tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:/posts Y Combinator Posthaven 2016-02-13T16:07:13Z Y Combinator tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/992280 2016-02-13T01:26:02Z 2016-02-13T01:26:02Z Yardbook (YC W16) Brings Software to the $30 Billion Landscaping Industry


Landscaping is one of the last industries that has yet to be ‘‘software enabled’, with most companies running their businesses on pencil and paper.

Yardbook is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that's bringing cloud-based software tools to this vast yet under-served industry.

TechCrunch's Jon Shieber wrote a story about Yardbook this week:
"With the penetration of mobile phones, and simply the falling costs of hosting and managing and online business, new verticals are opening up to young companies at prices and scales that would have been unheard of even a few years ago.

In YardBook’s case, it’s the lawncare industry.

And the customer adoption of YardBook shows that, at least in this instance, the thesis might be proven correct.

In just over a year, the company has managed to snag 11,000 customers and processed $65 million in payments across the platform. Today, the company is launching a tipping feature for payments so that even more money can be captured by lawncare service providers without the need to resort to grubby cash payments (filthy lucre!)"

Read the full story here.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/992271 2016-02-13T01:05:05Z 2016-02-13T09:30:15Z Acre Designs (YC W16) Makes It Simple to Build a Zero-Energy Smarthome

The typical American home built today is fundamentally very similar to homes that were built in the mid-20th century. In aggregate, this adds up to a lot of inefficiency: American homes consume a quarter of the nation’s energy and 14 billion gallons of water annually.

Acre Designs is a company launching out of our current Winter 2016 class that makes it incredibly easy to build a zero-energy smarthome -- one that's functional, beautiful, and reasonably priced. Acre homes are 100 percent solar powered, and use 70 percent less water than your average home.

TechCrunch reporter Frederic Lardinois wrote about Acre in a story published this week:

"As Acre co-founders Jennifer and Andrew Dickson told me, they started the company out of their own frustration in finding a sustainable home that was built to modern standards. Specifically, they were looking for a zero-energy home that could use solar to power the entire house.

'We realized existing homes were very difficult to get to any standard of efficiency without a lot of work,' Jennifer told me. 'But we are still building new homes with the same standards as 60 years ago.'

Andrew (an industrial designer with experience in working on everything from furniture to jet boats) and Jennifer (an architect) co-founded the company with builder Don Newman (now Acre’s VP of Construction) and got accepted into Y Combinator. ...Given how outdated the construction process and many of the designs and features of today’s new construction homes often are, it’s a bit of a surprise that nobody has really tackled this market yet."

Read the full story, and see more photos and a video of an Acre home, here.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/992249 2016-02-13T00:41:48Z 2016-02-13T07:13:50Z Sendbird (YC W16) Adds Real-Time Messaging to Any App in Minutes
User engagement and retention is one of the biggest pain points for app developers: Research shows that the average app loses 77 percent of its users in the first three days. One of the best ways to keep users around is to add messaging and chat features -- but doing so can be time and labor intensive for a developer team.

Sendbird is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that lets you add messaging to any app quickly and easily. Its messaging-as-a-service platform lets developers to add real-time chat capabilities to their app in just five minutes.

TechCrunch's Matthew Lynley wrote about Sendbird in an article published today:

When John Kim and his team were working on a community-based application called Smile Mom — which was designed to connect nearby moms — they ran into a problem: They wanted to integrate messaging, but couldn’t find an off-the-shelf solution they liked.

They ended up building one themselves, and that led a bunch of friends to ask to use the service. So Kim and his team decided to pivot the company toward building just that. The result was Sendbird, a software development kit that enables developers to quickly build chat tools for their services. The company comes out of Y Combinator’s most recent class, and is launching today.


Read the full story here.
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/989862 2016-02-10T14:00:02Z 2016-02-11T16:10:20Z IK12 + YC We are excited to announce that Imagine K12, the original edtech accelerator, is joining Y Combinator to form an edtech vertical within YC. 

We founded Imagine K12 in 2011 to help companies innovate in education technology in order to improve outcomes for children in the United States and around the world. YC founder Paul Graham believed in our mission, and with his help and advice, Imagine K12 was launched and has run like a sister company of YC. We utilize a nearly identical application process and startup philosophy and, in fact, Geoff became a partner at YC at the same time. Several companies have participated in both IK12 and YC, and YC partners, including Paul, Jessica Livingston, Sam Altman, and others have given their time to IK12 companies.

