Aaron Harris

Aaron is a Partner at YC. He was cofounder of Tutorspree, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2011. Before Tutorspree he worked at Bridgewater Associates, where he managed product and operations for an analytics group. He has an AB in History and Literature from Harvard.


YC’s Series A Diligence Checklist

When we launched our Series A program a few months ago, we decided that what we learn along the way shouldn’t just be kept inside of YC. We’re going to publish tools and learnings from the program that should help every company create better outcomes. This is the first tool. It’s simple, but effective.

Why Toys?

Some of the biggest technology companies look like toys in the beginning. From a classical business building perspective, this shouldn’t happen. Toys are for fun. Businesses, especially huge ones, are for making money. Toys are small and of limited use. Large companies contain multitudes and perform a huge array of functions.

YC Series A Program

In the last year, YC companies have raised over $550mm across 62 Series As. Near as we can tell, that’s the highest number in any portfolio anywhere in venture investing. We expect that number to go up each year as we fund more companies.

Mistakes in Time

I often think about things I want to learn and the reasons I cannot do so. I come up with plenty of excuses, from not having a practical need for learning that thing to not being smart enough to learn it. My biggest excuse, though, is that I simply don’t have the time.

The Customization Curve

A few months ago, I was talking to a startup about how individual customers wanted them to do different things. I think about this optimization as operating along three variables: cost of customization, happiness generated, and cost to support that customization. The goal is to find a level of customization that makes as many customers as possible happy while not incurring support costs – through personnel or burn – that would kill your company.

Thoughts on Insurance

Two years ago, I printed up Chubb’s 10k and started reading. As I read Chubb’s financials, industry reports, Warren Buffet’s letters, and various blogs I came to realize that the insurance industry was both far more complex and rife with opportunity than I’d assumed. While I’ve always been attracted to fractured and regulated markets, nothing quite mimics insurance in its scope, nuance, and size. I wasn’t the only person thinking about this, as the number of recent insurance tech companies indicates.

What Founder Friendly Actually Means

Lots of VCs talk about being founder friendly. I’ve noticed that founders often misunderstand how that actually works. What “founder friendly” does and doesn’t mean is important to understand.

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