z 2014-07-26T06:07:30Z Lawn Love (YC S14) Wants To Bring The Whole “Software Eating The World” Thing To Your Own Backyard

Lawncare and landscaping are areas that have remained largely un-”disrupted” in the whole software eating the world trend that’s been going on in recent years. If you’re in one of the 80 percent of American households that have a lawn, chances are that you either take care of mowing and upkeep yourself, or you have hired a local lawncare provider you’ve found the old fashioned way, through a recommendation of someone you know — research shows that fully 98 percent of the $74 billion landscape industry business marketing is done through customer referrals. Getting a quote on lawncare is usually an in-person affair, and booking and payments are not often conducted through the web or a mobile phone.

Lawn Love is a new startup launching out of the Summer 2014 batch of Y Combinator that aims to add a layer of tech-enabled ease to the process of finding, booking, and paying a landscaping or lawncare provider. Essentially positioned as a Homejoy for lawncare, Lawn Love has built a web platform that works as a two-way marketplace with the aim of bringing more efficiency and protection to both sides of the business transaction.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/718320 2014-07-24T23:00:00Z 2014-07-24T23:09:19Z Checkr (YC S14) Automates Background Checks For The New, On-Demand Economy

The nature of employment is changing. Thanks to a growing number of platforms offering on-demand services in more places around the world, there’s now massive demand for workers to perform services and deliver goods to users. As those businesses have scaled up, that’s created a need for better processes around vetting and bringing on new workers quickly.

The best example of this is probably Uber, which reported recently that it will complete 2 million background checks in 2014. But the process of getting background checks completed hasn’t changed much, even if companies are requesting a whole lot more of them.

Y Combinator-backed Checkr wants to change that.

Checkr was founded by Daniel Yanisse and Jonathan Perichon, who are two software engineers that used to work for an on-demand delivery startup that ran into the problem of running background checks for drivers it wanted to recruit. They decided that if they added a little bit of technology, they would be able to automate the process and enable companies to fit into their existing workflows.
Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/718318 2014-07-24T22:34:46Z 2014-07-24T22:34:46Z Fixed (YC S14) Raises $1.2 Million For A Mobile App That Fights Your Parking Tickets For You

Fixed, the clever mobile application that helps you fight your parking tickets just by snapping a photo of the ticket with your mobile phone, has now closed on $1.2 million in seed funding. Investors in the round include Y CombinatorMerus CapitalScott Banister, John Cobbs, Mark Randolph, Matt Humphries, Eric Wu and David King.

Headquartered in San Francisco, which also serves as its debut market, Fixed first launched this January, allowing residents to snap photos of their tickets using an iOS device. Afterwards, Fixed checks for common errors before proceeding to write a customized contest letter on your behalf, which is sent to the city.

The company recently opened up its waitlist to the entire San Francisco metro area and has since seen 35,000 users sign up for its service.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/717667 2014-07-23T18:00:48Z 2014-07-23T18:00:49Z OpenCurriculum (YC W14) Looks To Foster Open-Source Education By Releasing Free Online Library

YC W14 non-profit OpenCurriculum announced the launch of a free, online library of educational materials for math teachers:

Aimed at providing teachers with educational materials by making them open and competitive, OpenCurriculum, which launched in Pittsburgh, curates and organizes material from sites such as teacher blogs and lesson material publishers. Teachers can create lesson plans and more through OpenCurriculum.org.

In its effort to provide high-quality learning and an openness in K-12 education, OpenCurriculum released a 5,000-document library on its website for math teachers to use as lesson materials. Anyone can use the material on the website without logging in, but to get access to tools such as the lesson plan builder, you need to create an account. The tools aren’t tailored for a particular subject matter.

OpenCurriculum’s tools are used by about 6,000 teachers and users every month. With the tools from the new library, about 20 teachers who were in beta with the library found that teachers are saving 50 percent of the first-time lesson planning and 20 percent of lesson plan revision time.
Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/715714 2014-07-18T21:11:00Z 2014-07-21T07:03:44Z Unbabel (YC W14) Raises $1.5M To Expand Translation Service, Grow Customer Base

Congrats, Unbabel team! 

In the interconnected world, machines are too rigid in understanding the nuances in translating languages and humans are too slow for on-the-fly translation. That’s why Unbabel brings robots and humans together to deliver a faster and affordable translation service.

