Getting accepted into Y Combinator is a significant accomplishment. Y Combinator (YC) is widely acknowledged by prominent tech investors as the startup accelerator responsible for the creation of firms such as Airbnb, DoorDash, Dropbox, Instacart, and many others. Getting into an accelerator shows the rest of the world that your startup is worth investing in.
YC was an eye-opening and educational experience for us. Check out our top ten Y Combinator takeaways.
Don’t bring your business plan with you.
Any startup’s business model is continually changing. That is most likely why YC does not accept business ideas as part of its application process. That means all of the effort you spent preparing that eight-page business plan before going to YC is a waste of time.
If you do not apply, you will not be admitted
It’s difficult to get into YC. Competition is fierce, with a stated admission rate of 1.5 percent for both the winter and summer programs. What acceptance rate, though, is even lower than 1.5? If you don’t apply, you’ll get a zero percent chance of getting hired. Many companies do not apply because they believe they will not be accepted, but Juan says, “I wish more Canadian companies applied; they would be surprised.
Know your points of discussion
You may not be required to submit a business plan in order to be accepted into YC, but you must attend an interview. Preparing for the interview is essential, as is finding the delicate balance between being prepared and sounding overly prepared. Juan prepared by looking through the questions at ipaulgraham.herokuapp.com and going over random Q&As with the head of operations.
Set your objectives from the beginning
You can’t achieve your objectives until you know where you’re going. Cuboh’s goal for YC was simple: after three months, the company expected to witness an increase in its existing client base and income. The focus was laser-like. “We posted that on the wall and pondered about that metric every single day,” Juan adds.
Make it easy
This lesson is all about focusing. All the extras come effortlessly when you keep focused on the core of your objective. The most important goals at Cuboh were to expand our customer base and revenue. At YC, we did exactly that. What about the additional features and services? We also obtained those, in part because we didn’t get distracted and kept our focus.
You must have previous startup experience
YC works with businesses at various stages of development. As a result, you shouldn’t expect somebody to hold your hand and guide you through the procedure. Yes, you’ll learn from speakers on specific issues important to your organization, but don’t expect an organized program that takes you through lessons one by one.
What does this signify for your time at YC and your attitude to it? It indicates that your team should be made up of people who thrive in chaotic situations. Anyone who has worked without supervision before may find the procedure perplexing or even disheartening. Your team must be innovative and eager to work in a startup environment.
While the YC process may appear disorganized at times, you must remain focused on the program’s final goal: Demo Day. How are you getting ready for Demo Day? It could be numbers, or it could be new product features. Whatever your Demo Day objective is, you should devote 100 percent of your time to achieving it. That includes eliminating all sources of distraction. (Perhaps this is why YC encourages its members to work from home.)
Networking, Networking, Networking
Yes, you should devote 100% of your time to work. Unless you’re networking, of course.
One of the most important aspects of YC is the networking opportunity. Make time for the weekly dinners, where you can hear from notable speakers and share your progress from the previous week. Your path will take shape as you observe how other startups solve difficulties. You’ll also have the chance to create contacts over coffee and beverages, as well as at conferences.
But don’t let this excellent networking take precedence over your work. Build what you need to build while keeping one eye on Demo Day.
Keep an open mind to the unknown and unexpected
You’d be shocked how many “weird” ideas come up during YC — ideas for product features, development strategies, and everything else. We understood that if any of the ideas that came up during our weekly YC sessions were heard on the street, we would dismiss them and never consider them seriously. We were able to stay open to the process and locate predicted epiphanies by valuing some of these more out-there ideas.
We now cherish our foolish ideas, no matter where they come from or how insane they sound, as a result of our YC experience. Because it turns out that some of those ideas are also valued by our customers.
Then hustle even harder. Arriving on time is ideal, taking thorough notes is necessary, and making sure you don’t miss anything is also commendable. However, getting the most out of YC requires hustling.
Don’t be embarrassed. Take this as permission to ask for more if you lean that way. More introductory material. More suggestions. Follow-ups are needed. More assistance. Don’t be afraid to take risks. The goal of YC is to receive what you need and make the most of your opportunity, not to “graduate,” so don’t be afraid to take risks.
In the end, YC is worthwhile. Cuboh took full use of its participation with Y Combinator. We hope that this list of things to learn is useful.