Just as YC’s goal is to fund companies that “Make Something People Want”, the goal of Imagine K12 was to work with edtech companies to make something teachers, students, and parents want. We have funded over 80 companies, and in 2016 nearly every school in every district, in every state of the country uses a tool created by an Imagine K12 company. Several of the fastest growing edtech companies in the country are IK12 alumni, including, for example, Remind, ClassDojo, and Panorama Education. During the past five years, the edtech ecosystem has evolved and matured, and technology adoption by schools in the US and around the world has become inevitable. President Obama even promoted computer science education in his most recent State of the Union address.

YC has expanded and changed as well, with renewed efforts in focused areas such as hardware, healthcare, and enterprise. With this in mind, we began talking to Sam last year about more tightly integrating Imagine K12 within YC and creating a YC education vertical. Future YC/Imagine K12 edtech startups would then get the benefit of being full YC participants and we would eliminate the duplication of effort that Imagine K12’s separate schedule, application and interview process, and funding events represent.

We agreed that this year was the right time to create YC/Imagine K12 and decided to launch our first combined batch in the summer of 2016. Going forward, Imagine K12 will operate as an edtech specialization within YC’s program. New YC/Imagine K12 companies will have access to YC’s incomparable startup network and resources coupled with Imagine K12’s robust Educator Network and specialized understanding of the education market.

Edtech companies in the future will use the regular Y Combinator application process (the Summer 2016 application is currently open) and will automatically become part of YC/Imagine K12 if accepted. The entire Imagine K12 team will join YC and YC/Imagine K12 will emerge as a new and potent force in edtech.

- Geoff Ralston and Tim Brady

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Geoff Ralston
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/989826 2016-02-09T19:07:36Z 2016-02-09T19:07:36Z LendEDU (W16) Makes It Easy to Refinance Student Loans Student loans are a major burden for millions of people: Some 43 million Americans currently hold an estimated $1.2 trillion in student debt, and 7 out of 10 college grads leave school with an average loan balance of $29,000. With figures like these, it's more crucial than ever that students have transparency and choice when it comes to borrowing money for school.

LendEDU is a startup in our current Winter 2016 class that aims to do for the student debt market what Kayak has done for the online travel industry -- making the process of shopping around for the best deal as easy and accessible as possible. LendEDU has built a marketplace for student loan refinancing that helps students, parents, and graduates save money through price transparency.

TechCrunch's Jonathan Shieber wrote about LendEDU in a story published today:

"The refinancing process for student loans is just too damn hard.

Normally, anyone looking to refinance their student loans has to fill out a fairly lengthy application each time they want to receive a loan. Their idea was… quite simply… to get rid of that hassle.

LendEDU is the fruit of [co-founders Nate Matherson and Matt Lenhard's] year-long sojourn in the entrepreneurial wild. A marketplace for student loan refinancing, the company’s service is simple. One application gets you visibility into all of the many different options for student loan refinancing.

...Average users at LendEDU save roughly $12,000 by refinancing their student loan debt (that’s a lot of beer, pizza, and ramen, y’all)."

Read the whole story here.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/988693 2016-02-08T17:44:36Z 2016-02-11T00:54:23Z Y Combinator's Female Founders Conference Y Combinator is delighted to announce the third annual Female Founders Conference, on Monday, April 4 in San Francisco. One of the best parts of the FFC is hearing the candid advice and lessons the speakers share. Many attendees have said that hearing stories from other women in the trenches have inspired them to take the leap, or motivated them to keep going. 

One of the more recent trends we’ve noticed within YC’s ecosystem is that more women are serving as their companies’ CEOs. We are very encouraged by this and hope to help deepen the pool of role models over the next few years as these startups grow and become better known. We don't just want to see more women starting startups. We want to see more women leading them.

We’re so excited to bring together current and future founders at this year’s FFC, to share their stories, give advice, and make connections. If you're a woman interested in learning more about building startups, we encourage you to apply.


