If you’re reading this right now, then you probably have a tech company you want to grow and scale.
What your business needs is a startup accelerator that will provide mentoring, seed funding, access to larger entrepreneur communities and founder networks, as well as other benefits. One of the best business accelerators is Y Combinator, called YC for short.
Getting your startup into Y Combinator will greatly improve your chances for success and accelerate your business to the next level. Both Airbnb and Doordash startups once valued at $113 billion and $72 billion respectively, are perfect examples of successful startups that grew on the wings of this Silicon Valley business accelerator.
What is Y Combinator?
Y Combinator is one of the biggest, international technology startup accelerators that provides seed funding, mentorship, and other growth opportunities to early-stage startups, in exchange for a minimal percentage of equity.
The investment firm has successfully raised over 3000 companies since its inception in March 2005. Founded by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingstone, Robert Morris, and Trevor Blackwell, the company has built a worthy reputation as one of the most successful startup accelerators in Silicon Valley according to Forbes in 2012.
Each year, YCombinator receives well over 10,000 applications from business owners all over the world aspiring to become YCombinator companies. The program runs at least two batches of 150 average companies per batch, in a year.
Why choose Ycombinator?
- Instant acceptance into the global startup community: Getting into YCombinator gives startups the rare advantage of being singled out for their brilliance and high growth potential by investors and the international startup community at large. In addition, YC is the fastest platform to gain ready access into Silicon Valley network of entrepreneurs.
- Startup growth acceleration opportunities: There are many perks of being a YC company. One of which is the intense business-focused mentorship program for selected companies to grow their business. The program provides technical support, as well as capital funding and the right environment to build a business within the shortest time possible. The founders will learn how to build viable business models, achieve product-market fit, and the right combination of marketing strategies to get their companies off the ground.
- Leverage connections and network with other founders: Founders who get into YCombinator rarely do it for the $150k cash alone. The main catch is the large network base and free access to industry expertise the program provides. Successful applicants are introduced to global founder communities as well as other network-building activities.
Process of getting into Y Combinator
Here are the steps to get into Y Combinator:
1. Application stage
Interested startup owners are invited to apply for each annual cycle of YC accelerator programs. The process takes roughly about 24 hours to fill out an online application via Y’Combinator’s website.
The partners read every single application themselves and select potential high-growth companies they want to listen to in the next round. The process takes only about a few weeks. The earlier you submit an application, the sooner you’d receive a reply.
YCombinator’s interview is a platform for the partners to determine your viability as a firm, and whether you’re really as invested in your business idea as your application seemed to portray.
The interview serves to reiterate why you want to go into the business, your market statistics, growth rate, quality of traction so far, as well as other important metrics.
3. Get accepted into a three-month mentorship program
The YC mentorship covers three months of intense business accelerating activities. Each successful YC startup will be involved in close-mentorship, and networking platforms and exposed to investor fundraising events.
The program includes strategic business-building sessions to get their startups up and running and ready to catch an investor’s interest on demo day. Demo day is the last day of the mentorship program and when startup founders will pitch their business ideas in front of potential investors for seed funding or acquisitions.
Tips to ace Y Combinator’s application:
Here are important tips to help you succeed with Y Combinator application:
- Express yourself clearly in succinct terms: When filling out your application, highlight what your startup is about, quickly. Go straight to the point and leave no room for ambiguity in your application. YC places so much emphasis on conciseness, clarity of language used, and exceptional business ideas.
Therefore, the aim of each startup trying to get into Ycombinator should be expressing how good they are without cluttering their first introduction to the program with unnecessary details. Try to hook the partner’s attention right from your first sentence.
It is important that you also shoot straight with facts on your application instead of using hype language to market your product. For instance, instead of saying, ‘my company will build the next generation of AI technology devices’ you might say something like, ‘my company combines AI with 5G technologies to build fast AI-powered cloud-computing software for SAAS companies like XYZ and ABC’.
With an introduction like this anyone reading your application already has a mental picture of what your company does and for who.
- Work with the right team: The co-founders’ profile is another important section to ace the application. YC partners lookout for startup teams that make a group of determined people who share similar visions of their company, as well as a penchant for outstanding performances.
The best way to express this is by sharing a story of the most exceptional or difficult thing each team member had ever accomplished, the class of achievement is of no importance as much as the magnitude reached by the individual.
- Highlight your competitive advantage: Clearly show how you plan to get your share of the market from the established companies in the field. Answer these questions matter-of-factly:
Who are you and what value do you create for people’s lives?
Why are you worth investing in?
What do you do differently from the potential competition?
What are the potential hurdles and threats to your business and how do you plan to overcome them?
- Submit a pitch video: A one-minute pitch video can work miracles that not even the most detailed presentation can invoke.
The reason is that videos can easily show your passion for the business, create an emotional atmosphere for your startup story to sink in, and most importantly, a video can provoke instantaneous bonding for your startup with potential investors. Paul Graham one of YC founders said, ‘statistically, we are much more likely to interview people who submit a video’.
- Reach out to successful YC founders: If you have any YC founders in your network or even if you don’t, try to get in touch with someone who has been through the process via social media, LinkedIn, or by cold-emailing them.
Ask for their candid advice on what exactly to do and if it is possible to get them to go through your application before you hit the ‘send’ button. Work with their advice and you’ll not be far from achieving your dream of getting into YCombinator.
- Keep on trying: Even if you don’t get accepted on the first trial just keep applying throughout all the growth stages of your business. Do not give up just yet but also stay in motion. It is obvious that Y Combinator hunts for startups with large market potential and prospective unicorn companies.
Nevertheless, they appreciate founders who try to stay in motion by developing the ideal product mix despite the odds. Keep working on your unique advantage, refine your solution and continuously validate your product or service in line with the market.