How New Story Got Into Y Combinator

And how it applies to any dream you have

I vividly remember laying in my bed, jotting down the idea for New Story in Evernote. It started as a couple bullets, then some (bad sounding) description of what we’ll do, then a Friday night making some mockups.

That initial idea was just 7 months ago. The goal was to make something our friends and I would want to give to, and hopefully fund 1 home.

Fast forward, and we’ve generated over $130,000 — funding 21 life-changing homes for over 100 people, and have been accepted to Y Combinator for summer 2015.

How did it happen? Three things:

  1. Connecting the dots
  2. Moving fast
  3. 100 hours for 10 minutes

Connecting the dots

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.” — Steve Jobs

The reason I was able to have the “epiphany” for New Story was because of my last two years: the experiences, the radical changes, the risks and failures, the learnings, the continuous challenging of the status quo, and the faith to believe this was all going somewhere that He was planning.

The biggest example is from one particular rejection. In spring of 2014, I was on the verge of getting my then, “dream job”. I thought my previous startup, Hucksley, didn’t succeed because I was supposed to do this dream job.

Turns out, even though I was convinced I had it, I didn’t get it. I was devastated. At the time, I had no idea why this was happening. But what I did next is the mindset that’s connected the dots:

I dropped to my knees, and said “God, I don’t know why this is happening, it sucks. But I trust that you have something greater planned. I’m going to trust in that and go forth with bigger dreams and harder work.”

Now, looking back it makes sense. The dots connected and are leading towards something greater. But I can only see that looking back, and had to take the risks and changes to make the dots connect.

Maybe you’re unsure of how the dots are aligning for your dream? If so, have the faith and fire to dream big, trust when you don’t know the answers, learn all you can, and take action.

If you do that, the dots will connect for something greater.

Move fast

New Story launched as quick as possible. We didn’t wait for a 501c3, didn’t wait for validation, didn’t wait for a beautiful website, didn’t wait for answers, and we didn’t care if we were breaking any rules.

We just made what we wanted and what we thought people would want.

Our goal was not to change the world, it was to fund one home ($6,000) for one family. We thought if we could do that using the donor experience we wanted to see, then maybe we could scale it.

Whatever idea is jotted down or is in your head, find the quickest way to make it real. Be vulnerable and create a minimal version of what you want to see in the world.

100 hours for 10 minutes

“The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.” — Bob Knight

The last phase of YC’s application process is a 10 minute interview in Mountain View, CA. Yes, just 10 minutes.

Our team’s mindset was,

“Look, we have one shot, one opportunity
To seize everything we ever wanted. One moment.
Will we capture it or just let it slip?” — Eminem

Our team (Allie and Matthew are incredible!) spent over 100 hours preparing for 10 minutes. We relentlessly studied, practiced, tested, and mock interviewed each other.

And because of that preparation, we gained supreme confidence and had a great interview.

We made ourselves vulnerable, we took the risk knowing the odds were against us. But because we weren’t afraid of going all out and potentially failing, we won.

that’s me getting the phone call that we were accepted into YC.

Thanks to our amazing first 700 donors and supporters. None of this would be possible without you.

If you want to learn more about New Story: see our website here, see our TechCrunch article, or email me at





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Brett Hagler

Brett Hagler


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