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Jessica Livingston
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/986176 2016-02-05T00:18:23Z 2016-02-09T04:37:14Z Truebill (W16) Keeps Track of All Your Subscription Payments in One Place


Many things that used to be bought with a single upfront fee are now handled with recurrent payments. Album purchases have been replaced by Spotify, software like Photoshop and Microsoft Office are now subscriptions, and things like food and shaving razors are handled by services like Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club.

Truebill is a startup in our current Winter 2016 class that helps you track and manage all of your subscriptions and recurring payments in one place.

TechCrunch's Matt Lynley wrote about Truebill and how it got started in an article this week:

"When Yahya Mokhtarzada got a $40 bill from Gogo, he started taking a closer look at the subscriptions on his bank statement. It turned out that he had been subscribed to the service for more than a year — which racked up to a substantial amount of money.

'I called them to give me a refund on it, which was nice, but I said how many people are out there that have these subscriptions out there,' Mokhtarzada said.

...The result was TrueBill, a company launching out of beta today. TrueBill works with companies like Plaid to sift through bank statements and determine what subscriptions users have. Users can then monitor those subscriptions and, through an automated process, unsubscribe to them."

Read the full article here.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/986128 2016-02-04T22:46:16Z 2016-02-07T16:43:50Z Petcube (W16) Lets You Play With Your Pets While Away from Home

Petcube is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 batch that makes it easy to keep tabs on your pets -- and even play with them -- when you're away from home.

Petcube's first product, the $199 Petcube Camera, is an interactive Wi-Fi pet camera with real time video, media sharing functionality, and a built-in laser toy that's safe for animals.

TechCrunch's Anna Escher wrote about Petcube and its latest funding round in an article this week:

"Any pet owner can relate to the remorseful feeling of leaving your pet behind when you go out for the day. So naturally, we want to know what our furry friends are up to when we aren't there. The idea for Petcube came from co-founder Alex Neskin, whose puppy Rocky suffered from separation anxiety and boredom when left alone. If only there were a way to keep in touch with his puppy throughout the day. Thus, Petcube was born, and CEO Yaroslav Azhnyuk and CDO Andrey Klen jumped on board to bring the idea to fruition.

...It’s also worth noting that Petcube had quite the successful Kickstarter launch for the Petcube Camera. The campaign blew past its $100,000 goal to raise over $250,000 from eager buyers, solidifying the notion that staying connected with your pet throughout the day was something many pet owners desired."

Read the full article here. You can also watch Escher interview Petcube's CEO and get a look at how the device works in the TechCrunch TV video below:


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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/986091 2016-02-04T21:45:04Z 2016-02-09T16:23:07Z Instabug (W16) Helps App Developers Find and Fix Bugs With thousands of apps being released every single day, the competition to stand out and receive 5 star reviews is tougher than ever. And nothing hurts an app's review rating more than unsolved bugs at launch.

Instabug is a company in our current Winter 2016 class that helps developers position their apps for success both pre- and post-launch.

Mike Butcher from TechCrunch wrote about Instabug in a story published this week:

Incredibly, Instabug started building the app during the turmoil in Egypt back in 2012 and made it out of the chaos of the Egyptian revolution to make it to, and through, YC. That’s True Grit.

...It helps app developers fix bugs before even submitting their apps to the store, while still engaging their users after the app is launched. They claim they can thus cutting the number of negative reviews by 80%.

Users can report bugs, send feedback and ask questions by just shaking their phones, without the need to leave the app. They can also attach screenshots, images and voice notes. Instabug then captures the steps to reproduce the problem and all other device details so that developers can fix the bug faster.

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/986063 2016-02-04T21:15:10Z 2016-02-11T19:36:56Z OpenTrons (W16) Does Lab Grunt Work so Scientists Can Focus on Bigger Things

Despite all the technological progress that has been made in recent years, an astonishing amount of life sciences lab work is still done by hand. Many biology experiments require the mixing together of fluids very precisely under specific conditions -- and very often, the bulk of this work is still done by human researchers using manual micropipettes.

OpenTrons is a company in our current Winter 2016 class that makes an affordable robot that can take care of this basic lab grunt work, allowing scientists to focus on more important things.

TechCrunch's Sarah Buhr interviewed OpenTrons' co-founder in a story published this week:

"'Basically, if you’re a biologist you spend all of your time moving tiny amounts of liquid around from vial to vial by hand with a little micro-pipette or you have a $100,000 robot that does it for you. We’re a $3,000 robot,' OpenTrons co-founder Will Canine explained to TechCrunch.