Launched in March and backed by Y Combinator, CEO and co-founder Vasco Pedro says four months later, Unbabel is growing about 15 percent a week in sales and 12 percent a week on the number of editors working on the platform. The company has about 160 paying customers.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/715602 2014-07-18T16:57:45Z 2014-07-21T14:55:28Z Welcome Scott, Dalton, Adora, Brett, Nicole, Alexis, and Qasar We have a bunch of new additions to the YC team to announce.

Scott Bell is joining the YC software team.  He was a co-founder of Skysheet from YC W09. He’s coming to YC from Houston where he was doing consulting and Lisp hacking.

Dalton Caldwell is becoming a partner.  He was the cofounder and CEO of imeem (acquired by MySpace in 2009), and the cofounder and CEO of App.net.  He has a BS in Symbolic Systems and a BA in Psychology from Stanford University.

Adora Cheung is joining as a part-time partner.  She is the cofounder and CEO of Homejoy.  Previously, she studied computer science at Clemson University and was the cofounder of Task.FM.

Brett Gibson is joining the YC software team.  He was cofounder of Slinkset and Posterous, both funded by Y Combinator in 2008 with the latter acquired by Twitter in 2012. He later founded Posthaven with fellow Posterous cofounder Garry Tan.

Nicole Lazar is joining YC as our first batch manager.  She’ll be responsible for helping the founders in the current batch and making sure everything runs smoothly.  Previously, she worked at Andreessen Horowitz.

Alexis Ohanian is becoming a partner.  Alexis cofounded reddit, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 acquired by Condé Nast in 2006 and he's now on the Board of Directors. He then launched hipmunk (YC 2010) and ran marketing + PR until leaving to fight SOPA & PIPA.  He has a BA in history and BS in commerce from University of Virginia.

Qasar Younis is becoming a partner.  He was the founder and CEO of TalkBin, which was funded by Y Combinator and acquired by Google. At Google, Qasar went on to be the product lead for business facing product.  He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University and a MBA from Harvard. 

Welcome to the team!

(Dalton and Qasar were already part-time partners, and Alexis was our ambassador to the east.)

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Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/715218 2014-07-17T15:56:15Z 2014-07-18T23:23:54Z Product Hunt (YC S14) Is In Current Y Combinator Batch

Welcome to Y Combinator, Product Hunt

Much-buzzed-about startup Product Hunt has another trick up its sleeve — it turns out the startup is in the current Y Combinator batch. As a reminder, Product Hunt is a community-powered news website for tech product launches. It’s a website where you can submit, upvote and comment on today’s new tech products. And it has quickly become the center of the conversations for many influential tech people.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/714968 2014-07-16T23:50:36Z 2014-07-19T02:23:24Z Why The First YC-Backed Biotech Company (Ginkgo Bioworks YC S14) May Just Be The Future Of Pharma

Ginkgo Bioworks sounds kind of like a mad science lab of the future. The Boston-based biotech company is currently working on a project with DARPA to treat antibiotic-resistant germs, using designer microbes to convert CO2 emissions into fuel and is somehow making yeast smell like roses.

Bioworks co-founder Jason Kelly considers these projects, and many others, the future of the pharmaceutical industry. “The designer organisms we create are solving a supply problem,” he says. “Instead of going to the agriculture industry or pharma we will eventually just use organisms.”

Kelly says this is the main reason he and his co-founders started Ginkgo while at MIT. The four students began discussing how inefficient it was to program microbes. It was too slow and tedious to make any real dent. It was also a good reason biotech didn’t get the kind of funding that other tech was used to. So they switched things up, added robotics and created the first organism engineering foundry. Their “organism engineers” now take DNA sequencing from nature and basically create designer microbes that can actually replace technology with biology.

Read the full story on TechCrunch

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/714897 2014-07-16T20:56:34Z 2014-07-17T02:48:22Z Harnessing Big Data For Social Good, Nonprofit Bayes Impact (YC S14) Launches

We're excited to welcome Bayes Impact to Y Combinator. Bayes Impact is a nonprofit that deploys teams of data scientists to create data-driven solutions for challenging social problems. The organization runs full-time fellowship programs that bring together domain experts and data scientists from top technology companies and academic institutions.

