We put together a list of the top YC companies by valuation as of October 2018. You can see that list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.

Here’s a Q&A with Alex Rodrigues, Cofounder of Embark, one of the companies featured on the list.


What does Embark make/do?
Self-Driving Trucks

How many employees does Embark have?
40

How many founders?
2

What is your most impressive recent product milestone?
Embark’s trucks can drive themselves from Los Angeles to Phoenix with zero human intervention.

We also recently started shipping freight for several multi-billion dollar manufacturers.

What is the larger impact / societal impact of your product in the space you work within?
Trucking is a massive industry, it moves 70% of America’s goods and is currently facing a shortage of 50,000 drivers. But it has a dark side too, trucking accidents cause 4,000 deaths a year. Self-driving will save thousands of lives and lower the cost on 70% of things you buy every day.

What’s an interesting element of Embark’s company culture?
Any day you arrive at Embark you’ll see 3 or 4 employees riding around on our hoverboards.

Looking back, what motivated you to start Embark?
I’ve loved robotics since I was a little kid. There are lots of cool ways to use that, but working on self-driving trucks had the biggest opportunity to make an impact on the world.

Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?
We were working on other self-driving projects for a couple years before starting Embark.

Were there moments where you thought the company might die? Describe one of those and anything you learned from it.
Actually no, we’ve been very fortunate.

What was a particularly important insight you had about your market that made your product work?
It’s not about solving the self-driving everywhere it’s about solving a narrow case that can start being useful quickly.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a young founder?
When you are new to a domain trust the “experts”, but once you understand it deeply go with your gut. At the beginning everyone told us we wouldn’t be able to build a self-driving vehicle – after all even the “experts” were struggling – but we deeply understood robots and we believed it was possible so we didn’t let them deter us.

What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of doing so much with so few people. Most serious teams in self-driving are hundreds of people. I’m so proud to have a team that’s building industry leading tech with a few dozen.