Ten years ago, Paul Graham said there could be ten times as many startups if more people realized they could try. Thanks to the work he, Jessica, Trevor and Robert helped do, that’s become true.
We think there is still room for another ten-fold increase in the number of (good) startups. But even now, a lot of good founders never get started because they can’t scrape together a relatively small sum of money at the idea stage.
So we’re going to try a new experiment, which we’re calling the YC Fellowship. This is targeted at teams that are very, very early.
Like YC, we will accept applications and evaluate both the team and the idea. We expect these startups to be early–a prototype is more than enough (though we expect you to have an idea). In order to have the most impact, we’re only considering companies that haven’t yet raised money from investors. Unlike companies that YC funds, YC Fellows won’t have to move to the Bay Area (though we strongly encourage they do). For this experiment, we’re willing to try office hours over video chat.
YC Fellows will receive $12,000 per team as a grant (though if this continues past this test run, we will probably do a more traditional investment with equity for future Fellows) and access to advice from the YC community.
The program will be much lighter weight than YC, but we’ll still try to help you a lot. A dedicated partner will advise YC Fellows and be available for office hours. Fellowship recipients will have a kickoff day and an end event in Mountain View, and we’ll pay for remote teams to fly out for these. We’ll also make some things from YC available to YC Fellows, like AWS and Microsoft hosting credits. We’ll encourage but not require that Fellows later apply to Y Combinator.
The program runs for 8 weeks, from mid-September to mid-November. You should expect to work full-time on your project for those 8 weeks.
Also, this doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. If you fail but seem good, we’ll happily consider you again with a new idea.
We understand that $12,000 is not a lot of money, and this won’t make sense for everyone. But for some people, it may be the difference between going to work at a big company and starting the next Airbnb. Those are the people we hope to help here.
Applications are open now and are due July 27th at 8pm PT. That’s not a lot of time, but it should be enough – the right teams are likely already tinkering with ideas.
Although this is an experiment, if it seems promising we’ll iterate quickly just like any good startup. Our goal at YC is to enable as much innovation as we can. Someday if it works, we’d love to fund 1,000 companies per year like this.