We’re approaching the S18 application deadline so we thought it’d be helpful to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the YC application and program itself.

If you’d like to dig deeper, you can check out the expanded FAQ.


Q: Do you have to spend the full three months of YC in Mountain View?
No. In the past this was a hard requirement but we’ve since updated it. Airbnb spent much of the batch in NYC, where their business was taking off. Each week they’d fly out to California for office hours and our weekly dinner.

Q: Can you apply to YC with just an idea?
Yes. We accept companies at a wide range of stages into the batch. Cruise, for example, had been working on their idea for just two weeks when they applied to YC.

Q: Do you have to pay the money back if your company fails?
No. YC invests in your company, it’s not a loan.

Q: Can you use the YC investment to pay your salary?
Yes. You can use the money to pay for any business-related expense, and founder salaries are a business expense.

Q: Can you use the YC investment to pay your student loans?
Yes. Because you’re paying yourself a salary, you can choose how to spend your salary including repaying your student loans.

Q: Do you have to be focused on the US market?
No. We fund companies focused on markets all around the world. Some notable examples:
Africa: Flutterwave, Paystack, Tizeti, and WaystoCap
India: Razorpay, DocTalk, Kisan Network, Supr Daily, and Innov8
South America: Rappi, Regalii, Hogaru, Tpaga, Beek, and Quero Education

Q: How much money do YC companies raise at demo day?
The median fundraise at demo day is about $1M. Many companies raise several million, and some have raised more than $40M.

Q: Do you need a visa to work in the US to apply?
No. If you need a visa to come to YC for the 3 month program, we can introduce you to lawyers who can help with this.

Q: Can you apply if you haven’t launched?
Yes. Fewer than half of the companies we fund have launched before they apply.

Q: Can you apply if you have raised money?
Yes. Each batch has at least a dozen companies that have already raised over $1M. We think we can be helpful for any company that hasn’t yet raised a Series B.

Q: Do all the founders have to attend the entire batch?
Not if your business needs you to be elsewhere. We encourage founders to be wherever their business requires.

Q: Does a real person actually read my application?
Yes, people read every application and most are read multiple times. We use software to help prioritize applications and route them to the right readers, but all the decisions are made by people.

Q: Is YC just for early stage companies?
No. MessageBird (YC S16) was making $20M a year and profitable prior to YC.

Q: I’m a second time founder and already have an exit, why should I apply?
Founders in this position are usually able to fundraise on their own. The ones that choose to do YC often want to be in the company of other founders where they feel a real pressure to ship their product and talk with customers. They also want access to YC’s alumni network for hiring and introductions. Founders that have done YC after a successful first company include Michael Seibel, YC CEO, participated in the W07 and W12 batches, Kyle Vogt (founder of Twitch), Steve Huffman (founder of Reddit), and Parker Conrad (founder of Zenefits).

Q: I’m a second time founder and my first company didn’t work out. Will YC hold that against me?
Certainly not. We’re sure you learned a lot from the experience.

Thanks to Daniel Gackle, Scott Bell, Dalton Caldwell, and Michael Seibel for reading drafts of this post.