Canine refers to these more expensive machines as ‘mainframe’ machines – or computers that existed before the PC came about. He believes his machine is more like an actual PC.

These older, more expensive machines require engineers to run them on the backend, but Canine says OpenTrons is 'democratizing the tools' that allow for sharing protocols. In other words, his $3,000 machine is controlled by your web browser and allows researchers to download protocols from the cloud to run experiments without the need for an engineer to create the code first."

Read the full story in TechCrunch here.
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/984561 2016-02-03T16:00:05Z 2016-02-05T20:56:33Z $250k of DigitalOcean credits for YC startups We're excited to announce that DigitalOcean will be giving $250,000 in cloud hosting credits to YC's W16 batch and alumni. 

Lots of YC founders are already huge fans of DigitalOcean. Their cloud control panel is dead simple, their customer success team offers excellent support, and they provide a great price-to-performance offering.

Thanks to DigitalOcean for this offer—hosting is often one of the biggest expenses for early stage companies.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/981480 2016-01-30T02:00:58Z 2016-01-31T21:25:22Z Poppy (W16) Provides Trusted Childcare, On-Demand For many families, finding a babysitter is still a slow and time-consuming process. Busy parents still spend weeks finding and vetting potential childcare providers, and hours checking in with multiple sitters to see who is available at any given time. 

Poppy is a company in our Winter 2016 class that connects parents with a team of trusted sitters they can access with just one text. Poppy vets all caregivers on its platform through a rigorous 7-step process, ensuring that all its sitters have certifications such as CPR and First Aid and extensive childcare experience. Poppy is currently available in several neighborhoods in Seattle, with plans to launch in more areas soon.

Geekwire wrote about Poppy and its founder Avni Patel in a story published this week:

"Poppy curates a list of verified caregivers, by neighborhood. When parents need childcare, they can access a roster of sitters they’re familiar with via text or the Poppy app.

...Rates for childcare are fixed by Poppy, at $16/hour for one child, $17/hour for two, and so forth. According to Patel, taking on the pricing and vetting process has provided value to both caregivers and parents.

'For us the singular thing that the whole team is focused on, every single day is: Where do we find the very best people? How do we set them up for success and give them what they need to make every single booking an amazing one for parents? Because that dedication is what has gotten our parents to rave about Poppy,' Patel said."

Read the full story here.
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/981428 2016-01-30T00:19:35Z 2016-02-04T14:35:01Z Shypmate (W16) Brings the Sharing Economy to International Shipping

Even today, it can be very hard to get access to certain consumer products in many countries. Many products aren’t sold everywhere, and if it’s possible to get them at all, they’re either super expensive or you have to wait many months for delivery.

Shypmate is a company launching out of the Winter 2016 Y Combinator class that allows people in Nigeria and Ghana to purchase items sold in the U.S. and get them delivered by travelers between the countries -- bringing the sharing economy business model into international shipping.

TechCrunch reporter Megan Rose Dickey interviewed the founders of Shypmate and wrote about the company in an article published this week:

Shypmate is a quick, low-cost international shipping solution that relies on everyday people to transport items from the U.S. to Ghana and Nigeria.

Why Ghana and Nigeria? Well, the founding team (pictured above) has members from both Ghana and Nigeria — two African markets they’re familiar with and have a need for this kind of service, Shypmate co-founder Perry Ogwuche told TechCrunch. On average, it takes shoppers Nigeria about five weeks to receive packages from the U.S., Shypmate says. It’s also a very costly process.

In Shypmate’s test with DHL shipping a $50 pair of shoes to Ghana, it took about a week and cost $250, Ogwuche said. With Shypmate, the cost of shipping is just $25. Shypmate guarantees deliveries within 5-10 days after receiving the item from the retailer, but has been averaging deliveries of just three to five days. Secondly, people in Nigeria and Ghana don’t have access to a lot of the items in the U.S. because some stores, like H&M and Zara, for example, won’t ship to those countries.

Read the full story here.
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/981396 2016-01-29T23:02:42Z 2016-02-02T01:40:46Z NetBeez (W16) Detects Network Problems Before They Affect End-Users All too often, web companies only find out that they are suffering from a network slowdown or outage when they're notified about it by users. By the time this has happened and their engineers can address the issue, they've already lost precious time, money, and possibly customer good will.