Currently, Bayes Impact has 6 fellows working on 4 projects over the course of their 3-month pilot summer program. The Fall Cohort will have 25 Fellows working on 10 projects that tackle problems including:

• Reducing prison overcrowding by educating parole decisions with inmates risk assessment models

• Making microfinance more economically viable through fraud detection algorithms

• Predicting fires and smarter routing of fire trucks for fire departments

• Identifying early indicators of Parkinson’s in collaboration with the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Bayes Impact was founded in April 2014 by Paul Duan (formerly lead data scientist at Eventbrite), Andrew Jiang (founded the government tech company Hitchhiker Labs), and Eric Liu (former VC at Thomvest Ventures). They are funded by Y Combinator, and supported by Teespring (YC W13) with a $50,000 grant. 

Read more about their launch on TechCrunch


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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/714829 2014-07-16T17:33:59Z 2014-07-22T18:34:32Z YC Portfolio Stats We get asked a lot for statistics on the YC portfolio.  Even though some of these aren’t that helpful [1], here is the latest update on the numbers we get asked about the most.  As always, all the credit goes to the founders. 

Total market cap of all YC companies: >$30 billion

Total money raised by all YC companies: >$3 billion

Number of YC companies worth more than $1 billion: 3 [2]

Number of YC companies worth more than $100 million: >20 [3]

Number of companies funded by YC so far: 716

Number of companies in the current batch: 85

Acceptance rate of the current batch: <3%

Number of nuclear energy companies in the current batch: 2


[1] Intermediate valuations aren’t worth very much, for example.  But we don’t keep statistics on total revenue or jobs created, though I expect both numbers would be impressive.

 [2] This is how many companies are currently worth over $1 billion, but even if we never funded another company I think it would at least double and probably triple or quadruple.

 [3] Similar to the note above, this number should go up a lot just from our current portfolio—it generally takes companies a few years to get above this threshold.

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Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/714448 2014-07-15T21:20:48Z 2014-07-25T21:58:57Z MedXT’s (YC W13) Platform Brings Medical Imaging In Line With Today’s Cloud Technology

Today MedXT launches its cloud platform for medical imaging, which brings the workflows of radiologists and technicians in line with the rest of us by bridging imaging equipment already installed at hospital and clinics with our electronic health records.

While health care reform has done a lot to push electronic health records forward, many practices in the medical industry continue to rely on technologies and practices that predate the Internet. Images from a CT or MRI scan are saved to a DVD and physically transported from one facility to another, or scanners may only connect to computers on-premises via networking protocols unfamiliar to most in the Valley.

There are two key features to MedXT’s platform. The first is the software running on a server located at a hospital or clinic that acts as the recipient on the local network for data coming from imaging devices, like CT scanners, in the old-school DICOM format. MedXT CTO Reshma Khilnani told TechCrunch that the software can be installed in minutes and that the imaging equipment just does its thing pointed at a new address, no upgrade necessary.
Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/714419 2014-07-15T20:23:18Z 2014-07-15T20:23:18Z With A Mobile App, MTailor (YC S14) Offers Custom-Fit Tailored Shirts For Just $69

If you want to look good, one of the easiest ways to do so is by simply making sure that your clothes fit well. But it’s not cheap — going to a tailor to get a shirt fitted and made costs real money.

Y Combinator-backed MTailor wants to change that by offering affordable, custom-fit clothing. It can do that because it removes much of the cost associated with taking customers’ measurements by measuring them via mobile apps.

MTailor is a new kind of fashion company, one which enables customers to design and purchase premium, tailored shirts for just $69 each. That’s well below what one might expect if they went to a tailor to have a shirt fitted, and even less than some people will pay if they were to buy a dress shirt off the rack from a department store.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/714026 2014-07-14T21:17:50Z 2014-07-26T22:25:57Z Y Combinator has filed an official comment with the FCC

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington D.C. 20554

July 14, 2014

Re: Open Internet Remand, GN Docket 14-28

Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Rielly:

Y Combinator is Silicon Valley’s premier early stage investor. Y Combinator has been investing in early stage startups since 2005 and now has a portfolio of over 700 companies valued at over $20 billion and creating over 3,000 jobs at quickly growing companies, many of whom are aggressively hiring. Y Combinator was an early investor in Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, Scribd, Heroku, Pebble, Twitch, Loopt, WePay, Crowdtilt, Teespring, Codecademy, Hipmunk, Coinbase, Cloudkick, Wufoo, ZenPayroll, SocialCam, Parse, and reddit.