NetBeez is a startup launching out of our current Winter 2016 class that helps diagnose and detect network problems well before they affect your end users.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about NetBeez's seed funding and the launch of its free monitoring platform in a story published this week:

NetBeez has developed a system it says lets companies be proactive in identifying and resolving performance issues around enterprise infrastructure and cloud applications. Today it has launched a free tier version aimed at non-enterprise users and developer operations teams with few locations.

...Founded in April 2013 by [CEO Stefano] Gridelli, chief technology officer Panickos Neophytou, and chief operating officer Panos Vouzis, NetBeez utilizes hardware sensors such as Raspberry Pi to monitor a company’s network. Its goal is to reduce the amount of effort network administrators and IT teams will need to fix an outage.

NetBeez deploys network monitoring agents that simulate a real user on the network. By doing so, engineers and devops teams will be aware of potential problems that could affect the end user. Information is displayed on a browser-based dashboard so companies will know what needs troubleshooting.

Read the full story in VentureBeat here.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/979748 2016-01-27T19:23:20Z 2016-02-13T16:07:13Z Basic Income We’re going to try something new—our first Request For Research. 

We’d like to fund a study on basic income—i.e., giving people enough money to live on with no strings attached.  I’ve been intrigued by the idea for a while, and although there’s been a lot of discussion, there’s fairly little data about how it would work.
 
It’s true that we have systems in place to give people resources, but the bureaucracy and qualification requirements make it a very imperfect approximation of what most people mean when talking about a basic income.  We have some examples of something close to a basic income in other countries, but we’d like to see how it would work in the US.
 
I think it’s good to start studying this early.  I’m fairly confident that at some point in the future, as technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created, we’re going to see some version of this at a national scale.
 
So it would be good to answer some of the theoretical questions now.  Do people sit around and play video games, or do they create new things?  Are people happy and fulfilled?  Do people, without the fear of not being able to eat, accomplish far more and benefit society far more?  And do recipients, on the whole, create more economic value than they receive?  (Questions about how a program like this would affect overall cost of living are beyond our scope, but obviously important.)
 
50 years from now, I think it will seem ridiculous that we used fear of not being able to eat as a way to motivate people.  I also think that it’s impossible to truly have equality of opportunity without some version of guaranteed income.  And I think that, combined with innovation driving down the cost of having a great life, by doing something like this we could eventually make real progress towards eliminating poverty.
 
We’re looking for one researcher who wants to work full-time on this project for 5 years as part of YC Research.  We’d like someone with some experience doing this kind of research, but as always we’re more interested in someone’s potential than his or her past.  Our idea is to give a basic income to a group of people in the US for a 5 year period, though we’re flexible on that and all aspects of the project—we are far from experts on this kind of research.  We’d be especially interested in a combination of selecting people at random, and selecting people who are driven and talented but come from poor backgrounds.  We're open to doing this in either one geographic area, or nationally distributed.

If you’re interested in running this project, please apply by February 15th.
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Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/978120 2016-01-27T18:16:09Z 2016-01-29T20:28:59Z Applications for YC S16 and Fellowship Are Now Open Applications for YC Summer 2016 batch and YC Fellowship programs are now open.

Both programs will use the same application form. In the application, you’ll simply select which of the two you’re applying for. Here’s a brief description of each program:

YC Core:

  • 3 month program
  • $120k funding for 7% equity
  • The YC Core program funds companies from a broad range of categories (software, hardware, biotech, non-profit, etc.) and at any stage. Read more about what happens at YC here.

YC Fellowship:

  • 8 week program
  • $20k funding for 1.5% equity
  • Equity only converts if company hits $100M+ valuation event.
  • The Fellowship program is a lighter version of YC Core specifically for idea and prototype stage companies. That doesn’t mean idea stage companies can no longer apply to YC Core, but we want to create more opportunities for idea-stage companies to get started. Read more about the Fellowship program here.

If you’re unsure which program best applies to you, apply to both! The YC partners can decide which program your application is best suited for.

To apply, submit your application here by 8pm PT on March 27, 2016.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on. Email apply@ycombinator.com with any questions.

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Denis Mars
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/978915 2016-01-26T17:27:41Z 2016-02-11T00:03:54Z Fellowship V2 Last fall, YC ran an 8 week experiment called The Fellowship to fund and work with startups at the idea or prototype stage. The goal was to see if we could create a program that could help more early-stage startups at scale. The experiment went well and I have a few annoucements about its future.

  • We’re going to do it again. In fact, we’ve already picked the companies for the second batch and we’re opening up applications for the third batch starting today.
  • We’re going to make it possible to apply to both the Fellowship and YC core program via one application.
  • We’re iterating quickly on the format and so the second and third batches will have a very different experience from the first.
  • We’re going to be taking equity.

I’m going to address these in reverse order.

Equity

From this point forward, we’re going to provide more money per team and take some equity in exchange. However, we’re going to try something we’ve never done before.

The new terms for the Fellowship are as follows: We’re going to provide $20K for 1.5%. Instead of taking our equity up front, we’re going to be issuing a convertible security that only converts into shares when the company 1) has an IPO or 2) has a funding event or acquisition that values the company at $100M or higher. 

Basically, YC only wins if you win big. I’m pretty excited about this because it’s both founder friendly and pushes us to build a program for the long term—not just one that is a lightweight version of our traditional model.

New format

Like any good startup, we’re doing our best to iterate quickly and will continue to evolve the program as we go. We’re going to be updating the Fellowship website in the next few days with more information, but here are the highlights:

  1. It will be primarily experienced remotely. This is so teams can spend as much time on product and customer development as possible. Office hours will be done over Skype or phone. We will bring all the teams together once, but only at the beginning of the cycle for an all day Kickoff Conference that will combine many of the workshops we provide our startups in the core batch into a single day.
  2. Fellowship teams will have a dedicated YC partner following their progress throughout the program. We'll also be visiting areas where multiple teams are located. For example, I'll be meeting teams in the Bay Area, Philadelphia, New York and Austin for the second batch.
  3. We’re going to host weekly talks with speakers that we stream live to companies online. This will allow us to invite speakers that can't come to YC in person.
  4. At the end of the program, the startups will be able to present their progress at a Virtual Demo Day to investors.
  5. If a Fellowship team decides to apply to the YC Core program, we'll provide early decision information about their interview status.

Single application

We were surprised at how popular the program would be. We gave very little notice up front for the first iteration and only opened up applications for a single week, but we got nearly the same number of applications for YC Core—over 6K! 

Once we realized we were going to do the Fellowship program again, we decided it would not be efficient for us to have separate application cycles and reading periods for the YC Core and for the Fellowship. 

Since that test went well, we’re going to make it possible to apply to both or either program through a single application. When you apply, you'll see a question on the application that'll let you apply to both or either program. If you're at a stage that is prior to product market fit, we recommend just applying to both.

Doing it again

After our experiment finished in the fall, 22 of the 32 startups that participated in the first Fellowship batch elected to apply to YC Core program and 6 of those companies are now part of the current Winter 2016 batch.

To test out our single application idea, we used the last application cycle to identify and invite teams that would be a good fit for the Fellowship to join the second batch. We ended up accepting 31 companies and they’ll be going through the new format starting February 1st. If all goes well, we hope to scale it up quickly on the next iteration.

Speaking of which, applications are now open today for both the third Fellowship batch and the YC Summer 2016 batch. If you’re interested, apply here.

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Kevin Hale
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/975100 2016-01-21T02:03:02Z 2016-01-22T21:12:25Z MagicBus (W16) Makes the City-to-City Commute Easy and Productive

Americans waste more than 400 million hours every week driving alone to work and back. For employers, this means billions of dollars of wasted productivity, and for commuters, it means a lower quality of life. In the Bay Area, many smaller companies struggle to compete for talent with firms like Google and Facebook, who offer their own shuttle services as a perk.

MagicBus is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that levels the playing field by providing a shuttle ride available to any communter at the price of public transportation with the convenience of a private ride.

TechCrunch's Sarah Buhr wrote about MagicBus in a story this week:

"MagicBus hopes to end many Bay Area commuter’s slow, soul-crushing daily drive down the 101 with a scheduled, WiFi-enabled, private bus system to transport them anywhere from San Francisco all the way down to Sunnyvale.