The New York Times called Y Combinator “Silicon Valley’s Startup Machine”; the Times also described Y Combinator’s demo days, where our early stage companies present their products and services to “450 of the world’s richest and most influential technology investors” as “a biannual milestone, Silicon Valley’s version of the N.F.L. Scouting Combine.” We were the subject of a book by the Times’s former Digital Domain columnist, The Launch Pad, in which Eric Ries called us “a national treasure, a Silicon Valley seed fund that is mass-producing new startups,” and Marc Andreessen declared we were the “white-hot center of the new Silicon Valley startup ecosystem.” Within Silicon Valley, receiving funding from Y Combinator often carries more credibility than a degree from Harvard or Stanford. We receive thousands of applications from companies for fewer than 60 investments -- an acceptance rate lower than any of the nation’s top universities.

I was lucky enough to be in the very first round of Y Combinator’s investments and created reddit.com with my college roommate Steve Huffman. We were two recent college graduates with no connections and $12,000 in funding, raised from Y Combinator, building something from a pair of computers in a small rented apartment in Medford, MA. Today reddit is a top 50 website with over 110 million monthly unique visitors -- more traffic than CNN.com or NYTimes.com. We lived the American Dream thanks to the open internet and today I’m a partner at Y Combinator.

How? The world isn’t flat; but the world wide web is. It must remain that way.

We need the FCC to keep the level playing field that let me--and so many others--succeed as entrepreneurs. The reason so much innovation and wealth creation has happened in tech over the last decade is that any American with her laptop and Internet connection could build a startup and compete with incumbents (and even beat them) without a team of lawyers and without a large budget to pay for priority from ISPs.

Let me be clear: we need a bright-line, per se rule against discrimination, access fees, and paid prioritization on both mobile and fixed.

Title II of the Communications Act seems the most appropriate way to properly define broadband ISPs to be offering telecommunications. Speaking on behalf of Y Combinator, I’m urging you to adopt such a rule.

The rule you have proposed, based on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, would not suffice. We know Section 706 cannot support a rule against discrimination, access fees, and paid prioritization because the appellate court in Verizon v. FCC ruled on these matters. The Court wrote: “We think it obvious that the Commission would violate the Communications Act were it to regulate broadband providers as common carriers. Given the Commission’s still-binding decision to classify broadband providers not as providers of ‘telecommunications services’ [under Title II] but instead as providers of ‘information services,’ … such treatment would” violate the Act. The Court held that, absent reclassifying broadband providers as Title II carriers, the FCC would be treating broadband providers as common carriers unless it left open room for “substantial room for individualized bargaining and discrimination in terms.”

Therefore, the FCC cannot impose a nondiscrimination rule--unless it classifies broadband providers under Title II. The Court also held that, without classifying broadband providers under Title II, the FCC could not ban charging fees for priority access, even though the FCC recognized such fees would be a “significant departure from historical and current practice.” The FCC could not ban such fees without Title II because banning the fees would leave “no room at all” for individualized bargaining and discrimination, which is necessary under Section 706. The Court simply couldn’t have been clearer: so long as the FCC refuses to classify broadband providers as “telecommunications services” under Title II, the FCC cannot ban ISPs’ technical discrimination, access fees, or paid prioritization.

While the Chairman has sought to protect innovation through a “commercial reasonableness” test and a “minimum” service guarantee, unfortunately neither would provide startups any relief. No startup has the funds and lawyers and economists to take on billion-dollar ISPs in an FCC action based on the vague legal standards in the proposal. Indeed, the startup ecosystem needs a bright-line, per se rule against discrimination--rather than a multi-part, totality-of-the-circumstances standard with a case-by-case approach or even a mere presumption against discrimination. Anything less would cause considerable uncertainty for entrepreneurs and investors and provide little comfort, as startups and small businesses are resource-constrained and need to know that access to the Internet will remain neutral, as it has been in the past.    

And, even with access to at least minimum service (often metaphorically referred to as a “slow lane”), startups would struggle to compete against those who were able to afford paying for a fast lane--or an exclusive fast lane. Even the slightest discrimination or paid prioritization significantly affects startups, as microseconds matter with both webpage-loading and real-time content. That discriminatory treatment harms startups is reflected by the outpouring of dissent from startup founders and investors alike. The fate of reddit may have been very different if Comcast had discriminated against our little two-person-startup in favor of the NBC.com news portal and the sites of other news giants.