There are a number of startups focused on carpooling in the Bay Area – Chariot, Shuddle and even Uber and Lyft among them, but co-founder Chris Upjohn believes MagicBus offers something uniquely different. Rather than focusing on transportation within a city, his startup supports the ride between cities... Magic Bus is pretty new, but Upjohn told me it already has 'thousands' of people signed up to use it already and Upjohn sees the platform as part of a bigger movement around smart cities.

'When we think about how we’d like to contribute to smarter cities of the future we’d like to reduce the congestion that we see,' Upjohn said. 'We’d like to eliminate the need for people to own cars and use MagicBusses for commuting and services like Uber and Lyft for in the city.'"

Read the full article here.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/974905 2016-01-20T19:52:56Z 2016-02-13T12:09:21Z Getting Into Y Combinator A new trend in Y Combinator applications is that an increasing number of applicants have already been through some sort of accelerator or “pre-accelerator” program.  As we’ve dug into this trend, we’ve found that many of the applicants did these programs not because they needed the money or advice but because they thought it might help them get into YC (and specifically that some programs market themselves as a "way to get into Y Combinator).

Actually, it's much harder to get in to YC if you’ve already been through another accelerator.  We assume that a group that has already been through an accelerator should have been accelerated, and that if they don't have impressive progress something must be wrong. (A smaller issue is the extra dilution on the cap table.)  We now have enough data to know that the track record of companies that go through multiple accelerators is much worse than companies that just do YC. 

We fear that there may be cases where groups are hurting themselves by participating in bad accelerator programs that don't accelerate them and yet also raise the threshold they'd have to get over to get into YC.  It’s certainly not a deal-breaker—and we are extremely sympathetic to the need to raise money in any way possible—but it does increase our expectations quite a bit.

So we want to remind everyone explicitly: if you want to get into Y Combinator, just apply to Y Combinator or the YC Fellowship.  In both cases, we like funding very early-stage companies.  You don’t need to “prepare” to apply to YC in any way.  You should only do an accelerator if you need the money to survive or think that the resources of the accelerator will help you be more successful; you should never do one as a way to get into YC.



Speaking of that, since we can’t yet fund every good company in the world, here is some general advice about evaluating accelerators:

*Talk to the alumni and ask how strongly they recommend it.  This is the best possible data you can get.

*Look at the accelerator’s track record (it’s important to distinguish between companies that went through the accelerator and cases where the investment firm made a small late-stage investment in the company).  This will give you a feeling for how good the accelerator actually is, and also a sense of how much external validation you’ll get by participating.

*Look at the strength of the alumni network.  You want to join an accelerator that has (1) eminent alumni who (2) really care about helping other companies in the family.  You’re joining a network, and more than anything else except perhaps the advice, this is where you’re going to get value. 

*Pay attention to how an accelerator treats you before you join, when they should be on their best behavior—it’s likely to be an indicator of how they’ll behave later.  Doing founder-unfriendly things like presenting exploding offers does not correlate with good behavior down the road.

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Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/971593 2016-01-15T19:08:03Z 2016-01-25T08:44:08Z Monthly HN Office Hours Last year, we tried our hand at some new experiments to provide 1-on-1 advice out in the open. We've done this a few times on stage at Startup School, but we figured Hacker News might be a better way to do it at scale. 

I spent a day reviewing Show HN projects and Sam and I did online office office hours for an afternoon. You can see the results of those experiments here:

Aggregated Show HN Feedback
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9748308

Online Office Hours with Sam and Kevin
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9785533

We had such a good experience that we've decided to now do them every month. 

Each month, a different pair of YC partners will host office hours on HN. They'll either be feedback on Show HN projects or answering questions voted by the community. We'll be starting with Michael Seibel and Aaron Harris on Jan 22 at 11am PT. Michael and Aaron will be doing the office hour format on the 22nd. If you'd like help with your startup, on the day of the online office hours, post a top-level comment with a one or two sentence description of what you do and the first thing you'd like to talk about. The community will vote, and Aaron and Michael will answer the top questions.

We'll announce the time/day/format of the HN office hours the week before they happen through a Tell HN and then the day of put up a new thread (if it's a office hour format) for people to post their questions. If it's a Show HN format, the partners will just add their feedback to the individual Show HN posts and we'll put up an aggregated set of links when we're done.