Only reclassifying broadband as Title II will protect an open and neutral Internet. In pursuing reclassification, however, the FCC should choose to forebear from regulations unneeded to promote competition and innovation. As recommended by the EFF, the FCC should “explicitly reject any telecommunications regulations beyond specific and narrow prohibitions and requirements designed to create a fair and level playing field for innovation and user choice.”

Over 190 companies, 100 investors, and hundreds of thousands of average individuals have already spoken up to oppose the Chairman’s plan and call for nondiscrimination and a ban on new tolls. Even before initial comments are due, several companies have called for Title II reclassification; these include Kickstarter (doing so in the Washington Post), Etsy, Codecademy, Dwolla, General Assembly, CodeCombat, Contextly, and OpenCurriculum. Leading investors in technology startups, including Union Square Ventures and, now, Y Combinator have also urged the Commission to pursue Title II.

Competition is the fuel of the free market. We demand it not only as investors looking to invest in the next multi-billion-dollar American job creator, and not only as entrepreneurs who want to start it, but also as consumers who want to see innovation continue to thrive. Our sector requires a level playing field in order to lead the world, create jobs, and produce tremendous value for the United States economy.

Mr. Chairman, you say you oppose a two-tier Internet and want to preserve Internet openness, so let’s reclassify broadband as the public utility we know it to be. Ensure that the Internet thrives as a platform for free commerce and speech for generations to come. May the United States of America continue to lead in innovating on the greatest free market the world has ever seen.

Sincerely,

Alexis Ohanian
Partner, Y Combinator
Startup founder, reddit

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Alexis Ohanian
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/713573 2014-07-13T17:00:05Z 2014-07-15T03:45:20Z A month at Y Combinator: What it’s like after you’ve been accepted

Mathilde Collin, founder of Front, wrote about her experience in YC's S14 batch for The Next Web

About six weeks ago, I was sitting in front of my computer waiting for one email. Not just any email. The email.

We had just flown from Paris to Mountain View for our 10-minute interview at the Y Combinator and it was now over. All we had left to do was wait.

Finally, a couple of hours after the interview, the news finally arrived. We were accepted. The email was so short, but it instantly changed all that we were about to do with our company in the following months.

Since that day, it pretty much has been rush hour every hour of the day and we’ve kept ourselves busy. We’ve been asked a lot how it’s going and what actually happens inside of YC once you’re there.

The famous Mountain View incubator definitely has a reputation of being quite mysterious and we want to share our insider’s view after our first month.

Read the full story on TNW
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/712279 2014-07-09T17:05:58Z 2014-07-09T18:21:36Z Interview with YC's Kate Courteau

New Profit, a venture philanthropy fund, posted a two-part interview with YC's Director of Nonprofits Kate Courteau. 

Excerpt from Part 1

(SH): Why did YC decide to start supporting social entrepreneurs?

(KC): We came to this somewhat by accident, which is exactly how YC itself started in 2005. We found WATSI on Hacker News (YC’s listserv) because it was generating a lot of buzz as a nonprofit startup doing impactful work and utilizing the power of technology to reach a lot of people. YC’s Paul Graham reached out to WATSI directly and asked if they’d like to be part of the current YC batch which included a baseline grant of $24,000 and 3 months of focusing on their work and utilizing our team for mentoring. We’d always talked about doing work in this space but this was the unofficial humble beginning of our work in the nonprofit sector.

WATSI told us how much the YC program impacted their progress so we realized that a lot of the benefit of YC could be universally applied to all startups; for-profit and nonprofit. We also recognized that the WATSI team operated in the way that most great for-profit startups do. They were very determined and focused and moved quickly; launching early and iterating based on watching how their users interacted with their site. They had a vision for the future of WATSI. It’s evolved a bit but they continue to be a strong, mission-based company that works in the nonprofit world in a very transparent way. This experiment seemed to work so well that in January 2014, we decided to officially launch our nonprofit program.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 on the New Profit blog

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/711575 2014-07-07T19:40:39Z 2014-07-07T19:40:39Z An E-Commerce Site Where You Can Haggle Down The Price

Founders Andrew Kurland and Joe Marrapodi created their e-commerce negotiation site, Greentoe, out of frustration. The two were spending too much time trying to find the best deals online. That was proving time-consuming and difficult...

The site works like this: You want to buy, say, a new Canon EOS Rebel camera and you want the best price you can get. But you don’t want to spend a lot of time looking. Greentoe recruits a bunch of vetted online retailers. It then simplifies the process by showing you the average price and the lowest price for each product currently available online. You are then able to say how much you are personally willing to pay for that product.

Going with our EOS Rebel theme here, you see that the price for the kind of camera you want is around $549-$594 online. We found it on Amazon for $749 (and that was with a $50 savings offer). You decide you would like to buy this camera for the much lower price of $460. The Greentoe meter will let you know whether you’ve got a good chance or not to get that price. You are lucky on this one. The seller agrees to the price. Congrats, you’ve made a deal!

Read the full story on TechCrunch]]>
Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/710409 2014-07-03T18:41:51Z 2014-07-08T17:21:28Z Make Things and Show Them We've often been asked to make a section of Hacker News that's just for Show HNs, so we did. We're releasing it today, along with a new set of Show HN guidelines.

In late 2008 and early 2009, users submitting their work to Hacker News began prefixing submission titles with "Show HN". This caught on [1], and "Show HN" became a sort of badge for posts sharing original work with the community. Show HN threads became places for in-depth discussion of new work. They are a way for products to get users, creators to get feedback, and readers to learn and be inspired.

There have been about 24,000 Show HNs so far. The first used the title "Show and Tell HN", and was GitHub-related. The second, and the first to use the "Show HN" convention [2], was a face recognition project. And the third was a Hacker News alternative. Plus ça change...

Hacker News users have grown fond of their Show HNs. We often hear that they're the best part of the site. We hope there will be many more, and look forward to seeing what you all come up with!


[1] But it took a while: there was 1 post in 2008, 9 in 2009, and 452 in 2010.

[2] Its submitter, lbrandy, says the title "was definitely a play on 'Ask HN'."

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Daniel Gackle
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/709977 2014-07-02T17:11:28Z 2014-07-22T23:35:32Z New RFS: One Million Jobs We want to fund companies that have the potential to create a million jobs.  There are a lot of areas where it makes sense to divide labor between humans and computers—we are very good at some things computers are terrible at and vice versa—and some of these require huge amounts of human resources.

This is both good for the world and likely a good business strategy—as existing jobs go away, a company that creates a lot of new jobs should be able to get a lot of talented people.

(We aren't looking for companies that plan to have a million employees.  Probably the easiest way to do this is to create a platform that lets a million people create their own jobs.  Uber may do this, for example.  Healthcare or education platforms that let people provide services are other examples of what might work.)

View other Requests for Startups.

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Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/709717 2014-07-01T22:48:54Z 2014-07-01T22:48:55Z Nightingale (YC S14) Is Building Software To Simplify Behavioral Therapy Tracking

For decades, the data collection process for behavioral therapists has mostly been manually done. But now, a new startup called Nightingale is seeking to change the way that behavioral therapists collect and report data, simplifying the process with mobile apps instead of pen and paper.

According to Nightingale co-founder Delian Asparouhov, most behavioral therapists today take notes manually and then transcribe those notes and enter them into Excel spreadsheets. As a result, they spend most of their days not working with students, but doing paperwork. Furthermore, not much is done with the data once it’s collected. It’s used to measure improvement in a student’s behavior, and is occasionally audited by insurers to qualify payment for therapy. But that’s about it.

To start, Nightingale is targeting Autism therapy. It provides a solution that will allow clinical directors and behavioral therapists to decide which data is collected and how it is graphed, with an easy, customizable drag-and-drop system.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/709477 2014-07-01T17:21:01Z 2014-07-05T00:19:28Z New Y Combinator Website Our website got a facelift.

The content is pretty much the same. Since the old site was mostly text, I did my best to just make that text easier to digest and hopefully entice people to get through more of it. A lot of the best content on the site like What Happens at Y Combinator and How to Apply Successfully went largely unread because a number of people were either intimidated by the wall of text or didn't have the patience to read through it.

The new site is responsive, but if you're viewing it on a mobile phone right now, I want you to know my favorite way to go through it is on a  large monitor. For posterity, we preserved the old version of the site at http://old.ycombinator.com. If what you see makes you worried for Hacker News, I want you to know that I have very different design goals for HN

Many thanks to Nick Sivo for helping me dig through the server to find everything I need. We're still making tweaks and changes, so if you have feedback on things you think we should improve, please let us know!