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Kevin Hale
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/968488 2016-01-11T16:32:06Z 2016-01-26T17:15:42Z Winter 2016 College Tour Join YC partners and alumni at colleges around the country. Hear their stories and find out what it's really like to start a startup.

You’ll also have the chance to apply for one-on-one office hours at each stop. Get feedback on what you’re building, or ask us questions about YC. Hope to see you there!

1/22-23: University of Toronto
> 5:30pm, University of Toronto, Leslie Dan Pharmacy Building, Room PB B150, Toronto, ON
> More info 
> Sign up for office hours (1/23)

1/22-24 University of Pennsylvania
> 1/23, 5pm - Hardware Review with Luke Iseman at PennApps - Towne 100, Penn Engineering Quad
> 1/23, 7pm - Live UX Review with Kevin Hale at PennApps - Towne 100, Penn Engineering Quad
> Sign up for office hours (1/22-1/23)

1/25 North Carolina State University
> 1:30pm, Talley Student Union, 2610 Cates Avenue (Room 3285)
> More info
> Sign up for office hours (10am-1pm)

1/25 Duke
> 6pm, The Duke I&E Bullpen, 215 Morris St., 3rd Floor, Durham, NC 27701
> More info
> Please contact Sidney McLaurin (sidney.mclaurin@duke.edu) if you are interested in signing up for office hours (4pm-6pm).

1/26 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
> 6pm, 1789 Venture Lab, 173 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC
> More info
> Sign up for office hours (2-5:30pm)

2/4 University of Maryland
> 6:30pm, Computer Science Instructional Center (CSIC), 4146 Paint Branch Dr, Room 1115, College Park, MD 20740
> More info (University of Maryland student portal)
> Sign up for office hours (2pm-6pm)

2/5 Johns Hopkins
> 5:30pm, Hodson Hall, 110 Auditorium, Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus, Baltimore, MD
> More info
> Sign up for office hours (2pm-5pm)

2/11 Washington University in St. Louis
> 5:30pm, Whitaker Hall Auditorium
> More info
> Please contact toker@wustl.edu if you're interested in signing up for office hours. 

2/24 Morehouse College
> Sign up for office hours (2pm-5pm)

2/25 Georgia Tech with Startup Exchange
> 6pm, The Garage, Basement of Sq5, 848 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, GA
> More info
> Sign up for office hours (2pm-5:30pm)

2/26 Yale
> 4pm, campus location TBD
> More info
> Sign up for office hours (12pm-2pm)

2/29 Princeton
> 7:30pm, Robertson Hall, Princeton, NJ 08540
> More info
> Sign up for office hours (3pm-7pm)

3/2 University of Chicago
> 6:30pm, Chicago Innovation Exchange - Theater, 1452 E 53rd St Chicago, IL 60615
> More info
> Sign up for office hours (4pm-6pm)

3/3 Northwestern University
> 6pm, The Garage, 2311 Campus Drive, Suite 2300, Evanston, IL 60208
> More info
> Sign up for office hours (2pm-6pm)

Want us to come visit your school or city? Send us a note.
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/966894 2016-01-08T18:11:54Z 2016-02-01T20:01:24Z 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.

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Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/951925 2015-12-17T21:02:59Z 2016-01-10T17:14:38Z 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!]]>
Jessica Livingston
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/948094 2015-12-12T00:00:27Z 2016-01-30T17:36:19Z 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
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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/948059 2015-12-11T22:48:38Z 2016-01-08T13:24:52Z 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.
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Colleen Taylor
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/948038 2015-12-11T21:31:25Z 2015-12-12T21:21:35Z OpenAI The first group affiliated with YC Research is OpenAI. You can read more about it here.

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/945608 2015-12-10T21:29:40Z 2015-12-15T17:45:40Z 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

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/943188 2015-12-04T17:53:57Z 2015-12-09T23:43:10Z 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

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Denis Mars
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/940013 2015-11-27T16:12:17Z 2015-11-29T10:13:15Z 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

uBiome’s (S14) founders launch a microbiome syndicate on AngelList

Le Tote (S13) raises $15m for its fashion subscription service

Coinbase (S12) and Shift (S14) partner to launch the first US-issued bitcoin debit card

Plangrid raises $40m to expand its construction software product

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Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/936810 2015-11-20T16:41:10Z 2016-01-16T08:35:27Z 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.”]

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Colleen Taylor