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Kevin Hale
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/708360 2014-06-27T19:07:05Z 2014-07-08T07:47:43Z Last day to apply to YC Hacks It's the last day to apply to Y Combinator's first hackathon, YC Hacks

The hackathon will be hosted at YC's office in Mountain View, CA on August 2-3. Our goal is to give smart hackers an excuse to get together and spend time building something they find interesting. We don't have a theme—we want to leave it open to any good ideas.

Kickoff will be at noon on Saturday, August 2. YC companies that develop platforms, services and developer tools, will be around to act as mentors. Judging will happen the evening of August 3. YC alumni are donating prizes, and the top teams will get guaranteed YC interviews for the next batch.

You can apply individually or as a team. Please have each team member fill out an application.

Apply here by 11:59pm PST tonight. Invitations will be sent by July 7.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/707908 2014-06-26T16:00:06Z 2014-06-26T16:00:06Z BlockScore Lands $2M In Funding For Making I.D. Verification Easier

In 2012, about 7 percent of all people aged 16 or older in the U.S. experienced identity theft, with their financial losses totaling $24.7 billion. Christopher Morton is familiar with the crime because in 2007, he had his identity stolen. Fortunately, the thieves were prevented from obtaining new credit cards, but Morton became interested in how identity verification systems work.

With co-founders John Backus and Alain Meier, Morton created BlockScore, an identity-verification startup and member of Y Combinator’s latest batch that is launching today with $2 million in funding from Battery Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, New Atlantic Ventures, Boost VC, Y Combinator, and several angels.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/707215 2014-06-24T20:40:05Z 2014-06-24T20:40:05Z YC-Backed ClearTax (YC S14) Tackles India’s Fast Growing Online Tax Filing Market

ClearTax is not the typical Y Combinator launch. Founded in 2011 and based in Delhi, the startup already has a strong presence in India, where it automates the income tax filing process for workers. Last year, over 300,000 people used ClearTax to file their taxes. Furthermore, the company is also the first one focused specifically on the Indian market to join Y Combinator (though the program has accepted other, more internationally-focused startups with India-based founders before).

While their market opportunity is currently in India, ClearTax decided to join Y Combinator because the startup got access to “a set of resources we don’t get in India,” says founder Archit Gupta.

Read the full story on TechCrunch
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/706777 2014-06-23T19:50:59Z 2014-07-05T04:43:11Z AnyPerk (YC W12) Raises $3M to Help Companies Cultivate Employee Happiness

Y Combinator startup AnyPerk Inc. raised $3 million in new seed funding to help companies create and distribute employee perks and incentives, Chief Executive Taro Fukuyama told Venture Capital Dispatch.

Vegas Tech Fund, FundersClub and Vayner/RSE led the round, joined by more than ten other investors.

Read the full story at WSJ.com
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/706764 2014-06-23T19:10:17Z 2014-06-23T19:10:17Z For $10,000, your car can drive itself (Cruise - YC W14)

I've seen the abandoned airport runway in front of me a dozen times, but this is my first time actually being here. I'm in Alameda, a city right across the bay from San Francisco, at the same disused Navy runway where the popular TV show MythBusters often does incredibly dangerous things with cars. Semi trucks have collided here head-on, and passenger vehicles have smashed into concrete barriers or gone careening through the nearby chain link fence. Hopefully none of those things are about to happen to me as I step into the backseat of a car controlled by a computer in the trunk. Did I mention the software isn't finished yet?

This is the first public demo of Cruise, a new technology and business from a Y Combinator startup aptly named Cruise Automation. It's designed as a computer-controlled driving system that can take over when you're behind the wheel. Turn it on like typical cruise control and it will keep the car going, but the added smarts will steer, brake, and avoid objects.

Read the full story at The Verge
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/705834 2014-06-20T15:10:50Z 2014-06-26T13:21:28Z Videos from Startup School NY are now online

If you missed Startup School NY, you can now watch the talks on YouTube.


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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/705702 2014-06-20T07:29:16Z 2014-06-20T22:23:01Z Last day to apply to Startup School Europe

Today is the last day to apply for Startup School Europe, which will be hosted in London on July 26. 

Apply here.

Speakers include: 

Paul Buchheit
Partner, Y Combinator; Founder, FriendFeed; Creator of Gmail

Adora Cheung
Founder, Homejoy

Patrick Collison
Founder, Stripe

Ian Hogarth
Founder, Songkick

Alfred Lin
Partner, Sequoia Capital

Urška Sršen
Founder, Bellabeat

Hiroki Takeuchi
Founder, GoCardless

and more...


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Y Combinator